Why Don’t Zebras Get Ulcers?

Posted by on Dec 30, 2013 in Stress |


Biologist Robert Sapolsky, author of Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers poses a great question.  In fact, zebras don’t get ulcers, heart disease, diabetes or other chronic diseases.  So why is that when zebras have plenty of reasons to be stressed. They’re very existence depends on outrunning the lions.  So how is it that they handle stress better than humans?

Unlike our friend the zebra, we often can’t outrun the stressful situations that are chasing us.  The zebra just has to outrun the slowest zebra and his stress is gone, because the lion will only eat one at a time.  If we never get to the point where we aren’t in constant fight or flight mode, our stress never gets resolved and we send our bodies into crisis.


Sapolsky’s book goes into much more detail about the science of stress, but it seems the answer lies in the fact that our bodies aren’t designed for the constant stress of modern-day life.  If you are a patient of mine, you’ve certainly heard me say, probably more than once, if your body is in constant fight or flight mode, you never give it the opportunity to go into feed and breed.

It is for that reason that stress is sometimes called the #1 proxy killer.  It elevates our risk of:

  • Depression
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Premature aging
  • Illness due to lowered immune system

Finding ways to manage stress becomes extremely important when you recognize the impact it has on your health.  Sapolsky outlines ways to manage stress in his book, including mediation, physical activity and the importance of personal relationship, as do many other sources.  One great resource our center offers is massage therapy. We can guarantee you that an hour with Suzanne will leave you feeling like the zebra who just avoided becoming the lion’s next meal!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *