My Favorite Supplements for Stress Relief

By Shannon Morehouse, MA, CHHCShannonHeadshot

Magnesium
This is my top-choice. Magnesium is a natural relaxant. It relaxes your muscles and your mind.  Because it is a sedative, I recommend taking before bed. It helps combat insomnia; it also helps with headaches. Take an Epsom salt bath; you will get the benefits of YOU time and the magnesium from the salts will not only relax your sore/tired muscles, but also, will seep into your skin and enter your bloodstream quickly. Recommended Dosage: 300-400 mg.

Omega-3 Fish Oil
Our brain is highly reliant on healthy fats to function optimally. Several studies point to fish oil for cognition and relief of depression and anxiety. Omega-3s have been shown to help produce dopamine and serotonin. I recommend Nordic Naturals, Wiley’s Finest, or the Minami brand. A good dosage is around 1,000 mg a day.

Holy Basil
Holy Basil (aka Tulsi) is something I take daily in the form of Organic India’s Tulsi tea…over 20 flavors to choose from! It is an adaptogenic herb that helps reduce cortisol and regulates blood-sugar. If you take it in supplement form, research confirms that 500 mg twice a day is extremely effective at reducing anxiety.

B-Complex
The B vitamins are essential when it comes to reducing stress. These vitamins regulate the nervous system. Because all the B vitamins are effective for boosting energy and reducing stress. I recommend taking it in complex form. Here is a summary of the major B vitamins:

B1 (Thamine):
          B1 can increase energy and improve fuzzy thinking (University of Wales Study)
          Recommended Dosage 50 mg + a day
          Note: Excess carbohydrates deplete B1 levels

B-5 (Pantothenic Acid):
          Mood-enhancing and calming effect by helping in the production of serotonin and reducing secretion of cortiso
          Helpful for fatigued adrenal glands
          Helpful for people with migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome, or trying to curb drinking or smoking
          Helps to convert fat, protein, carbs into energy
          Recommended dosage: 50-250 mg once or twice daily

B-6:
          Reduces irritability, tension, and anxiety
          B6 works with folate, B12, and tryptophan to make serotonin
          Can reduce PMS symptoms
          Dosage: 50-120 mg, especially helpful when taken in B complex form 

Rhodiola
An adaptogenic herb, Rhodiola uniquely prompts a relaxing energetic state. It helps with many coinciding symptoms of depression, such as difficulty concentrating and mental fog. A good dosage to take is 100-400 mg a day.  Because of its energy-prompting properties, it’s best to take Rhodiola in the morning. 

GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid)
GABA is a neurotransmitter in our Central Nervous System. GABA is unique in that it functions in the adult human brain as the primary inhibitor and calmng agent for excitatory neurotransmitters which are firing too rapidly. Some things we do can produce GABA (such as yoga), but many find it to extremely beneficial to supplement GABA-producing lifestyle choices with GABA in supplement form. In fact, this is my top-choice for an “as needed” supplement for many situations: periods of having difficulty sleeping, periods of lacking the ability to concentrate, and also just before your menstrual cycle. It has been referred to as “nature’s valium” because of the calming effect it can exert. Many correlations have been established between low GABA levels and people who have trouble sleeping, those with depression, inability to focus or maintain attention, people with anxiety disorders, drug and alcohol addicts, and those suffering with panic attacks. Many research studies also demonstrate its ability to ease premenstrual moodiness and depression. Studies also show that it balances blood-sugar. Because of GABA’s beneficial calming ability, increasing GABA production results in an improvement in symptoms among those with deficiencies. I recommend taking it in sublingual form as it helps you to absorb it quickly. You can take this in varying dosages; I find that 250 mg in sublingual form works similarly to 750 mg in tablet form.

Ashwagandha
An adapotogen like Holy Basil and Rhodiola, Ashwaganda helps combat both physiological and psychological stress. An effective dosage is 300-600 mg a day. 

