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Substance P, Stress, and Heart Function

Substance P is a neuropeptide that is involved in the natural regulation of many aspects of your cardiovascular system. Under normal circumstances it helps control vascular relaxation and thus blood pressure by enhancing the formation of nitric oxide. It also promotes the normal movement of fluids out of blood vessels for a variety of reasons. The main receptor for Substance P is called neurokinnin 1, NK1, which is located in many places throughout the body including the circulatory system and the heart itself. This means that substance P is a common regulatory compound used by your nervous system.

As it turns out, substance P is also the main way your body processes pain and intense stress. Under routine stress, your body simply turns up the volume on nerve activity and energy production. When the stress is over, everything is supposed to recover. If it doesn’t, your body enters a wear and tear trend. Substance P is not used as a basic coping mechanism for low-grade stress.

However, extra substance P kicks in when stress is more intense. This could occur as an acute high level of emotional stress, physical pain, an injury, an accident, or ongoing stress of an energy depleting emotional nature. Substance P is highly inflammatory by nature, a natural method of helping to deal with acute stress but problematic if stress is ongoing.

Signs of too much substance P include disrupted sleep, poor stress tolerance, ongoing fatigue, anxious or hostile feelings, restless legs, increased general aches or pains, skin related issues, respiratory stress, and/or digestive inflammation.

Unfortunately, too much substance P, instead of helping normal cardiovascular function, is a major irritant to the heart itself; it disrupts the vagal tone of the nervous system that is needed to support proper Heart Rate Variability and healthy heart rhythms.

All of the nutrients listed in this section so far contribute to the overall bank account reserves of your nervous system to help maintain natural balance, which helps keep extra substance P in check. Lifestyle factors that promote relaxation, fitness, and improved breathing, for example, all contribute to the same type of health benefits. In addition to these basic approaches a few more key points will help you understand substance P.*

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