Stress & Anxiety

  • Five-Minute (or Less!) Stress Busters

    SnowPlayThe holidays are coming! It’s easy to get overwhelmed and stressed during this busy season, so take five with these quick and easy stress relievers.

    Take a walk, breathe fresh air.
    Sometimes the best way to reduce the emotional intensity of stressful feelings or events is to take a break and remove yourself from that environment. A brief 5-minute walk can help clear your head as you breathe in fresh air and take more oxygen in, letting you deal with stressors more calmly (check out this recent study about how engaging with nature can physically change the brain). Even just using that 5 minutes to take slow deep breaths on an outside balcony or terrace works since measured breathing prompts our nervous system to stop releasing cortisol, the stress hormone.

    Diffuse calming scents.
    Aromatherapy helps relieve stress because when we smell calming scents, receptor cells in our nose send signals to the part of our brain that regulates emotions, lessening feelings of anxiety. Try Pharmaca’s Be Calm Lavender Essential Oil Blends, balancing Bergamot or relaxing Rose Moroccan in SpaRoom Essentials’ new Natura Diffuser and within minutes your air will be filled with soothing scents. This beautiful diffuser is crafted from fallen trees in Thailand and uses ultrasonic technology to provide a fine aromatherapy mist for up to 4 hours.

    Sip a cuppa.
    Take it from English mums and nannies who know that when you’re upset or stressed, sitting down for a few minutes and sipping a cup of tea makes the world seem right again. Scientists agree that a cup of black tea brings stress hormone (cortisol) levels back to normal. Pamper yourself and try Tea Forte’s Noir Single Steeps Black Tea Sampler, blends of hand-picked black tea leaves with scrumptious flavors like Blood Orange and Chocolate Rose. If you prefer herbal teas, chamomile and lemon balm are natural soothers and both are found in Traditional Medicinals' Organic Chamomile with Lavender, made with organic, Fair Trade certified chamomile.

    Chew something.
    Simply chewing a stick of sugarless gum can help relieve stress. It can also make you more alert and help you multi-task, say researchers from Melbourne's Swinburne University who saw anxiety levels drop 17 percent and efficiency during multi-tasking exercises improve 67 percent when people chewed gum. Flower remedies calm and reduce anxiety too; Bach’s Rescue Remedy Pastilles blend five emotionally balancing botanicals into one tasty drop.

    Rub your feet.
    There’s an acupressure pressure point on your feet called Bubbling Spring that can calm and ground you during stressful times, or even help with insomnia. To find the Bubbling Spring point, use your thumb to find the natural depression about 1/3 of the way down your foot from the base of the toes, directly under the second and third toe. Firm pressure and kneading on that point will release tension and relax you. Add to this massage’s bliss factor by adding in Pharmaca’s Massage Lotion in Lavender…and try to have someone do it for you!

  • The ABCs of Adrenal Health

    Massage Lady
    Are you tired and sluggish? Having trouble sleeping? These are just a few symptoms of adrenal fatigue, which many of our practitioners believe can be the result of a nutrient-poor diet and high levels of stress.

    Finding relief can be easier when you understand how best to nourish your adrenal glands. We asked certified herbalist and nutritionist Shizandra Fox from our Sonoma store to shed some light on this all-too-common syndrome.

    What are the adrenal glands?

    Sometimes called the body’s “shock absorbers,” the adrenals are two thumb-shaped glands located above your kidneys. Kicking into high gear when we feel stress, the adrenal glands produce a variety of hormones including, cortisol, norepinephrine and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).

    What are the symptoms of adrenal fatigue?

    People suffering from adrenal fatigue are usually very run down, have difficulty sleeping, wake up with panic and can be overly emotional. In addition, Shizandra often notices her customers complaining of:

    • Low blood sugar
    • Poor circulation
    • Depression
    • Low self-esteem
    • Muscle weakness
    • Pain in the joints
    • Constipation
    • Compromised immune function

    How does diet affect adrenal fatigue?

