Research has shown that “emotional” or “psychological” stress negatively impacts our physical body, and not just our sense of well-being.(4-6)
Stress produces physical changes in the body such as increasing the size and weight of the adrenal glands. This elevates the levels of cortisol, which in turn negatively affects our health.(1,7,8)
At the cellular level, stress inhibits our natural antioxidant systems, promotes oxidative damage, and injures energy-producing structures inside mitochondria, where cellular energy is managed.(6,8)
All this stress is taking a serious toll. Roughly 90% of all visits to primary care doctors are for stress-related complaints.
Do you want to find natural stress remedies that work for you? Here are four herbs to reduce the stress levels at home and work.
Used in Ayurvedic medicine, ashwaganda balances fatigue, exhaustion, stress, depression, nervous tension and it has the power to lower inflammation and fight infection. Ashwagandha has been used in Eastern medicine for over 2,500 years and has immune-modulating effects that boost your immune system and aid the body in lowering cortisol levels.
In a 2012 study published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, patients were given 300 mg of ashwagandha root extract twice a day for 60 days. What happened? The participant’s scores of perceived stress dropped by 44% and their levels of the stress hormone cortisol decreased by almost 28%.(9)
Then, in 2014, a systematic review of five controlled studies involving humans found that ashwagandha significantly improved anxiety and stress levels.(10)
How to use:
Also called tulsi, holy basil is known in India as the “elixir of anti-aging.” Preliminary studies suggest that holy basil benefits include helping you fight fatigue and stress; boost your immune system; and regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and hormone levels.
People who take it often report that it gives them a calming energy and a general sense of well-being.
Tulsi has also been found to help regulate your blood sugar and support heart health.
In a 2012 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the international, peer-reviewed journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 158 highly stressed individuals received either a placebo or holy basil. After six weeks, the holy basil group reported improved symptoms of general stress 39% more than the placebo group. Symptoms, such as frequent feelings of exhaustion, forgetfulness, and sleep problems decreased significantly. There were no reported adverse effects.(11)
Another 2008 study published in the Nepal Medical College Journal involved patients with generalized anxiety disorder. Researchers found that 500 mg of holy basil twice daily significantly reduced anxiety and associated stress, depression, and inattention in participants.(12)
How to Use:
Use tulsi regularly to help balance your body and support its response to everyday stressors.
Some ways to use this herb:
Lemon balm actually has a direct impact on the nervous system, soothing and calming frayed nerves. Known as a relaxing nervine, lemon balm relaxes, soothes and supports the entire nervous system.
Lemon balm may help if you’re:
In another 2011 study, 20 adults with moderate anxiety and insomnia were given 300 mg of lemon balm twice per day for 15 days. Researchers found the lemon balm reduced anxiety and related symptoms by as much as 18% and decreased insomnia by 42%.(14)
Lemon balm is also able to effectively increase GABA activity in the brain. Your brain uses the neurotransmitter GABA to prevent over-excitement and achieve balance. It helps keeps our stress levels low and plays a role in sleep.(15)
How to Use:
For most people, lemon balm is considered safe to take daily. Many people use it to improve their mood and stress levels, as well as for anxiety or seasonal affective disorder.
Some ways to use this herb:
Curcumin is the most active compound in the turmeric root. You’ve probably heard about the vast range of health benefits curcumin and turmeric can provide, if you have a health problem, take turmeric. In fact, turmeric may be the world’s most important herb.
But you may not be aware that this magical herb can help relieve stress and anxiety.
