Coping With Stress
Anxiety and chronic stress weaken immunity and leave us susceptible to disease. Thus, by reducing and managing our stress load, we can improve our immune response, and ward off both acute and chronic illnesses. https://www.pnas.org/content/109/16/5995.
Stress and Immune Function
Now more than ever, stress is a constant companion for most of us. And, when we are under constant stress, the body responds on both a psychological and a physiological level.
Psychologically we can feel depressed, unhappy, and/or overwhelmed, states which, over time, can leave us weakened.
Physical symptoms manifest intensely under extreme stress, and more subtly during low-level, chronic stress. Such symptoms range from digestive problems and muscle pain, to rapid heartbeat and sweating.
Stress also dramatically increases inflammation in the body, because your body—and your brain—when under stress, is triggered to produce stress hormones. These stress hormones send signals throughout the nervous system, signals which reallocate energy to fight an imminent danger. During this process energy is diverted away from the immune system and towards our flight-or-fight responses. In the short term this is not a problem, but in the long run stress hormones induce inflammation, and immune function is reduced, impairing our ability to fight off infection, and disease. (Source)
Given this relationship between stress, immunity, and disease, it is important that we have methods to reduce our response to stress, and to strengthen our ability to cope with stress. There are two approaches to this, one being stress management techniques, and the other being the use of adaptogens.
Stress Management Techniques
Such techniques have been well proven to improve immune function dramatically. (Source) And, although most of us are quite aware of the options, just to refresh your memory here are the most common approaches.
Create a peaceful environment; use aromatherapy; have a bath (with Epsom salts) instead of a shower; play music that is relaxing and/or joyful.
Practice gratitude, and some form of mindfulness, such meditation, Qi Gong, yoga, tai chi, etc.
Avoid information overload by not listening to the same bad news over and over again.
Exercise: Aside from distracting us from anxiety, exercise also decreases stress, and changes brain function, increasing the production of feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin. (Source)
Laugh: watch funny t.v., movies, comic stand-up routines, etc., or read funny books. Remember Norman Cousins’ book, Anatomy of an Illness? This best-selling, groundbreaking classic concerned his battle against a life-threatening illness, using humor. “It started the revolution in patients working with their doctors and using humor to boost their bodies' capacity for healing.”
(His story was even turned into a t.v. movie, available for purchase on Amazon.)
Adaptogens are stress-response modifiers proven to exert a positive influence on cytokine activities (inflammatory compounds), and immune response. These, mostly herbal, compounds help the body cope with mental, physical, and/or emotional, stresses.
Our product, AdrenalStart, contains the most powerful adaptogens from the Chinese, Indian, Russian, and Western traditional herbal medical systems. This synergistic combination of adaptogenic herbs has improved the lives of many people over the years, helping with symptoms of anxiety, depression, fatigue, andropause, menopause, sleep disorders, weight gain, and postpartum issues.
The range of ailments that can be treated with adaptogen formulas is due to the influence on reversing adrenal fatigue, which in turn drops cortisol (stress hormone) levels, and elevates DHEA (“mother” hormone) levels, leading to a balancing of the sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone). All these improvements to bodily functions also lead to improved immune function.
Now, let’s have a brief look at the properties of the adaptogens used in AdrenalStart. (More detailed information can be found on the product page for AdrenalStart.)
Ashwagandha – used to treat fatigue, general debility, and support sexual health.
A study from 2017 provided scientific validation to the anxiety-reducing, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer benefits of ashwagandha, along with suggesting it “may serve as an effective dietary supplement for management of sleep deprivation, induced stress and associated functional impairments.” (Study)
Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus) – supports the adrenals, and aids treating mental and physical exhaustion. Siberian Ginseng contains eleutherosides which also support immune system response, enhancing the cellular response of the immunological system, and stimulating antibody production. (Study)
Schisandra – supports digestion, circulation, immune function, stamina, and athletic performance.
“Numerous clinical trials have demonstrated the efficiency of Schizandra in asthenia (abnormal physical weakness), neuralgic and psychiatric (neurosis, psychogenic depression, astheno-depressive states, schizophrenia and alcoholism) disorders, in impaired visual function, hypotension and cardiotonic disorders, in epidemic waves of influenza, in chronic sinusitis, otitis (ear infection), neuritis (nerve inflammation), and pneumonia.” (Study)
Royal Jelly – contains every known nutrient – all vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes and essential fatty acids. High in pantothenic acid (B-5), which is required for adrenal health, royal jelly is also considered a longevity-agent in Chinese medicine.
Royal Jelly is the most studied bee product, with properties that include, “antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-aging, immunomodulatory, as well as a general tonic action. It is commonly used to supplement various diseases, including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular, and Alzheimer's disease”. (Study)
Fo-Ti – supports the glandular and adrenal systems, blood sugar levels, and is used in Chinese medicine as a tonic for longevity, and rejuvenation. Recent studies have shown it to be an effective option for treating insulin resistance, a situation that leads not only to diabetes, but which is also implicated in cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and Alzheimer’s disease. (Study)
One study found that an extract of Fo-Ti improved liver function in aging mice, most likely through the mechanism of elevating levels of the two most important antioxidants in the body (superoxide dismutase, and glutathione peroxidase). (Study)
Ginger – benefits blood circulation, the digestive system, the liver, arteries, and kidneys. Ginger extract has proven to raise antioxidant activity (superoxide dismutase), enhance immune function, and reduce inflammatory responses. (Study)
Because ginger is so effective at reducing inflammation, and oxidative damage, and because it also has immunomodulatory properties, it is being used experimentally to treat multiple sclerosis. (Study)
Rhodiola Rosea – supports the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, memory, learning and attention, sex hormones, thyroid function, and reduces stress.
Given its wide range of physical and mental benefits, rhodiola is being suggested as a treatment for autoimmune diseases of the central nervous system. (Study)
And it is no surprise that rhodiola has proven to have antidepressant properties, as this study determined.
“R. rosea demonstrates multi-target effects on various levels of the regulation of cell response to stress, affecting various components of the neuroendocrine, neurotransmitter receptor and molecular networks associated with possible beneficial effects on mood.” (Study)
Conclusion During times of inordinate stress, everyone benefits from taking some form of adaptogen. The first adaptogen to receive widespread popularity in the West was ginseng. Then Siberian ginseng, which is not actually a member of the ginseng family, but marketers used the term in order to help consumers recognize what its benefits might be. Since then, we have “discovered” that every traditional culture has at least one local herb which serves this function.
My formula (AdrenalStart) is a synergistic mix of a variety of the best adaptogens from around the world. It balances out the complementary attributes of these herbs, along with their warming and cooling tendencies, in order to create a balanced product that can be used for long periods. For that is how adaptogens work: like tonics, best taken over long periods of time, to fortify the body and strengthen the nervous system.