Everyone knows what it’s like to feel “stressed” or “threatened.” Stress sparks a surge of physiological changes in the body. Breathing quickens and the heart pumps harder. Pupils dilate, hair stands on end, and sweat glands open. Senses sharpen and so does judgment because the brain knows that this is the moment when it’s time to fight or to flee.
Stress is a normal part of being human. However, its very existence is one of duality as savior and killer. Few of us realize how stress affects our physiology—hence the reason why April is Stress Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about how stress makes an impact on our health.
Stress comes in two different packages: sudden stress (acute) and ongoing stress (chronic). Acute stressors are those perceptions of immediate threat or dangers. They bring the mental acuity, physical stamina, adrenaline, and the hormone cascade that prepares your body for “fight or flight.” But stress becomes chronic when it’s a constant factor and it can take a heavy toll on our health.
Our understanding of stress and its effects on physiology, in fact, is relatively new. The condition itself was not even named until 1936. Hanz Selye was the first scientist to define stress as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand” (1). Seventy-six years later, the physiology of the chronic stress response is well-studied, widely discussed, and thoroughly researched.
Chronic stress now plagues our modern society. Almost half of Americans suffer from stress-related health problems and an estimated 75 to 90 percent of all doctors’ visits are related to stress, according to The Stress, Anxiety & Depression Resource Center (2). Stress is also linked to the six leading causes of death in the U.S. (3). Nearly 40 percent of American workers report their job as “very or extremely stressful,” according to the Centers for Disease Control (3). Despite these statistics, most of us don’t even realize that stress can affect our bodies on the inside.
Chronic stress is a true antagonist to our health and it comes from a variety of sources such as finances, relationships, and career. What is the result? It causes a deterioration of the mind as well as the body. Symptoms can manifest as exhaustion, anxiety, and depression.
Long-term chronic stress produces an ongoing hormonal response that causes premature aging, adversely affects brain chemistry, causes sexual dysfunction, compromises metabolism, brings down energy, stores fat (in all the wrong places), and ultimately can lead to the development of chronic disease and death.
The link between chronic psychological stress and age-related disease is already well established. Chronic stress, for example, is directly associated with shorter telomeres, those protective caps on chromosomes whose length is considered a biomarker of aging (4).
As Dr. Selye would phrase it, stress is a generalized strain placed on the body. But today, most would agree that stress is generally negative. Just as people are seeking solutions for healthy weight loss, they are also seeking advice about how to manage the stress in their lives, how to decompress, and ultimately how to ‘de-stress.’ It is not just a goal, for many it has become a necessity, a matter of survival.
While small truths do reside in the newest exercise fads for reducing stress, as does time in meditation, books, or a few extra weeks of vacation—stress is not eliminated, but rather, managed every day.
With each daily challenge comes a new opportunity to find balance. The science behind Isagenix products is a great way to help you find that balance, and with it, your ideal health.
Beat Stress with Adaptogens
In 1947, former Soviet Union research scientists Nicolai Lazarev and Israel Brekhman devised the word adaptogen. From the Greek word adapto, meaning “to adjust,” the term was used to describe protective agents that helped neutralize the effects of stress.
The researchers drew inspiration from ancient Chinese and Siberian traditions whose followers made use of special herbs before a hunt or battle. Lazaref and Brekhman studied the herbs used in these traditions, some of which they classified as stimulants because they were harmful after prolonged use. The adaptogens, according to their criteria, normalized the body and increased resistance to stress without any noxious effects.
Attention to adaptogens in North America first came about in 1990 after former Soviet Union Olympic Coach Ben Tabachnik emigrated to the U.S. and revealed that Soviet athletes and cosmonauts had covertly used adaptogenic herbs throughout the 1970s.
It was out of the initial research of these scientists thatIonix Supremewas born. The research into adaptogens grows and several of the ingredients have been subject to clinical trials attesting to their effectiveness.
Deemed “nature’s answer to stress,” Ionix Supreme is a cocktail of adaptogens designed to work in synergy to protect the body against the harmful effects of stress.
Several adaptogenic botanicals protect against stress perhaps through a variety of mechanisms. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), for example, a short shrub also known as Indian ginseng, has been used for centuries in Asia to treat stress-related health conditions. In 2008, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study (5) evaluated its use in adult men and women with high amounts of stress. After 60 days of treatment, those who received the adaptogen had reduced feelings of stress. In addition, they showed a reduction in circulating cortisol. The researchers attributed ashwagandha’s stress-reducing abilities at least in part to its effect on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a primary regulator of serum cortisol levels.
Ionix Supreme also contains rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), schizandra berry (Schisandra chinensis), and eleuthero root (Eleutherococcus senticosus). These extensively studied adaptogens may similarly work by mimicking stress itself, according to Swedish researchers Alexander Panossian and George Wikman.
Adaptogens increase the state of resistance in stress and decrease sensitivity to noxious stressors, resulting in stress “protection.” Ref: Panossian & Wikman 2010.
Acting alike “stress vaccines,” they create an adaptive response in the nervous, cardiovascular, endocrine, immune and gastrointestinal systems. According to their recently published scientific review on adaptogens (6), the reason these herbs are effective may be because they stimulate biochemical pathways that help reduce the harmful effects of stress on the body.
The adaptogens work by increasing the work capacity of the body or brain by being “stress-protective” or “restorative.” This makes them different from stimulants like, say, caffeine, which works by “tricking” the brain to make it more alert, but depleting its energy and resources. Fortunately, what adaptogens won’t do is impair mental function or cause addiction. After Panossian and Wikman examined randomized, clinical trials on rhodiola, schizandra berry, and eleuthero root, they found that these and other adaptogens not only reduce stress and fatigue, but improve attention and focus.
Panossian and Wikman also suggest (7) in a second review that these adaptogens might normalize homeostasis (balance in the body) through several mechanisms akin to mild stress hormones. This reasoning is based on the similar chemical structure of the active components of the herbs to catecholamines–such as adrenaline–which are important regulators of stress. Components of the herbs may also resemble corticosteroids, which help to inactivate a stress response.
Additional botanical herbs in Ionix Supreme include wolfberry (Lycium barbarum) and bacopa (Bacopa monnieri). These herbs increase resistance against psychological stress (8-15). And, along with ashwagandha, they operate as antioxidants in the body and may even protect the brain from oxidative stress (8-15). By improving brain health, these herbs could help support normal working memory, mental clarity, and focus.
In today’s modern society, most people do little to protect themselves against the onslaught of chronic stress in their lives. A healthy diet, meditation, and exercise are among the essentials for managing chronic stress. Also essential is Ionix Supreme, and as an adaptogen-rich drink, it can be just what’s needed to best support memory, focus, attention, athletic performance, and healthy aging.