Adrenal Energy Formula

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ADRENAL ENERGY FORMULA

Adrenal Energy Formula
120 vegetarian capsules
Item Catalog Number: 01630

When properly supported, the mechanism known as homeostasis enables the body to maintain its normal balance during stress, helping us to remain energized and focused.

Increasingly overwhelmed by stress, however, our bodies seldom get a chance to restore our natural equilibrium.

The result is that an estimated 75%–90% of visits to primary care physicians are now related to the effects of stress.15

Even more alarming is a recently published study16 linking stress with shorter telomeres (the caps on the ends of chromosomes), which is associated with accelerated aging!

Stress disrupts multiple biochemical pathways, including cortisol production, the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, pro-inflammatory enzyme production and neurotransmitter production. A pre-clinical study has shown that stress also inhibits neural plasticity (the growth of new connections between neurons in the brain)!17

Fortunately, Life Extension® has created a state-of-the-art formulation of botanical adaptogens, shown to modulate a broad range of factors to help relieve the effects of stress.

Adrenal Energy Formula combines four known stress-modulating extracts—Holy Basil, Cordyceps, Bacopa, and Ashwagandha—each scientifically validated to support homeostasis, even on the most stressful days.

Each of these extracts modulates a different set of stress related changes in the body’s chemistry.18-30 Combined, they may complement each other to provide complete adaptogenic stress defense!

For those who are seeking protection from the effects of stress, Adrenal Energy Formula™ is a broad-spectrum, potent, and safe formulation for maintaining healthy energy and vitality!

Supplement Facts
Serving Size 2 vegetarian capsules
Servings Per Container 60
Amount Per Serving

OciBest® Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) extract 10:1 (whole plant) [std. to 2.5% triterpene acids (15 mg)] 600 mg Proprietary Blend: 516 mg
Sensoril® Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract 5:1 (root and leaves) [std. to 8% withanolide glycoside conjugates and 32% oligosaccharides]
Cordyceps (Paecilomyces hepiali) extract 8:1 (mycelia) [std. to 7% cordycepic acid] BaCognize® Ultra (Bacopa monnieri) extract 25:1 (whole herb) [std. to 25% bacopa glycosides]


Other ingredients: vegetable cellulose (capsule), microcrystalline cellulose, maltodextrin, ascorbyl palmitate, silica.
BACOGNIZE® ULTRA is a registered trademark of Verdure Sciences, Inc.
OciBest® is a registered trademark of Natural Remedies Private Limited.
Sensoril® is protected under US Patent Nos. 6,153,198 and 6,713,092 and is a registered trademark of Natreon, Inc.

Dosage and Use
Take two (2) capsules twice daily with or without food, or as recommended by a healthcare practitioner.

Warnings
KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN
DO NOT EXCEED RECOMMENDED DOSE
Do not purchase if outer seal is broken or damaged.
When using nutritional supplements, please consult with your physician if you are undergoing treatment for a medical condition or if you are pregnant or lactating.
To report a serious adverse event or obtain product information, contact 1-866-280-2852.

 

 

 

Details

New Reason to Avoid Stress

By Michael Downey

New Reason to Avoid STRESS

Scientists have made an alarming discovery—higher stress levels can causeaccelerated shortening of telomeres.1-5

In a recently published study, researchers found that depression-related stress results in the significant shortening of telomeres—the caps at the ends of chromosomes—an indication of accelerated aging!1

The publication of this study emphasizes the importance of minimizing the impact of internal and environmental stress on the body. An estimated 75-90% of visits to primary care physicians are now related to the effects of stress,and this new study documents how lethal stress can be to our well-being and longevity.

Telomeres, Stress, and Aging

Telomeres are protective DNA molecules. Often compared to the plastic caps on the ends of shoelaces, telomeres are found on the ends of coiled pieces of DNA known as chromosomes. They keep the chromosome material from deteriorating, or fusing with other chromosomes.

Every time chromosomes divide, the telomeres at the ends shorten.7 As telomeres are increasingly consumed, they can be replenished by an enzyme called telomerase reverse transcriptase.

