Tag Archives: prod-521401

  • 5 Stress-Busting Strategies

    Stress. It’s a part of all of our lives, but when it gets out of control, it can wear us down physically, mentally and emotionally--and can have long-term effects on our health. Here are a few ways to help your body handle stress better.

    1) Calm your mind and body. Set aside at least 10 minutes a day to try and invoke a relaxation response (the opposite of a stress response) through breathing, progressive relaxation, meditation, self-hypnosis, biofeedback or even prayer. Close your eyes and breathe deep from your belly--in through the nose for 8 counts and out through the mouth for 8 counts.

    2) Exercise regularly. A consistent exercise program helps the body improve its response to stress, and releases calming, mood-boosting hormones. Studies have shown that those who exercise regularly are much less likely to suffer from fatigue and depression.

    3) Nourish your adrenals. Your adrenal glands produce stress hormones (such as cortisol), but can quickly become depleted when you’re experiencing chronic stress. Certain herbs called adaptogens can help to improve the function of your adrenal glands and boost your body’s natural stress response. Try adaptogenic formulas such as Vital Adapt by Natura, Cortisol Manager from Integrative Therapeutics or Adrenal Booster by Pharmaca.

    4) Watch your diet. Reduce the effects of stress with a few dietary changes:

    • Restrict or eliminate caffeine, alcohol and refined carbohydrates
    • Boost your potassium intake (avocado, bananas, potatoes and raw tomatoes)
    • Reduce your sodium intake, since too much sodium can put unnecessary stress on the body and play a role in cancer development and cardiovascular disease.
    • Support adrenal function with key nutrients such as vitamin C (citrus fruits, tomatoes, dark-green leafy vegetables), pantothenic acid (whole grains, legumes, salmon, broccoli), vitamin B6 (poultry, whole grains, soy), zinc and magnesium (whole grains, nuts, legumes)

    5) Get adequate sleep. If you have difficult sleeping, explore the herbs and natural substances that can help prepare the body for sleep. Ones to try: melatonin, which is your sleep/wake hormone, and 5-HTP and L-theanine that work to calm an active mind down for the day. In addition, herbs such as passionflower and valerian are soothing and relaxing to the nervous system. I recommend Natural Factors’ Tranquil Sleep (a blend of melatonin, 5-HTP and L-theanine), Deep Sleep by Herbs, Etc., WishGarden’s Sleepy Nights or Bach’s Rescue Sleep.

    Ask any Pharmaca practitioner if you need help coping with the stress in your life.

  • The Link Between Stress and Adrenal Fatigue

    The adrenals are a key player in our stress responses, kicking into high gear when we get stressed out. To find out more about ways to support your adrenal glands, we spoke with Cari-Lynn Debie, herbalist at Mill Valley, and Paul Clark, herbalist from our Sonoma store, about the best herbs for helping to rejuvenate your adrenals.

    “Cortisol is a stress hormone that’s part of the fight or flight response,” says Paul. The adrenal glands continue to produce cortisol while we’re in panic mode, which effectively puts a damper on the rest of our bodily processes, impacting all of our organ functions.

    Cari-Lynn says people suffering from adrenal fatigue are usually very run down, have difficulty sleeping, wake up with panic and can be overly emotional. “I like to think of the adrenals like a bank account,” she says. “You have funds in there, but stress drains those funds, pulling from other parts of your body. Your immune system starts being affected, allergies can be heightened, it basically can impact everything.”

    As we age, our ability to slow down our stress response changes. “If a child gets scolded, his cortisol will spike, but then come back down within hours,” says Paul. “For someone in their 50s, it could take days, or even weeks, to bring that back down.” Meanwhile, our adrenals are working overtime to keep the cortisol pumping.

    Paul says deep sleep is the most effective remedy for banishing cortisol. “When someone isn’t sleeping well, has too many toxins in their body or has nutritional deficiencies, cortisol remains elevated,” he says.

    Your body then needs help to calm the stress response and rejuvenate your adrenals. That’s where herbs called adaptogens come in. “Adaptogens are defined by their ability to help the body adapt to stress, whether environmental, physical or emotional,” says Paul. “Adrenals and adaptogens work hand in hand.”

    Adaptogens like rhodiola, ashwaganda, eleuthero and holy basil can gently work together to replenish your adrenals. Both Paul and Cari-Lynn recommend Vital Nutrients Adrenal Support, which combines ashwaganda and eleuthero with a bovine-based adrenal extract that helps replace what your adrenals are missing.

    Another great adaptogenic option, Vital Adapt by Natura, an herbal formula that contains eleuthero, schisandra, ginseng and ashwaganda, as well as green tea and reishi mushrooms. Cari-Lynn also recommends B vitamins, and will often suggest an individual eleuthero formula, like Gaia Herbs Eleuthero. “Rhodiola can be too much for some people, so eleuthero works well as an adaptogen that’s very mild yet very effective.”

