Stress. It’s safe to say that we all experience too much of it. Chronic stress can lead to fatigue, headaches, nervousness, and irritability and over time take a serious toll on our health.
Regular exercise and good nutrition are great for coping with stress, but they may not be enough when daily stress becomes overwhelming. Enter ashwagandha: a medicinal herb known for its stress-lowering effects. Ashwagandha helps reduce mental stress, anxiety, cortisol production, and even stress-related food cravings!
Today in Canada, stress is endemic. The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item scale (GAD-7), and Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) were all given to a group of over 8,000 individuals in 2020, ages 25 to over 60 years old. People under 25 years old appear to be the most affected, reporting the highest scores on all three tests. While stress needs to be addressed at any age, it now needs to be taken care of in more younger people than ever before.1
Stress triggers adrenaline and cortisol production allowing the individual to react to the stressful situation. Productivity may increase, but fatigue and exhaustion can then follow and if prolonged, health issues may occur.
Chronic stress is associated with mental health issues. The Canadian Mental Health Commission reports that anxiety, depression, insomnia, fatigue, as well as alcohol and drug abuse occur more frequently in those under extreme stress.2
These “stress states” can lead to memory loss, poor brain performance, anxiety disorders and accelerated aging. Stress can also lead to physical disease, including heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, respiratory issues, migraines, metabolic syndrome, obesity, poor sexual performance and weakened immunity.
Solutions for managing stress and anxiety
The pharmaceutical industry offers a wide selection of drugs to cope with stress. Some common prescriptions are anxiolytics (tranquilizers or benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax), beta blockers for anxiety symptoms, or sleeping pills to address insomnia. These medicines can lead to dependence, decreased effectiveness with regular use, and contribute to cognitive decline and withdrawal symptoms.
To avoid potential risks of pharmaceuticals, the Canadian Mental Health Association recommends a number of lifestyle adjustments to help the mind and body cope:3
- Identify stress triggers
- Solve problems as they come up
- Talk about how you’re feeling with a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional
- Simplify your life
- Learn helpful thinking strategies
- Learn about stress management, including sleep (7 hours per day) to allow the mind and body to heal, regular vigorous exercise to release stress and eating a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, lean meat, protein
- Start on the inside by practising yoga, deep breathing and mindfulness to help calm the mind and body
- Do something you enjoy, making time for hobbies and activities that you find fun and give you a break from your problems
- Surround yourself with supportive family and friends
Natural supplements can also assist in coping with stress. Nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and magnesium have been shown to help. Traditional herbal remedies also have a history of assisting the body when under mental or physical stress.
Adaptogens – Natural stress resistance
Herbal adaptogens can help to rebalance and rejuvenate the body during periods of stress. The best adaptogens have the following traits4:
- Decrease stress-induced damage
- Safe and beneficial even at higher than normal doses
- Free from negative effects, such as withdrawal
- Avoids impacting normal body functions more than necessary
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a powerful adaptogen. Its name means “smell of horse” owing to its distinctive odour and its ability to give one the “strength of a horse.” The root has been used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years as a rejuvenative herb, enhancing multiple body systems: the neurological, immune, energy-production, endocrine and reproductive systems.5
Ashwagandha has a long history of use. Researchers believe that ashwagandha’s ability to reduce blood cortisol levels is the primary reason for its effectiveness against stress symptoms.
During stressful situations, cortisol can rise as much as 20 times normal levels due to excess adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) secretion.6 Elevated cortisol leads to increased heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar. High cortisol levels for short periods can save our lives. High cortisol for long periods can have detrimental effects.7
Health First Ashwagandha Supreme is formulated with KSM-66 Ashwagandha® – an organic, non-GMO, concentrated root extract and the most clinically studied ashwagandha on the market. KSM-66® contains the complete profile of nutrients found naturally in ashwagandha.
KSM-66 Ashwagandha® is a superior extract for several reasons. In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, only the root is used, not the leaves. KSM-66® has the highest concentration at 5% of any root-only Ashwagandha extract and maintains the complete profile of nutrients found naturally in Ashwagandha. Most importantly, KSM-66® extract is backed by extensive clinical studies. It’s no wonder that it has been called “the world’s best ashwagandha!”