    What you eat and drink can make a huge difference in how you feel, Shizandra says. That’s why she recommends that before you take any herb or supplement, you first clean up your diet—and keep it cleaned up. Here are a few simple ways to do that:

    • Choose fresh, whole foods, preferably organic and locally grown.
    • Include lean protein with each meal and snack to help stabilize blood sugar.
    • Try to prepare extra nutritious snacks to have on hand when you crave sugar and caffeine.

    Shizandra also recommends preparing the digestive tract with a combination of probiotics, enzymes and minerals that can help boost absorption of any supplements you take for adrenal nourishment. She also suggests a morning “liver flush” of 12–16 ounces of filtered water with lemon juice, and advocates for taking a good B complex that includes pantothenic acid or B5.

    What supplements can help?

    First, Shizandra has customers describe their symptoms, so she can best match an herb or supplement with what they need. “If they’re feeling primarily depleted, for example, then I might suggest rhodiola to support their energy levels,” she says. “Or, if they’re really stressed out, I might suggest ashwagandha for its calming effect.”

    Rhodiola, along with ashwagandha, astragalus and eleuthero are among a class of herbs called adaptogens, which are said to help you adapt to physical, emotional and environmental forms of stress.

    One popular adaptogen blend Shizandra frequently recommends is MegaFood’s Adrenal Strength, which includes functional food mushrooms, along with astragalus and schisandra to help to strengthen adrenals and support immune health.

    And to promote better sleep and help normalize stress-related hormones, Shizandra often suggests Gaia Herbs’ Adrenal Health, which includes a combination of ashwagandha, rhodiola, holy basil, schisandra and wild oats. Shizandra also loves Vitanica’s Adrenal Assist, a naturopath-developed formula that supports and promotes adrenal hormone production with key nutrients and a variety of adaptogenic herbs.

    Finally, because stress plays such an important role in adrenal fatigue, Shizandra tells customers to do anything they can to lower their overall stress level on a daily basis—get enough sleep, exercise regularly or breathe more deeply.

    If you’re feeling run down and are wondering how to nourish your adrenals, talk with a Pharmaca practitioner today for customized solutions.

  • A Naturopath’s Guide to Treating Anxiety

    RedheadAnxiety, in all its forms, is a common condition that affects more than 20 million Americans. It can manifest as excessive worry or unwarranted fear, or even nervousness, shortness of breath or a racing heart. If you experience any of these symptoms, read on to learn more about anxiety and how you can treat it, naturally.

    What is anxiety?

    Anxiety is a normal, albeit unpleasant, human emotion that all people experience, ranging from mild unease to intense debilitating fear. But anxiety is different fromfear; fear is a rational response to real danger, whereas anxiety usually lacks a clear or realistic cause.

    Feeling anxious about a work presentation, preparing for a test or anxiousness over meeting a blind date constitutes normal anxiety. Abnormal anxiety happens consistently and at higher levels that interfere with normal life. For people with anxiety disorders, life can be overwhelming, and their symptoms can manifest into physical disorders such as adrenal fatigue, compromised immunity and heart disease.

    Common symptoms of general anxiety include the following:

    • Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
    • Problems sleeping
    • Cold or sweaty hands and/or feet
    • Shortness of breath
    • Heart palpitations
    • Inability to be still and calm
    • Dry mouth
    • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
    • Nausea and gastric upset
    • Muscle tension
    • Dizziness

    What causes anxiety?

    Many factors can contribute to a person’s likelihood of experiencing anxiety. Here are a few common causes:

    • Biochemical problems, including substance abuse [e.g. alcohol, drugs (recreational or prescribed), caffeine or tobacco], stress hormones and neurotransmitter deficiencies (e.g. low GABA or serotonin levels)
    • Genetic abnormalities, or errors with neurotransmitter receptors
    • Environmental factors such as trauma, life stress, toxicities or fungal exposure
    • Psychological factors, including daily stress

    Conversely, the effects of long-term anxiety on the body and overall health can be significant. The stress hormone cortisol is elevated during periods of stress and anxiety, and chronic cortisol elevation can lead to poor learning and memory, low immune function, low bone density, weight gain, increased blood pressure, cholesterol and heart disease, and more.