Amazingly, curcumin has been found to reverse harmful brain changes induced by chronic stress.(16)
In a 2016 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology it has been shown that taking 500 mg of curcumin twice daily, with fenugreek, considerably reduced stress, anxiety, and fatigue while significantly increasing the quality of life in people suffering from extreme occupational stress.(17)
In another 2015 study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, 400 mg of curcumin was given to healthy adults aged 60 to 85. One hour after a single dose, participants scored better on tasks requiring sustained attention and working memory. Continuous use for weeks improved scores on working memory and mood, including general fatigue, calmness, and contentedness.(18)
And it can even help with PMS. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in 2016 in Neuropeptides, Curcumin was found to reduce anxiety experienced by women with PMS and to significantly reduce PMS-related emotional, behavioural, and physical symptoms.(19)
How to Use:
Curcumin is generally considered safe to take indefinitely. But unfortunately, the body isn’t able to absorb it and make use of its benefits very efficiently.
Mixing turmeric with black pepper and a fat source, such as ghee or coconut oil, as has been done traditionally in India for many centuries seems to supercharge absorption rates. But many people find it easiest to achieve optimal levels with curcumin supplementation.
Herbs can be useful in helping you to reduce your stress at home and at work. But you can’t use herbs to singlehandedly make up for a lack of sleep, poor diet, lack of exercise, or being stuck in toxic relationships.
So, if you’re experiencing the negative effects of stress and are battling to cope, please feel free to contact me, it's important to consider not only how to recover but also what you can do to best minimize/treat the factors that are causing you stress.
For an appointment or chat, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The majority of sweeteners are far from harmless! Aspartame, Equal, sucralose, Splenda and saccharin are all linked to increased risks of kidney disease, metabolic dysfunction, diabetes and obesity. It may be tempting to use these sweeteners thinking that it can help you lose weight while still eating sweet treats, but, if you value your health, steer clear of these dietary pitfalls!
Where does this leave you when you need something sweet? Here are three natural options that will satisfy your sweet tooth and won’t negatively affect your health and cause weight gain.
Stevia is about three hundred times sweeter than sugar but without the caloric content.
Stevia reduces blood sugar and blood pressure, combats infections, and reduces the risk of diabetes. One study even found that consuming stevia was as effective as a popular oral anti diabetic drug, but with fewer side effects.
In 2012, Nutrition and Cancer highlighted a study that has connected stevia consumption to breast cancer reduction.
The journal Food Chemistry published a study out of Croatia showing that when stevia is added to natural colon cancer killing mixtures, such as blackberry leaf, antioxidant levels soar. Together, these studies show stevia’s potential as a natural cancer treatment.
Raw honey is rich in phytonutrients, and is renowned for having powerful anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties.
Nearly all commercially-produced honey is heated to kill potentially harmful bacteria, reduce crystallization, and improve product flow. Unfortunately, this process also kills the vital, living enzymes and good bacteria which make raw honey one of the world’s oldest-known superfoods. The bacteria in raw honey serves as a prebiotic: a substance containing helpful microorganisms that aid in the process of digestion. When consumed raw, honey’s natural enzymes aid in the breakdown and assimilation of the many nutrients it contains.
Raw honey is also rich in powerful antioxidants called phenolic compounds, known to play an important role in cancer prevention. These compounds found in honey have also shown promise in reducing arterial blockages and lowering overall risks associated with cardiovascular disease.
What sets molasses apart from cane sugar, is its high nutritional value. In comparison to sugar, a 3.5 oz serving of blackstrap molasses contains more than a quarter of your daily supply of minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, B vitamins and it is also high in antioxidant content.
Being rich in minerals and vitamins, molasses plays a vital role in maintaining healthy blood and bones. This makes molasses a great alternative to non-nutritive sweeteners for pregnant or nursing women, or women who are trying to become pregnant. It also makes a great dietary supplement for anybody who is at risk of developing osteoporosis. Polyphenols, the plant compounds that imbue antioxidant properties, are abundant in molasses, and have been recognised for having anti-cancer properties in clinical studies.
These three, natural healthy alternatives to sugar prove that craving sweetness doesn’t have to promote weight gain, or lead to blood sugar imbalances.
White JW. Composition of honey. In: Crane E, editor. Honey, a comprehensive survey. London: Bee research Association and Chalfont St Peter; 1975. pp. 157–206.