At least 80% of all visits to doctor’s offices are for symptoms that are in some way related to stress. In our world we are exposed to so many stimuli at such a high rate of speed: decisions need to be made, data needs to be processed, differences in opinions need to be dealt with, disappointments occur on a daily basis, deadlines need to be met, relationships need work, and delays are all around us. Regardless of all of this, we are expected to be at the top of our game. Most of us hover in and around warp speed just in our daily lives, but then factor in some of the factors I just mentioned and we have a recipe for overload.
Fortunately, there are many things we can do nutritionally to limit the negative effects of stress. Now, I could “go off” about the effects of refined foods and sugar laden drinks, but most of you know those effects. Instead I’d like to remind you of other natural solutions that help with stress, particularly short term stress.
A research team at Nancy University in France noted the calming effects of breast milk on babies and theorized that there was some “anti-anxiety” factor in breast milk. The university team was able to isolate specific bioactive peptides from milk that have anti-anxiety activity. Several double-blind placebo controlled human trials done on this all natural milk protein peptide demonstrate significant anti-anxiety activity. This particular peptide is called a decapeptide. A decapeptide is just a tiny fraction of the large milk protein molecule which means people with milk sensitivities can usually take this product safely. In a 15 day trial, a number of physical parameters were measured “pre and post” stress. They all improved compared to controls. In the milk peptide group, heart rate, blood pressure, and ACTH levels all normalized. In addition to significant reductions in stress biochemistry, the study also measured the perceived stress of the test subjects. After 15 days, subjects taking the milk peptide reported better sleeping and better perception of how their lives were progressing. This is important because both the physical markers associated with stress and the subjective measures were both positively affected.
There are also a number of herbal remedies to help diminish stress. Here are just a few you may want to check out:
- Siberian Ginseng: Supports the health of the adrenal glands and bolsters the body’s immune system. It also improves athletic performance and mental alertness.
- Kava-Kava: Calms the nerves and helps you “take the edge off”. It relaxes tight muscles and helps to relieve pain as well. It works without the loss of alertness that accompanies sedative medications and without the side effects associated with common anti-anxiety drugs.
- Valerian Root: Soothes anxiety, relaxes tight muscles and relieves pain. It does have some sedative properties so you may want to take this is the evening and take something like Kava-Kava during the day.
- Schisandra berry: Act as a general tonic and counters fatigue. It helps improve work capacity and mental efficiency, tones the nervous system and increases endurance.
- Reishi: Helps calm anxiety, eases insomnia and tones the immune system
- Gotu Kola: Rejuvenates the nervous system and improves mental functions such as memory. It improves the ability to cope with stress and fatigue and relieves anxiety.
- Ashwaganda: Enhances the body’s ability to cope with stress and generally enhances mental acuity, reaction time and physical performance.
- St. John’s Wort: Eases mild and moderate depression. It also eases premenstrual tension and anxiety and helps relieve nerve or muscle pain.
- Passion Flower: Decreases anxiety and induces sleep. It’s a toning and strengthening herb for the nervous system and a helpful remedy against worrying, particularly when an overactive mind interferes with sleep.
- Chamomile: Calms the nerves and gently aides sleep. It is also anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic.
- Lavender: Just its smell can calm and relax you. It can also help ease headaches and relax tight muscles.
We all know that many drugs like benzodiazepines used for anxiety management have side effects like dependence issues, tolerance issues, and memory loss. So you may want to consider using natural substances that are not habit forming, take the edge off, and in many cases allow people to get a good night’s sleep to reset their system for the next day. You want to make sure you address any underlying causes for prolonged stress, but sometimes we just need to break the stress cycle.