The eventual shortening of telomeres is correlated with cellular senescence—and aging.8

Ultimately, the telomeres become so depleted that the cell can no longer divide (known as the Hayflick limit), and that cell dies (apoptosis).9

Scientists have discovered that the multiple biochemical pathways of chronic stress dampen telomerase and accelerate telomere-shortening.1-5 The most recent study found that the telomeres of patients with depression-related stress were over 5% shorter than the telomeres of those who had not been diagnosed with depression.1

Stress and Homeostasis

Stress and Homeostasis

Described as “our leading health problem,” sustained negative stress is now acknowledged as a key driver behind many of today’s health complaints, both psychological and physical.6

Because the term “stress” has long been incorrectly used, it lost its medical meaning. People often use the term to describe any situation they don’t like. For this reason, neuroscientists have recently clarified the term to mean:

 

Conditions where an environmental demand exceeds the natural regulatory capacity of an organism, in particular situations that include unpredictability and uncontrollability.”10

 

Chronic negative stress triggers a number of critical changes throughout the body that act along multiple biochemical pathways, including the endocrine, nervous, and immune systems.

As long as stress levels are low, the effects of stressors are modulated by homeostasis, the body’s ability to maintain harmonious equilibrium by constantly readjusting its physiological processes. Cells and tissues exist in a constantly changing environment, but homeostasis keeps steering internal biochemical and bioelectrical levels back to their near-optimum points.

However, when stress is severe, chronic, or multi-layered, numerous biochemical changes overwhelm the body’s homeostatic mechanism (“environmental demand exceeds the natural regulatory capacity”). Studies have found that these harmful effects can persist long after a stressful situation has been normalized.11,12 As a result, key biochemical levels can remain for too long at suboptimal levels.2 This is called homeostatic imbalance.

Some of the many disease states associated with stress-induced homeostatic imbalance include obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, gastric ulcer, cancer, gastrointestinal complaints, skin issues, neurological disorders, sexual dysfunction, psychological problems, suppressed immunity—and reduced telomerase and shortened telomeres and, as a result, accelerated cellular and tissue aging.1-5

Scientists have long known that homeostasis can be supported through the use of natural extracts calledadaptogens. But to be effective against the onslaught of chronic stress, these pro-homeostatic botanical extracts would need to be combined so that their various mechanisms of action would complement each other to modulate the multiple pathways of stress.

Based on research from a variety of disciplines, researchers have discovered how extracts such as Holy Basil,BacopaCordyceps, and Ashwagandha may protect against a broad range of chronic stress effects.

Full appreciation of the enormity of this finding requires an understanding of the multiple pathways through which stress disrupts homeostasis.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: PROTECTION FROM THE DAMAGING EFFECTS OF STRESS
  • Protection from the Damaging Effects of Stress
    A recently published study1 has confirmed the alarming discovery2-5 that stress can result in the shortening of telomeres— an indicator of accelerated aging!7
  • Scientists have now pinpointed four extracts that powerfully modulate the multiple pathways of stress. Holy Basil, Bacopa, Cordyceps, and Ashwagandha each work to restore homeostasis and inhibit stress damage.
  • Controlled human studies have now shown that the stress defense provided by these four potent adaptogens translates into experientialimprovements in mental and physical health.
  • The effects of stress have a significant impact on everyday health matters with an estimated 75-90% of visits to primary care physicians now related to the effects of stress.

The Multiple Pathways of Stress

Job pressure is recognized as the leading source of stress,13 but whatever the stressor, the cascade of physiological responses is the same.

First, within seconds of the stressful event, various chemicals—neurotransmitters and hormones such as cortisolare released into the bloodstream. They launch the initial fight-or-flight, stress-adaptation responses in which blood glucose rises, blood vessels constrict, the heart races, and blood is diverted away from the digestive system. These responses originate at the cellular level and within every key body system, including the neuroendocrine system, the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, the immune system, and the primary (endogenous) antioxidant enzyme system.

