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  • Writer's pictureDr. Michael Rosson D.C

Got Stress ?

Let’s face it. We all deal with stress from time to time, and for some of us, it is a daily occurrence. From traffic and finances, family and marital issues, work and coworker problems; it can be overwhelming. When we become stressed out, our body releases a stress hormone called cortisol. While this hormone is important and helpful in some situations, chronically high levels of this hormone can have negative effects on muscle building, sleep, exercise recovery, and libido to name a few. Although stress is best managed by breathing techniques, meditation, and exercise, supplementing with Ashwagandha is also a viable option to help manage stress. We recommend combining supplementation with the aforementioned techniques for best results.

Ashwagandha is an adaptogen derived from the roots of the plant Withania somnifera, which is mostly cultivated in India, and it is also referred to as King of Ayurveda, Indian Ginseng, or Wintercherry. An adaptogen is a substance or ritual that helps our body deal with the physical manifestations of stress.

Some recently published research suggests that Ashwagandha directly inhibits the release of cortisol in the body. It is hypothesized that it may also reduce your perception of stress, meaning that very stressful situations don’t seem as bad when taking Ashwagandha. A proposed mechanism is that Ashwagandha prevents an enzyme, NADPH-d, from activating during perceived stressful situations.

What are the benefits of healthy cortisol levels ?

Stable cortisol levels help with:

1. Sleep: High levels of cortisol will alter your sleep cycle in the following ways.

  1. Increased sleep fragmentation (nighttime awakenings)

  2. Less slow- wave sleep which is the deep restorative sleep cycle

  3. Overall decreased sleep time which creates sleep deficit

2. Muscle growth: Catabolic hormones (such as cortisol) inhibit muscle growth through processes that break down molecules. Anabolic hormones are required to build muscle mass.

3. Body composition: In chronic stress states, elevated cortisol can lead to weight gain (especially around the midsection), insomnia, tissue breakdown or uncontrolled tissue inflammation, suppressed immunity, and interfere with other hormones like thyroid hormone.

4. Faster recovery from exercise: stress is linked to poor wound and tissue healing. Stress also causes the hormones prolactin and catecholamines to increase, as well as cortisol, which leads to changes in your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels, all of which affect the healing process.

Managing stress can be difficult. Medications can come with side effects, and other options require time for habits to change before seeing any real improvement. The use of adaptogens are a quick, inexpensive, and natural way to help your body combat the stress of daily life.

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