: Natural Stress-Relieving Substances
In addition to stress management activities, many nutrients and herbs have been shown in scientific studies to possess “anti-stress” properties. These nutrients and herbs can help the body rebound from stressful situations or help support bodily organs and tissues that are affected by the stress response. Herbs that may help us counter some of the adverse effects of stress include adaptogenic herbs. Adaptogenic herbs help to restore proper function to the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands. Adaptogenic herbs improve the ability of these organs to normalize cortisol levels.
Siberian ginseng, Panax ginseng, and Indian ginseng are all considered adaptogenic herbs. Siberian ginseng normalizes cortisol, improves immune function and increases overall well-being. Panax ginseng can enhance immune function, physical stamina, mental acuity, and resistance to toxic substances. Indian ginseng, also known as ashwaghanda, protects against stress-induced ulcers, lowers chronically elevated cortisol, enhances energy, reduces anxiety, and counteracts stress-induced hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels). Herbs that manage the symptoms of stress should be used under the guidance of a naturopathic physician or integrative healthcare practitioner.
Recent research has found that L-theanine, an amino acid present in green tea, can help reduce stress. When taken in supplement form, L-theanine helps promote a sense of calmness and relaxation without causing drowsiness. Unlike prescription tranquilizers, L-theanine is non-addictive and actually helps to heighten mental clarity and focus.
Nutrients that can manage the internal stress response include:
• vitamin C, which helps normalize cortisol in situations of severe stress
• thiamin (B1), which protects adrenals from functional exhaustion
• pantothenic acid (B5), which enhances adrenal function and helps regulate cortisol levels.
De-stressing—and healthy immune function—require a comprehensive mind/body/spirit approach. In addition to stress management practices and stress-relieving nutrients, the immune system will also benefit from other lifestyle improvements.