I wish everyone could have access to Dr. Eva's personal care and attention. The Fatigue Solution is the next best thing—it's one book that should be on every woman's bedside table. Eve, Singer and Actress

 

Chapter 4 – Improve Your Sleep and Reduce Your Stress: "Herbal Stress Reducers"


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Ashwagandha



Description
It grows as a short shrub (35–75 cm) with a central stem from which branch extend radially in a star pattern (stellate) and covered with a dense matte of wooly hairs (tomentose). The flowers are small and green, while the ripe fruit is orange-red and has milk-coagulating properties. The plant also has long brown tuberous roots that are used for medicinal purposes.
Ashwagandha, one of the most vital herbs in Ayurvedic healing, has been used since ancient times for a wide variety of conditions, but is most well known for its restorative benefits. In Sanskrit ashwagandha means "the smell of a horse," indicating that the herb imparts the vigor and strength of a stallion, and it has traditionally been prescribed to help people strengthen their immune system after an illness. In fact, it's frequently referred to as "Indian ginseng" because of its rejuvenating properties (although botanically, ginseng and ashwagandha are unrelated). In addition, ashwagandha is also used to enhance sexual potency for both men and women.

Ashwaganda

Belonging to the same family as the tomato, ashwagandha (or Withania somnifera in Latin) is a plump shrub with oval leaves and yellow flowers. It bears red fruit about the size of a raisin. The herb is native
to the dry regions of India, northern Africa, and the Middle East, but today is also grown in more mild climates, including in the United States.

Scientific Research
Ashwagandha contains many useful medicinal chemicals, including withanolides, (steroidal lactones), alkaloids, choline, fatty acids, amino acids, and a variety of sugars. While the leaves and fruit have valuable therapeutic properties, the root of the ashwagandha plant is the part most commonly used in Western herbal remedies.

Medical researchers have been studying ashwagandha with great interest and as of this date have carried out 216 studies of its healing benefits, summarized below:

• confers immune system protection
• combats the effects of stress
• improves learning, memory, and reaction time
• reduces anxiety and depression without causing drowsiness
• stabilizes blood sugar
• lowers cholesterol
• reduces brain-cell degeneration
• contains anti-malarial properties
• offers anti-inflammatory benefits

Some studies have also found that ashwagandha inhibits the growth of cancer cells in small animals, but further research is needed to determine whether the herb prevents the development of tumors in human beings.

Practical Uses and Precautions
The usual recommended dose is 600 to 1000 mg, twice daily. For people who suffer from insomnia and anxiety, having a cup of hot milk that contains a teaspoon of powdered ashwagandha before bedtime is beneficial. In extremely large doses, ashwagandha has been reported to induce abortions in animals. Although no similar studies have been carried out on humans, women should avoid the herb during pregnancy.

L-theanine



Hundreds of studies exist showing the many health benefits of green tea. But what makes it the most consumed beverage in the world after water is its pleasant taste and relaxation effect. Both of these qualities—and more—can be traced to a unique, neurologically-active amino acid in tea called L-theanine (gamma-ethylamino-L-glutamic acid).
L-theanine is a free (non-protein) amino acid found almost exclusively in tea plants (Camellia sp.), constituting between 1 and 2-percent of the dry weight of tea leaves. It is the predominant amino acid in green tea leaves, giving tea its characteristic umami or "5th taste" (besides the four traditional tastes: sweet, salty, acid, and bitter). Attempts to isolate the L-theanine, with its physical and neurological benefits, from the tea leaves were once difficult, expensive, and inefficient. Economically feasible methods of producing the identical L-theanine now exist and do not require a mountain of tea leaves.

