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Stress and mood Lists

7 natural stress-busting solutions (techniques, plant extracts …)

Are you suffering from burnout, anxiety and tension? The good news is there are ways of controlling it. Discover our 7 effective stress-busting measures and plant extracts.
Woman meditating, to control her stress levels
Many techniques and medicinal plants have been shown to combat stress.
Rédaction Supersmart.
2021-03-03Commentaires (0)

A de-stressing breathing exercise

Firstly, it’s important to understand that the way you breathe directly affects the locus cœruleus, a subcortical nucleus in the brain. If your breathing is fast and irregular, the locus cœruleus will stimulate areas of the brain associated with anxiety and stress.

If, on the other hand, you breathe slowly, deeply and calmly , the locus cœruleus will activate parts of the brain associated with relaxation(1). It’s a mechanical process!

So to combat stress, try this simple but highly beneficial exercise: find a quiet spot, sit down and close your eyes. Breathe in slowly and deeply through the nose, feeling the air inflate your lungs, then take a long breath out through your mouth. Repeat this 5-10 times, then breathe normally again for a few minutes. Throughout the exercise, make sure you focus exclusively on your breathing in order to calm the flow of your thoughts.

You can use this exercise when experiencing a specific stressful situation but you should also try to incorporate it into your daily routine.

Exercise, a brilliant way of reducing stress

Physical activity stimulates the body’s production of two types of hormone:

The de-stressing effect of exercise helps you to sleep better too. It’s also good for cardiac health: regular exercise helps the heart to become less fatigued by reducing heartbeat frequency, which also lowers blood pressure. These are significant benefits given that stress is a major risk factor for cardiovascular problems.

Which type of exercise should you choose? Go for something you enjoy and which is compatible with your state of health (you can discuss this with your doctor): walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, gymnastics, dance...

According to the WHO, you should try to take 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, divided, for example, into 20-25 minute daily sessions (2).

Passiflora, a calm-inducing plant

Passiflora (Passiflora incarnata), or passionflower, is a climbing plant recognisable by its beautiful, pure-colored flowers.

Its name comes from the fact that it was used by Jesuit missionaries in South America to explain the Passion of Christ to indigenous populations. The shape of the flower is said to resemble the crown of thorns or even the crucifixion nails.

Passiflora is rich in alkaloids, flavonoids and cyanogenic heterosides. This medicinal plant is known to induce a state of calmness by helping to reduce psychomotor agitation. It also helps boost the body’s resistance to stress (3-5).

To benefit from the properties of passion flower, take a supplement with extract of passiflora (the synergistic formulation Stress Relief Formula, for example, contains extracts of passiflora, magnolia, jujube and Schisandra, a plant that also helps increase the body’s ability to adapt to stress).

Meditate to help manage your emotions

There’s evidence to suggest that people practised meditation as long ago as 4000+ years. However, the first written proof dates back to 500 BC. Buddha, who lived at this time, was famously thought to have achieved ‘enlightenment’ or ‘illumination’ as a result of meditation.

Regardless, there are numerous scientific studies demonstrating that regular meditation is an effective way of combatting anxiety and stress. In particular, it can help you manage your emotions better in challenging situations (6-7).

Meditation is not unlike the breathing exercisementioned above. For maximum effect, put on some meditative music, sit in a comfortable chair with cushions for support, your feet on the ground, and your back straight, not slumped in the chair. Close your eyes. For 10-20 minutes, focus on your breathing and the sensations in your body. If your thoughts interrupt your concentration, just let them come, before re-focusing on the sensations present in your body. This is why it is called ‘mindful meditation’ (or ‘attentive presence’).

The aim is to stop your thoughts racing away and instead, anchor yourself in the moment. You can practise meditation on a daily basis.

Combat stress through the power of tulsi or holy basil

Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum), or holy basil, is a herbaceous plant widely consumed in India, primarily in the form of a tea. Known as the ‘Queen of plants, it plays a central role in Ayurveda.

This medicinal plant contains eugenol, ursolic acid, camphor, vitamins A and C, numerous minerals … Its unique composition means it is able to provide effective support for heart health and vitality, and for combatting stress(8-10). It is classified as an ‘adaptogen’ which means it helps the body to adapt to stress and manage it better.

A supplement such as Adrenal Support provides a significant intake of tulsi, as well as rhodiola, maca, and magnesium. It also contains the adaptogen eleutherococcus, a small but super-resistant shrub known as ‘Siberian ginseng’, recognized for its effects on physical and mental health (11-12).

Tulsi is also found at significant levels in certain Ayurvedic potions taken by pipette (such as Adaptogenic Potion, which combines 10 beneficial herbs and mushrooms including tulsi, astragalus, black elderberry, reishi ...)

Get a good night’s sleep to reduce stress levels

When you sleep, your body repairs and regenerates itself. Conversely, a lack of, or poor quality, sleep, has an adverse effect on mental performance, immunity, weight control … and also produces an increase in stress(13) - which in turn prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep. It’s truly a vicious circle!

To improve your sleep quality, establish a bedtime routine. Go to bed earlier so that you don’t upset your succession of sleep cycles, turn off all your screens an hour before you go to sleep, eat lightly during the evening, read a book, listen to ASMR relaxation videos … Simply find what works best for you.