    Treating anxiety naturally

    The two divisions of the autonomic nervous system—the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems--are heavily involved in our anxiety response. When we’re anxious, we go into sympathetic overdrive, also known as the fight-or-flight response. On the opposite end, the parasympathetic nervous system works to regulate repair, maintenance and restoration of the body.

    The below treatments are focused on supporting the work of the parasympathetic system by addressing nutritional factors that can immediately help bring the body back into balance and reduce anxiety symptoms.

    1. Avoid alcohol
    2. Avoid caffeine
    3. Avoid sugar
    4. Address B vitamin deficiency (particularly B1, B3, B6)
    5. Address calcium or magnesium deficiencies
    6. Address and eliminate food sensitivities and allergens

    Adopting a healthy lifestyle is pivotal to managing anxiety. Here are a few vital lifestyle changes that can help relieve anxiety symptoms.

    1. Exercise regularly. It can help reduce tension, anxiety and mild depression, and improve mental outlook, self-esteem and our ability to handle stress.
    2. Get 7-8 hours sleep. Sleep deprivation disables mental and physical function, and makes anxiety worse.
    3. Eat a whole-food and plant-based diet that includes a rainbow of fruits and veggies and complex carbohydrates, balanced protein and good fats. This will also help reduce exposure to toxins (pesticides, heavy metals and food additives) and support blood sugar.

    And remember, stress management is critical in managing anxiety. Efforts to calm the mind and body can help generate a physiological relaxation response. To achieve this response, try deep breathing or progressive relaxation (whereby one compares muscle tension with muscle relaxation to bring awareness to tension throughout the body and thereby consciously change tension to relaxation). Joyful, relaxing activities—such as a walk on the beach, a hot bubble bath, a cup of tea by the fireplace or yoga—along with quality sleep, can evoke a relaxation response.

    Supplements for anxiety

    Fish oil. Anxiety sufferers tend to be deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. DHA, a fatty acid found in fish oil, nourishes the brain and nervous system. Try Nordic Naturals or Pharmax brands for superior quality and absorption.

    Pharma-GABA. GABA is an important neurotransmitter that slows down the firing between the synapses in the brain. People with low GABA are prone to anxiety and depression, so supplementing with GABA can help to slow down the rapid-fire worry. Try Thorne Research’s PharmaGABA, Natural Factors’ Pharma GABA or Jarrow Formulas’ GABA Soothe (also featuring a blend of relaxing herbs).

    L-theanine. Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea that helps promote alpha waves in the brain; alpha waves are calming brain waves that promote a relaxed physical and mental condition. Theanine also increases GABA. Try Natural Factors’ Suntheanine L-Theanine or Jarrow Formulas’ Theanine 100.

    Kava Kava. Kava has been shown to significantly reduce anxiety symptoms such as nervousness, heart palpitations, chest pains, headache, dizziness and gastric irritation. Kava is effective for anxiety in peri-menopausal and post-menopausal women. Note: Do not use kava if you have liver problems or regularly consume alcohol. Try Herb Pharm’s Kava or Pharmaca brand Kava.

    Magnesium. Magnesium relaxes small muscles throughout the body and aids in metabolism; deficiency has been known to exacerbate anxiety. Try Pharmaca brand Magnesium Citrate, Natural Vitality’s Calm powdered magnesium or Pure Encapsulations’ Magnesium (glycinate).

    B Complex. B vitamin deficiency also exacerbates anxiety, since B vitamins are critical to many functions in the body including calming the nervous system. Try New Chapter’s Coenzyme B Food Complex, Thorne Research’s Basic B Complex or Pharmaca brand B Complex.

    Multivitamin. Take a quality multi everyday to ensure you’re receiving adequate vitamins and minerals, since deficiencies can aggravate anxiety. Try food-based and readily absorbed multis from New Chapter or MegaFood.

    WishGarden Herbs’ Emotional Ally is a specialized combination of emotionally supportive herbs such as St. Johns wort, skullcap and passionflower that can help you ground and re-center.