Physiological Effects
The calming effect of green tea may seem contradictory to the stimulatory property of tea's caffeine content but it can be explained by the action of L-theanine. This amino acid actually acts antagonistically against the stimulatory effects of caffeine on the nervous system. (1) Research on human volunteers has demonstrated that L-theanine creates a sense of relaxation in approximately 30-40 minutes after ingestion via at least two different mechanisms. First, this amino acid directly stimulates the production of alpha brain waves, creating a state of deep relaxation and mental alertness similar to what is achieved through meditation. Second, L-theanine is involved in the formation of the inhibitory neurotransmitter, gamma amino butyric acid (GABA). GABA influences the levels of two other neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin, producing the key relaxation effect. (2)

Alpha Brain Activity
The brain emits weak electrical impulses (brain waves) that can be measured on the surface of the head. The predominant frequency of electrical impulses correlates with different types of mental states and activities. Brain waves are classified into four categories (delta, theta, alpha, and beta)—each with an associated mental state (Fig. 1). Delta is seen only in the deepest stages of sleep. Theta is seen in light sleep and drowsiness. Alpha is present in wakefulness where there is a relaxed and effortless alertness and Beta is seen in highly stressful situations and where there is difficulty in mental concentration and focus. It is well known that alpha brain waves are generated during a relaxed state and therefore alpha waves are used as an index of relaxation.

Dr Eva Cwynar

In one study of these mental responses to L-theanine, brain wave topography showed that alpha waves were observed from the back to the top of a person's head (occipital and parietal regions of the brain) within approximately 40 minutes after the subjects had taken either 50 or 200 mg of L-theanine. In a separate study, the intensity of alpha waves were determined to be dose dependent (with a 200 mg dose showing a significant increase over controls) and detectable after 30 minutes. (2,3)

Additional Benefits
L-theanine has a significant effect on the release or reduction of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, resulting in improved memory and learning ability. L-theanine may also influence emotions due to its effects on the increased release of dopamine. L-theanine reduces brain serotonin concentration by either curtailing serotonin synthesis or increasing degradation in the brain.

The regulation of blood pressure is partly dependent upon catecholaminergic and serotonergic neurons in both the brain and the peripheral nervous system. Studies on spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) showed an impressive blood pressure lowering effect with L-theanine. The lowered blood pressure effect was dose-dependent with the highest test dose creating the most significant drop. L-glutamine was used as one of the controls. Although L-glutamine is similar in chemical structure to L-theanine, it did not exhibit an anti-hypertensive effect (Fig. 2). (3)

The Fatigue Solution

Preliminary studies report that L-theanine has been found to increase the anti-tumor activity of some chemotherapeutic agents (doxorubicin and idarubicin) and to ameliorate some of the side effects of these drugs. It appears to increase the inhibitory concentration of these drugs in the tumor cells, although the mechanism is not known. At the same time, L-theanine decreased oxidative stress caused by these agents on the normal cells, possibly due to its mild antioxidant activity. In this regard, L-theanine has been shown to inhibit lipid peroxidation, catalyzed by copper, in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in vitro. (4)

Stress Relief
Stress and anxiety are debilitating conditions that upset the balance of our hormones leading to a loss of our well-being, performance, and even lifespan. Stress impairs the immune system, leaving us vulnerable to opportunistic infections, and can cause depression. In 1998, pharmaceutical sales of anti-anxiety drugs totaled over 700 million dollars, while sales of antidepressants totaled close to 5 billion dollars! People under stress can mitigate many of the harmful effects of stress with L-theanine without becoming sedated in the process. L-theanine doesn't make one drowsy, nor does it promote sleep because this amino acid does not produce theta waves in the brain. It should be noted that if an individual were already relaxed, taking L-theanine would not produce further relaxation.

Status and Usage
L-theanine has just recently been introduced to the U.S. market. Japan is credited with most of the clinical studies and information we possess thus far on L-theanine but research is ongoing. We do know that it is absorbed from the small intestine via a sodium-coupled active transport process. It crosses the blood-brain barrier, as evidenced by the mental effects. L-theanine competes for absorption in the intestinal tract and the brain with the amino acids found in the methionine group (leucine, isoleucine, and valine), however the concentrations of amino acids are unchanged by simultaneous ingestion of L-theanine.
L-theanine is extremely safe. There are no dietary limits on L-theanine intake by the Japan Food Additive Association. In 1964, the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare approved L-theanine for unlimited use in all foods, with the exception of infant foods.

