Stress is an experience as old as humanity. Science has discovered the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis as the neurohormonal regulator of the stress response. Whenever a person experiences something as stressful, the emotions reactions trigger the brain to secrete a cascade of neurohormones that will eventually activate the adrenal glands sitting atop each kidney. In turn, the adrenals respond by producing the chief stress hormone, cortisol.
Although excess cortisol levels are supposed to signal the brain to stop this cascade of hormonal events, circumstances of stress overcome this feedback system leading to a marked rise of cortisol in the bloodstream.
If the stresses of life are only occasional and we take adequate time for rest, relaxation, and sleep, then the occasional rise in cortisol will not be a problem. Yet if we live the typical American lifestyle with its chronic stresses, inadequate nutrition, rest, relaxation and sleep, we will be subject to chronic excessive cortisol levels.
Although cortisol is necessary for normal brain, immune, muscle, circulation and blood sugar function, excessive cortisol has many dangers. Too much cortisol is associated with abdominal obesity, high blood sugar, muscle wasting, bone loss, immune shutdown, brain atrophy, poor wound healing, thin wrinkled skin, fluid retention, and hypertension. Excessive cortisol also causes increased fatigue, irritability, impaired memory, depressed mood, decreased libido, insomnia, anxiety, impaired concentration, crying, restlessness, social withdrawal, and feelings of hopelessness.
In a perfect world, we would incorporate lifelong stress management techniques as part of our daily ritual. We would sleep eight to nine hours per night, take frequent vacations, eat only nutritious foods, avoid alcohol and stimulants, exercise, have a spiritual practice, live in quiet and peaceful homes, and live free of excess electromagnetic fields and other toxins and have a clean air and water supply. Unfortunately, this is not realistic for many people.
Modern scientific research, however, has begun to provide us with supplements that help protect us from the damaging effects of chronically elevated cortisol. One of those supplements is called Relora, a patented blend of Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense barks. Relora appears to offer many of the anti-anxiety effects of popular drugs such as Valium and other benzodiazepines without the negative side effects profile (sedation and dependence). Relora has been shown to be non-toxic, even in extremely high doses. In clinical trials, Relora has been effective in controlling stress-induced symptoms of depression, anxiety, irritability, concentration difficulties and restlessness. Other studies have found Relora to aid stress-induced overeating and to promote more restful sleep. In additional trials, Relora was shown to lower excessive morning cortisol levels and to restore previously abnormal cortisol/DHEA ratios.
A second supplement, Sensoril is a a proprietary extract of roots and leaves from Withania somnifera Dunn, known as Ashwaganda in Ayurvedic medicine. Sensoril is not just a simple Ashwaganda extract however. It is a carefully balanced formulation of the key compounds that provide the herbs anti-stress activity. Animal studies of Sensoril have shown that the extract has significant anti-stress effects including protection from stress-induced ulcers and immunosuppression. The Sensoril also positively affected learning and memory, and reduced the brain damage caused by haloperidol, the anti-psychotic medication noted for causing a neurological disorder, “tardive dyskinesia”.
These two supplements are currently on the forefront of breaking the vicious cycle of stress-induced dysfunction and disease. Without doubt, they should comprise a piece of the puzzle in promoting freedom from disease, along with a Rainbow Diet & Lifestyle Program, proper rest, recovery, and relaxation, aggressive yet safe preventive medicine interventions, Dr. Braverman’s brain neurotransmitter formulas, and much more available at PATH Medical.
Eric R. Braverman, M.D.
Dr. Braverman is a Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brandeis University and NYU Medical School, did brain research at Harvard Medical School, and trained at an affiliate of Yale Medical School. He is acknowledged worldwide as an expert in brain-based diagnosis and treatment, and he lectures to and trains doctors in anti-aging medicine.