Tag Archives: Stress

This Is Your Brain on Stress

BrainStressJacquie Eubanks RN BSN




When eight of ten Americans report feeling frequently stressed, one might wonder what’s causing so many to feel so stressed out. Per the American Psychological Association, there’s a significant percentage of Americans worried about the future of the country, followed by a high percentage who are worried about finances, work or family responsibilities. Almost half of Americans worry about healthcare, while a third find the economy, unemployment, high taxes and low wages worrisome. Three of four Americans report experiencing high levels of stress during the previous month, almost half have trouble sleeping, and one third feel chronically anxious, irritable or fatigued.

The National Institute of Mental Health simply defines stress as “the brain’s response to any demand.” Stress can be classified as acute (good), tolerable or chronic (toxic). Good stress can occur as the result of a single, short-term event, such as recovery from an illness or injury, or when we rise to a challenge, often with positive outcomes. Tolerable stress refers to a situation where one faces a difficult situation, but is able to cope with support of family, friends or others. Toxic or recurring stress can be the result of adverse life events not within our control, such as managing a chronic illness or dealing with an exceptionally demanding workload. When stress is both intense and sustained over a period to time, it becomes particularly problematic, as long-term stress can cause significant harm to normal and proper body and brain functioning.

Per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the brain is the central organ of stress and adaptation to stress, as it perceives and determines what is threatening, as well as the behavioral and physiological responses to the stressor. Stress can cause an imbalance of neural circuitry affecting cognition, decision making, anxiety and mood. While it’s well known that chronic stress is detrimental to overall wellness, it now appears that long-term stress and stress related illnesses, such as post traumatic stress disorder, can actually change the physiology of the brain. This can negatively affect brain size, connectivity and mood, and quite possibly memory and cognition down the road. Simply put, persistent stress may actually rewire the brain, strengthening the part of the brain focused on survival and weakening the part of the brain tasked with more complex thought.

Often called the “stress” hormone because of its connection to the stress response, cortisol is actually a steroid hormone critical to protecting overall health and wellbeing. It plays a key role in the sleep/wake cycle, the maintenance of blood sugar levels, energy metabolism, sodium and water balance and blood pressure regulation, as well as the immune system’s inflammatory response. One of the primary functions of our many biological systems is the maintenance of  optimal balance or homeostasis. Cortisol aids the body in regaining homeostasis after a stressful event. As cortisol regulates a wide range of bodily processes, almost every cell contains cortisol receptors, including the hippocampus, the region of the brain where memories are processed and stored.

Normal cortisol levels have no adverse effects on the hippocampus, heavily associated with memory, emotion and learning. When chronically high cortisol levels overwhelm the hippocampus, atrophy and significant memory loss may result. Brain patterns may predict how the body physically reacts to stressful situations. Constant stress and the accumulation of stressful life events may make one more vulnerable to brain shrinkage when faced with future intense traumatic stressors, especially when the next demanding situation requires determination or emotional control. Studies have found that chronic stress has a negative impact on spatial memory, as well as memory retrieval. Additionally, an exaggerated stress response could mean a faster heartbeat and higher blood pressure, which can result in negative health consequences in the long run.

While not all stress is unhealthy or avoidable, taking steps to reduce persistent stress may protect brain health as one ages, as well as increase one’s ability to cope when the next stressful event occurs. Working to redirect behavior in more positive directions can help to promote wellness and enjoyment of life. Maximizing the time spent in a resting state can help address long-term elevation of stress-related biological factors. Finding ways to relax, prioritizing sleep, a healthy diet and moderate exercise, as well as social interaction can effectively reduce stress and help one feel more balanced and in control, as well as significantly promote overall health and happiness.

Professional Supplement Center offers these and other high quality formulations to help promote homeostasis and overall wellness:

Cortisol Manager™Cortisol Manager™ by Integrative Therapeutics®: This safe, non-habit forming product provides standardized proprietary blends to help stabilize cortisol levels, thereby supporting a more balanced cortisol response to stress, as well as natural restorative sleep. Gluten, wheat, dairy, yeast, artificial flavor and artificial preservative free, vegan formulation.


HPA AdaptHPA Adapt™ by Integrative Therapeutics®: This non-stimulant formula combines five powerful adaptogenic herbs shown to support a healthy stress response, while reducing stress-related fatigue and mental tension. Gluten, wheat, soy and dairy free, vegetarian formulation.


