Stress and Your Skin, Hair, Nails and More

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Someone recently asked: “I’m under a lot of stress and I noticed changes in my hair, skin and nails. Is there any connection?” The answer is a big, fat yes.

One reason for poor hair, skin and nail health is due to over-secretion of the stress hormone cortisol. When it’s over-secreted, it will look to replenish itself by borrowing components from our estrogen stores. Estrogen is a hormone that helps keep us youthful, so when stores become depleted, we age faster. (You know how someone “looks like they’ve had a hard life”? That’s the physical effect of over-secreted stress hormones.)

Another way stress negatively affects hair, skin and nail health is that it deteriorates the skin’s natural ability to protect against invasion. Pollution and toxins are harsh on the skin and alter the way it repairs and regenerates itself. Stress also decreases tone and elasticity of the skin, creating a more aged look.

Increased cortisol can also slow down skin regeneration by slowing the rate of cell turnover, leaving skin dull. While this is happening, adrenaline, which is also released under stress, redirects blood away from the skin to where it’s more needed at the time. This can contribute to a dull look. 

Acne is also common during stress because there is a stimulation of the sebaceous glands. (Ever hear someone complaining about a huge pimple right before an important event?)

So, if you’re stressed about your looks…that stress is also causing the problem! You may have heard my personal story about how stress was a HUGE factor causing poor health, illness, pain and disease. I completely healed myself and now I’m more fit, healthy and happy than I’ve ever been. If I can do it, so can you!

Village Green Apothecary offers personalized nutrition counseling to help you assess your situation, and chart a course of action.

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  • Paula Gallagher
    Paula Gallagher
    Paula is a highly qualified and experienced nutrition counselor on the staff at Village Green.
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    Dr. Joseph Pizzorno, ND is a pioneer of integrative medicine and a leading authority on science-based natural medicine.
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    Dr. Rav Ivker is a holistic family physician, health educator, and best-selling author.
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    Susan writes about the connection between plant-based diets and a reduced risk of chronic diseases.
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January 2012
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