    Of course, reducing stress and sleeping better are always the best options for adrenal health. To support your adrenals in the long term, make time for yoga, meditation and breathing deeper.

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

  • Secrets to Stress Management

    Finding ways to reduce or relieve chronic stress is important for your overall wellbeing. Stress has been linked to physical ailments including high blood pressure, fatigue, infertility, insomnia, headaches, and indigestion. Fortunately, Pharmaca is here to help.

    Dr. Paul Podwojski, DC, of La Vita Wellness Center, deals with chronic stress every day in his practice, helping patients relieve tension in the body and spine through chiropractic treatments.

    “We should look at what causes stress and see if we can eliminate it, or look at any behavioral changes we need to make to deal with the stress in a healthier way,” says Dr. Paul. He recommends these four daily steps for staying stress-free:

    1.    Start the day with 5 minutes of deep breathing
    2.    Drink two glasses of water in the morning
    3.    Exercise for 20–30 minutes before going to work
    4.    Take short breaks every 2 hours during the day

    “Once the body learns to release tension, it can function more efficiently to restore its health,” says Dr. Paul.

    If you do get thrown off balance by stress, visit your local Pharmaca for treatment options. Jessica Fieo, L.Ac., of Mill Valley Acupuncture and former lead practitioner at our Mill Valley store, uses Chinese medicine and herbs to help the body return to homeostasis.

    “The number one thing I do with stressed patients is help them sleep well,” says Jessica. She loves Ionic Fizz by Pure Essence for treating insomnia. You get instant relaxation from the calcium and magnesium in this product by mixing one scoop with six ounces of warm water at bedtime.

    Jessica’s new favorite discovery is a group of herbs called adaptogens that exert a normalizing effect on the body. When stress causes stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system and adrenal glands, adaptogens help check that reactive response to bring you back into balance.

    “I’m noticing the power of Vital Adapt by Natura Health right now,” says Jessica. In addition to good results with her own patients, she has had customers return to the store in awe of this adaptogenic formula that incorporates Chinese and ayurvedic herbs with medicinal mushrooms. Jessica also often recommends Good Mood Tonic by Herb Pharm to those struggling with stress.

    Come speak with one of our health care practitioners whenever the weight of the world overwhelms you. After a delicious cup of tea and a helpful conversation, you will rediscover the comfort of taking complete control of your health.

  • Lower Stress, Healthier Heart

    By now you’ve heard it all—boost your heart health with omega-3s and CoQ10, keep your cholesterol low, watch your blood pressure. Even if you’re vigilant about taking the right supplements and watching what you eat, there’s another major factor in your heart health: stress.

    “When we’re under stress our heart rate increases, our blood pressure goes up and we secrete cortisol,” says Erin Stokes, naturopathic doctor at our South Boulder store. “All of that can be hard on your cardiovascular system.”

    Indeed, a 2010 study at the University of Western Ontario showed that increased cortisol levels, a good marker of chronic stress, were directly correlated to a higher incidence of heart attacks. So how to keep cortisol in check?

    “Meditation, getting adequate sleep and proper nutrition are all essential,” says Erin. “But you may also want to consider working on replenishing your adrenal glands.”

    When we experience the fight-or-flight response, which often happens as we drive busy roads or come up against tight deadlines at work, the adrenals secrete cortisol. Over time they become depleted, and the result is not only a feeling of exhaustion, it’s also stress on the cardiovascular system. “In this day and age almost all of us have some level of adrenal fatigue,” says Erin.

    To lower the physiological effects of stress, she first recommends some long-term adrenal support in the form of Ashwaganda, and especially likes Gaia Herbs organic formulation that offers quick delivery to your system. Another formula is Vital Adapt from Natura, which she likes because it supports the adrenals, the thyroid, and the nervous system all at once. For moderate levels of stress, these formulations can help relieve symptoms of adrenal fatigue in just a few weeks. For people experiencing more intense chronic stress, it could take months.

    That’s why it’s also good to look for short-term help. “Sometimes when people are working on adrenal health they need support in the moment,” says Erin. That’s when she recommends supplements that can help reduce situational anxiety. For example, for people experiencing panic attacks, Erin usually recommends GABA. For more low-grade anxiety, L-Theanine is a better fit. She also really likes the Emotional Ally formulation from WishGarden Herbs. Ultimately, it’s best to speak with a Pharmaca practitioner about your symptoms so they can help you find the right support.

    Of course, it doesn’t hurt to slow down once in awhile, too. A 1991 study from Thailand found that men who practiced Dhammakaya Buddhist meditation had much lower cortisol levels, lower blood pressure and higher stress reaction time than those who did not meditate. Seems like all of our hearts could use a little om.

    Speak with a Pharmaca practitioner about heart-health-boosting supplements, stress-relieving herbs and all the other ways to support your heart.

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