Find Your Calm: Natural Remedies for Stress Relief
In this fast-paced world filled with never-ending to-do lists and constant pressures, stress has become a far too familiar companion, for the 15% of Australians experiencing high levels of psychological distress. The most affected age group being people aged 16-34 (1). With these statistics expected to increase, it is becoming more crucial to find effective and sustainable ways to reduce stress.
Fortunately, the answers may lie right outside our doors in the realm of natural remedies. Ranging from ancient herbal traditions to newly discovered plant extracts. In this blog, we will explore the calming world of botanical wonders and their complementary medicine forms, so take a deep breath and let's de-stress together.
Ashwagandha, scientifically known as Withania somnifera, is one of the most popular herbs within the Ayurvedic medicine space. Originating from India, it has been used for thousands of years to beat stress, anxiety and fatigue through its abundance of anti-inflammatory compounds.
One of the key ways Ashwagandha helps fight stress is through its effects on the body's stress response system. Ashwagandha regulates the production of cortisol, a hormone released during times of stress. By modulating the production of stress hormones like cortisol, Ashwagandha can help reduce anxiety and enhance resilience to stressors.
This effect was found in a 2019 study that noted Ashwagandha reduced the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, (responsible for regulating the body's stress response) (3). Among the 58 participants examined, individuals who took either 250 or 600 mg of Ashwagandha extract exhibited a notable decrease in perceived stress and cortisol levels.
Ginseng root is a herb historically used in Korean and Chinese medicine. Ginseng is sourced for its anti-stress and antioxidant properties, helping the body adapt to and alleviate physiological stress. In addition to easing other stress-related disorders such as mild anxiety and depression.
Ginseng contains ginsenosides. An active compound unique to the ginseng species. Ginsenosides restrict the production of the inflammatory cytokine cell, TNF-α (Tumour necrosis factor-alpha), which is secreted during stress (4).
Backed by numerous scientific studies, ginseng's powerful antioxidant properties have been found to combat oxidative stress and effectively reduce stress-related symptoms such as fatigue and prevent long-term chronic illness in both male and female participants (5).
Passionflower is a colourful purple and yellow flower that has an even more colourful history, with evidence of use dating back to the Native Americans and Spanish explorers of the 1500s. It has been used to treat restlessness, agitation and symptoms of anxiety.
One of the key mechanisms by which passionflower applies its calming effects is by increasing the levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate brain activity and induce relaxation. By enhancing GABA levels, passionflower can have sedative and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects, promoting a sense of calmness and tranquility (6).
In a trial published in Phytotherapy Research participants who drank a daily dose of herbal tea with purple passionflower reported improvements in their mind relaxation and sleeping patterns after just seven days (7).
Rhodiola rosea, commonly known as the Arctic root, is a perennial flowering plant native to the Arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America. Rhodiola rosea is classified as an adaptogen, which are herbs that help the body adapt to and cope with stress.
As an adaptogen, Rhodiola rosea helps to increasing your body's resistance to stress. Research highlights that the Rhodiola rosea plant can manage and reduce stress hormone levels and other symptoms of stress as it travels through the user's bloodstream (8).
Multiple studies have confirmed the positive effect Rhodiola rosea has on relieving stress, with one study involving ten participants recruited from the UCLA Anxiety Disorder Program. The results from the study showed significant decreases in their Generalised Anxiety Disorder symptoms when they consumed the Rhodiola rosea extract (9).
In conclusion, when it comes to managing stress, there are a plethora of natural remedies that can calm our minds and restore mental wellness.
With stress levels seemingly on the rise, these remedies are becoming increasingly important as a safe and natural solution compared to prescription medicine.
However, please note that it's recommended to consult your doctor to find which option is right for you and to receive recommendations regarding suggested dosage and frequency.
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1.Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2021). First Insights: National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing, 2020-21. Retrieved from https://www.abs.gov.au/articles/first-insights-national-study-mental-health-and-wellbeing-2020-21.
2.Mao, J. J., Xie, S. X., Keefe, J. R., Soeller, I., Li, Q. S., Amsterdam, J. D., & Li, H. (2020). Long-term chamomile therapy of generalized anxiety disorder: A study protocol for a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Trials, 6(1), 1-5. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6979308/.
3.Colledge, F., Geraghty, A. W. A., & Potts, H. W. W. (2019). Healthcare Staff Wellbeing, Burnout, and Patient Safety: A Systematic Review. PLoS ONE, 14(1), e0210516. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6750292/.
4.Panossian, A., & Wikman, G. (2010). Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress—Protective Activity. Pharmaceuticals, 3(1), 188-224. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5628327/#:~:text=The%20ginsenosides%20are%20the%20major,which%20are%20expressed%20by%20Rx.
5.Reay, J. L., Kennedy, D. O., & Scholey, A. B. (2016). Effects of Panax ginseng, Consumed with and without Alcohol, on Cognitive Functioning and Subjective Experience: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Study. Psychopharmacology, 233(19-20), 3681-3692. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5628357/.
6.Berger, A., Reinhardt, K., Schäfer, M., Montermann, E., Grebe, D., & Büssing, A. (2010). Effects of Meditation on Stress Perception and Cortisol Hormone. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 16(8), 867-873. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2941540/.
7.Lopresti, A. L. (2013). Salvia (Sage): A Review of its Potential Cognitive-Enhancing and Protective Effects. Drugs in R&D, 13(1), 1-14. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21294203/.
8.Anghelescu, I., Edwards, D., Seifritz, E. and Kasper, S., 2018. Stress management and the role of Rhodiola rosea: a review. International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice, [online] 22(4), pp.242-252. Available at: <https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13651501.2017.1417442> [Accessed 8 September 2021].
9. Bystritsky, A., Kerwin, L. and Feusner, J., 2008. A Pilot Study of Rhodiola rosea (Rhodax®) for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, [online] 14(2), pp.175-180. Available at: <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18307390/> [Accessed 8 September 2021].