Ignatia
Ignatia is a homeopathic to take when struggling with grief. It is also helpful for nervousness and general moodiness. Dosage: three 30 c pellets every 6 hours. In times of extreme distress, three 200 c pellets every 8 hours. 

L-Theanine
Shown to increase levels of GABA and dopamine in the brain, L-Theanine is helpful for those struggling with anxiety. A safe dosage is 200-400 mg a day or you can start by drinking decaffeinated green tea to see if that helps.

Alternatives to Prescription Sleeping Pills

By Laurel Sterling, RD57564237(1)

Sleep is such an important time for the body and mind to rest and repair from daily tasks. When we are able to sleep well, we wake up feeling refreshed and alert for our day-to-day activities. How well we sleep has a major influence on our overall quality of life. Sleep disorders have been linked to many chronic diseases such as: hypertension, heart disease, stroke, depression, diabetes, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia, and more.

Many people end up turning to over-the-counter sedative medications, and yet others seek stronger prescription medications. It has been discovered that each year up to 12.5% of adults in the U.S. receive prescriptions for drugs to help them sleep. Most sleeping pills are technically “sedative hypnotics,” which is a class of drugs that are used to treat anxiety and stress also. All of these drugs are associated with significant risks, and most are highly addictive to the brain!

Daniel Kripke, MD, Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus at the University of California did work for over 30 years looking at the effects of people who take sleeping pills. He found that people who take sleeping pills die sooner than people who do not use sleeping pills. Deaths from heart disease, cancer, and stroke were all increased among sleeping pill users. These studies found that sleeping pills appeared to be unsafe in any amounts!

My suggestions to assist in a more restful sleep depend on the root cause of the sleep dilemma. If there is a lot of stress going on in your life, I may choose a supplement such as magnesium, GABA Calm, 5-HTP, or L-Theanine. You may also want to consider herbs such as valerian, lavender, chamomile, or homeopathic formulas like Calms Forte. If lack of sleep is due to hot flashes, high caffeine consumption, poor diet, or medication side effects, I would offer a variety of other recommendations.

Everyone is different, and everyone’s circumstances in life are different; therefore, we need to take that into consideration when offering suggestions. Occasionally, it is something as simple as magnesium that one needs to assist then in getting a good night’s sleep. It’s not the case for everyone, but as for me, it was a good place to start.

Magnify Valentines Day with Magnesium

By Andrew Greeley

455023005With Valentine’s Day approaching, Natur-Tyme has appropriately deemed February has magnesium month; a time to keep your loved ones close to your heart, and magnesium even closer. Although living without a significant other may not be enjoyable, it will not cause deficiencies that are responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body like magnesium. Let February be a loving a reminder that magnesium is one of the most important substances you can put in your body, most notably for heart health. Check out our great sales on magnesium this month!

Consider chocolate as well. Valentine’s Day is a time for giving your loved ones chocolate, and coincidentally, chocolate is a great source for magnesium. Make sure when you’re chocolate-shopping, you look for dark chocolate that contain high percentages of cacao. Not only do these contain higher magnesium content, but they also contain a chemical known as Phenylethylamine, or PEA. When falling in love, endorphins serve as a catalyst by triggering cells that produce dopamine and PEA.

Maximize Your Magnesium for the Heart of the Matter

MagnesiumBy Shannon Morehouse, MA CHHC

Magnesium is often referred to as the miracle mineral. Some statistics indicate that more than 75% of us are deficient in this incredibly valuable mineral.

Magnesium deficiency symptoms include: leg cramps, eye twitching, fatigue, constipation, insomnia, anxiety, racing heart, and chest pain. Magnesium is a natural relaxant; research shows that it can help keep insomnia at bay, relieve muscle cramps, get things moving through your digestive tract, ease anxiety, and can even lower your risk for diabetes. Another important fact about magnesium is that it provides amazing benefits for your heart. In honor of National Heart Health Month, we would like to share with you some facts about magnesium submitted by renowned doctor Carolyn Dean, MD, ND. If you find her facts interesting, she has many more facts on magnesium available in a free downloadable guide at http://www.nutritionalmagnesium.org.

