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Mood & Stress

Reclaim Your Calm with These 3 Stress-Busting Supplements

If stress is weighing you down, try these three supplements that can help you take a load off and ease tensions from work or family.

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You know the signs — anxiety, edginess, fatigue, insomnia. Sometimes the stress of everyday life can be overwhelming. But the good news is that there are some simple stress-busting supplements that can help.

And that help is sorely needed, because it’s estimated that stress accounts for some 75–90 percent of medical office visits today. Of course, it’s not a new problem. It’s been with us since the beginning of human life. Only the stressors have changed.

A bad day at work might not include an attack from a wild animal — but it just might include an attack from a wild boss. And your primitive body still responds to threats with fight-or-flight stress hormones. Profound stimulation of the adrenal glands and sympathetic nervous system; increased respiration, blood pressure, blood sugar, and heart rate — all are good for escaping a tiger, but not for surviving the office.

If that all sounds familiar, and you’re feeling the effects of prolonged, chronic stress, these three supplements can help.

1. Sleep it Off

A study in the Journal of Sleep Research looked at the effect of taking a 20-minute nap during a 12-hour night shift. Those who napped significantly improved response speed on a vigilance task measured at the end of the shift. Taking a quick nap during a break is a powerful technique to refresh.

Ayurvedic herbalists use ashwagandha root (Withania somnifera) to reestablish long-term sleep rhythms. Rather than making you sleepy, it seems to regulate sleep cycles over time, facilitating more refreshing sleep. The herb has also been used in Asia for thousands of years as an antistress remedy. And modern science is confirming the anti-stress benefits of the supplement. The herb has been shown to improve chronic unpredictable stress behavior (remember your office?), depression, glucose metabolism, suppressed immune function, cognitive dysfunction, stomach ulcer, adrenal gland atrophy, and vitamin C and stress hormone levels.

2. The Pizza Cure

Holy basil is strongly anti-inflammatory, and scientists have now discovered that this supplement has stress benefits, as well. This cousin of pizza basil normalizes both blood sugar and blood fats. Asian people have traditionally enjoyed holy basil as a daily tea. Brew as you would green tea, but steep covered. Or try holy basil supplements for stress.

3. Play it Again, SAM-e

An amino acid derivative, S-adenosyl-methionine (SAM-e) has been shown in clinical trials to lessen pain and fatigue, and to improve mood. A study in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology compared injected SAM-e to imipramine for major depression. It was as effective as the drug, with far fewer side effects. Clinical trials have shown that at doses of 200–1,600 mg per day, it is an effective supplement for stress management. Talk to your doctor before taking SAM-e if you’re taking other medications.