Second, within minutes of the stressful event—and possibly lasting for several hours, weeks, or longer—specific biochemical pathways are activated within these systems, disrupting the body’s natural homeostasis. If the body cannot restore equilibrium quickly, permanent damage occurs. The end result is a vast spectrum of chronic diseases.1-5

The biochemical effects of stress can be complicated and diverse, but basically, they contribute to the development of or create imbalance in the following:2,14-18

  1. Cortisol (steroid hormone)
  2. Neurotransmitters (noradrenalindopamineserotoninacetylcholineGABA)
  3. Hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis regulation
  4. Glucose (blood sugar)
  5. Primary antioxidant activity (e.g., superoxide dismutasecatalase)
  6. Immune activity
  7. Amyloid (linked to 20 serious diseases including Alzheimer’s)
  8. Inflammation (e.g., cyclooxygenase, or COX enzyme)
  9. Gastric ulcerations
  10. Lipid peroxidation (e.g., hepatic)
  11. Plasma creatine kinase (enzyme)
  12. ATP (adenosine triphosphate)
  13. Cognition and memory function
  14. Sexual response and function

Scientists are finding that stress-induced imbalances in levels of cortisol and other stress-affected substances may be seriously damaging important areas of the brain.

THE EFFECT OF STRESS ON YOUR BRAIN
The Effect of Stress on Your Brain
  • Stress is critical for survival. It focuses our attention, heightens our senses, raises our blood pressure and heart rate, and in general prepares us for the fight-or-flight response that can save our lives. At the same time, it shuts down systems not immediately important for short-term survival, such as digestion, or reproduction.

    But prolonged, frequent or extreme stress can have devastating effects on the body and brain.

  • Higher cortisol levels have been detected in Alzheimer’s disease patients and have been linked to memory and cognitive impairments.55
  • Exposure to chronic stress can cause the atrophy of hippocampal dendrites, followed by the apoptotic (programmed) death of neurons.55
  • Stress activates the inflammatory response in the brain. An increase in pro-inflammatory factors, such as cytokines IL-1 and IL-6, can alter synaptic plasticity, affect cognitive skills, and damage memory. In fact, elevated levels of these cytokines have been associated with Alzheimer’s.55
  • Chronic stress was shown to accelerate the impairment of cognitive functions.55
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has been characterized as a disease in which there is accelerated aging, including the aging of both the memory and body.56
  • In magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the right side of the hippocampus area of the brain was found to be 8% smaller in PTSD patients.56
  • Chronically high cortisol levels are linked to brain damage.57
  • Stress inhibits neurogenesis (the growth of new neurons) in the hippocampus.57
  • Chronic stress has been associated with reduced size or atrophy of the hippocampus, possibly due to increased levels of cortisol.57
Chronic Stress and Adrenal Hormone Output

Inhibiting Stress Pathways

Adaptogens are a pharmacological group of compounds that metabolically support the ability of an organism to respond appropriately to stress, preserve structure and function from the damaging effects of stress, and hasten recovery of homeostasis. The rebalancing effects of adaptogens involve a complex interplay of physiological mechanisms. Adaptogen’s main activity is the increase of a heat shock protein known as Hsp70 that plays a key function in cell survival and apoptosis (programmed cell death).19 Different adaptogens modulate different levels along the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Some mediate cortisol, nitric oxide, or molecular chaperons.19

When combined adaptogens work together to modulate the multiple pathways of stress, the multiple benefits include improved mental and physical performance, reduced incidence of chronic disease, and increased longevity.2,19

Scientists investigated numerous extracts—some used for thousands of years to treat various stress-related symptoms.

This research led to four potent adaptogens that can provide a united defense against the multiple cellular pathways of chronic stress:

Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum)

Holy Basil

Holy Basil
(Ocimum tenuiflorum)

Also known as tulsi, Holy Basil has been used as a medicinal herb for thousands of years. Studies have shown that it modulates the effects of a variety of stress responses, as well as decreases cholesterol and increases endurance.20-25

Researchers have found that Holy Basil helps maintain internal equilibrium by normalizing specific, stress-induced, homeostatic imbalances in the areas of:

  • Blood sugar25,26
  • Antioxidant activity26,27
  • Inflammation28
  • Gastric ulceration23
  • Cholesterol levels and lipid peroxidation27,29
  • Plasma creatine kinase (enzyme)30

Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri)

Bacopa

Bacopa
(Bacopa monnieri)

This aquatic plant, also known as water hyssop, is found in tropical and subtropical regions, and has been used for several thousand years, especially in India, as a rejuvenating herb. Research on Bacopa monnieri has indicated that it has an adaptogenic effect on systems related to cognition, motivation, sensory, and motor function.31-35 It has also shown to provide a significant decrease in stress-related anxiety, mental fatigue, and memory loss.33

Recently, scientists have found that Bacopa modulates particular, stress-triggered disruptions in homeostasis:

  • Cortisol36
  • Neurotransmitters36
  • Antioxidant activity37
  • Amyloid37
  • Lipid peroxidation37
  • Cognition and memory38

Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis)

Cordyceps

Cordyceps
(Cordyceps sinensis)

Use of Cordyceps, which is a remarkably versatile medicinal mushroom, dates back almost two centuries. However, Cordyceps really grabbed Western attention in 1993 after its use was suggested to be the secret behind the setting of a series of long-distance records by Chinese female runners within a very short period of time. Research has since established it as a therapy for the accelerated strengthening and revitalization of the body after exhaustion or lengthy illness.39-41

Studies show that Cordyceps normalizes stress-induced homeostatic imbalances in the following areas:

  • Blood sugar41,42
  • Antioxidant activity43,44
  • Immune activity39,45
  • Inflammation39
  • Lipid peroxidation43
  • ATP (adenosine triphosphate)46
  • Sexual function43
  • HPA axis activity43

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha
(Withania somnifera)

Ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng or Withania somnifera, is considered the foremost adaptogen in Ayurvedic medicine. Studies have shown that it helps the body to recover from the energy loss and mood-altering effects of stress.47-50

Scientists have found that Ashwagandha modulates stress-induced changes to homeostasis in the areas of:

  • Neurotransmitters (affecting depression and anxiety)51
  • Cortisol52
  • HPA axis activity14
  • Lipid peroxidation52
  • Blood sugar14
  • Antioxidant activity52
  • Inflammation14
  • Gastric ulceration20

Inhibiting the Effects of Stress in Humans

As we have seen, each of these four botanical extracts have been individually studied for their modulatory effects on stress in humans. The scientists who conducted these studies set out to determine whether these adaptogens could not only modulate multiple biochemical pathways of stress but also provide experiential improvements in mental and physical health. Across all studies, subjects were given standardized doses of the botanical, then evaluated for a range of indicators of health and wellbeing, looking for measurable improvements in vitality and performance. The results of these studies set the standard for clinical dosages.

Holy Basil

To test the ability of Holy Basil to modulate homeostatic imbalance, scientists arranged a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in which 71 humans took 1,200 mg a day of Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum), and 79 others took a placebo. For both groups, various cognitive and energy-related symptoms of stress were measured using a standard analysis (RMANOVA) at 0, 2, 4, and 6 weeks.

Scores were determined to be substantially improved for all stress related symptoms measured, including forgetfulness, sexual problems of recent origin, frequent feeling of exhaustion, and frequent sleep problems of recent origin. Also, the overall stress-management scores were found to have improved by an additional 39% for the Holy Basil group over the placebo group—and this improvement was observed in just 6 weeks!53

Bacopa

Scientists set up a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study for which they enlisted 20 healthy older adults age 60-75, each of which were given a standardized Bacopa monnieri extract in a 300 mg oral dosage once per day. (This is equivalent to 132 mg daily of a more concentrated Bacopa extract.) Focus, attention, learning, memory, mood, and overall intelligence—all of which can be negatively impacted by stress—were assessed using a battery of standardized tests.