  • The heart is a very large muscle. Calcium causes muscles to contract and magnesium causes them to relax. If the body is deficient in magnesium, the heart can go into spasm causing a fatal heart attack; beat erratically causing arrhythmia; or beat too slowly (bradycardia) or too quickly (tachycardia). Magnesium balances calcium.
  • Magnesium prevents blood clot formation and muscle spasms of the heart’s blood vessels, which can lead to heart attack. One major cause of angina is spasming of the heart’s coronary arteries that are lined with smooth muscles that react to a deficiency of magnesium.
  • Magnesium prevents muscle spasms of the peripheral blood vessels, which can lead to high blood pressure, another risk factor for heart disease.
  • Magnesium prevents calcium buildup and cholesterol plaque in arteries, which leads to clogged arteries.
  • Your body requires magnesium to maintain healthy elastin, which provides essential elasticity in your arteries. Loss of elasticity is a risk factor for heart disease. Loss of elasticity causes inflammation of heart blood vessels, which interferes with blood flow and leads to heart disease.
  • High blood pressure can cause stroke and heart attack. Tension in the smooth muscle of blood vessels throughout the body due to magnesium deficiency is a major cause of high blood pressure.

Tackling Inflammation with Supplements

By Jennifer Morganti, ND178574086

You can’t feel it and you can’t see it, but inflammation has an insidious and damaging effect that can cause some serious health issues. Inflammation is at the root cause of joint pain and arthritis, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s Disease, autoimmune diseases, intestinal conditions, and a long list of other problems. The typical American diet, lacking omega-3 fatty acids and chockfull of sugar and bad fats, fans the fire for inflammation, along with food allergies and toxic burdens. Addressing these concerns by eliminating junk foods, identifying food allergies, and detoxing are all important steps to start dampening inflammation. There are also some key supplements you can incorporate to see a big boost in your health.

Curcumin, derived from the Indian spice turmeric, is one of the top-selling anti-inflammatory supplements, and with good reason. A variety of research has shown that it reduces key inflammatory substances, such as COX-2 and certain cytokines that cause pain, in a method similar to anti-inflammatory medications without the side effects. It crosses the blood-brain-barrier and has been shown in animal studies to aid in digestion of amyloid plaques, the offender implicated in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). As possible proof, in India, where curry consumption is significant, there are much lower rates of AD than in the U.S.

Magnesium is another key nutrient for lowering chronic inflammation, supported by the fact that it lowers C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is a marker for systemic inflammation, and is an important predictor for cardiovascular disease such as atherosclerosis. In a large study, people who had low magnesium intake (from food and supplements) were found to be 40% more likely to have elevated CRP levels. It is not clear how magnesium minimizes inflammation; however, scientists do know that magnesium is a co-factor critical to many biochemical pathways, so it may be that optimal functioning of metabolic pathways keeps inflammation in check.

One last, but possibly most important recommendation is omega-3 oil. The American diet is typically severely deficient in this type of fat, and overloaded with omega 6, 9, and bad fats such as saturated and trans fats. This resulting imbalance has an exponentially-damaging effect by constantly pushing a pro-inflammatory system. The only way to rebalance the system is reduce the dominant fats, and increase omega-3 intake. Fish oil is the most common source of omega-3, but there are other sources such as flax seed oil and krill. People with omega-3 deficiencies commonly experience dry skin, dry scalp, eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, or heart disease.

By addressing inflammation through diet, lifestyle, and supplementation, you could potentially be aiding in the prevention of dozens of health ailments.

