Since the late 1970s significant importance is being given for the so called Stress vitamins. Many manufacturers come out with different combinations of vitamins in varying strengths with promises of relieving stress. The most common "stress formulas" contain combinations of Vitamin B complex and Vitamin C along with Vitamin E and Vitamin A which are called the Stress Vitamins. The following is a breakdown of the common vitamins used for stress management.
- Vitamin A is essential for vision, skin and mucous membrane integrity and for immunity. It also acts as an anti oxidant. It is the anti oxidant function of this vitamin helps in stress relief.
- Vitamin B acts as an important chemical called the co enzyme in numerous metabolic reactions in the body.
- Niacin, a B complex vitamin is necessary for Tryptophan metabolism which is a precursor of Serotonin. Serotonin is a neuro transmitter which keeps the mind calm.
- Pyridoxine and Vitamin B12 are necessary for the integrity of nerves.
- Pantothenic acid which is a B complex vitamin plays an important role in stress relief. Pantothenic acid along with folic acid and Vitamin C is required for the normal functioning of adrenal glands. It is in these glands the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisols are synthesized. This vitamin also takes part in many chemical reactions in the body through which energy is released.
- Vitamin C is necessary for the synthesis of Cortisol, the stress hormone in the adrenal glands which are situated on the top of the kidneys. Vitamin C is needed in the amino acid tyrosine metabolism which is a precursor of various hormones like adrenaline, dopamine and nor adrenaline. Vitamin C also acts as an anti oxidant. Its anti oxidant property is used for relieving stress.
- Vitamin E whose significance is still under research is believed to act as an anti oxidant. Its anti oxidant property is used for relieving stress.
- L-theanine a non essential amino acid is believed to reduce stress and anxiety without the tranquilizing effects found in many other calming supplements. As it is digested in your small intestine, L-theanine stimulates your brain's production of alpha waves, which make you feel relaxed but alert and not drowsy. L-theanine also helps you stay relaxed by stimulating your body to produce other calming amino acids, such as dopamine, GABA, and tryptophan. Suggested dose is 200 mg as needed. Take it on an empty stomach or with food. The effects should be felt within 30 minutes and last up to four hours. The bottom line: L-theanine seems to be a safe and fast-acting therapy for stress and anxiety. Although no side effects have been reported for L-theanine, consult your health care practitioner before taking it if you use any prescription drugs or if you are pregnant. Talk to your pediatrician before giving it to children.
Stress Fighting Herbs
- Black Cohosh. Black Cohosh is an herb with anti-Anxiety uses.
- Fuschen and Dragon Bone Formula. Fuschen and Dragon Bone is a popular Chinese remedy for stress which includes Dragon bone, Oyster shell, Albizia bark, Ginseng, Ginger, Cinnamon and Fuschen plant.
- Ginkgo Extract. It is the most popular stress relief herbal extract in France and Germany. In the US it is also used to increase memory. Ginko contains flavinoids which are anti oxidants that are useful in managing stress.
- Gotu kola. Gotu Kola has been referred is an oriental herb which has demonstrated mild tranquilizing, anti-anxiety and anti-stress effects, as well as improving mental functions such as concentration and memory. It has a calming effect on the body and is chiefly used to support the central nervous system. Gotu kola has become popular in the West as a nerve tonic to promote relaxation and to enhance memory. The herbs calming properties make it well suited for overcoming insomnia and to improve memory and treat fatigue, both mental and physical. Gotu kola should not be confused with kola nut, which contains caffeine. Gotu kola is not related to kola nut and contains no caffeine. There are three main chemical constituents in Gotu kola, asiaticoside (a triterpene glycoside), brahmoside and brahminoside (which are saponin glycosides) and madecassoside (a glycoside). Asiaticoside is and classified as an antibiotic, brahmoside and brahminoside are diuretic in nature and have a slightly sedative action in large doses. Madecassoside is a strong anti-inflammatory agent.
- Kava (Piper methysticum). Piper Latin for "pepper", methysticum Greek for "intoxicating". Kava is a herbal supplement used to prevent stress. It has a relaxing tranquilizing effect. Its active ingredients are called kavalactones. It is used widely to treat mild insomnia, and anxiety.
- Schizandra. Schizandra has a long history of medical use in the oriental countries. In China, Schizandra is one of the components of the herbal medicine Shenmai San, which is used to treat coronary heart disease. Schizandra is used for the treatment of different diseases, including insomnia, irritation, palpitation and dyspnea. Schizandra is also used a general tonic, for treatment of skin disorders and as sedative (anti-stress relaxer). Recent studies have shown that Schizandra possess following properties: anti-bacterial, cardiac tonic, antioxidant and anti-depressant. In Russia, schizandra is a registered medicine for vision problems.
- St John's Wort. St. John's Wort is also called Hypericum perforatum. It is considered a calming agent. It inhibits the enzyme monoamine oxidase there by influencing the metabolism of serotonin and noradrenaline. Serotonin stabilizes the mood and nor adrenaline prevents exhaustion. It also increases the levels of endorphins which are pain killers and mood stabilizers.
- Tei Fu Oil. Tei Fu Oil is an ancient Chinese formula comprising of safflower oil, wintergreen oil, menthol, camphor and other essential oils. It is used as mind refreshers.
- Valerian. Valerian is one of the most important herbal sedatives used against sleeping disorders, restlessness and anxiety. Valerian seems only to work when taken over longer periods (several weeks). Studies have demonstrated that valerian extracts interact with the GABA and benzodiazepine receptors. Valerian is also used traditionally to treat gastrointestinal pain and spastic colitis.Long term safety studies are missing. Valepotriates are potential mutagens, therefore valerian should only be used after consultation with your physician.
- Valerian and Black Cohosh Combination. This stress fighting formula is a combination that contains Black cohosh root, Valerian root, Capsicum fruit, Passion Flower herb, Catnip herb, Hops flowers and Wood betony herbs. The combination is a source of calcium, manganese, selenium zinc and niacin. It stabilizes the nervous system during stress.
Note about herbs for stress relief: Most herbs for stress relief will need to be are to be taken on long term before getting their effects. Most of the herbs are used as stress management supplements mainly for their tranquilizing and mood stabilizing properties. To maximize stress reduction effects herbal stress relief is commonly combined with other stress relievers like yoga and meditation for optimal results.
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