Cortisol CalmCortisol Calm by Pure Encapsulations®: This hypoallergenic formula is designed to help maintain healthy cortisol levels, while supporting relaxation, restful sleep and positive mood during stressful times. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.


Advanced Cortisol...Advanced Cortisol Balance by Life Extension: This unique formulation features patented ingredients to support healthy cortisol levels, thereby promoting a healthy stress response, healthy mood and a sense of vigor. Non-GMO formulation.


Diurnal Cortisol...Diurnal Cortisol Test by Professional Supplement Center Test Kits: This four panel adrenal function hormone test kit provides a full diurnal cortisol profile at four points during the day. This test is recommended for stress, chronic fatigue and/or symptoms of adrenal imbalance. Saliva collection instructions, prepaid shipping and all materials for the test included, as well as a 15- minute in person or phone consultation with one of Professional Supplement Center’s health professionals to discuss test results.

By the numbers: Our stressed-out nation. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/12/numbers.aspx
The Mind and Mental Health: How Stress Affects the Brain. http://www.tuw.edu/content/health/how-stress-affects-the-brain/
Chronic Stress Can Damage Brain Structure and Connectivity. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201402/chronic-stress-can-damage-brain-structure-and-connectivity
Inflammation: The Common Pathway of Stress-Related Diseases. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5476783/
Effects of Chronic Stress on Memory Decline in Cognitively Normal and Mildly Impaired Older Adults. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2864084/
Neurobiological and Systemic Effects of Chronic Stress. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5573220/
Protect Your Brain from Stress. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/protect-your-brain-from-stress

Hurry Up and Go!

12_HurryJacquie Eubanks RN BSN



These days our lifestyles are all about hurrying. Every day may feel like one long, extended rush hour, as we jam pack every second of our day and still seem to run out of time. How quickly can we gobble down our fast food lunch and get back to our desks? How fast can we finish our workout? We rush to get the kids to daycare or to school. We speed off to work, feeling frustrated when we hit a red light or when some minor traffic holds us up. Researchers have found that our attention spans have gotten shorter and we can only concentrate for 8 seconds before we are distracted by someone or something else. And, when we actually have nothing to occupy our minds, we immediately reach for our mobile devices to check our emails or text messages.

If all this sounds familiar to you, it may be a good time to recognize that all that rushing adds more stress to an already stressful life. We are pulled in so many directions, we often feel pressured and tense. To balance all that activity, we need to take some time to unwind. Many of us are so stressed, we may have forgotten how good it feels to slow down, calm the mind and relax. Chronic stress may often result in suppressed immune function, anxiety or depression and leave us vulnerable to prolonged inflammation. Taking it slow for a short time each day allows us to receive the health benefits associated with a slower lifestyle, including lowered levels of blood pressure and stress hormones.

In the midst of all the chaos, a few moments of visualizing yourself sitting on a beach reading a book may be just what you need to rest, relax, restore and refuel. Actually, it turns out that just taking the time to concentrate on our breath for a few minutes throughout the day can leave us revitalized and energized. Mindful breath control is one of the simplest and easiest ways to improve both mental and physical health. According to Harvard Health Publications, deep breathing several times each day encourages a full oxygen exchange, which can lower the heartbeat, stabilize blood pressure and lead to a more relaxed state of mind.

Generally, our alertness and reaction times diminish around 3 p.m. Maintaining focus for long periods of time burns energy and may leave us feeling drained. While none of us have an unlimited amount of energy, fortunately our energy is renewable. Those of us lucky enough to fit in a 10 to 20-minute power nap to ward off the 3 pm doldrums may surprisingly find not only reduced fatigue but increased focus, memory, cognitive performance and productivity. In fact, studies show that productive people can complete tedious tasks with a higher level of focus and less frustration when they take a break after 90 minutes of intense concentration. A 10-minute break that involves getting up and moving about can be truly restorative and help clear the mind.

Research shows that relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing exercises are the most effective for calming the mind and lowering cortisol levels. Just 20 minutes of daily meditation can help to relieve chronic pain, manage stress and reduce inflammation. There is a misconception that learning to meditate is difficult. Meditation is an active practice that will evolve over time. Those who learn meditation techniques find that adopting this healthy lifestyle habit leads to long term mind-body benefits, including emotional wellbeing, increased awareness, positive mood, reduced anxiety and worry and improved heart rate, lowered blood pressure levels and increased energy. Those new to meditation may find that after only a few days of daily practice, they sleep better and feel less stressed overall.