The other techniques described in this article (exercise, meditation...) will also help you get to sleep more easily.

Here again, plants can be very helpful, notably lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), which is recognized for promoting better quality sleep (14-15). Opt for essential oil of lavender (such as in the formulation Organic Relaxing Oil Blend, which combines several organic essential oils which are taken orally).

The indispensable ashwagandha, perfect for periods of nervous tension

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an adaptogen plant native to India. Used for over 3000 years, it is a key component of the traditional Indian system of medicine (Ayurveda).

The root of this plant is rich in withanolides ( (its most beneficial active ingredients) as well as free amino acids, glycosides ...

If you’re feeling stressed, ashwagandha will promote relaxation as well as physical and mental well-being. It can provide support during periods of nervous tension and anxiety. More generally, it helps to maintain emotional equilibrium. Ashwagandha also has beneficial effects on the heart and cardiovascular system (16-17).

Attention: make sure you choose an ashwagandha root supplement that’s rich in withanolides but free from withaferin A which is considered cytotoxic (opt, for example, for Super Ashwagandha, standardized to 5% withanolides and free from withaferin A).

References

  1. Kevin Yackle, Lindsay A. Schwarz, Kaiwen Kam, Jordan M. Sorokin, John R. Huguenard, Jack, L. Feldman, Liqun Luo, Mark A. Krasnow. Breathing control center neurons that promote arousal in mice. 2017, American Association for the Advancement of Science.
  2. https://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/factsheet_recommendations/fr/
  3. Akhondzadeh S, Naghavi HR, Vazirian M, Shayeganpour A, Rashidi H, Khani M. Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2001 Oct;26(5):363-7. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2710.2001.00367.x. PMID: 11679026.
  4. Jawna-Zboińska K, Blecharz-Klin K, Joniec-Maciejak I, Wawer A, Pyrzanowska J, Piechal A, Mirowska-Guzel D, Widy-Tyszkiewicz E. Passiflora incarnata L. Improves Spatial Memory, Reduces Stress, and Affects Neurotransmission in Rats. Phytother Res. 2016 May;30(5):781-9. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5578. Epub 2016 Jan 27. PMID: 26814055.
  5. Gibbert J, Kreimendahl F, Lebert J, Rychlik R, Trompetter I. [Improvement of Stress Resistance and Quality of Life of Adults with Nervous Restlessness after Treatment with a Passion Flower Dry Extract]. Complement Med Res. 2017;24(2):83-89. German. doi: 10.1159/000464342. Epub 2017 Apr 12. PMID: 28407638.
  6. Sharma H. Meditation: Process and effects. Ayu. 2015;36(3):233-237. doi:10.4103/0974-8520.182756
  7. Innes KE, Selfe TK, Brown CJ, Rose KM, Thompson-Heisterman A. The effects of meditation on perceived stress and related indices of psychological status and sympathetic activation in persons with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers: a pilot study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:927509. doi:10.1155/2012/927509
  8. Jamshidi N, Cohen MM. The Clinical Efficacy and Safety of Tulsi in Humans: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:9217567. doi:10.1155/2017/9217567
  9. Cohen MM. Tulsi - Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2014;5(4):251-259. doi:10.4103/0975-9476.146554
  10. Jothie Richard E, Illuri R, Bethapudi B, Anandhakumar S, Bhaskar A, Chinampudur Velusami C, Mundkinajeddu D, Agarwal A. Anti-stress Activity of Ocimum sanctum: Possible Effects on Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis. Phytother Res. 2016 May;30(5):805-14. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5584. Epub 2016 Feb 22. PMID: 26899341.
  11. Panossian A, Wikman G. Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress-Protective Activity. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2010;3(1):188-224. Published 2010 Jan 19. doi:10.3390/ph3010188
  12. Wiegant FA, Surinova S, Ytsma E, Langelaar-Makkinje M, Wikman G, Post JA. Plant adaptogens increase lifespan and stress resistance in C. elegans. Biogerontology. 2009 Feb;10(1):27-42. doi: 10.1007/s10522-008-9151-9. Epub 2008 Jun 7. PMID: 18536978.
  13. Hirotsu C, Tufik S, Andersen ML. Interactions between sleep, stress, and metabolism: From physiological to pathological conditions. Sleep Sci. 2015;8(3):143-152. doi:10.1016/j.slsci.2015.09.002
  14. López V, Nielsen B, Solas M, Ramírez MJ, Jäger AK. Exploring Pharmacological Mechanisms of Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Essential Oil on Central Nervous System Targets. Front Pharmacol. 2017;8:280. Published 2017 May 19. doi:10.3389/fphar.2017.00280
  15. Koulivand PH, Khaleghi Ghadiri M, Gorji A. Lavender and the nervous system. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:681304. doi:10.1155/2013/681304
  16. Chandrasekhar K., Kapoor J., Anishetty S. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian J. Psychol. Med. 2012;34(3):255-262. doi:10.4103/0253-7176.1060.
  17. L angade D., Kanchi S., Salve J., Debnath K., Ambegaokar D. Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Insomnia and Anxiety: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Study. Cureus. 2019;11(9):e5797. Published 2019 Sep 28. doi:10.7759/cureus. 5797.
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