28 Feb Stress & Relaxation: Botanical Style
Occasional stress is a common health concern around the world. Not only is stress a negative for a person’s mental health, but it is also a significant contributing factor to many other conditions such as chronic pain, cardiovascular disease, digestive disorders, hormonal disorders, obesity, sleep disturbances, memory and concentration impairment, headaches and even diabetes all have a connection back to chronic stress.[i]
Since the pandemic, the number of people with stress in their lives has grown significantly. Here are some of the current numbers:
- Nearly 80% of Americans say the COVID-19 pandemic is a significant source of stress in their lives.[ii]
- There was a significant increase in mental health problems in the general population in the first year of the pandemic.[iii]
- Nearly 1 in 5 adults say their mental health is worse than last year (2020 vs. 2019)[iv]
- The World Health Organization claims the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide.[v]
Sometimes people don’t associate their mood with stress, and yet if we look at how people’s moods have changed too, there are some staggering numbers too:
- The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a 25% increase in mood issues worldwide.[vi]
- Nearly 1 in 5 Americans have a problem with mood disorders[vii]
- 970 million = Number of people globally with any mood type disorder[viii]
As mentioned above, prolonged stress will have a negative impact on many areas of the body. The cycle that stress triggers is like a wheel that can spin out of control. When the body is “stressed,” the adrenal glands produce adrenaline and cortisol, which are often referred to as the “stress hormones”. Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates blood pressure, and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugar in the bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose, and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. Cortisol also alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive and reproductive systems.
Managing Stress: Chill Out
Learning to manage stress is a multipronged approach in which supplements and functional foods can play an important role. Granted, no food or supplement will remove the underlying cause for someone’s stress, i.e. finances, death of a loved one, work, family problems, etc., but they can play a role in how the body feels and responds to the stress. Adding these unique ingredients into functional products and then combined with counseling (if needed), exercise, using relaxation techniques, etc., we can make a significant impact on how people adapt to stress and have a positive effect on other health challenges that may have their root based on chronic stress.
Before we get into some of the critical supplements for stress and relaxation, here are a few of the foods I recommend being healthful for people with stress or the need to relax:
Greens, Berries, Cold Water Fish (Omega-3s), Dark Chocolate, Seeds, Nuts, Avocado, and Chamomile. In addition, removing particular “stress-promoting” foods such as sugar and caffeine will give you a cutting-edge product and help millions get their wellness back.
Botanicals to the Rescue
As The Herbal Pharmacist®, my career began with an emphasis on botanicals vs. single-entity ingredients (C, E, D, etc.). However, I prefer botanicals for several reasons:
- The body treats them like food- we are designed to get our nutrients from food.
- They contain multiple phytochemicals (plant compounds), vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins, enzymes, and other nutrients, which may play more like an orchestra and not a single instrument.
- Solid clinical research (4000+ clinical studies annually)
Adaptogens (Ashwagandha, Bacopa, Holy Basil, etc.)
When we look at nutraceuticals that support the adrenals, we usually mention adaptogenic herbs. Adaptogens help the body achieve or maintain an ideal balance when exposed to physical and/or mental stressors. We can see by the outcome of the research with three key adaptogens, Ashwagandha (Sensoril®), Bacopa, and Holy Basil, the impact on reducing most of the long-term effects of stress, i.e., decreasing cortisol levels, lowering blood sugar, improved sex hormones, reduced blood pressure, etc.
Address the Stress where it Begins: Roman Chamomile (SibeliusTM: Chamomile (SC))
Roman Chamomile has a unique action of working in the brain that promotes calmness and improves sleep. Roman chamomile plays an important role in stress and should be considered one of the first lines of helping the body cope. Sleep also plays an essential role in stress and feeling calm. A recent consumer group study with SibiliusTM: Chamomile reported that ALL participants said they had improvements in sleep quality duration and reduced the number of times waking up throughout the night.
When the body is under prolonged periods of stress, the ability to manufacture or keep neurotransmitters in balance becomes challenging. Ingredients such as affron® and CALMalumaTM are great to mention here. Affron® has four studies completed (one in children 12-16 years old) showing improvements in mood, occasional stress, and tension.
CALMalumaTM may be a new supplement for most of us, yet it has a significant impact on having people feel an overwhelming feeling of calm. One study showed that it helped reduce stress and frustration and influenced the stress hormone cortisol.
For those seeking to address their stress full-bore, consider combining the abovementioned ingredients. An example would be to take SibeliusTM: Chamomile, affron, and ashwagandha daily. I currently take affron® and Sensoril® during the day and SC at bedtime to keep me calm and peaceful at bedtime. In addition, incorporating other healthy lifestyle choices such as more exercise, eliminating poor food choices and caffeine, and adding in a few of those “stress foods” will help get you to a place of peace in your life.
[i] American Psychological Association Website, How Stress affects your health, https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/health, Updated October 31, 2022, accessed February 2, 2023
[ii] American Psychological Association website, https://www.apa.org/images/sia-2020-covid-stress_tcm7-279798.jpg, COVID-19 Is a Significant Stressor for Most Americans,
[iii] . Chang S-S, Stuckler D, Yip P, Gunnell D. Impact of 2008 global economic crisis on suicide: time trend study in 54 countries. BMJ. 2013;347(7925):f5239. doi:10.1136/bmj.f5239
[iv] American Psychological Association website, https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2020/sia-mental-health-crisis.pdf, Stress in AmericaTM 2020 A National Mental Health Crisis, (Poll completed between August 4 and August 26, 2020), accessed April 7, 2022
[v] WHO Website, https://www.who.int/news/item/02-03-2022-covid-19-pandemic-triggers-25-increase-in-prevalence-of-anxiety-and-depression-worldwide, COVID-19 pandemic triggers 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide, March 2, 2022, accessed April 7, 2022
[vi] World Health Organization website, https://www.who.int/news/item/02-03-2022-covid-19-pandemic-triggers-25-increase-in-prevalence-of-anxiety-and-depression-worldwide, COVID-19 pandemic triggers 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide, March 2, 2022, accessed April 28, 2022
[vii] The Recovery Village website, https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/mental-health/mood-disorders/mood-disorders-statistics/, Mood Disorders Statistics, Updated on 9/17/21, accessed April 28, 2022
[viii] Statista Website, https://www.statista.com/topics/8066/mental-health-worldwide/#topicHeader__wrapper, Mental health worldwide- Statistics and Facts, June 15, 2021, accessed April 28, 2022