After 4 months, several key indicators of cognitive function improved significantly from baseline measurements—including a 23% improvement in focus and attention, a 24% improvement in aspects of learning and memory, a15% improvement in performance measures of intelligence, and a 30% improvement in mood, particularly depression. One of the most compelling findings in this study was the trend to do better on tests of attention, processing speed and working memory, which could be considered the “front end” of cognitive processing. In other words, good performance in key cognitive domains requires adequate attention and processing speed—which Bacopa is shown to support.54

Cordyceps

The day-to-day experience of the effects of chronic stress can include reduced libido. To evaluate the capacity ofCordyceps sinensis to protect against loss of libido, scientists enlisted 189 men and women with decreased sex drive for a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. The test group took Cordyceps (strain Cs-4) in dosages of3 grams daily. (This translates to 375 mg of commercially prepared product, because it is formulated as an 8:1extract.)

Among the test group, over 66% experienced improvement in sex drive—in just 40 days.39 It is important to note that Cordyceps Cs-4 did not simply support continued sex drive in healthy participants; it reversed previously assessed libido loss.

Ashwagandha

Scientists analyzed the stress-attenuating effects of Withania somnifera in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study of 98 chronically stressed, adult men and women. Subjects were randomly assigned to the placebo group, or to one of three Ashwagandha dosage groups: 125 mg once a day125 mg twice a day, or 250 mg twice a day. Stress levels were assessed at the beginning of the study, and again at 60 days of treatment, using a modified Hamilton anxiety (mHAM-A) scale. Also, certain biochemical and clinical values were measured, such as cortisol or blood pressure levels.

(A reduced score on the mHAM-A scale indicates fewer symptoms of: fatigue, flushing, perspiration, loss of appetite, headache, muscle pain, feelings of impending doom, palpitations, dry mouth, sleeplessness, forgetfulness, irritability, or inability to concentrate.)

After 60 days, the group taking the least Ashwagandha—125 mg daily—had significantly reduced mHAM-A anxiety scores. This arm of the study also showed significantly decreased serum C-reactive protein (a measure of inflammation), pulse rate, and blood pressure, as well as balanced levels of serum cortisol.14

After the same 60-day period, the higher-dose Ashwagandha groups also showed greater, dose-dependent responses in these same anxiety and biochemical parameters. But the researchers found that, additionally, the higher-dose subjects showed significantly reduced mean fasting glucose, serum lipid profiles, and cardiac risk ratios.14

It is particularly significant that all of the participants in this study had previously been diagnosed as chronically stressed.

No adverse effects were found for any of the four botanicals used in the studies. The various study findings confirm that these four adaptogenic extracts offer—at a basic biochemical level—substantial homeostatic protection against the multiple pathways of stress.

STRESS-INDUCED HOMEOSTATIC IMBALANCE
Stress-Induced Homeostatic Imbalance
  • Homeostasis is the ability and tendency of a body to maintain harmonious equilibrium by constantly readjusting its physiological processes. Cells and tissues exist in a constantly changing environment—homeostasis steers internal biochemical levels back to near-optimum points.
  • Physical and emotional stress triggers a cascade of biochemical changes, causing homeostatic imbalance.
  • This interruption in homeostasis helps us prepare for dangerous external situations.
  • These changes are supposed to be moderate, infrequent, and short-term.
  • Ordinarily, after a stressor has passed, our system adjusts—raising and lowering different biochemical levels—returning the body to homeostasis.
  • In today’s world, our feedback mechanisms become overwhelmed by the extent, duration, intensity, frequency, or multiple layering of stress.
  • This produces an excessive or prolonged homeostatic imbalance.
  • Studies have even found that these harmful effects can persist long after a stressful situation has been normalized.11,12
  • The result can be a multitude of physical and mental diseases, including permanent organ damage, DNA effects, and the physical changes associated with aging.
  • Fortunately, extracts including Holy Basil, Bacopa, Cordyceps, and Ashwagandha have been shown to support the full range of homeostatic pathways.

Summary

In an alarming development, scientists have discovered that higher stress levels can result in the accelerated shortening of telomeres—an indicator of accelerated aging.

The good news is a formulation comprised of four broadly-acting adaptogenic extracts—Holy Basil, Bacopa, Cordyceps, and Ashwagandha—has been developed that may work to modulate multiple stress pathways. Scientists have shown in controlled human studies—including patients who were chronically stressed—that these pro-homeostatic extracts result in experiential improvements in mental and physical health.

