Are you stressed out? If so, you’re not alone, since 75 to 90 percent of all doctor visits are for stress-related problems and complaints. Not only is stress running rampant and taking a toll on health, but it’s also hitting the pocketbooks hard. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says that stress has become a hazard in the workplace and that stress costs American industries more than $300 billion each year.
To be sure, stress is a normal part of life and can come from your environment, body, emotions or thoughts. Stress is the body’s reaction to any change that necessitates an adjustment, resulting in physical, mental or emotional responses. It can be a positive force, keeping us aware of and avoiding danger, for example. When stress is unrelenting with no relief between challenges and changes, however, it can have negative effects. This kind of stress, called distress, can play a part in headaches, upset stomach, depression or anxiety, arthritis, skin problems, heightened blood pressure, diabetes, chest pain, trouble sleeping and more. Additionally, when there is chronic, unaddressed stress, the chances of this becoming an emotional disorder (over a lifetime) is 50 percent.
Some people turn to alcohol, tobacco, drugs or overeating to combat stress and to “relax,” but that only makes it worse. There are natural approaches to relieving stress, however, and eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and establishing good sleep patterns can help.
But there’s even more you can do to soothe stress, and one of the ways to do so is through an amazing herb called ashwagandha. It’s an exotic Indian herb that has truly outstanding stress-soothing properties that are “comparable to those of powerful drugs" used to combat stress and its effects.
Ashwagandha supplies protective effects on the nervous system, including powerful antioxidant properties that target damaging free radicals that can take over during times of stress. For example, stress can increase peroxidation of lipids and also decrease levels of the antioxidant enzymes called catalase and glutathione peroxidase—the result of free radical damage. In a study, ashwagandha extract was given by researchers one hour prior to daily stress-inducing procedures, and those free radical damaging processes were normalized. As a result, researchers believe that using ashwagandha as an anti-stress agent can work. Likewise, in another study, brain cell degeneration due to stress was reduced by 80 percent.
Additionally, in one of the most complete human clinical trials thus far, researchers studied ashwagandha’s effects on stress, including elevated levels a stress hormone called cortisol, which is thought to be a major player in the adverse effects of stress. The results were notable. Study participants had up to a 26 percent reduction in cortisol levels, increased energy, better sleep, less fatigue, a reduction in fasting blood sugar levels and improved lipid profiles.
Ashwahandha’s nothing short of impressive at stress busting, but studies indicate that it has additional phenomenal health benefits. For example, researchers at the Institute of Natural Medicine at the Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University in Japan noted that ashwagandha supported regeneration of damaged nerve cells in the brain called axons and dendrites, while also supporting healthy brain function.
Add that to the fact that ashwagandha can stop the proliferation of unhealthy, damaging cells, and you have a pretty awesome herb for soothing stress and much more.
So, if you’re stressed out, give this amazing herb a try.