Anxiety and depression are not only psychological afflictions but physical and physiological disruptions that good nutrition and exercise can mediate. Neuropsychological research demonstrates that healthy individuals have well-functioning nervous and endocrine systems that better deal with external stimuli that manifest as psychological stresses . Everyone has heard from their general physician the usual prescription of regular exercise, a healthy dose of water, and good nutrition. You may have also noticed that some of your best days are also your healthiest days.
Regular exercise and a healthy diet can boost the neuroendocrine system's functions to better cope with stressful challenges. With an ever-growing source of psychological and environmental stress from modern living, our bodies also suffer systemic stress. "Oxidative stress and systemic inflammation are the root cause of several deleterious effects of chronic psychological stress" [6; 286]. When the neuroendocrine system is thrown out of balanced and left unsupported, the brain is susceptibility to anxiety disorders and/or depression. For holistic psychological wellness, we must first treat the physical symptoms of stress.
What is Stress?
Stress is a natural response, and it is key to the survival of our species. It is responsible for our body's fight or flight response which is valuable when fleeing a predator in prehistoric times. In modern living, it helps motivate individuals to prepare for an exam, an interview or deal with negative stimuli such as losing a job, getting through a divorce, and dealing with a loss of a loved one . Our body is wired so that we can deal with external stressors.
The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis works together in a feedback loop. It regulates stress with known mediators including: "molecular chaperons (e.g., HSP70), stress-activated c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase 1 (JNK1), Forkhead box O (FOXO) transcription factor DAF-16, cortisol and nitric oxide" [6: 187]. When the body becomes exposed to chronic stress, the neuroendocrine system is thrown out of balanced resulting in fatigue, anxiety, and depression . Other related functions such as immunity, digestion, sleep, and reproduction are also impaired .
How do Natural Food and Herbs Help in Dealing with Stress?
Since the human body does not internally biosynthesize its nutrient requirements, it is no surprise that food and herbs are key to maintaining and optimizing a wide array of physiological functions. Natural food and herbs address the physical and physiological symptoms of stress by reducing systemic oxidative stress with antioxidant and regulating stress mediators (e.g., cortisol and nitric oxide) with adaptogens . Furthermore, essential nutrients work synergistically (e.g., B Vitamin Complex, Vitamin C, and aminod acids) to control oxidative stresses that is the root of many psychological and degenerative diseases. It is purported that chronic stress depletes the body's essential nutrient deposits . A plant-rich diet may boost overall wellness and the body's ability to combat oxidative stresses brought on by anxiety and depression.
Antioxidants are substances that can inhibit oxidative stress (cell damage) and inflammation from chronic psychological stress. Carotenoids abundant in leafy greens and vegetable are powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that have demonstrated anti-anxiety side effects . To benefit from the adaptogenic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory benefits of food and herb, make sure to consume a wide variety of flora. Extracts of beneficial vitamins, mineral, and compounds from plants are also available in the form of dietary supplements.
Adaptogensare naturally occurring active compounds in plants known to regulate stress response in the neuroendocrine-immune system. Scientific studies and clinical trials have demonstrated the potential of adaptogens in protecting nerve cells, reducing anxiety, fatigue, depression, and boosting cognitive functions .
Common Herbs with Anti-Anxiety Side-Effects
For centuries and in many different parts of the world, a wide range of plants with adaptogenic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties have been utilized in herbal medicine. The chart below includes the most common botanical taxa used for the alternative treatment for anxiety.
Plants such as rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) and ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) belong to a class of flora with known anxiolytic (anti-stress) compounds. Salidroside is one of the adaptogenic substance extracted from Rhodiola rosea. Clinical trials demonstrate the therapeutic potential of this plant in easing anxiety, stress, fatigue, and depression .
Ashwagandha, commonly known as Indian ginseng, is demonstrated to have beneficial compounds that help with nervous, endocrine, and cardiopulmonary functions. It is a medicinal herb used for centuries due to its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and energy boosting properties . It is known as an adaptogen due to its anti-anxiety side effect .
These two herbs are found in combination with other herbal ingredients such as skullcap, hops, verbena, oats, valerian, chamomile, St. John's Wort, passionflower, and catnip to treat anxiety. These plants provide safe and non-synthetic support to boosting the neuroendocrine system's ability to cope with chronic anxiety, thus improving overall mood and wellbeing.
Are you Suffering from Anxiety or Depression?
Are you looking for a natural support for anxiety and depression? Do you need alternative medicine to help stabilize mood and calm the mind? You need not worry; there are many known active compounds found in plant food and herbs to address your needs. You can incorporate common ingredients like lavender, oats, and chamomile in your diet, or dietary supplements packed with beneficial extracts to address the effect of chronic stress.
PureNature Anxozencontains a propriety blend of beneficial herbal extracts that promote mental and physical wellness. Read more about each ingredient with the link below.