Stress Supplements 101

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We 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: Rescue Remedy
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 ashwagandha—in single extracts or combinations.

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

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