The Perfect Stress Storm

May 6, 2017

I mentioned Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, and his excellent book, The Great Cholesterol Con in a recent blog. Throughout the book, Kendrick insists that most heart disease stems from stress, and today I’ll give you the details. It does sound a bit flaky but I happen to agree. As Kendrick says “Everyone has always known that stress kills. The medical profession, which has a horrible aversion to accepting that there is any connection between the mind and the body, has tried to crush this ‘knowledge’ using western scientific methodology as its weapon of choice, ‘We can’t measure stress, so it doesn’t exist.’”

However, stress can be quantified by measuring the hormones produced by the HPA (hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal) axis. Kendrick and a few researchers say that stressful overstimulation of the HPA axis creates all the messed-up biochemistry that causes arteries to clog up and hearts to fail. When you look at cortisol, one byproduct of stress, and what it does to the body when it runs rampant, the association becomes clear.

Not just stress in individuals but the stress of relocation of huge populations, Kendrick says, leads to the high rate of heart disease in places like Finland! Just google Karelia, which has the highest rate of heart disease in the world, presumably because 400,000 people had to move deeper into Finland when Russia annexed part of the country. In my study of Total Biology, I learned the heart disease is causes by “a loss of territory!”

Here’s the stress cycle. An activated sympathetic nervous system, reacting to stress, is in a ‘catabolic’ (break down) state in which the body burns up its energy stores (especially magnesium) to be ready for fight or flight (or during exercise). Its opposite, an activated parasympathetic nervous system, is epitomized by raised insulin levels, representing an ‘anabolic’ (build up) state, in which we eat, digest, store energy, and then sleep. But you can’t sleep properly unless you have enough magnesium. To be clear, Kendrick never once mentions magnesium, but I take his theory one step farther and say that the underlying reason why the HPA axis can’t support itself and crashes is because of magnesium deficiency!

In his book, Kendrick surmises what happens when these two antagonistic systems are triggered at the same time. He says:

“I reasoned that if you were stressed, and then tried to eat, your metabolism would be thrown into confusion. You would be commanding the neurohormonal system to activate catabolism and anabolism simultaneously. This would mean high levels of adrenaline and cortisol, battling against high levels of insulin. Adipose tissue would be under instructions to both absorb and pump out fats into the bloodstream. At the same time, the liver would be trying to store, and release, glucose. With food inside them, your guts would be automatically switched to ‘absorption’. But the sympathetic system would be fighting to direct blood away from the guts to the muscles. Wherever you looked, a fight for metabolic supremacy would be going on.

Perhaps the most important battle would be for control of blood-sugar levels, a battle ending up with ‘spikes’ of blood sugar – as insulin tried, and most likely failed, to overcome the effects of the stress hormones surging about in the bloodstream. In short, I thought that eating under stress was likely to be pretty damned unhealthy. Equally, taking time over meals, and relaxing while doing so, was likely to be pretty damned healthy.”

Kendrick says lots of stress that produces lots of cortisol explains all aspects of the Metabolic Syndrome – high BP, insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity, and elevated lipids. Like most allopathic doctors, he’s content with pointing the finger and giving the evidence in the form of abnormal blood levels of hormones. However, our genius body would not have an HPA system that was destined to crash. So what’s the reason it’s crashing? I say it’s crashing mostly because of magnesium and mineral deficiency that modern medicine completely ignores.

We most often hear about the cortisol connection to abdominal obesity but elevated cortisol also:

• Triggers the liver to release its stores of glucose (from glycogen).

• Stimulates the breakdown of triglyceride stores in adipose tissue, leading to an increase in free fatty acids (FFAs) in the blood.

• Triglyceride breakdown also releases glycerol, which travels directly to the liver, where it is converted to glucose.

• Activates breakdown of muscle protein into amino acids.

• (The amino acids then travel to the liver, where they are converted into glucose.)

• Acts as a direct antagonist to the actions of insulin at most sites in the body.

• Stimulates subcutaneous adipose tissue to release fat, thus making it shrink in size. And stimulates visceral fat to do the exact opposite, i.e. absorb and store fats, leading to an increase in visceral fat mass.

• Consequently: Raised VLDL level • Low HDL level • Raised LDL level • Raised blood pressure • Raised fibrinogen levels (clotting factor) • Raised PAI-1 level (clotting factor) • Raised Von Willibrand level (clotting factor) • Raised Lp(a) level (clotting factor) all lead to atherosclerotic plaque growth, and an increased risk of heart disease.

I love the fact that Dr. Kendrick uses science to debunk the cholesterol myth and I think it’s amazing that he concludes stress causes heart disease. In my Magnesium Miracle book, I mention stress and its relationship to magnesium deficiency almost 100 times. Unfortunately, Kendrick misses the fact that stress becomes toxic if and when you don’t have therapeutic levels of magnesium. Kendrick thinks he’s made a huge breakthrough by identifying a weakened HPA system as the basis of heart disease. Because of his limited view of the body and lack of knowledge of nutrient biochemistry, he is willing to believe that our genius body is stupid enough to create a faulty HPA system but it’s our lack of magnesium that creates the problem in the first place.

Also, Kendrick focuses on cortisol but the elevated levels of adrenaline, which are also produced under stress, trigger tachycardia, arrhythmia, and anxiety. Adrenaline surges caused by stress are eliminated by therapeutic levels of magnesium.

Stress is a killer, but it doesn’t have to be. Therapeutic levels of magnesium can be reached by taking ReMag liquid magnesium. Read my ReMag book available at under Books and follow the advice in my blog called Lying Down Therapy.

Carolyn Dean MD ND

The Doctor of the Future®


1. The Natural Headache Solution Summit with Neurologist Dr. Suja Johnkutty began on April 24th. My talk is on May 18th.

2. Increase Your Energy Summit with Steph Jensen launches May 15.

3. Better Beyond 50 Bone Health Summit with Melissa Koerner begins May 29th with my interview and a follow up live Q&A session on June 1st. I’ll give out the URL when available.

RESOURCES: Along the borders and in the links of my web site you can find my books, writings, and my call-in radio show. If you have any questions email:


Want more health info like this?

Subscribe to receive FREE health tips from Dr. Carolyn Dean. We won't spam you or sell your information.