    Hyland's Calms Forte is a simple, non-toxic homeopathic blend to aid nervous tension and sleeplessness. A great product to partner with other herbal anxiety remedies or try alone!
  • Stress Supplements 101

    Young woman drinking tea at homeWe can all feel overwhelmed by stress sometimes—the last thing we need is to be overwhelmed by the number of stress relief options available. Here’s a short list of popular practitioner recommendations for stress relief, and what they’re good for.

    Racing mind: L-Theanine
    This unique amino acid, found in green tea, supports mental calmness by increasing dopamine and GABA in the brain; it also assists the alpha brainwaves associated with relaxation, without any drowsiness.

    Tense muscles: Magnesium
    Identified in more than 300 bodily processes, magnesium relaxes small muscles and is also a key player in mental relaxation, neuromuscular transmission and energy—serving double duty both rebuilding the body, and giving a sense of wellbeing.

    Anxiety: L-tryptophan/5-HTP
    In the body L-tryptophan is converted to 5-HTP, which can then be converted to serotonin; serotonin deficiency has been linked to poor sleep, loss of appetite, as well as depression and anxiety.

    Long-term stress: B Complex
    “B vitamins are also hugely important regarding stress,” says Cassy Dymond, naturopath at our Wallingford store in Seattle. B vitamin deficiency can exacerbate stress and anxiety, since B vitamins are critical to many functions in the body including calming the nervous system. “When we’re stressed, we burn through B5 and B6 more quickly.”

    Irritability: GABA
    GABA is the predominant inhibitory neurotransmitter that works to calm over-excitement in the nervous system that can lead to irritability, restlessness, sleeplessness and spasmodic movements. GABA increases the production of calming alpha waves and decreases stress-related beta waves in the brain.

    In-the-moment stress: Flower Essences
    Bach’s Rescue Remedy, a combination of five flower essences, is designed for immediate relief from stress or some kind of trauma,” says Lindsay Fontana, homeopath at our Santa Fe store. “Sometimes when you can just get a little distance from things, you can find more peace.” The formula includes essences of rock rose, clematis, impatiens, cherry plum and star of Bethlehem.

    Chronic Stress: Adaptogenic Herbs
    Our adrenal glands produce stress hormones (such as cortisol), and can quickly become imbalanced with chronic stress. That’s where adaptogens come in—they help improve adrenal gland function and boost your body’s natural stress response. Our practitioners often recommend rhodiola, eleuthero, astragalus and ashwaganda—in single extracts or combinations.

    Ask a Pharmaca practitioner for other stress-busting supplement recommendations.

  • Magnesium: A Cornerstone of Health

    Swiss chard RainbowMagnesium is essential for so many things: the beating of our heart, a positive mood, energy production, releasing tension…in other words, we can all benefit from magnesium!

    Identified in more than 300 processes inside the body, magnesium is a powerful building block that contributes to overall health and wellness in a unique way. A key player in physical and mental relaxation, neuromuscular transmission and energy, magnesium serves double duty both rebuilding the body, and giving it a sense of wellbeing.

    Magnesium also functions closely with potassium, calcium and phosphorus. It hums through the body, maintaining an electrical charge between cells and inside muscles and nerves. Magnesium has a very special relationship with the heart, and studies show that both acute and chronic magnesium deficiencies are associated with an increased risk of heart attack.

    Another main role of magnesium is to perpetuate a game of checks and balances with calcium inside the body. It is fundamental for both the absorption and excretion of calcium, and assists in the safe elimination of calcium through the urinary tract, preventing kidney stones and soft-tissue calcium deposits.

    Magnesium deficiency is very common in the elderly, and magnesium supplementation is recommended for those with intestinal or renal distress. Approximately 30-40 percent of dietary magnesium is absorbed, depending on the form consumed, and on individual intestinal transit time. For this reason, large doses of magnesium can be used for occasional constipation without being depleted in the body.

