Supplement Support: Stress Management

While you're preparing for the holidays with all kinds of ingredients and goodies, we're suggesting a few to add to help you with the stress and strain of the season. Innovative Primary Care features several supplements that offer stress and immunity support, including a few we think it's worth you knowing more about - Lavela, Cortisol Manager and Phyto-ADR.

Lavela is a supplement made from Lavender Oil that promotes relaxation and calms nervousness. An individual's ability to respond to occasional anxiety has the potential to interfere with the enjoyment of life and even the ability to perform ordinary daily activities. In addition to lifestyle and behavioral modifications, adding key supplements to your daily regime can also play a role in supporting a balanced mood. Lavender is an herb that has been proven effective by leading researchers as a natural remedy for treating signs of anxiety. In a 2010 study published in the journal Phytomedicine, lavender oil was shown to be just as effective as the pharmaceutical drug lorazepam (Ativan). It also noted that lavender oil showed no sedative effects (a common side effect of lorazepam) and it had no potential for drug abuse or dependence. Other studies have confirmed the anti-anxiety properties of lavender as well as many other medicinal benefits, including:

  • restlessness, nervousness and insomnia
  • depression symptoms
  • painful and inflammatory conditions including migraines and joint pain
  • issues with agitation related to dementia

Take 1 softgel of Lavela daily with a full glass of water, or as recommended by your healthcare professional.

Cortisol is often referred to as the "stress hormone." Because of its central role as a "first responder" and its capability to modulate multiple critical physiological functions, cortisol is often seen as the bridge between stress and its health consequences. Variations of cortisol secretion can be an indicator of how well a body is coping with stress. IPC features Cortisol Manager to support healthy cortisol levels, which in turn can help reduce stress, relieve occasional sleeplessness and fatigue, and optimize immune system and neurological function.

Take 1 tablet before bedtime, or as recommended by your healthcare professional. Increase to 2 tablets during times of high stress. Cortisol Manager is safe for use every night.

Phyto-ADR helps your body adjust to stress by supporting the adrenal glands, which are responsible for the way your body behaves during times of stress. Healthy adrenal gland function is crucial to a number of physiological functions including glucose metabolism, stress adaptation, energy generation, stamina, and the immune response. Phyto-ADR is a vegetarian formula designed to provide wide-range herbal and nutritional support for the adrenal glands and healthy adrenal function.

Take 1 capsule every day between a meal, or as recommended by your healthcare professional.

Spotlight on Wellness: Rising Above Stress Over the Holidays

'Tis the season for joy, family gatherings and a whole lot of seasonal stress. And we're not just talking the kind of stress that sets in when you're not sure if you have enough food for the family gathering, or if you forgot your favorite aunt on your list. We're talking the depression, headaches, anxiety and other issues that can set in during the holidays and throughout the winter months. And we're also talking very real health concerns that can quickly make you realize the gift of good health cannot be found under a tree or delivered by UPS.

At IPC we see stress and its impact on a regular basis. Stress a broad term with significant ramifications on a number of health conditions, including:

  • Heart disease and heart attacks
  • Digestive disorder flare-ups that can include symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
  • Skin conditions including psoriasis and shingles
  • Flare ups in immune disorders including multiple sclerosis and lupus
  • Pain that is more severe with issues such as arthritis, back pain, muscle spasms and other issues
  • Anxiety, depression, insomnia and the winter blues.

Though research is still being done to figure out how stress impacts the immune system, we know that the body produces an enzyme that protects cells. When the body is under stress, we pump out cortisol, a hormone that suppresses the protective enzyme for those cells. That makes us vulnerable to a variety of ailments.

While stress can be expected at work, at home and in life, challenging life events like divorce, death, and in this case, holidays, can bring on heightened levels of stress. Chronic stress can cause a variety of symptoms and can affect your overall health and well-being.

Stress hormones affect your respiratory and cardiovascular systems. You breathe faster in an effort to distribute oxygen and blood more quickly to your body core. If you have preexisting respiratory problems like asthma or emphysema, stress can make it harder to breathe. Stress hormones cause your blood vessels to constrict and raise your blood pressure. That’s good for short term moments when you need more strength and energy to take action. But if you have frequent or chronic stress, your heart is forced to work too hard for too long, raising your risk of hypertension, and stroke or heart attack.

If you’re looking forward to lots of holiday treats and mealtime celebrations, when under stress your liver produces extra blood sugar (glucose) to give you a boost of energy. Unused blood sugar is reabsorbed by the body. With chronic stress, your body may not be able to keep up with this extra glucose surge which can lead to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Stress can affect the way food moves through your body, leading to diarrhea or constipation. The rush of hormones, rapid breathing, and increased heart rate can upset your digestive system and bring on heartburn or acid reflux, as well as trigger ulcers to act up.

Muscles can be impacted by stress as well. They can tighten up, which can lead to headaches, back and shoulder pain, and other aches. Relieving them with pain medication doesn’t help break an unhealthy cycle.

Stress is exhausting for the body and for the mind. It’s not unusual to lose your desire for sex. For men, the production of the male hormone testosterone may increase which could lead to a short-term higher increase of sexual arousal. Yet stress over the long term can impact a man’s testosterone level downward. Chronic stress can make the urethra, prostate and testes more prone to infection.

Women under stress might have irregular or no menstruation, or heavier and more painful periods. Women going through menopause might feel the physical symptoms more intensely.

Just like of the other health challenges, the immune system can be compromised with chronic stress. You set yourself up for more viral illnesses like influenza and the common cold, increases the risk of other opportunistic diseases and infections, and can make the recovery time from illness and injuries take longer.

Stress also impacts what goes on in our heads – anxiety, depression and even the winter or holiday blues. Getting a bit overwhelmed by fitting in all the “to do’s” for the holiday can be one thing. Not being able to break out of the feeling of overwhelm might be a cause for concern. Same goes for reoccurring headaches, excessive drinking and overheating, not sleeping and other additional stressors.

Here is your RX for the season’s stressors:

  • Exercise – get plenty of it. Daily even. If you can work in a 20 minute walk, a hike with family and friends, a trip to the gym, a yoga class or two a week, it will not only help your body, but your mind.
  • Practicing mindfulness or meditation. There is not a magazine lately that hasn’t included an article, and even more often, a cover story on the important impacts of meditation or practicing mindfulness. This, of course, helps you focus on breathing and being in the moment. Both can pay off for the way you experience your holiday rush.
  • Quality supplements. IPC offers Lavela, Cortisol Manager and Phyto-ADR to help you deal with your stress. Each supports challenges with stress and they have been vetted by IPC to not contain fillers or other harmful ingredients like many of those sold on many store shelves.
  • Gift of sleep. Give it to yourself nightly. Keep your schedule as regular as possible with set bed times. Drink plenty of water, flip off the TV and get some shut eye.
  • When you are up and away, make sure to plan time with friends and family, if it brings you joy. If you seek joy and laughter in another way, consider volunteering with faith groups or organizations like the Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul, Phoenix Rescue Mission or others. Often, giving of yourself can be powerful medicine.