Quick fix solutions are not exactly an invention of the modern times, but today they are more popular than ever – a fact that is clearly reflected in the market. Look at any field of human endeavour, and you will find a myriad of products promising to solve your problems overnight.
The reason for this is simple: people love shortcuts. Yes, we’ve all heard that hard work, discipline and commitment are the one true path to achieving your goal, but a seemingly easier path will always be favored. After all, why go through all the trouble if the same results can be achieved with much less effort?
Bringing the story down to the subject of stress, we’ve all probably been told that battling “the most common disease of modern times” requires a comprehensive effort involving many aspects of your life – from eating habits and physical activity to the overall pace of your life and lifestyle choices. This is quality advice, of course, but also advice a lot of us find hard to follow. Could it be that there are easier ways for us to live a stress free life?
Many products today carry an “anti-stress” label, promising instant relief of stress symptoms. Various vitamins or vitamin complexes, herbal teas and extracts and other dietary supplements are supposed to have beneficial, stress relieving effects.
Since most of these products are natural, generally there are no health risks attached to them and you don’t need to concern yourself with negative side effects. But the main question regarding stress relief supplements isn’t whether they are safe, but whether they are effective.
There is no definitive answer to that question. While there is a general consensus that supplements are not a long term answer for stress – significant lifestyle changes are in order for this goal – when it comes to their short term effects opinions vary significantly. Some believe that certain supplements should be an essential part of your everyday diet, while others consider it mere placebo.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular stress relief supplements and try to see if there’s some proof of beneficial effects…
A popular cure for “easing of the nerves” for many centuries, lemon balm comes in a variety of forms, from teas to pills, extracts, capsules and creams. Various independent studies show that lemon balm can improve the mood of the user, reduce anxiety and help with insomnia. It is perfectly safe to use, and has a long track record.
A popular cure for anxiety or insomnia, valerian root has also been used centuries back. It is often used as an all-natural sleeping pill, and performs that function effectively. Different studies have yielded different results in regards to its effects in dealing with anxiety: one study even showed that valerian root reduces anxiety more effectively than popular pharmaceuticals such as diazepam. Other studies found no evidence linking valerian root to reduced anxiety, so the question of its effectiveness remains open.
A natural substance found in green and black tea, theanine is recommended as a way to reduce anxiety and battle insomnia. While extensive and thorough research of theanine effects on humans hasn’t been conducted, smaller studies suggest that theanine is safe for humans. Furthermore, several studies have shown that theanine could have various beneficial effects, such as stronger immunity, enhanced focus and reduced stress.
Traditional medicine champions passionflower herb as a highly effective anxiety relief medicine. Modern science is yet to give a conclusive answer regarding its benefits, but one study has concluded that it is as effective as pharmaceuticals for anxiety disorder, potentially with less side effects. However, studies conducted on mice have shown that passionflower might have genotoxic effects as well.
The plant of the western Pacific, traditionally consumed in all of Polynesia, Kava is often taken as a sedative. It is believed to help with insomnia and anxiety, with studies suggesting that it can also be a highly effective anti-depressant. However, in recent years kava has earned a bad reputation, with some countries going as far as to ban all kava-based products due to fears of potential liver damage. Even though no studies have given conclusive evidence that liver damage and kava consumption are directly related, it is advised to consult a doctor before consuming a kava-based product.
To conclude, stress relief supplements are not a long term answer for your stress related problems, simply because they only address the symptoms, and not their cause. However, if short term relief is what you’re after, some of these supplements (or some other) just might do the trick for you. Most of these products are perfectly harmless and even if they fail to yield results, they at least won’t create any new problems.
Author Bio: Jenny Hahn is an Aussie health nut actively working on her long term plan to live at least a full century. Informational credit: Supplement Empire