According to the American Psychological Assn., the number of people who suffer from stress and anxiety has increased by 44% over the last five years. General anxiety disorders affect over 6 million people with women complaining of stress twice as much as men. Stress can be brought on by so many reasons, from rushed deadlines, social fears, childhood trauma, traumatic events to illness.
Natural approaches to stress may be tried before drugs. Starting with supporting the brain, good nutrition is essential including foods such as fish, hemp, avocados, coconut and nuts. Since the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline are responsible for creating equilibrium we need to realize that chronic stress can negatively affect the thyroid, blood sugar, bone density, belly fat production and cognitive performance.
In addition to relaxation techniques that include meditation, yoga, exercise, guided imagery and self hypnosis, you may consider taking holy basil which will have a calming effect which acts as a mild nervine due to it’s action that reduces histamine responses in the blood . Ashwaganda is another herb that helps in reducing cortisol levels. Rhodiola rosea is especially effective at curbing depression, decreasing fatigue and enhancing mental sharpness by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is considered the happy hormone. You have to be careful with rhodiola as it needs to be harvested at its peak and not past peak growing. Many cheaper supplements don’t care about that and you won’t get the effectiveness.
Astragalus is an adaptogenic herb that helps protect the body from prolonged stress. When processed correctly, it helps inhibit chromosomal instability by creating a healthy telomere microenvironment. This impacts telomere length (caps at the end of the DNA strand that prevents the DNA from unraveling or breaking) reducing cellular death and slows the aging process. L-Theanine is an amino acid (a building block for proteins) found in green tea. Evidence from human electroencephalograph (EEG) studies show that it has a direct effect on the brain. L-theanine significantly increases activity in the alpha frequency band which indicates that it relaxes the mind without inducing drowsiness. It increases serotonin and stimulates the brain’s alpha waves which induces relaxation. These two are a good combination and when I take a supplement that has them in it, I feel happy and my stress levels reduce. I call this MY HAPPY PILL. If you want to read more about it go to the website www.LongLifeNews.com and click on Cell Metrix. I’ve tried lots of supplements for stress and this one seems to get me smiling and let me cope much better with daily stresses, road rage and the computer !
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Posted in Supplements
Tagged anti aging, anxiety, anxiety supplements, anxiety symptoms, cell metrix, forgetfulness, happy pills, healthy living, help for stress, natural help for stress, Nina Anderson, stress, telomere lengthening
Widely prescribed by doctors for anxiety and stress is a class of drugs know as benzodiazepines with common brand names like Xanax, Librium, Valium and Ativan. This drug binds to the GABA receptors in the body which treats these conditions but with a list of side effects like drowsiness, lethargy and fatigue. Taking too much can result in impaired motor coordination, dizziness, vertigo, slurred speech, blurry vision and erratic behavior.
So what is the alternative? L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea and some mushrooms, according to studies significantly increases brain activity in the alpha frequency band which is associated with relaxing the mind without inducing drowsiness. Its results in studies, show a reduction in stress indicators within 15 minutes, heart rate reduction, significantly reducing anxiety and reducing blood pressure increases in high-stress response situations. The studies used between 100-200 mg of L-theanine daily. No adverse side-effects were found.
Supplementation with L-theanine also helped mental focus and reduced error rates by improving the processes of filtering out redundant or unnecessary stimuli in the brain from all possible environmental stimuli. Although this is a great alternative to drugs, and if you are currently taking them don’t just stop, but talk to a physician who is tuned in to both drugs and natural supplements.
-excerpted from Supplement Science by Gene Bruno, MS, MHS. Vitamin Retailer August 2015
Magnesium is responsible for converting light energy from the sun into biochemical energy for life process on earth (center of the chlorophyll molecule). It is a direct cofactor in over 300 enzymatic reactions involving DNA and RNA synthesis, protein synthesis, glucose uptake and metabolism and has a major role in releasing energy from ATP in the body.
It is implicated in hormone synthesis, nerve cell function, digestion and muscle contraction/relaxation, responses of heart and blood vessels and our emotional state. But, only about half of the population gets enough magnesium from the foods they eat. RDAs run from 300-420 mg/day with older folks needing more and for those of us who are under stress.
Magnesium deficiency can induce anxiety and can also cause depression according to Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, Nutritional Magnesium Assn. medical advisory board. “A deficiency of magnesium magnifies anxiety, depression and stress. Serotonin, the feel-good brain chemical that is boosted artificially by some medications, depends on magnesium for its production and function. If the deficit is not corrected anxiety, depression and further health problems can linger.”
