Author: BioCeuticals - Editor
Stress Impacts Men’s Physical and Mental Health
The Stress and Wellbeing Survey 2012, conducted by the Australian Psychological Society, found that young adults experienced significantly higher levels of stress and lower levels of wellbeing compared to older adults.
One in five participants felt that their current stress had a strong to very strong impact on both their physical and mental health.1
The human body is effectively designed to deal with stress through a biochemical cascade, involving the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. When stress is repeated or prolonged, and outweighs a person’s ability to cope, detrimental effects on the body can occur including symptoms such as headaches, insomnia, impaired gastrointestinal function, weakened immune system and fatigue.2
Chronic stress is also associated with a greater risk of depression, cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, autoimmune diseases, upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) and impaired wound healing.3,4
Cognitive function can be influenced by internal and external factors. The area of the brain that governs cognitive processes (the prefrontal cortex) is impaired by stress, which can affect memory5 and potentially impair cognitive performance.
Micronutrient status may also affect cognitive function and may be a factor in age-related cognitive impairment.6,7
Herbal and nutritional support for cognition and stress
Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)
The traditional uses of rhodiola include supporting the nervous system, improving depressive mood, enhancing physical performance, improving cognitive function and supporting healthy sleep.8,9
Categorised as an adaptogen, studies have shown that rhodiola exhibits adaptogenic activity, increasing the body’s ability to respond and cope with mental, emotional and physical stressors. The antifatigue effects of rhodiola improve cognition and reduce burnout in patients with fatigue syndrome.10 Rhodiola also improves mood and reduces anxiety through neuroendocrine modulation including inhibition of cortisol and monoamine oxidase.11
Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis)
Traditional Chinese Medicine recommends schisandra for restoring Qi (life force/energy) and to tone the kidneys, liver and lungs.12
Schisandra is regarded as an adaptogen, increasing the body’s natural resistance to physical, emotional and mental stressors. Schisandra may improve regulation of physiological processes, with animal studies indicating a potent antioxidant and hepatoprotective effect.13,14
The B group vitamins play an integral role in numerous metabolic processes in the body including production of cellular energy, detoxification, homocysteine metabolism, hormone production and neurotransmitter synthesis.12 In regards to stress and cognition, B vitamins may reduce homocysteine levels, high levels of which may affect cognitive function.15 Vitamin B5 is also essential for adrenal cortex function and steroid hormone synthesis.12
Magnesium is an important mineral for the relaxation of the body’s muscles and may be used for symptoms of stress, anxiety and increased tension.12 Stress and anxiety have been shown to increase urinary excretion of magnesium and result in magnesium depletion, thus increasing the magnesium requirements of the body.16,17
- Casey L. Stress and wellbeing in Australia in 2012: a state-of-the-nation survey. The Australian Psychological Society, Melbourne, October 2012.
- Understanding and managing stress. The Australian Psychological Society, 2012, http://www.psychology.org.au/Assets/Files/StressTipSheet.pdf
- Cohen S, Janicki-Deverts D, Doyle WJ, et al. Chronic stress, glucocorticoid receptor resistance, inflammation, and disease risk. PNAS 2012;109(16):5995-5999.
- Cohen S, Janicki-Deverts D, Miller GE. Psychological stress and disease. JAMA 2007;298(14):1685-1687.
- Shansky RM, Lipps J. Stress-induced cognitive dysfunction: hormone-neurotransmitter interactions in the prefrontal cortex. Front Hum Neurosci 2013;7:123.
- Jansen D, Zerbi V, Janssen CI. Impact of a multi-nutrient diet on cognition, brain metabolims, hemodynamics, and plasticity in apoE4 carrier and apoE knockout mice. Brain Struct Funct 2013 July 6. [Epub ahead of print]
- Tsivgoulis G, Judd S, Letter AJ, et al. Adherance to a Mediterranean diet and risk of incident cognitive impairment. Neurology 2013;80)18):1684-1692.
- Ishaque S, Shamseer L, Bukutu C, et al. Rhodiola rosea for physical and mental fatigue: a systematic review. BMC Complement Altern Med 2012 May 29;12:70.
- Rhodiola rosea monograph. Altern Med Rev 2002;7(5):421-423.
- Panossian A, Wikman G, Sarris J. Rosenroot (Rhodiola rosea): traditional use, chemical composition, pharmacology and clinical efficacy. Phytomedicine 2010;17(7):481-493.
- Sarris J, Panossian A, Schweitzer I, et al. Herbal medicine for depression, anxiety and insomnia: a review of psychopharmacology and clinical evidence. Eur Neuropsychopharm 2011;21(12):841-860.
- Braun L, Cohen M. Herbs and natural supplements: an evidence-based guide, 3rd ed. Sydney: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2010.
- Sinclair S. Chinese herbs: a clinical review of astragalus, ligusticum and schisandrae. Alt Med Rev 1998;3(5):338-344.
- Lu H, Liu GT. Effect of dibenzo[a,c]cyclooctene lignans isolated from fructus schizandrae on lipid peroxidation and anti-oxidative enzyme activity. Chem Biol Interact 1991;78(1):77-84.
- Reay JL, Smith MA, Riby LM. B vitamins and cognitive performance in older adults: review. ISRN Nutrition 2013:ID 650983.
- Grases G, Pérez-Castelló JA, Sanchis P, et al. Anxiety and stress among science students. Study of calcium and magnesium alterations. Magnes Res 2006;19(2):102-106.
- Galland L. Magnesium, stress and neuropsychiatric disorders. Magnes Trace Elem 1991-1992;10(2-4):287-301.