April is National Stress Awareness Month! We have all undoubtedly experienced some sort of physical or emotional stress in our lives. While short-term stress is normal, long-term, chronic stress has been associated with numerous stress-related health conditions, such as anxiety, hypertension, chronic fatigue syndrome, endocrine dysfunction, and metabolic syndrome.
Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and utilizing relaxation techniques can help you manage your stress levels and keep you feeling your best. Vitamin, mineral, and herbal supplements can also help to improve your resilience to stress and support healthy adrenal gland function.
Below is some useful information about top recommended supplements, including popular products available through my dispensary, that may reduce the effects of stress.
One of the highest concentrations of vitamin C in the body is found in the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands play a key role in the stress response, secreting the hormones adrenaline, aldosterone, and cortisol. The adrenal glands also secrete vitamin C as a response to stress. Research has shown that individuals supplementing with vitamin C demonstrate lower blood pressure, faster salivary cortisol recovery, and better subjective stress responses. Ascorbic acid alone is not recommended for long-term supplementation—far better to choose a formulation that includes mixed ascorbates and bioflavonoids.
Top Vitamin C supplements:
Innate Response C Complete Powder
L-theanine, an amino acid commonly found in green tea, is well-known for promoting relaxation and improving sleep. Research has shown that L-theanine supplementation improves subjective stress and salivary cortisol responses when individuals are confronted with a stressor. L-theanine supplementation also decreases anxiety, depressive symptoms, and sleep disturbances in individuals with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).
Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha)
Adaptogens refer to a group of plants or herbs that help your body adapt to stress, normalize body functions, and maintain homeostasis. Withania somnifera, commonly known as ashwagandha, “Indian Winter Cherry”, or “Indian Ginseng”, is well-known for its adaptogenic, antioxidant, and immune-supportive properties. Studies have shown that ashwagandha supplementation improves serum cortisol levels, perceived stress and happiness, food cravings, body weight, and body mass index.
Rhodiola rosea (Rhodiola)
Historically used in traditional Chinese medicine, the adaptogen Rhodiola rosea is known for its ability to reduce stress, decrease cortisol levels, and improve physical endurance. Several studies have also shown that rhodiola supplementation improves mental performance, concentration, and energy levels.
Top Rhodiola rosea supplements:
Rhodiola Rosea by Gaia Herbs
Rhodiola by Integrative Therapeutics
Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng)
Eleutherococcus senticosus, or Siberian ginseng, is a wild shrub of the Araliaceae family. Similar to ashwagandha and rhodiola, Siberian ginseng is known primarily for its adaptogenic effects. Siberian ginseng has been associated with reductions in heart rate and systolic blood pressure in women. Studies have also shown that supplementation with Siberian ginseng reduces severity and duration of fatigue.
Top Eleutherococcus senticosus supplements:
Eleuthero Root Capsules by Gaia Herbs (Professional Solutions)
Eleuthero Solid Extract by Wise Woman Herbals
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While supplementation can provide your body with extra support during periods of stress, it’s essential to understand your personal stress response and address the factors contributing to your stress. Also, incorporating stress management and relaxation techniques into your life needs to become part of your daily habits. Apps like Headspace and Calm can be great for helping to promote mindfulness and relaxation. One of my favorite tips is to set an alarm on your phone for 5 x 5 minute walks outside a day. It’s amazing what a little sunshine and fresh air can do!
If you want to get a deeper look at how stress is affecting your endocrine system and adrenal function in particular, reach out, and let’s talk about testing options.
I hope you found this informative and helpful, and am wishing you a very happy and healthy National Stress Awareness Month!