Holy Basil, for instance, improved stress management scores by 39% more than placebo—in just 6 weeks. Bacopa improved mood scores, particularly depression, by 30%.54

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at1-866-864-3027.

References

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23. Singh S, Majumdar DK. Evaluation of the gastric anti-ulcer activity of fixed oil of Ocimum sanctum (holy basil). J Ethnopharmacol. 1999;65(1):13-9.

24. Sembulingam K, Sembulingam P, Namasivayam A. Effect of Ocimum sanctum Linn on noise induced changes in plasma corticosterone level. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1997;41(2):139-43.

25. Rai V, Iyer U, Mani UV. Effect of tulasi (Ocimum sanctum) leaf powder supplementation on blood sugar levels, serum lipids and tissue lipids in diabetic rats. Plant Foods for Human Nutr. 1997;50:9-16.

26. Sethi J, Sood S, Seth S, Talwar A. Evaluation of hypoglycemic and antioxidant effect of Ocimum sanctumInd J Clin Biochem. 2004;19(2):152-5.

27. Subramanian M, Chintalwar GJ, Chattopadhyay S. Antioxidant and radioprotective properties of an Ocimum sanctum polysaccharide. Redox Rep. 2005;10(5):257-64.

28. Singh S, Nair V, Jain S, Gupta YK. Evaluation of antiinflammatory activity of plant lipids containing alpha-linolenic acid. Ind Jour Exp Biol. 2008;46(6):453-6.

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30. Gupta P, Yadav DK, Siripurapu KB, Palit G, Maurya R. Constituents of Ocimum sanctum with antistress activity. J Nat Prod. 2007 Sep;70(9):1410-6.

31. Singh HK, Rastogi RP, Srimal RC, et al. Effect of bacosides A and B on avoidance responses in rats. Phytother Res. 1988;2(2):70-5.

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36. Sheikh N, Ahmad A, Siripurapu KB, Kuchibhotla VK, Singh S, Palit G. Effect of Bacopa monniera on stress induced changes in plasma corticosterone and brain monoamines in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 May 22;111(3):671-6.

37. Dhanasekaran M, Tharakan B, Holcomb LA, Hitt AR, Young KA, Manyam BV. Neuroprotective mechanisms of Ayurvedic antidementia botanical Bacopa monnieraPhytother. Res. 2007;21:965-9.

38. Raghav S, Singh H, Dalal PK, Srivastava JS, Asthana OP. Randomized controlled trial of standardized Bacopa monniera extract in age-associated memory impairment. Ind J Psych. 2006;48(4):238-42.

39. Zhu JS, Halpern GM, Jones K. The scientific rediscovery of an ancient Chinese herbal medicine: Cordyceps sinensisPart II. J Altern Complement Med. 1998;4(4):429-57.

40. Dai G, Bao T, Xu C, et al. CordyMax Cs-4 improves steady-state bioenergy status in mouse liver. J Altern Complement Med. 2001;7(3):231-40.

41. Kiho T, Ookubo K, Usui S, et al. Structural features and hypoglycemic activity of a polysaccharide (CS-F10) from the cultured mycelium of Cordyceps sinensisBiol Pharm Bull. 1999;22(9):966-70.

42. Kiho T, Hui J, Yamane A, Ukai S. Polysaccharides in fungi. XXXII. Hypoglycemic activity and chemical properties of a polysaccharide from the cultural mycelium of Cordyceps sinensisBiol. Pharm. Bull. 1993 Dec;16(12):1291-3.

43. Zhu JS, Halpern GM, Jones K. The scientific rediscovery of an ancient Chinese herbal medicine: Cordyceps sinensis. Part I. J Altern Complement Med. 1998;4(3):289-303.

44. Li SP, Li P, Dong TT, et al. Anti-oxidation activity of different types of natural Cordyceps sinensis and cultured Cordyceps mycelia. Phytomedicine. 2001 May;8(3):207-12.

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Reducing the Risks of High Cortisol

By Jan Whiticomb

By Jan Whiticomb

Reducing the Risks of High Cortisol

Cortisol is a hormone that, when released in excess, can create a host of pathological conditions in the body.