While our lives are filled with things we have to do, don’t lose sight that life is a balance between obligations, productivity and enjoyment. Sharing a nourishing meal with family and friends is one of the great pleasures of life. Those who make a habit of inhaling their food may want to consider eating more slowly. Eating at a relaxed pace allows you to better recognize when you have satiated your hunger, leading to less caloric intake and gradual weight loss. Those who take the time to sit down and eat mindfully better support their digestion and immune health and make healthier overall nutrition choices.

For a healthier and happier 2016, work towards slowing down the pace of your everyday life. Consider turning down your stress response and taking a breather from the whirlwind. Sometimes, just hitting the brakes on some areas of your life leads to satisfaction in other areas. Slowing down can help to boost your creativity and allows time to gain a fresh perspective about what is most important in your life. When you need to get centered, taking a walk in nature and breathing in fresh air can help you live in the moment and fill you with a sense of peace, good health and general wellbeing.

Professional Supplement Center offers these and other high quality supplements that support the stress response, energy production and healthy sleep:

Daily Stress FormulaDaily Stress Formula by Pure Encapsulations – This broad spectrum formulation contains a blend of herbs and nutrients designed to counter the physical and mental effects of stress, including support for heathy neurotransmitter production, adrenal response and energy metabolism. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formula.


De-Stress by Biotics Research – This popular product is formulated with a patented, all natural, bioactive peptide proven to be clinically effective in relieving anxiety and stress. Gluten free.


Calm ResponseCalm Response by Innate Response Formulas – This synergistic formula provides botanicals, adaptogens and nutrients in support of a healthy stress response, mental stamina, strengthening the nervous system and gentle overall wellness support. Gluten, dairy and soy free vegetarian formula.


Stress EaseStress Ease by American Nutraceuticals – This product provides herbals, adaptogens, vitamins and minerals to aid in reducing physical, emotional and mental stress and fatigue and to promote emotional wellbeing and a calm state of mind. Gluten, dairy and soy free, vegan formula.


Hevert Stress ReliefHevert Stress Relief by Hevert Pharmaceuticals – These quick dissolving tablets provide non-drowsy homeopathic support for the temporary relief of symptoms of tension and stress, such as restlessness, anxiousness, sleeplessness and nervousness.

Stress ArrestStress Arrest by Designs for Health – This product delivers comprehensive support for stress and anxiety related conditions with a calming, therapeutic, synergistic blend of GABA, glycine and B vitamins. Gluten free, Non-GMO vegetarian formula.


Stress Support Complex

Stress Support Complex by Complementary Prescriptions – This stress and sleep support formula provides natural ingredients including botanicals, GABA and adaptogens for occasional anxiety and tension relief.


Stressed? Consider Adaptogens

Adrenal_Support_StressJacquieIconBy Jacquie Eubanks

Chronic stress is widely believed to accelerate biological aging and have adverse effects on immune function and the inflammatory response. Health concerns, finances, job insecurities, and family and personal responsibilities are the top sources of stress in the U.S., with 25% of the population feeling financially stressed and 80% reporting stress related to employment. While a majority of Americans say they are chronically stressed, many are likely to address high stress levels in unhealthy ways, including increased alcohol consumption and a failure to focus on healthy lifestyle behaviors, such as a nutritious diet, adequate sleep and daily exercise. While occasional stress can be a positive, motivating force, the reality is that we are living in an unhealthy, chronically overstressed society.

Biological stress begins with our basic bodily processes that produce and utilize energy. Most of us may think of metabolism as part of our digestive process, but metabolism is all about energy and includes many life sustaining metabolic processes, including breathing, circulation, muscle contraction, elimination, body temperature control and brain and nervous system functions. Researchers who study the relationship between biological stress and aging suggest a direct cause-and-effect relationship between stress resistance and age-related diseases. According to the National Institutes of Health, age-related damage to DNA and proteins may often be reversible and may not cause problems until the damage evokes a stress response, suggesting that the stress response is the actual culprit when it comes to age-related health deterioration.