5 Reasons You Need More Magnesium

177687545By Jennifer Morganti, ND

Did you know that pure magnesium is highly flammable, making it the perfect ingredient for the explosive energy needed for fireworks, jet engine parts, rockets, and missiles? It’s even more powerful in the human body, as it is involved with over 320 biochemical reactions! Because it’s used in every cell of the body, it’s frightening that 60% of Americans are deficient in this key nutrient. Some of the reasons for deficiency include the fact that we lose magnesium when stressed, that sweating causes magnesium depletion, and our intake is low because poor-quality soil has lowered the natural levels of magnesium in our food.

Here are some conditions that may improve with magnesium supplementation.

Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance is when cells don’t respond adequately to insulin’s attempt to shuttle glucose into cells after eating, resulting in elevated blood sugar and increased fat storage. It is the hallmark of pre-diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Research shows that people with adequate magnesium levels have appropriate insulin sensitivity and are at low risk for developing diabetes. People with the highest magnesium levels have a lower risk of developing diabetes than people with the lowest magnesium levels. The amazing fact is that even if a person possesses other diabetic risk factors such as smoking, sedentary lifestyle, and excessive weight, adequate magnesium stores will compensate.

Inflammation 

Inflammation is at the root cause of so many health problems, such as arthritis, heart disease, and obesity. Magnesium has been shown to act as an anti-inflammatory. More than one study has shown that as magnesium levels decrease, CRP (a marker for inflammation) increases. Elevated CRP is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and other inflammation-related conditions.

Hypertension 

Magnesium deficiency may play a role in hypertension, as demonstrated by studies that have shown an inverse correlation between a magnesium-rich diet and risk of high blood pressure.

Asthma

Magnesium also has a dilating effect on respiratory passageways, so it benefits asthma for the same reasons as hypertension—it relaxes the airways so more oxygen can flow through.

Anxiety 

Anxiety is a symptom that can have a variety of etiologies, both physical and psychological, but magnesium deficiency is high on that list. Animal studies have shown that when mice are given a magnesium-depleted diet for several weeks, they begin to display signs of depression and anxiety. Those symptoms are alleviated when the magnesium levels are restored. Clinical studies have shown that magnesium can relieve anxiety and depression alone or in combination with herbal formulas. Magnesium works in conjunction with calcium to contract and relax muscles, which contributes to its relaxing properties. Add magnesium salts to your hot bath before bed for serious calming effects.

Insomnia 

Insomnia can result from many factors, with magnesium deficiency being at the top. Magnesium calms the nervous system, relaxes muscles, and counters stress. Replenishing magnesium can lead to a longer, uninterrupted sleep pattern.

Magnesium comes in many forms, but be sure to avoid the oxide form if you want to maximize absorption. To determine the appropriate dosage, start with one or two pills, and increase the dosage over the course of a few days, until it has a laxative effect, then decrease the dosage slightly. This method determines the appropriate dosage for your individual body, based on your level of deficiency. If you want the laxative effect, then magnesium oxide or hydroxide would be a good choice. If you have a sensitive digestive tract and aren’t able to tolerate the levels of magnesium that you feel you need, add topical sources such as magnesium oil, which can be sprayed on the skin, or take magnesium salt baths.

At first glance, magnesium may not strike you as an exciting, cutting-edge nutrient, but when you are lacking it, it can make a huge impact on your health!

Supplements for Women Part I

By Laurel Sterling, MA, RDImage

Ladies, no matter where you are in your life: 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond, there are basic supplements we all need for overall general health. Generally speaking, we are the caretakers of the family. If we cannot maintain our health, then we cannot assist others when they need us. All too often, I see many female clients tending to their health last, and then paying for it later with chronic fatigue, weight gain, hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue, etc. I believe in starting with what I call the “Core Four.” These consist of: a multivitamin, EFA, probiotic, and calcium/magnesium/D3.

The multivitamin should have enough B vitamins (particularly B-6 and folate), iron, vitamin A, vitamin D3, and vitamin E. A quality multivitamin-mineral can help prevent the depletion of important vitamins and minerals when a less-than-desirable diet or extra stressors are taking place. For women ages 20-45, be sure the multiple has 400-800 mcg of folic acid in the event pregnancy should occur. A food-based multiple would be a fine choice. It is generally well-tolerated by those who have sensitive stomachs.