When we are under stress or have an infection, cortisol raises our blood pressure and blood sugar. These changes help us survive short periods of stress, but they hurt us when they continue for years.

The problems associated with chronically elevated cortisol levels include:

  • Suppressed immunity
  • Hypertension
  • High blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
  • Insulin resistance
  • Carbohydrate cravings
  • Metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes
  • Fat deposits on the face, neck, and belly
  • Reduced libido
  • Bone loss1

Cortisol is a “stress hormone” that is responsible for many of the long-term health consequences suffered by those who encounter frequent stressful situations.

In this article, you will discover data about a natural remedy that reduces harmful cortisol levels. The benefits include improved sleep quality, immunity, stress response, and organ function.

The Dangers of Cortisol

Our bodies have a built-in mechanism for protecting us from the effects of acute, immediate stress (say, an attack by a wild animal). That effect, often called the “stress response,” involves production of several hormones in the adrenal gland. Following the immediate “adrenaline rush” that helps us escape the danger, we experience a massive release of cortisol, often referred to as the “stress hormone.”

Short-term bursts of cortisol are necessary to help us recover from the effects of stress. They boost blood sugar levels, providing immediate energy. They bolster immune responses in the short-term. They pull calcium from our bones, making it available to muscles for immediate action. They reduce our response to pain, keeping us focused on survival. And they enhance short-term memory, enabling us to evade similar threats in the near future.

Reducing the Risks of High Cortisol

Short, intermittent bursts of cortisol helped our ancestors survive in the wilderness and still come to our aid today. But unlike our ancestors, we face chronically stressful situations such as job loss and financial insecurity. Additionally, there are new biological stressors such as obesity and environmental toxins. This chronic stressmeans that we experience chronic cortisol elevation—where levels of the stress hormone never get a chance to return to normal. This produces a major problem that threatens our health and longevity.

The effects of chronic overexposure to cortisol can be devastating. Prolonged cortisol elevations result in sustained elevations of blood sugar, substantial loss of calcium from bones, depression of important immune responses, high blood pressure, loss of muscle mass, increased fat accumulation, and even loss of cognitive function.

If you’ve ever seen someone on chronic steroid therapy, say, for protection against transplant rejection, you’ve seen the destructive effects of cortisol: such people develop a classic “moon face,” the result of excess fat and fluid accumulations. They develop a stooped posture, the result of calcium losses from bones. They often succumb to infections, the result of excessive immune suppression. Less obviously, but still of concern, they often develop dangerous hypertension requiring medication, and they can develop a range of cognitive dysfunctions as well.

So how can we preserve the beneficial effects of short-term cortisol elevations in response to acute, dangerous stress, while tamping down the dangerous effects of chronic, long-term cortisol elevations? That’s where adaptogens such as rhodiola become important.

The reason that the Soviet scientists were so interested in rhodiola was that they recognized its value in situations where long-term stress was an issue. They saw that rhodiola’s adaptogenic powers could balance the impairments produced by chronic stress without interfering with the valuable short-term stress response. Modern science is further validating rhodiola’s ability to mitigate the impact of chronic cortisol elevations.

A large, phase III placebo-controlled clinical trial was conducted in Sweden in 2009, studying participants aged 20-55 years with a diagnosis of stress-related fatigue.2 Subjects taking the rhodiola extract had significantly lower cortisol responses to chronic stress than did the placebo recipients—and as a result they had lower scores on scales of burnout and improved performance on cognitive testing.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: RHODIOLA: AN INCREASINGLY POPULAR ADAPTOGEN
Enhanced Longevity
  • Rhodiola is a known adaptogen—a plant-based compound that improves resistance to stress.
  • It exerts system-wide protective and restorative effects, increasing longevity and healthy life span in experimental models.
  • It has been shown to favorably modulate the stress response, restore vital organ function, and boost immunity.
  • It also combats aging cognitive function, minimizing depression, and anxiety.
  • Rhodiola enhances muscle performance, increases endurance, prevents muscle damage, and improves blood circulation.

