In our fast paced culture, many have become accustomed to coping with stress every day. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, as many as 40 million adults in the United States have an anxiety disorder.1 And while most people's anxiety may not rise to the level of needing medical treatment with prescription drugs, many of us could use a little natural help with our stress. No wonder more and more people are turning to healthy lifestyle choices and herbal supplementation to manage stress and anxiety.
Stress isn't just emotionally unpleasant; it can affect your body's fundamental systems in important ways. Anxiety and stress act on the central nervous system, and trigger the so-called "flight or fight" response, which can boost adrenalin levels and increase blood pressure. Sustained anxiety has also been linked to the release of cortisol, a powerful hormone which can cause weight gain and decreased emotional control. 2
When faced with increasing levels of stress or anxiety, some find that making simple lifestyle adjustments can make a big difference. Regular, consistent exercise can increase energy and physical strength, both of which can enhance the body's ability to cope with stress. In addition, cardio-intensive exercise can release endorphins. Many experts also say that getting enough sleep can also help reduce anxiety. 3
Many people would prefer to take natural paths to stress reduction, rather than resorting to pharmaceutical solutions. In many cases herbs can provide significant relief, usually with a lower risk of serious side effects.4
Passionflower has a long history of use in traditional medicine for its relaxing properties, and has become a popular herbal supplement for those with anxiety disorders. There exists a strong body of research supporting the efficacy of passionflower for stress and anxiety, and a recent review in Nutrition Journal surveyed 24 separate studies containing a sample of about 2600 individuals. The strong evidence for passionflower will certainly buoy interest in other natural supplements which have shown promise for stress including the amino acid L-Theanine, and GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter which plays an important role in the release of dopamine and serotonin. 5Indeed, there exists strong clinical support that supplementation with passionflower, GABA, L-Theaninee, combined with exercise, and other important herbs like Eleuthero and Holy Basil, may offer a powerful holistic defense against the modern stressors often linked to chronic stress and anxiety.
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