    Pregnant women can also benefit from therapeutic magnesium supplementation to help prevent pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, as well as during the birthing process. Magnesium can also help prevent or lessen the effects of PMS through its ability to regulate mood, appetite changes, energy, cramping and overall response to stress.

    Magnesium is even vital for protein synthesis and healthy blood sugar levels, making it a key nutrient for building muscle and helping maintain a healthy body weight.

    Truly, magnesium has something for everyone. An optimal dose is about 350-450 mg per day, and I recommend getting it in small doses—especially through magnesium-rich foods like kelp, seaweed, almonds, cashews, molasses, dark leafy greens, dark chocolate, coconut water, aloe vera, barley grass and legumes. Speak with your health care practitioner before beginning any supplement regimen, and to have your magnesium levels tested. 

  • Get Inspired by our Practitioners’ Healthy Resolutions!

    Get the year started on a healthy note with these smart goals for the new year.

    HF VitamineralGreen 300g Go green
    "Starting the day off with powdered greens is a great habit to get in to. It’s very simple and can help with digestion, detoxing, everything! Try adding Healthforce Nutritionals’ Vitamineral Green to your first glass of water.”-Anne, Herbalist, La Jolla


    Pastilles Try a new way to destress
    “A lot of people are interested in aromatherapy right now, especially Aloha Bay’s Chakra Candles, as well as Pharmaca’s Becalm Lavender, a soothing blend of lavender, orange and geranium. And Rescue Remedy Pastilles are good for everyone in need of a safe way to stay calm, even kids.”-Sarah, ND, West Seattle



     BioS_006_BOX CAPS_080210.indd Nourish your skin from the inside
    “I can’t live without Natural Factors’ Biosil. It can bring your hair back to life, it helps with fine lines and wrinkles…when you take it regularly in combination with omega-7s, it’s like a mini facelift!”-Tammara, Esthetician, Greenwood Village


    M_CranberryEnzymeMask Use a facial mask once a week
    “I read an article by a skin care guru that said that consistent at-home care of your skin can do so much to help skin look good and put off the need for professional interventions. So I’m going to start with Sanitas’ Cranberry Enzyme Mask!”-Mary Catherine, Lifestyles Buyer


     RawCleanse Clean up your diet
    “Start the new year by detoxing from the inside out! Learn which foods might be contributing to inflammation, low energy, foggy thinking, extra pounds. Talk to our practitioners about healthier food choices and cleansing supplements. And follow that up with yoga, hiking and getting outdoors more!”-Shizandra, Herbalist, Nutritionist, Sonoma


  • 10 Healthy Habits For a New Year, New You!

    Woman Doing YogaIt’s been almost four weeks since we’ve made resolutions for better health in 2015. But so often our lofty health aspirations set us up for failure; this year, let’s make the resolution to be easier on ourselves and more accepting of our limitations. Instead of a whole life-overhaul—strict juice cleanses, promising to work out every day, consuming nothing but kale and water—consider a simpler approach: step by step, add in a few healthy habits. By starting small, we can eventually effect dramatic change.

