Did you know, in the United States alone, it is estimated approximately 75 to 90 percent of all doctor visits are related to conditions caused by stress! The World Health Organization (WHO) has called stress 'the health epidemic of the 21st century'. Stress is a normal part of life, and we all go through it from time to time. But why is stress a concern? Read on to find out!
What is stress?
Simply put, stress is a physiological reaction to environmental threats. As a matter of fact, acute or short-term stress is beneficial and has protective effects. A perfect example is the fight or flight response which is nature's inbuilt survival mechanism. However, the same cannot be said for long-term stress due to the severe health implications. Long-term stress can result from various triggers like relationship issues, excessive work demands, or chronic illness. If stress persists to a point where there is no chance for your body to recover to its normal homeostasis, it causes serious health issues like anxiety, depression, neurological, and heart-related problems.
That brings us to a burning question that most ask, which is if there are ways to manage stress effectively. It would be a miracle if all the stress vanishes into thin air; however, many suffer from chronic stress, which threatens the quality of life across all age groups.
What are the ill effects of chronic stress?
Chronic stress results when your body's biological response to stress is prolonged for months to years. It can result due to the nature of your job or being in a state of never-ending stressful events with insufficient time for you to return to a normal state. This triggers inflammation which is identified as the underlying reason for many degenerative diseases.
Chronic stress leads to -
- Accelerated aging,
- Suppressed or under functioning immune system,
- mental conditions like anxiety, depression,
- heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer.
Other discomforts include,
- Sleep issues,
- chronic fatigue,
- digestive issues like IBS, celiac,
- migraines and headaches,
- emotional eating leading to overeating and obesity or extreme dieting and significant health problems.
The fact that chronic stress could lead to many serious diseases is dangerous and could be life-threatening. This has intensified research on various ways to prevent and mitigate stress. And the good news is there are ways to cope with stress – exercise, good nutrition, healthy sleep routine, hobby, talking to friends, and relaxation techniques. In addition, taking specific herbs and nutrients in the form of supplements is also an effective tool to help quell stress. Here is a quick brief on some essential nutrients and herbs that work well to manage stress and keep it under control.
What nutrients/ supplements can help with stress management?
B vitamins: Foods rich in B vitamins are important for many essential functions in your body such as energy production, producing specific brain chemicals and more. Research reveals that B vitamins help by lowering stress, alleviate anxiety and mood swings. For example, studies show that deficiencies of B12 or folate to be associated with an increased risk of depression. It is suggested that the B vitamins play an integral role in specific biochemical reactions in the body that directly link to mood levels and influence how we respond to stress. Almost all of the B vitamins are involved in maintaining a healthy nervous system, which is vital for a healthy stress response. In a clinical trial, researchers suggested that taking B-vitamin supplements could be an economically viable and sustainable intervention strategy to lower work-place related stress.
L-theanine: L theanine is an amino acid found in green tea and some mushrooms. Studies show that L-theanine works as a neuro-protector, which protects your nerves and brain cells. Long before the effects of L-theanine were researched by scientists, L-theanine was consumed in the form of green tea in ancient cultures. It is mainly used as a calming relaxant taken every day as green tea. In a randomized control trial, which is regarded as the gold standard for studies, researchers found that four weeks of L-theanine intake had remarkable effects on lowering stress. Subjects showed lower stress scores, improved focus, better sleep quality than those who took a placebo.
Ashwagandha: This herbal plant is used in ancient Ayurvedic remedies as an effective way to combat stress. The herb is an adaptogen, meaning it naturally helps your body to respond to stress. A 2012 study found that root extracts of ashwagandha reduced stress and anxiety in adults with high efficacy and safety. Research shows that ashwagandha lowers cortisol levels (stress hormones) and lowers inflammation; this dual benefit offers an excellent way to deal with stress.
Lemon balm: Lemon balm belongs to the mint family and has a distinct lemon scent. It is used to help ease insomnia and other sleep disorders and boost cognitive function. However, the most significant benefit of using lemon balm is its ability to reduce stress and reduce anxiety. A 2014 study investigating the anti-stress effects of lemon-balm containing foods revealed that the herb improved mood, cognitive performance, memory, and focus with decreased anxiety levels . Overall, studies on lemon balm show its significant benefits towards lowering stress and anxiety among subjects.
Rhodiola: Otherwise known as "golden root," this adaptogenic herb helps to increase the body's resistance to stress, exhaustion, and fatigue. Adaptogens help your body to adapt to stressors, both physical and environmental. Rhodiola's active compound rosavin is found to have the ability to help balance the levels of cortisol in the body.
Chamomile: This herb is regarded as a safe remedy for digestive issues and anxiety issues. Chamomile helps treat many ailments like insomnia, indigestion, flatulence with positive results. More specifically, chamomile is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which help reduce stress. A recent study published in 2018 that evaluated the effects of chamomile extract therapy on salivary cortisol levels found significant symptom improvement in subjects.
While we can't always control the sources of stress, we can do our best by changing how we react to stressors with the right tools. If you are considering stress-relieving dietary supplements, here are our picks.
While we can't always control the sources of stress, we can do our best by changing how we react to stressors with the right tools. If you are interested in a comprehensive approach to stress management, then stress-relieving dietary supplements are for you. Check out the following picks from Integrative Therapeutics.
Integrative Therapeutics Cortisol Manager: Integrative Therapeutics Cortisol Manager is a formulation that naturally helps reduce stress, to support a restful night's sleep without diminishing daytime alertness. It works by stabilizing the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, so you remain alert during the day while staying relaxed. The formula contains a proprietary blend of stress-reducers, namely Ashwagandha and L-theanine. The cortisol reducing blend contains magnolia bark extract and phosphatidylserine. The recommended dosage is to take one capsule before bedtime, and it is suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
Douglas Laboratories Stress-B-plus: This supplement is formulated with all the essential B vitamins and specific nutrients that help the body cope with stress. In addition to the B vitamins, the supplement provides PABA, inositol, and choline which help balance certain chemicals in your brain that help reduce anxiety and stress. Douglas Labs Stress-B-Plus is a comprehensive B supplement free of wheat, soy, yeast, gluten, artificial colors, flavors, or GMOs. Hence it is suitable for those with a sensitive gut.
Pure Encapsulations Daily Stress Formula: It is a gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO, and hypoallergenic formulation that offers an herbal and amino acid blend for mental relaxation with B complex vitamins, magnesium, and vitamin C. In addition to these nutrients, each capsule contains standardized extracts of bacopa, eleuthero, rhodiola, chamomile, lemon balm, and ashwagandha to give holistic support to cope with stress. The supplement promotes relaxation and moderates the effects of occasional stress.
The reality is, stress is going nowhere in this fast-paced world, which is why it is more crucial than ever to find natural ways to manage stress. While healthy food and exercise are helpful strategies in coping with stress, it is also vital to approach stress management with a holistic view. Here is where specific nutrients and herbs play a crucial role in combatting stress. The interplay of plants and human health has been well documented for thousands of years, and proponents of holistic health encourage the use of nature's power to cope with stress. The right supplements can be an integral part of your strategies in coping with stress. Integrative Therapeutics ensures that it offers high-quality supplements containing safe and the best nutrients to support your health.