Every living thing experiences stress. Stress, while unpleasant, is necessary for survival. It encourages us to make changes that will help us adapt to our surroundings.
Stress can be acute, lasting for a short time, or chronic, lasting months or years.
Financial stress, mental stress, biological stress, health-related stress, relationship stress, and even environmental stress are the most common examples. Finding healthy and productive ways to deal with stress is critical for overall health. Meditation and prayer can be beneficial tools for some people.
On the other hand, others may find comfort in confiding in a friend during a difficult time or a personal crisis. Physical activity or exercise regularly can also help to relieve tension, panic, and anxiety.A healthy, well-balanced diet should not be abandoned during times of stress. The foods we eat can either strengthen or weaken us, both mentally and physically.
While it’s easy to reach for comfort foods when life gets tough, it’s critical to ensure nutrients empower our physical bodies to deal with daily — and the once-in-a-lifetime — stressors.
The herbal supplements, minerals, and vitamin listed below may be beneficial for those who require additional assistance.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that may aid in stress management.
Ashwagandha is a plant native to Asia, India, and parts of China. It is used in Ayurvedic medicine and has been used in other practices for thousands of years.
According to the findings of a 2014 study, Ashwagandha “…resulted in greater score improvements (in most cases) than placebo in outcomes on anxiety or stress scales.”
A study published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine in 2012 looked at 64 people. Half of the participants were given Ashwagandha, while the other half received a placebo. “… a high-concentration full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract improves an individual’s resistance towards stress and thereby improves self-assessed quality of life.” the researchers concluded.
Furthermore, a 2019 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study found benefit.
In this study, 60 adults were assigned to receive either 240 mg of Ashwagandha or a placebo. In either group, no adverse events were observed.
When compared to a placebo, those who took Ashwagandha had lower morning cortisol and DHEA-S hormones. This demonstrates the herb’s ability to not only reduce stress feelings and blood markers of stress.
Ashwagandha – 250 to 1000 mg per day is a recommended dose.
Lemon Balm Extract
Lemon balm is a well-known herb that is used by millions of people all over the world.
Scientists refer to it as “melissa officinalis” (the word “melissa” comes from the Greek word meaning “honey bee”). Nonetheless, it is also known as “nectar of life,” “cure-all,” “balm mint,” or “honey plant.”
Lemon balm is a mint family member native to Southern Europe, the Mediterranean, and Central Asia.
It’s green with small, heart-shaped leaves and clusters of white and yellow flowers. Lemon balm is a stress-relieving herb that has been used for over 500 years.
Lemon balm is thought to boost levels of a brain chemical known as GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid).
This chemical pathway is essential in anxiety treatment and is targeted by prescription medications that treat stress and anxiety symptoms.
A 2017 study published in Phytotherapy Research looked at the effects of lemon balm on GABA pathways and discovered that it could help with anxiety and stress.
An article published in 2016 examined the compounds found in lemon balm and concluded that it contains GABA-stimulating receptors.
These studies show that lemon balm may be a safe and effective source of stress relief. Lemon balm can be taken as a herbal supplement, as a food, or as a tea.
L-Theanine, an amino acid, is thought to be a nootropic. It has been shown to have beneficial effects on the brain and may improve alertness. It is found in green tea and may aid in stress reduction.
A randomized, placebo-controlled study conducted in 2019 looked at the effects of L-theanine on stress-related symptoms in healthy adults. Thirty healthy adults were assigned to receive either L-theanine or a placebo.
Researchers concluded after four weeks, “…. that L-theanine has the potential to promote mental health in the general population with stress-related ailments and cognitive impairments.”
Other studies have found mental health benefits as well.
Suggested dose: One or two 200 mg capsules per day.
It can also be found in green tea, where one cup contains approximately 30-50 mg of L-theanine.
Magnesium is referred to as the “stress mineral.”
When we are stressed, our bodies produce more adrenaline and cortisol hormones, and magnesium is required for this to happen.
In total, 350 other biochemical reactions in the human body need adequate magnesium levels for the enzymes to function.
The most common nutritional deficiency I see in my medical practice is low magnesium, which is second only to vitamin D deficiency.
Those under much stress or who take certain medications (like acid reducers and diuretics) are the most vulnerable.
The following symptoms can identify magnesium deficiency:
- Migraines and tension headaches
- Muscle spasms, leg cramps, and twitching of the eyelids
- Urinary frequency as a result of an overactive bladder
- Palpitations in the heart
- Spasms in the esophagus
Many of us are aware of the benefits of taking a warm bath with Epsom salts to relieve stress.
Magnesium salts are what Epsom salts are. It is absorbed through the skin after dissolving in warm water. It saturates the muscles, creating a sense of calm and relaxation.
Dosage range: 200 mg to 500 mg per day.
Rhodiola Rosea is an adaptogen with a variety of health benefits, including stress management.
Rhodiola, like other adaptogens, has been used for thousands of years by ancient healers to protect cells and tissues from oxidative stress and damage caused by daily living. Because adaptogens grow in harsh climates and weather extremes, they learn to defend themselves and pass on their toughness to those who consume them.
A 2012 study found that taking Rhodiola as a supplement could help reduce stress levels. Dr. Mark Cropley’s 2015 study concluded that Rhodiola users “…demonstrated a significant reduction in self-reported anxiety, stress, anger, confusion, and depression at 14 days and significant improvements in total mood.”
Furthermore, a 2017 study found benefits in helping to reduce stress and burnout. It enrolled 118 patients and gave them 400 mg of Rhodiola. Those who supplemented reported lower levels of stress and burnout at the end of the 12 weeks.
Finally, a 2018 study published in Gut Pathology found that Rhodiola has a beneficial effect on the gut microbiome, which may explain why it can help with anxiety and stress-related symptoms. The recommended daily dose ranges from 250 to 1,000 mg.
Thanks to Eric Madrid, M.D..