It would be difficult to argue that searching for ways to beat depression,lower anxiety and lose weight are likely two of the most sought after prizes the Internet has to offer. I have been down pharma’s path for depression and anxiety. When I was younger, Doctors told me I needed to take Prozac as a way to “feel better.” But the truth was, I was just eating poorly.
I spent two years using Prozac. When I tried to quit, I suffered horrendous withdrawals. It took over a month before I felt normal again. And I always felt as though I potentially did lifelong damage.
I learned to eat right, to drink less alcohol and to exercise. Since then, life has been better. However, it doesn’t mean that I, like many others, don’t still struggle.
One of the issues I’ve found that I have is high cortisol. Cortisol is our stress hormone. We need it. Cortisol is what’s rushed into our bloodstream when we are in danger. It helps us utilize untapped energy reserves so that we can run or fight. The problem is, when cortisol is firing in situations which aren’t related to danger, it tends to wreak havoc on us.
When your cortisol is raised for no good reason, you can become impatient, irritable, suffer insomnia and gain belly fat. One study showed that this effect (stress and fat gain) was exceptionally bad in women. For women, being angry is gaining weight, in some respects. Its also bad for men.
Being stressed is simply no good. But being stressed is also unavoidable in the modern world. Our jobs, families, our futures, are all very stressful. Many of us have long daily commutes as well.
One thing I researched rather extensively was a set of herbs known as Adaptogens. Adaptogens are known to be resilient herbs which many people claim will help people endure stress better. When I first read about them, I thought it sounded like a sham. But after trying them, I’d say their is most definitely life to the claims.
Here are a few I’d like to point out that are notable. One i didn’t like, one I never tried, one worked really amazing. Give these a look, maybe do some additional research, you might find a gem.
Ginseng Root: I have taken Ginseng. To be honest, I didn’t love it. But seeing it is one of the most popular adaptogen herbs on the market, it is impossible to leave it out.
First, let’s make sure we understand something: We are talking about red ginseng. Not every ginseng is an adaptogen. Red ginseng’s antioxidant effect is said to do some pretty amazing things.
It is said to increase focus and energy. Many say it can also lower stress levels. It is said to have antidepressant effects.
For me? I definitely felt an increase in energy. But I have to say, it almost felt a little speedy to me and increased by anxiety a tinge. Yes, I felt more upbeat and definitely had some increased focus, but I also felt like I was racing a car. Maybe I took a touch too much, or just tried it on bad days. Things happen. But I try to be honest. If you disagree or have another experience, please share in the comments. Here’s a version on Amazon. Lots of people certainly love it.
Rhodiola Rosea: THIS is my FAVORITE. This little known adaptogen is great. I started taking it one year ago. When I take it, I notice a feel a bit more positive. I also notice increased focus. I don’t notice any of the racey feelings whatsoever. The legend with Rhodiola is that it comes from the Russians and was used by their military and athletes. I can see why, it makes me feel pretty energized, but not so much I am grinding my teeth or allowing a revolving door of stressful thoughts run through my brain. I often find it at Whole Foods, but not at normal grocery stores. When I don’t visit the grocery store, I use this version from Amazon and am happy. You aren’t saving money in either case, I would say.
There are some studies that show it helps with sleeping patterns. Have I slept better since taking it? Yes. Can I say conclusively that’s why? No. I find that when I buy a supplement, I also naturally eat a bit healthier and exercise a little more. So it would be irresponsible for me to say that.
Ashwaganda: I have not taken it, but, I do know many people rave about it. It is most often associated with ayurvedic medicine. It is said to boost your immune system and lower your cortisol. I’d just read some of the product reviews on Amazon. I’ve been meaning to give it a go.
Nothing replaces eating well and exercise. I know when I take my Rhodiola and don’t eat right it really doesn’t do that much good (though I do notice the effects). I take Rhodiola in combination with L-Theanine now, which is a pretty awesome amino acid.