The Stress Response and Adaptogens_ Nature’s Stress RelieversThe stress response refers to a physical and psychological change in the body as a result of stress. The stress response is an evolutionary design. Ancient humans faced constant threats to their survival. Under stress, our bodies increase our pulse and respiratory rate and start moving blood to the extremities to activate our “fight or flight” response. In today’s world, we can feel this from our daily life stresses. And as most of us know, stress can negatively affect our health. 

Let me start by saying that not all stress is bad. The stress response is normal and can even be helpful. When it’s helpful, it is called hormetic stress. This is what helps us train and perform better in school, work, sports, etc. The problem is that most Americans feel stressed all the time.  It is no longer an acute episode that lasts for a few hours or days but rather has become daily, extending for months to years on end. For many of us, this is unsustainable. 

Chronic stress can cause many health issues such as mood swings, irritability, fatigue, weight fluctuations, brain fog, decreased immunity, sleep disturbances, and hot flashes in women. Long-term stress affects gene expression and can change our epigenetics. Multiple researchers have found that stress can change how our genes methylate, turning on and off various areas of the brain that may lead to negative health outcomes. When I ask my cancer patients what they thought caused their cancer, the vast majority well up and say “stress”, and wish they had managed it differently because whatever the issues were, it was not worth the toll it took on their bodies. To me, that is a powerful statement on why we need to better manage our stress. 

The first thing I recommend for anyone dealing with stress is to focus on the foundational aspects of your well-being, starting with spending more time outdoors. Studies have repeatedly shown that “Vitamin Nature” can improve our cortisol levels and significantly reduce stress. I also recommend engaging in regular movement that calms the body, rather than rigorous movement (otherwise you will deplete yourself further). Consider activities like restorative yoga, walking, gentle hiking, Tai Chi, or gentle pilates which can restore and rejuvenate the body while not worsening fatigue. Remember to aim for eating whole foods while focusing on clean protein and healthy fats. Try to decrease or avoid sugar to stabilize your blood sugar and maintain a balanced sleep schedule. 

For supplements, stress requires the ABCs:

Adaptogens: See below
B complex: Methylated vitamin B helps to maintain the methylation that can be affected by stress. Methylation means folate (B9) and B12 means methyl-folate or methyl-cobalamin.
Vitamin C: This helps recycle your hormones and provides antioxidants to help calm the inflammation created by stress. 

Adaptogens are natural substances that help the body adapt to stress and maintain balance. They are particularly useful for supporting adrenal health and enhancing resilience to stress. How to address your stress depends on the type of stress and the duration and frequency of your stress. Stress can be acute or chronic. For most of my patients, they have chronic stress of raising children, finances, work stress, caregiving to older family members, etc. 

Popular Adaptogens and Their Uses:

For mild to moderate stress

  1. Ashwagandha: Known for its ability to reduce stress and anxiety, ashwagandha also supports thyroid function and boosts energy levels.  This is the only adaptogen that can be taken by pregnant women!
  2. Holy Basil (Tulsi): Holy basil helps to balance cortisol levels, reduce inflammation, and promote relaxation.  This also comes in a tea form which is safe to drink in pregnancy.
  3. Combination supplements are very helpful: HPA Adapt for general support, Cortisol Calm for the person who is very anxious, and Cortisol Manager for the person struggling to sleep. 

For Moderate to Severe

  1. Combination herbs as above but now using twice per day
  2. Rhodiola Rosea: This adaptogen is effective in enhancing physical and mental performance, reducing fatigue, and supporting a positive mood.

Q: Can I take adaptogens every day? A: Yes, adaptogens are generally safe for daily use. However, it’s important to rotate them and take breaks to prevent your body from becoming too accustomed to one type. Consulting with a healthcare provider can ensure you’re using them effectively.

Shop Our Supplement Store

We offer a curated selection of high-quality supplements to support your health journey. Visit our supplement store to explore our range of magnesium, Omega-3 EPA and DHA supplements, and adaptogens. 

We’re committed to helping you achieve a healthier, happier life! For personalized advice and to learn more about our services, schedule a consultation with our expert team and let us guide you on your path to optimal wellness!

Have Questions?
We’ll Reply Quickly.

  • Please use this form for general information purposes only. DO NOT send personal health information through this form. Specific patient care must be addressed during your appointment.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Call Us Text Us
Skip to content