Stress: “an organism’s total response to environmental demands or pressures.” Stress occurs when the environment is “perceived [by an individual] as straining or exceeding their adaptive capacities and threatening their well-being.”1
We are beginning to understand as a culture that stress is our own response to a stimulus. By realizing that we can choose our response to a stressor or learn to modify stressors, we find ourselves more in the control seat and still within our adaptive capacities.
But how many of us continue to find ourselves in situations that challenge our well-being? It is simply a fact of life that this will occur in everyone’s life—sometimes more often for some than others.
Ayurveda is full of tools and techniques to manage our response to demands and pressures. For a great read on this topic, see our Stress Management guide. But we also want to highlight one of our products, Stress Ease. This blend is helping many users manage stress and the associated fatigue (just take a look at our product reviews!). Here’s more insight on how this formulation works.
When stress occurs, our body’s nervous and muscular systems go on high alert, activating the sympathetic nervous system (the “fight or flight” part as opposed to the parasympathetic system, responsible for “rest and relax”). Because the nervous and muscular systems affect literally every cell in our body, the effects can be quite vast. We can experience fatigue, weight loss or weight gain, digestive issues, mood changes, discomfort, difficulty with concentration and attention, occasional sleep difficulties—just to name a few.
To counter the highly active nervous and muscular systems, we invoke the qualities of warmth, grounding, soothing, and stability through these herbs:
- Ashwagandha. This is the quintessential herb for stress that is incredibly popular even amongst western herbalists and physicians of all backgrounds. Studies on ashwagandha products show that it can help modulate the levels of stress hormone cortisol when experiencing occasional stress, helping with energy, restful sleep, and an overall sense of well-being. Many researchers are also looking at ashwagandha and overall health of brain tissue, finding that it can help maintain the proper structure of these tissues.2 The research really does go on and on—and there is more coming! Recent testing on our ashwagandha powder used in this formulation shows that it not only meets United States Pharmacopoeia standards for withanolide content (the active constituent in ashwagandha, responsible for its many benefits), but it exceeds it—likely due to our high standards for organic farming.
- Shatavari. Shatavari is a fantastic nutritive and tonic. It helps nourish and rebuild where replenishing is needed. It is also cooling, which helps counter heat buildup that can contribute to the pitta type of stress. The sweet and unctuous qualities of this herb make it an excellent rejuvenative (rasayana).
- Brahmi/Gotu Kola. If there is one herb that caters specifically to soothing, nourishing, and regenerating the mind, this is it! All literature points to a calming and soothing effect on the nervous system. It helps maintain memory, intelligence, and concentration in periods of stress.3
- Amalaki. Amalaki is a fascinating herb: it has the ability to help maintain cell structure and integrity through its very high, anti-oxidant tannin content.4 Along with occasional stress, there is a boost in free radicals in the body. These free radicals are what cause dysfunction in the body. Amalaki is a rich source of tannins that help maintain a healthy level of free radicals in the body, thereby assisting in natural internal cleansing. It is also a fantastic herb to pacify pitta.
- Guduchi. Guduchi also helps cleanse natural toxins but it is additionally well-known in Ayurveda to support the immune system, which we all know can take a hit during periods of stress.
- Gokshura. The kidneys and adrenals are the organs that will work to support you when your stress and vata levels are high. Gokshura is a fantastic tonic to support these situations. It is rejuvenating to the reproductive organs and the nervous system with its sweet taste and cooling quality.5
- Arjuna. Our heart center is often the first place impacted with stress, whether the stress is from an immense amount of pressure to perform or from grief and loss. Arjuna is “the remover of all sorrow” in Ayurveda. It also is one of the best-researched herbs that can maintain healthy heart functioning.6
- Kapikacchu seed. Most people know of kapikacchu as a natural source of levodopa, a precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine.7 A broader look shows that it rejuvenates and calms the nervous system, which helps with high amounts of vata (particularly in the nerves and mind). It promotes calmness as well as a healthy state of relaxation.8
- Ginger, Pippali, and Cardamom. These last three herbs are incorporated to help with the digestability of all of the above herbs. They were chosen from all digestive herbs because they all are nourishing and they support agni (digestive fire.
Keep a bottle on hand and feel the benefits. For higher levels or more prolonged stress, you may need to take it for a longer period of time to start to feel the effects. So be patient! The herbs in this product will work for you as you go through life’s normal challenges.
1 Farlex, “Stress,” The Free Dictionary: Medical Dictionary, accessed December 21, 2015.
2 Dale Kiefer, “Ashwagandha Stress Reduction, Neural Protection, and a Lot More from an Ancient Herb,” Life Extension, accessed December 21, 2015, http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2006/6/report_ashwa/Page-01
3 Sebastian Pole, Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice (London: Churchill Livingston, 2006), pp. 187-188
4 Bhattacharya A., Chatterjee A., Ghosal S., Bhattacharya S.K. Antioxidant activity of active tannoid principles of Emblica officinalis (amla). Indian J Exp Biol. 1999, 37(7):676-80.
5 Pole, Ayurvedic Medicine, pp. 185
6 Dabur Research Foundation and Dabur Ayurvet Limited. Major Herbs of Ayurveda. (London: Churchill Livingstone, 2002), pp 281.
7 Dabur Research Foundation and Dabur Ayurvet Limited, Major Herbs of Ayurveda, pg 191-192.
8 Pole, Ayurvedic Medicine, pp. 206