An essential fatty acid supplement is also necessary for a variety of reasons. Omega-3s from fish or fl ax oil help with mood, memory, and fetal eye and brain development, amongst other wonderful things.

Omega-6 fatty acids (such as Evening Primrose oil or Borage oil) nourish dry skin, hair, and mucous membranes, as well as, aiding in natural hormone production.

It is important to build good bones beginning in your teens; therefore, calcium/magnesium/D supplement is very useful and becomes critical should pregnancy occur. These minerals are also nature’s tranquilizers and assist with sleep. The calcium should be a citrate or glycinate source, the magnesium should

be citrate, malate, or glycinate and the 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 should be cholecalciferol. From the fall months until around May (when the sun is pretty much nonexistent in Syracuse!) additional D3, about 2,000 IUs, would also be important. Vitamin D helps with moods and the immune system!

Probiotics (beneficial bacteria) are very important as 70-90% of the immune system lies in the gut. Probiotics also help detoxify harmful estrogens. Make sure the probiotic you choose has over 1 billion CFUs with a combination of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.What’s in your vitamin case?

Stress and Your Health

By Laurel Sterling Prisco, MA, RD, CN

StressedI have read that stress-related issues account for 90% of doctor’s visits per year. Oh my! Now…is anyone TRULY stress-free?? I highly doubt it, but how we choose to manage it plays a huge part. Some people release it in healthy and constructive ways and others do not. Some individuals may internalize their stress, and in these individuals it will eventually manifest in one way or another in their body. For instance, have you ever noticed when you’re stressed out and you suddenly feel an ache (headache, backache, stomach ache, etc.) somewhere in your body?

Stress is not only emotional, but also, it has many physical and chemical effects.

How does the cascade happen?? Well, in the brain, the hypothalamus signals the pituitary gland, which then increases its production of the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). The ACTH signals the adrenals to release the stress hormone cortisol and cortisone; these tend to inhibit white blood cells and suppress the immune system. This entire process initiates a pro- inflammatory cascade of events. This response triggers the body to excrete amino acids, and many minerals/electrolytes. The body ends up becoming deficient in many nutrients and it cannot replace them quick enough!

How do you prevent this cascade from causing such brutal effects?

  • First of all, a high-quality, well-absorbed multi-vitamin should be the basis of your supplemental regime.
  • B-vitamins are crucial in these higher times of stress. They replete the adrenals which use them up at a fast rate. All B vitamins are necessary in the proper functioning of the nervous system. A well-absorbed B-complex like Nature-Tyme’s B-Healthy would be a great recommendation.  Take one in the mid –afternoon with a meal.
  • Magnesium regulates more than 325 enzymes in the body. This mineral is actively involved in enzymes’ energy production, helps synthesize protein, aids in the transmission of nerve signals, and helps relax muscles. It helps to keep adrenal stress hormones under control. Our soil is severely depleted in this mineral, and thus our foods are as well. That is unless the food is organic (Rutgers University study). Start with 300 mg of a citrate or glycinate form at bedtime, and then gradually add 300 mg more in at another point in the day as bowels tolerate.
  • Vitamin C with bioflavonoids is essential to the adrenal gland functioning. Try anywhere from 2-4 g/day in divided doses. Too much of this can cause the bowls to loosen similar to the magnesium; therefore, start with 1 g and then work your way up.
  • Try adaptogenic herbs, which help the body to adapt to various stresses. Ashwaganda assists the adrenals in normalizing stress levels and acts as a sedative and nerve tonic. Holy Basil helps lower cortisol levels and regulates blood sugar. Rhodiola rosea supports the functioning of the adrenal glands and also helps normalize cortisol levels and other stress-related hormones.
  • Relora is a blend of Phellodendron and Magnolia extracts. Researchers discovered a synergistic anti-anxiety effect, as well as, improvement in sleep, and a decrease in sweet cravings.
  • L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea that exerts a relaxing, yet non-drowsy effect.
  • PS phosphatidylserine is a natural phospholipid that is an essential component of our cell membranes. It protects against stress and decreases cortisol levels.