A placebo-controlled Chinese study in 2009 also revealed protective effects of rhodiola on stress-induced cortisol levels in otherwise healthy individuals.3 In this case, subjects who received rhodiola experienced no change in their cortisol levels, while levels rose sharply among placebo recipients when both groups were exposed to chronic stress in the form of endurance exercise. Rhodiola also increased the efficiency with which subjects used oxygen, potentially reducing additional stress from oxygen radicals.

Advanced laboratory studies have now demonstrated that rhodiola achieves its cortisol-lowering, stress-fighting effects through several different mechanisms. Rhodiola directly interacts with the brain-adrenal gland system to reduce cortisol production while enhancing stress-resistance proteins.4 It upregulates “stress-sensor” proteins that reduce the production and impact of cortisol, resulting in enhanced mental and physical performance and even longevity.5 And multiple studies have demonstrated the complete lack of side effects from rhodiola supplementation.2,4

Modulating the Stress Response

Modulating the Stress Response

Unlike any other compound, adaptogens condition your body to respond favorably to stress at the physiological level through a unique mechanism.

Adaptogens deliver minute shocks of mild stress that condition your physiology to respond to more major stresses in a favorable way. Interestingly, this is similar to the vaccine theory of innoculating the body with a small but harmless amount of a virus to help the body fend off a major attack.6

Rhodiola reduces fatigue and restores normal mental and physiological functioning, even in stressed humans categorized as having “burnout.”6,7 Studies of highly stressed individuals—doctors working overnight shifts, students studying for major exams—all demonstrate improvements in fatigue level, neuro-motor performance, and perceptive and cognitive function, even when tested under ongoing stressful conditions.8-10

A study of young to middle-aged women with significant impairment from living in psychologically stressful environments demonstrated improved scores on attention, speed, and accuracy during stressful cognitive tasks.11Those effects were evident just two hours after a single dose of rhodiola combined with Siberian ginseng andSchisandra chinensis. No serious side effects were reported in this or any other study of rhodiola.4

RHODIOLA RESEARCH CONDUCTED IN RUSSIA

Scarcely heard of in this country, rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb that first gained prominence when used by Russian cosmonauts to improve their endurance, concentration, and strength during space missions. During the Cold War, the Russians began to scientifically study the use of adaptogenic herbs for their elite athletes and military.

Their goal was to identify a natural product that created a sense of well being and reduced the harmful effects of the stress hormone, cortisol. The Russian scientists knew that high levels of cortisol initiate a dangerous cascade of stress and disease that would hamper the efforts of their best and brightest.

Rhodiola is one of only 16 scientifically established adaptogens, or plants endowed with the power to enhance system-wide function in the aging human.

A Powerful Weapon Against Anxiety

While Rhodiola rosea has demonstrated the ability to help people deal with stress, it has also shown promise in alleviating stress-related symptoms such as anxiety and a diminished appetite.

A new study shined a light on rhodiola’s ability to circumvent the symptoms and severity of general anxiety disorder, a common condition characterized by frequent, excessive worry that is out of proportion to external circumstances. Symptoms of the disorder include difficulty concentrating, irritability, tense muscles, sleep disturbances, and trouble controlling worries. Ten participants (ages 34-55) with generalized anxiety disorder received a total daily dose of 340 mg of R. rosea extract for 10 weeks. At the study’s end, the participants demonstrated significant improvements in symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, as determined by a widely used clinical assessment scale.12

As researchers began to investigate rhodiola in greater detail, they discovered that one of rhodiola’s key components, the phytochemical salidroside, may be responsible for many of rhodiola’s anti-aging properties, as well as an important factor in its ability to help combat anxiety. One animal study showed that salidroside produced notable sedative (calming) and hypnotic (sleep-inducing) effects in a dose-dependent fashion.13 Another study showed that administering salidroside to animals reversed stress-induced anorexia (discontinuation of eating ).14Together, these findings support rhodiola’s ability to calm individuals subjected to stress and to restore normal patterns of rest and eating.

These studies back up centuries of common knowledge in Russia and Scandinavia, where people have used rhodiola to alleviate everyday symptoms of anxiety and poor sleep.

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