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Relieve Stress Naturally

5 December, 2017

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Stress is a normal part of daily living in a modern society. As a result, most people welcome anything that can help them relieve stress naturally, preferably without resorting to the use of pharmaceutical drugs.

How the body deals with stress

No matter what the cause of stress, whether mental or physical, the body deals with it in exactly the same way; it invokes the 'fight or flight' response. This means the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated and the pituitary gland releases a hormone which then stimulates the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands.

Unfortunately though, if the level of stress is maintained for a long period of time (chronic stress), it can have detrimental effects on the body. It can lead to 'burn-out, which is now commonly referred to as adrenal fatigue or adrenal exhaustion.

Burn-out or adrenal fatigue may cause the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty getting up in the morning

  • Feelings of fatigue not relieved by sleep

  • Mild depression
  • Cravings for salt and/ or sugar
  • Headaches
  • Sensitivity to light and/ or noise
  • Loss of focus ('fuzzy' thoughts)
  • Increased recovery time from illness or injury

These are just some of a range of symptoms that may be indicative of adrenal fatigue.

How to deal with stressRhodiola is a great option for relieving stress naturally

There are many natural ways to deal with and overcome the effects of stress on the body. Relaxation techniques, meditation and breathing exercises are all beneficial. Unfortunately though, when you are busy during the day you often don't have the time to be able to perform these exercises. This is where a quick and easy option like, Rhodiola rosea, may be just what you need!

Rhodiola rosea is a natural stress relieving herb that is mainly grown in high altitude environments around Europe and Asia. It has been studied extensively in Russia and Scandinavia for over 30 years. It contains a number of biologically-active compounds that have a range of health benefits in the body, especially when it comes to stress.

Rhodiola is a member of a particular class of herbs known as 'adaptogens'. An adaptogen is defined by its ability to provide the following benefits in the body:

  • Increases the body's resistance to stressors
  • Has a 'normalising' influence on physiology
  • May only influence body systems within normal capacities

Rhodiola's powerful effects in providing natural stress relief are believed to result from several mechanisms. Firstly, Rhodiola has been shown to reduce the breakdown of neurotransmitters. It is also thought to improve the permeability of the blood-brain barrier, which enhances the transport of amino acids required for neurotransmitter production, tryptophan and tyrosine.

It has also been shown to prevent excessive release of the catecholamines (epinephrine and nor-epinephrine) and cortisol from the adrenal glands. This may partly explain why it is beneficial in preventing adrenal fatigue.

Numerous clinical studies have been conducted on Rhodiola. Here's a brief summary of the results:

  • Olsson et al (2009) found that people suffering from stress-related fatigue for at least 6 months were significantly improved after 4 weeks of Rhodiola supplementation.
  • Dabinyan et al (2000) found that mental performance was improved and fatigue was reduced in both male and female doctors working night shift.
  • Spasov et al (2000) discovered that during an exam period students experienced significant improvements in physical fitness, mental performance and feelings of general well being. The students also reported that they needed less sleep, had greater mood stability and greater motivation to study!
  • Shevtsov et al (2003) noted that even a single dose of Rhodiola had an anti-fatigue effect in healthy people.
  • Darbinyan and fellow researchers conducted another study on Rhodiola in 2007 and found that improvements could be achieved for patients suffering from depression, insomnia and emotional instability.
  • Skarpansak-Stejnborn et al (2009) found that Rhdiola increased the anti-oxidant levels in the blood stream of professional athletes. This means that Rhodiola may assist in the recovery process post-exercise.
  • De Bock et all (2004) showed that Rhodiola may improve endurance capacity. These results are particularly promising for athletes.
  • Abidov et al (2004) discovered that Rhodiola also has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect and may also prevent muscle breakdown during exercise.

How to select the right Rhodiola product:

Rhodiola is increasing in popularity worldwide. As a result, some dubious companies are releasing questionable Rhodiola products that contain active ingredients that have been artificially added to make it look 'right'.

For example, they may start with a low-quality Rhodiola product and then add 'rosavin' (active ingredient) to it in order to increase the level of this ingredient in the product.

However, Rhodiola contains at least 28 ingredients that have been isolated so far and even though there have only been a few ingredients that have been studied, a high quality product will contain virtually all of the active ingredients because of the careful extraction techniques used.

Therefore, it simply makes sense to only use a Rhodiola product that has been prepared using high-quality extraction techniques. It should also be the same form that has been proven in scientific research to be beneficial from a health perspective.

Dr Richard Brown and Patricia Gerbarg M.D, authors of 'The Rhodiola Revolution', explain that rosea extracts used in most human clinical studies were standardised to contain a minimum of 3 percent rosavins and 0.8-1 percent salidroside. 

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