There are combination formulas as well like: Stress Assist by Futurebiotics, Adrenal Health by Gaia Herbs, MegaFood’s Adrenal Strength, and others. These formulas coordinate many of these elements into a single formula making the effort to relieve stress a bit easier.

Why we need our SLEEP!

By Laurel Sterling Prisco, MA, RD, CN

The National Institutes of Health report that 50 to70 million Americans are affected by some kind of sleep disorder. If an individual does not get enough “quality” sleep through the night, it can significantly affect their health in several ways. Sleep disorders have been linked to many chronic diseases such as: hypertension, heart disease, stroke, depression, diabetes, and more.

Sleep is such an important time for the body and mind to rest and repair from daily tasks. When we are able to sleep well, we wake up feeling refreshed and alert for our day-to-day activities. How well we sleep has a major influence on our overall quality of life. It affects how we look, feel, and perform throughout the day.

There are the obvious tips we have all heard before to achieve better sleep such as: try a warm bath one hour before bed, keep the room as cool and as dark as possible, wind down before retiring (no TV or computer one hour before), go to bed earlier and rise earlier, no caffeine or sugar close to bed, have “white noise” such as a fan to drown out little sounds. So what happens if we try these and they do not work? Where does one go from here?

Can't Sleep

The National Institutes of Health report that 50 to70 million Americans are affected by some kind of sleep disorder.

Magnesium is one of the first products we look to for assisting with sleep because magnesium regulates more than 325 enzymes in the body. Sleep regulating melatonin production is disturbed without sufficient magnesium. The “feel good” hormone serotonin’s production depends on magnesium as well. Magnesium also regulates the way muscles function, and helps normalize adrenal stress hormones. We usually recommend a well-absorbed magnesium such as magnesium citrate or glycinate. Start with 300 mg near bedtime, and then add in another 300 mg during the day if bowels can tolerate (magnesium of any kind relaxes all smooth muscles).

Melatonin is a natural hormone that our bodies produce. This hormone is not for everyone to try for resolving sleep issues. It has been found that our melatonin production decreases to about half by age 40. By age 60, we do not have much left at all. I have seen where melatonin helps certain clients that are 40 and older. This is not typically something we use for children because they tend not to have low melatonin levels. Hormones are tricky and need to be treated carefully. If you add in too much of one hormone, it can throw off the production of others and the body’s overall production of them as well. Start with 1 mg and see if you need more from there. Doses range from 1mg-3mg and higher.

If stress is a culprit of sleep deficiency, then GABA Calm is a great product I usually recommend. This along with the magnesium is a product I utilize myself. GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is an amino acid derivative and a key inhibitory neurotransmitter. It has an inhibitory effect on the firing of neurons and supports a calm mood. If you are one who tends to stress about the day, then this will help calm those over-firings down so the brain can wind down to sleep. **CAUTION– GABA Calm contains l-tyrosine which is not to be used with MAO inhibitor drugs.

There are several homeopathic formulas that can also help with sleep problems. Try Hyland’s Calms Forte, Newton’s Insomnia, or Bach’s Rescue Sleep liquid melts.

Teas like Sleepy Time tea, chamomile, and lavender can help one relax before bed as well.

There are many other sleep formulas out there too. Some use valerian root which has had numerous human clinical trials conducted on it. Many have shown positive results to support a normal restful night sleep. Others may have lemon balm or hops added. Whatever product you select, you should first look at the root cause of the sleep issue and then address accordingly. If you are on any medications, you will need to speak to a healthcare practitioner before trying some of these supplements mentioned because of potential drug interactions.

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