The National Institute of Health (NIH) defines stress as a physical or emotional reaction experienced as we encounter changes in life. The two broad categories of stress include physiological or physical and psychological stressors. Examples of physiological stressors include illness, pain or injury and psychological stressors can involve concerns about health, finances, job demands, family difficulties and other matters that produce worrisome thoughts or emotions.
Elevated levels of stress can disturb our quality of life, leading to conditions like insomnia, depression, anxiety, gastrointestinal distress, irritability, headaches, and fatigue. Stress can also have a deeper impact on our health. Studies have shown that chronic stress levels significantly impact immune function negatively. Also, 75-90% of human diseases have been shown to be related to the activation of the stress system, i.e. cardiovascular, metabolic, neurodegenerative diseases, cancer.
How can herbs help?
Adaptogens and Nervines are herbs that serve as excellent aids in supporting the mind and body during stressful times. Two of the most studied adaptogenic herbs are Ashwagandha and Rhodiola. These herbs support the body’s ability to accommodate physiological and psychological stresses by regulating a stable hormonal balance between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands, also referred to as the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis.
Ashwagandha and Rhodiola each help to regulate cortisol levels, our major stress hormone, and have a variety of additional properties which include helping to reduce anxiety and depression, reducing inflammation, and regulating healthy sleeping patterns.
Lemon balm and Passionflower belong to the nervine family of herbs which means that they help our bodies adapt to stress while reducing anxiety and supporting a more relaxed mood. These herbs can also help to reduce muscle tension, insomnia, depression, and worrisome mental patterns.
These Adaptogenic and Nervine herbs can be taken as a standardized capsule, tincture or in tea form. Be sure to speak with your healthcare provider before taking to avoid any potential contraindications with medications or medical conditions.