Stress and Adrenal Health
Managing the Stress Response
Stressed? Burned out? Chronic anxiety, cognitive weariness, emotional exhaustion, and physical fatigue… Escaping stress in modern-day living is virtually impossible, but it is possible to control the psychological and physiological stress response.
What Every Patient Should Understand
It is estimated that 75-90% of visits to primary care physician are related to stress – either acutely or due to chronic conditions associated with stress. Stress responses have evolved from the “fight or flight” mechanism, involving the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis, where the nervous and endocrine systems interact by way of chemical signaling and hormone secretions.
Stress and Hormones
In response to stress, hormone levels change. Stress reactions are associated with enhanced secretion of multiple hormones including glucocorticoids (steroid hormones), catecholamines (neurotransmitters), growth hormone, and prolactin – which serve to mobilize energy sources and enhance adaptability to challenging situations or danger. Specifically, the catecholamines epinephrine and norepinephrine, and glucocorticoid cortisol are largely responsible for the noticeable elevations in cardiac output, blood pressure, sodium retention, respiration capacity, and blood glucose that accompany a stress response. Though beneficial short-term, prolonged exposure to elevated stress hormones increase inflammation, disrupt mood and cognition, and lead to metabolic and cardiovascular disturbances and disease.
Cortisol and Adrenal Fatigue
Cortisol (secreted from the adrenal glands) plays a central role in the progression of stress-related disease and adrenal dysfunction. Symptoms associated with chronically elevated cortisol include insomnia, decreased libido, digestive distress, compromised immune function, anxiety, fatigue, pain disorders, food and sugar cravings, and increased abdominal fat and weight gain. Eventually, elevated and persistent cortisol production can lead to cortisol resistance and hypocortisolism, whereby the adrenal glands are unable to produce sufficient cortisol to adapt to daily challenges. When this happens adrenal fatigue is predominant, and accompanied by a negative state of emotional exhaustion, cognitive weariness, depression, and extreme physical fatigue. Aside from significant health implications, productivity at work and interpersonal relationships suffer greatly from this condition.
Benefits of Adaptogens and Anxiolytics
Support with Adaptogens
Adaptogens consist of a special class of healing plants found to improve the non-specific stress response and recovery from prolonged periods of chronic stress. To be classified an adaptogen, four general properties must be present, including: 1) It is harmless to the host; 2) it has a general, rather non-specific effect; 3) it increases the resistance of the recipient to a variety of physical, chemical, or biological stressors; and 4) it acts as a general homeostatic normalizer.
Adapt-Adren is a unique formula from BioSpec that includes four of the most well-studied adaptogenic herbs in clinical use. Though research supports the benefits of these ingredients in isolation, other studies have shown a synergistic effect when used in combination – as found in Adapt-Adren.
Find Adapt-Adren label facts listed in our catalog, brochure, and store online.
Support with Anxiolytics
As the name implies, Anxiolytics refer to substances known to decrease anxiety by producing a sedative and calming effect on the host. Anxiety presents as a general mood of fear, worry, and uneasiness stemming from numerous sources (stressors), some of which are hormonal. Recent studies have linked abnormalities in hormone levels to various anxiety disorders. For example, elevated blood cortisol (from chronic stress) has shown to induce anxiety – the result of imbalance in blood cortisol/DHEA ratios.
Stress-Ease AM/PM was developed to target states of stress characterized by feelings of anxiety, agitation, and an inability relax or fall asleep. Ingredients found within Stress-Ease AM/PM were included for their well-studied benefits, and effects on the HPA axis.
Find Stress-Ease AM/PM label facts listed in our catalog, brochure, and store online.
Benefits of Active Ingredients
Support with Adaptogens
Adapt-Adren and Stress-Ease AM/PM Signature Series formulas include natural ingredients scientifically shown to support essential biological functions.
- Ashwagandha (withania somnifera) – as the predominant adaptogen in the Ayurvedic medicinal system, recent double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have found significant improvements along independent measures of perceived stress and anxiety, serum cortisol, food cravings, and Body Mass Index (BMI) – thus helping to mitigate stress-induced weight gain.
- Eleutherococcus Senticosus– studied extensively and shown to enhance adaptability to adverse physical conditions, improve mental performance, and work quality under stressful conditions.
- Rhodiola Rosea – understood to influence the levels and activity of biogenic monoamines (serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine) in the cerebral cortex, brain stem, and hypothalamus. Human studies have found reduced fatigue, improved mental performance, improved sleep, and greater mood stability with 100mg of Rhodiola Rosea.
- Panax Ginseng Root – multiple studies cite the adaptogenic effects of Panax Ginseng, which acts upon the HPA axis through numerous mechanisms like increased corticosteroid binding, improved negative feedback loops, and HPA sensitivity to cortisol.
STRESS_EASE AM/PM PROVIDES:
- Kava Kava (piper methysticum) – a number of double-blind randomized control trials have documented the benefits of kava for decreasing anxiety, without impairing concentration or performance. Kava is known to act through binding with GABA receptors, as well as
inhibiting norepinephrine uptake.
- Valerian (galeriana officinalis) – the well-documented effects of valerian have largely been observed for sleep disorders (insomnia) associated with stress and anxiety. Chemically, valerian acts through increasing GABA release, inhibiting GABA breakdown, and binding to benzodiazepine receptors.
- GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) – as the most important inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, GABA acts like a “brake” during periods of elevated stress. Low GABA levels are associated with several psychiatric and neurological disorders, including anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
- Bacopa Monniera Extract – from the Ayurvedic tradition, bacopa monniera (standardized to 25% bacoside A) was found to exert nxiolytic activity and reduce fatigue, while also enhancing memory. Though anxiolytic mechanisms are not completely understood, bacopa is known to mediate calcium-ion influx.
- L-Theanine – an amino acid shown to induce alpha-brain wave activity, thereby inducing a relaxed, yet alert state of mind as documented through various experimental designs. In the brain, L-theanine increases dopamine, serotonin, and the inhibitory neurotransmitter glycine.
- Melissa Officinalis (lemon balm) – acts by inhibiting GABA-transaminase, the enzyme responsible for degrading GABA. Most significant benefits were observed in relation to mood, anxiety, and sleep disturbances when combined with valerian.
Am J Chin Med. 1981;9:112-118; Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2008;17:167-168; Ann NY Acad Sci, 2008; 1148:495–503; Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol 2000;6:84-9; Econ Med Plant Res 1985;1:156-21; Indian J Psychol Med., 34(3),255–262; Int J Biometeorol 1996:39:187-191; J Evid. Based Complement. Altern. Med 22(1),96-106; J Ethnopharmacol 2000;72:345-393; J Res Ayur Siddha 1980;1:133-148; Med Sci Monit, 2012;18(4):RA40-48; Phytomedicine 2000;7:85-89; Phytomedicine 2006:13:383-387; Pharmacopsychiatry 1997;30:l-5; Ztschr Allegemeinmed 1993;69:271-277.