    1. Get an exercise buddy. Accountability is so important. Letting others down doesn’t make us feel good, so committing to an activity with someone else makes us more likely to stick to the plan. Find someone with similar health goals to meet up with for a walk around the park, a class at the gym, or a run around your neighborhood.
    2. Sub a smoothie for a meal. Breakfast, lunch or dinner, you can get your garden-fresh greens and fresh fruits in a delicious, rich and quick blend of fruits and vegetables to give you all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs. On the go? Fill a Blender Bottle with Vega’s Protein Smoothie or Nutritional Shake powders for a fast, super healthy meal substitute. (Get inspired by a few healthy, green smoothie ideas here.)
    3. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Studies show that you’ll be more likely to choose a healthy snack if it’s within reach. Set a fruit bowl on your desk or kitchen counter, making sure this cornucopia of good health is in your eyeline as a constant reminder of good fuel for your next snack attack.
    4. Get up, stand up. You’ve most likely heard about how too much desk-sitting can cause all kinds of health problems. If you’re a deskworker, considering asking your boss about installing a standing desk, which they may happily subsidize in order to prevent injuries and conditions such as carpal tunnel or chronic back issues. If you have a laptop, using boxes or books to elevate it can work in a pinch. Want to switch it up, but don’t want to stand? Rotating between a fit ball and chair may be just the thing to keep your core engaged and gradually strengthen back muscles.
    5. Fill your feed with healthy food. If you’re like the majority of the world, it’s likely one of the first things you do in the morning is to check your social media and news feeds. Get inspired by cooking magazines such as Cooking Light and EatingWell on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. If you surround yourself with ideas, you’re more likely to keep healthy meal ideas—and their fresh ingredients—in mind when grocery shopping for your next meal. Use your social media feeds to discover new blogs, get out of a cooking rut, or to explore other diets (Check out PaleOMG for paleo suggestions, or fulfill your quest for a Meatless Monday with ideas from vegetarian food blogs such as The Sprouted Kitchen).
    6. Make a meal for the week. A simple meal of quinoa and vegetables makes a filling, healthy lunch, is easy to prepare and stores well in the fridge. Whip up a batch on Sunday night, then separate into 5 to-go containers. By eliminating one decision from your week, life just got a whole lot easier. Similarly, make a healthy breakfast the most important—and most convenient—meal of the day by preparing a big pot of oatmeal and packing containers of healthy toppings (e.g. berries, flaxseed, granola, chopped nuts and toasted seeds) for each morning.
    7. Practice gratitude. The power of a gratitude journal can be surprising and life changing. Something as small as writing down what you are appreciative of can help you keep perspective while encouraging positive thinking, optimism and increased energy throughout the day.
    8. Make sleep a priority. Without enough sleep, productivity and efficiency suffer. Make sure to get 7–8 hours of quality sleep a night by setting a schedule and committing to a bedtime that gives you enough rest. Instead of watching TV or checking your social feeds, take the last hour of your day to prepare for the following day—making a schedule or to-do list, packing a lunch, laying out clothes. Creating a consistent environment is also key to sufficient sleep; for some, white noise helps to drown out distractions. Humidifiers do double-duty – providing both much-needed moisture and soft background noise (we like the aesthetically pleasing Drop Humidifier from Crane).
    9. Meditate. Intimidated by meditation? Don’t be. While deep meditation takes practice, a good beginner routine is as simple as relaxing your brain for 5–10 minutes a day. Similar to resting during periods of exercise, your brain also needs time to recharge after writing an intensive proposal, participating in a meeting or coordinating a day of intricate scheduling.
    10. Stay social, stay smart. When you connect with other people, your brain stays alert and focused through the exchange of ideas. Making new contacts and increasing your social circles also helps to keep the brain synapses firing, opening your mind to new opportunities and creativity. Make it a monthly goal to have lunch with someone outside your immediate network—chances are, you’ll end up happier and more well-connected.

    Do these steps still feel too big? Start small: try to floss your teeth, drink more water and call your mother.

  • Natural Solutions for Seasonal Affective Disorder

    YogaStretchIf you feel a little extra blue when the seasons change—from fall to winter or even from spring to summer—you may be one of the 5 percent of the US population who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

    “SAD is traditionally associated with the winter months, but some people experience it in the fall or the spring. Simply the change of light can trigger it,” says Dr. Brad Jacobs, MD, and chair of Pharmaca’s Integrative Health Advisory Board. “SAD basically equates to changes of behavior or mood that are associated with the seasons.”

    While we don’t know exactly how or why SAD occurs, we know that reduced sunlight can disrupt our internal clocks, setting off changes in our mood. People suffering from SAD usually feel blue, have trouble sleeping, have low energy levels, and are irritable or impatient, says Dr. Jacobs. While the symptoms are usually not felt as severely as major depression, the signs are fairly similar.

    We also know that Seasonal Affective Disorder tends to be four times more prevalent in women, especially during childbearing years. And if you have a family history of SAD or any type of depression, you’re also more prone to it.