The intended use of L-theanine is that of a mental and physical relaxant that does not induce drowsiness. Although there is no set schedule for taking L-theanine, it may generally be taken at the first signs of stress. Based on the results of the clinical studies, L-theanine is most effective in the range of 50-200 mg, with the effect being felt within 30 minutes and lasting for 8-10 hours. Individuals with high stress levels may increase their dosage of L-theanine to at least 100 mg, with no more than 600 mg being taken in a six hour period. FDA recommends a maximum dose of 1200 mg daily, although the reason for this limit is not clear, due to its demonstrated safety. There are no known adverse reactions to L-theanine and no drug interactions have been reported. L-theanine is not affected by food and may be taken anytime, as needed. Because it has a mild taste, capsules may be opened and dissolved in water.

Rhodiola



RhodiolaRhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), sometimes called Arctic root or golden root, is an adaptogenic herb, meaning that it acts in non-specific ways to increase resistance without disturbing normal biological functions. The herb grows at high altitudes in the arctic areas of Europe and Asia, and its root has been used in traditional medicine in Russia and the Scandinavian countries for centuries. Studies of its medicinal applications have appeared in the scientific literature of Sweden, Norway, France, Germany, the Soviet Union and Iceland. Today in Russia, rhodiola is used as a tonic and remedy for fatigue, poor attention span, and decreased memory; it is also believed to make workers more productive. In Sweden and other Scandinavian countries it is used to increase the capacity for mental work and as a general strengthener.

A 2002 review in Herbalgram, the Journal of the American Botanical Council, reported that over the years, numerous studies of rhodiola in humans and animals have shown that it helps prevent fatigue, stress and the damaging effects of oxygen deprivation. Evidence also suggests that it has an antioxidant effect, enhances immune system function and can increase sexual energy.

A study published in 2007 in the Nordic Journal of Psychiatry showed that patients with mild-to-moderate depression who took a rhodiola extract reported fewer symptoms than those who took a placebo. And a study by researchers at the University of California at Irvine found that fruit flies that ate a diet supplemented with rhodiola lived an average of 10 percent longer than flies that didn't eat this herb.


Licorice Root

Licorice Root
Licorice grows wild in some parts of Europe and Asia. A perennial that grows 3 - 7 feet high, licorice has an extensive branching root system. The roots are straight pieces of wrinkled, fibrous wood, which are long and cylindrical (round) and grow horizontally underground. Licorice roots are brown on the outside and yellow on the inside. Licorice supplements are made from the roots and underground stems of the plant.

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) has been used in food and as medicine for thousands of years. Also known as "sweet root," licorice root contains a compound that is about 50 times sweeter than sugar. Licorice root has been used in both Eastern and Western medicine to treat a variety of illnesses, ranging from the common cold to liver disease.

The adrenal glands are often called the stress glands this is because they play a vital role in our body's response to stressful situations. When we are stressed the glands release Adrenalin and nor-adrenalin which are the chemicals responsible for the vital fight or flight stress response.

The glands also release Cortisol another of the stress related chemicals which helps us to keep going throughout a stressful period, by boosting our energy and keeping our blood sugars balanced.

Constant stress of course can exhaust our adrenal glands and this in turn weakens our systems and this in turn begins to affect our health.

Signs that our adrenal system is in poor condition and failing are:

• Belly fat that is hard to get rid of even with diet and exercise.
• High blood pressure,
• Anxiety,
• Joint pain
• Poor sleeping patterns
• Unusual hair growth on women (such as hair on the upper lip) a sign of a hormone imbalance.

Licorice root for stress relief
One of the benefits of licorice is that it helps to relieve adrenal gland stress and support the adrenal system during times of excessive stress by keeping it in balance.

When the adrenal glands are exhausted they are not able to release the necessary hormones to help us cope both emotionally and physically with stress. Licorice contains glycyrrhizic acid which stimulates adrenal secretions ensuring that normal function is maintained.

Licorice root should not be confused with licorice sweets which contain very little actual licorice and are mainly flavored with aniseed.