Under stress your body pumps magnesium out of the cells and into the blood making normal lab test show you have enough when in fact, you have body-wide depletion. A Magnesium RBC (red blood cell) test can give you better results. If you continue to be stressed out the stress hormones begin to mobilize magnesium from vital tissues such as the heart putting the body in jeopardy. It is a cofactor for potassium and calcium channels so they should be taken in combination to keep a proper balance of these minerals.
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Recent surveys have found that the majority of Americans are living with either high or moderate levels of stress on a daily basis. What triggers the body’s response to stress? Cortisol, secreted by the adrenals, peaks and falls with emotional response. In addition there is a daily cyclical rise and fall of cortisol levels that govern the level of wakefullness during the day, spiking just after we wake up in the morning (like your body’s natural cup of coffee). The trouble arises when stress levels are maintained throughout the day. Your cortisol is working overtime and can stay at a high level putting you at risk for heart disease, sleep problems, digestive problems, depression, obesity, memory impairment and skin eruptions.
So what can you do to help yourself besides try to reduce the stress in your life? A supplement, PS (phosphatidylserine) helps by decreasing cortisol levels and distress. In addition anxiety can rear its nervous head during high cortisol secretions. Neurotransmitter imbalance (GABA, serotonin, dopamine) can trigger anxiety responses along with the adrenals releasing high levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline which can cause increased heart rate and breathing. Rather than just popping supplements to try to get these secretions under control, we advise getting a proper neurotransmitter test (the one we took was a saliva, urine test given to us by Certified Nutritionist Kristine Bahr www.kbahr.co ). Once you know what is being over or under excited, she can then advise you on what supplements to take to temper your response. I did this and it “cured” my anxiety attacks.
Too many companies will try to sell you on their pills to fix your problem. If you don’t know what the problem is exactly, how do you know you are not making it worse by following their protocol? You may be causing your stress through your thought processes and emotions, but there also could be a clinical explanation. Better to get to the root of the problem before your try to self-diagnose and self-treat.
-Nina Anderson, Specialist in Performance Nutrition
Posted in Diseases of aging
Tagged adrenals, anxiety, cortisol, dopamine, gaba, Kristine Bahr, neurotransmitter test, Nina Anderson, panic attacks, phosphatidylserine, serotonin, stress
When adrenal function is impaired or weak, a person may suffer from low blood sugar, low blood pressure, low body temperature, and a total feeling of exhaustion. When stress is prolonged the organs begin to weaken and other health related problems can set in such as hypoglycemia. Some of the common causes that contribute to adrenal exhaustion in addition to stress, are poor diet, over-consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates, overuse of caffeine, alcohol, drugs, nicotine, and vitamin B and C deficiencies. Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, depression, PMS, nervousness, inability to concentrate, lightheadedness, sweet cravings, irritability, insomnia, and headaches.
According to the American Institute of Stress, up to 75-90 % of doctor visits in the US are stress related. Work is the biggest stressor (46% of all employees are stressed out according to the Washington Business Group on Health), with women being affected more than men.
Stress is directly related to adrenal gland fatigue. They are responsible for producing several important hormones and are critical to the stress response. The medulla, which is the inner part, pours out epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine. These hormones speed up the body’s metabolism in order to help us to cope with stress. These are the two most important hormones in the body. They govern the fight or flight response (alarm reaction), and are almost a direct extension of the nervous system.
So what can we do about this? Number one is to try to reduce whatever is stressing us out. Next, watch your diet and stop eating so much sugar or high-glycemic carbs and cut down on your caffeine and nicotine. Add supplements like pantothenic acid, vitamin C, Vitamin B 6, Zinc, and Magnesium to your vitamin regimen. Also investigate reish mushroom, holy basil (a good antiflammatory as well as having a calming effect), ashwaganda and certain flower remedies. Getting more sleep is a good thing as it helps prevent adrenalin spikes that may occur because you are tired and not able to cope with stress. Homeopathics also may be right for you as there are many combinations that help reduce stress. You also should be aware that low adrenal function may be directly related to thyroid insufficiency. Therefore, if you have tried through diet and lifestlye changes to get your adrenals back in line and you still experience symptoms a visit to your doctor for a thyroid test may be in order.