    So how do you know what you’ve got is actually SAD? Dr. Jacobs recommends first speaking to your health care provider about your thyroid levels and blood counts--if they're abnormal, they can be mistaken for depression, instead of hypothyroidism or anemia. In addition, be sure to manage any and all chronic conditions, as these can exacerbate symptoms of depression; optimal management of chronic conditions may resolve or dramatically improve symptoms of depression.

    Dr. Jacobs recommends speaking to your health care provider about your thyroid levels, blood counts or any other chronic conditions that could increase your chances of experiencing SAD. Ultimately, if you have noticed yourself feeling sad or depressed during one specific season—and not during the others—doctors will look more closely at the chances you have SAD.

    The most important thing is to diagnose it, says Dr. Jacobs, so you can start treating it. “One I’m a big proponent of, which is good for regular depression too, is photo or light therapy,” he says. Look for a lightbox with at least 10,000 lux, to be used for 30 minutes once or twice daily. (Lux is a photometric unit. For reference, Dr. Jacobs says, direct sunlight equates to about 50,000 lux, and office lighting about 300-500 lux.)

    “A light box will give you the light stimulation that you’re missing,” says Dr. Jacobs, adding that studies have shown light therapy to be as effective as SSRIs (i.e. anti-depressants) in treating SAD, but with fewer side effects.

    Another effective treatment? Exercise. “We typically recommend that you do it 5-6 days week/30 minutes per day in order to see those same results as an anti-depressant,” he says.

    “There are also a number of herbs that may be effective—the same herbs you think about for depression,” says Dr. Jacobs. He recommends St. John’s wort or SAM-e, and working with a practitioner when you do.

  • Simple Steps to a Less Stressful Holiday

    Beautiful woman doing meditation.Don’t let your holiday to-do list take away from the joys of the season! Integrate a few simple practices into your day to ensure you stress less, stay healthy and feel rested.

    Take a few moments for yourself. Whether it’s a luxurious bath or just a quick nap, boost your relaxation quotient by setting a serene mood for a mini getaway. Light up a candle from Tru Melange that’s been infused with essential oils—especially calming oils like lavender, sandalwood and ylang ylang. Adding a few drops of the same essential oils to a diffuser can be even more powerful. We’re loving SpaRoom’s new Aroma Harmony diffuser, which also plays music via Bluetooth and displays different colored lights. Set it next to the bathtub for an instant spa!

    Don’t forget to exercise. A consistent exercise program helps the body improve its response to stress, and releases calming, mood-boosting hormones. Whether it’s a full yoga class or just a 15-minute walk, regular activity is vital to our physical and emotional health.

    Take comfort in soothing herbs. For extra-stressful times, support your system with WishGarden’s Deep Stress, a blend of calming herbs such as ginseng, skullcap and nettle leaf. Take it preventively throughout a stressful period, or just whenever you need relief from in-the-moment stress.

    Watch your diet. Eating lots of fruits and veggies—and restricting caffeine, alcohol and refined carbs—can go a long way toward nourishing the adrenal glands and supporting your body’s stress response, says Kate Brainard, ND. More specifically, she recommends increasing potassium, reducing sodium and adding in plenty of fruits, leafy green vegetables, whole grains and lean protein.

    Get adequate sleep. Sleeping well is vital to equipping your body to handle the stresses of the day. Unfortunately, stress is just the thing that can keep us up at night! That’s where herbs and other nutrients like melatonin, 5-HTP and L-theanine come in, since they can help calm the mind. In addition, herbs such as passionflower and valerian are soothing and relaxing to the nervous system. Kate recommends Natural Factors’ Tranquil Sleep (a blend of melatonin, 5-HTP and L-theanine), Deep Sleep by Herbs, Etc., or Bach’s Rescue Sleep.

    Ask a practitioner for customized advice for easing seasonal stress.

  • Herbal Remedies for Stress Relief (Video)

    Discover herbal remedies that can help your body manage stress, alongside meditation, exercise and good diet. Here, Dr. Tieraona Low Dog talks about studies that have shown how the herbs chamomile and ashwaghanda, an adaptogen, can help calm the mind, help you get better sleep and replenish the body.

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