As part of the endocrine system, the adrenal glands have multi-functional roles. They regulate and maintain many internal processes, including metabolic functions, immune and inflammatory responses, essential hormone production, electrolyte balance and the fight-or-flight reaction to a threatening or stressful situation. While impaired adrenal function can be related to disorders or medical conditions, chronic stress is believed to be a major cause of adrenal dysfunction. Recognized in many parts of the world, but not yet recognized as a clear medical diagnosis in the U.S., adrenal fatigue is often cited when the adrenals are unable to adequately meet the demands brought on by stress.

AskTheNurseAdrenal fatigue or insufficiency is a term applied to a collection of symptoms that may include ongoing cycles of fatigue, nervousness, irritability, insomnia, depression, anxiety, lack of libido and weight and hormonal imbalances. With adrenal fatigue the glands still function, but not well enough to maintain optimal body balance or homeostasis. While identifying the causes of our individual stressors and taking steps to reduce or eliminate them is very helpful and healthy advice, many of us could use a bit of extra support for our very overworked adrenal glands.

By definition, adaptogens are a unique group of traditional therapeutic botanicals that work at the cellular level to aid the adrenals in managing our response to stress. Used extensively for centuries in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, adaptogens aid in normalizing body imbalances, supporting homeostasis and providing a sense of calm along with energizing influences. Calming and energizing at the same time? Yes, adaptogens can counteract the effects of mental and physical stress, restore energy, strengthen the immune response and normalize the inflammatory response by adapting to exactly what your body needs. In other words, adaptogens have self-limiting properties — they work hard when we need them and slack off when we don’t. Their broad-spectrum actions can help to optimize the health of the entire body.

To qualify as an adaptogen, an herb must be safe and effective, must have active substances with certain special qualities, must offer no harmful effects and must specifically be able to reduce the effects of mental and physical stress. Adaptogens are available in a single herb formulas as well as in combination formulas. Here are just a few of the more well known adaptogenic herbs:

Rhodiola Rosea – Used in China and Russia since ancient times, Rhodiola Rosea is believed to have many beneficial qualities that help to balance cortisol levels and support cellular energy metabolism, cardio health and healthy brain function.

Ashwagandha – Some of the best known benefits of Ashwagandha include increased vitality, energy and stamina. Traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha is believed to enhance endocrine function and aid in treating exhaustion brought on by physical and mental strain. In addition to improving stress resistance, Ashwagandha supports immune response, a more regulated sleep cycle and healthy thyroid and nervous system function.

Holy Basil – Also known as Tulsi, this is one of India’s more revered and powerful herbal remedies. Holy Basil is believed to help reduce stress by calming the nerves, lowering blood pressure and reducing inflammation. As an antioxidant, Holy Basil helps minimize oxidative stress caused by free radicals.

Panax Ginseng – Valued for thousands of years as a medicinal plant, Ginseng is believed to positively influence cellular metabolism, promote longevity, strengthen the immune response and provide an overall sense of wellbeing.  

Eleuthero Root – Traditionally used in Chinese medicine to address insomnia, fatigue and impaired concentration, it is also believed to improve memory, support general health and promote feelings of wellbeing.

Astragalus – This traditional Chinese herb helps protect against physical, mental and emotional stress. It has anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral and antioxidant properties and is believed to support immune health and cardiac function.

Schisandra – This potent general wellness tonic helps to decrease fatigue and promote physical performance and endurance. It is believed to counter stress by reducing the levels of stress hormones in the bloodstream.

Professional Supplement Center offer these and other fine products for adrenal support:

Adapten-AllAdapten-All by Ortho Molecular – This unique blend of key micronutrients and adaptogenic botanicals is specifically formulated to strengthen the body’s stress response and support healthy energy levels. Adaptogens include standardized extracts of Eleuthero root, Rhodiola rosea root, Schisandra berry and Ashwagandha root. Gluten, soy and dairy free, vegetarian formulation.

Adaptogen-R3Adaptogen-R3 by Premier Research Labs – This invigorating formula features key nutraceutical blends containing traditional adaptogenic herbs to promote the entire adaptogenic process that includes whole body rejuvenation. Excipient free, vegan formulation.


Adaptogen, Q.
Adaptogen, Q. by Quantum Nutrition Labs – This quantum-state product features the perfect adaptogenic triple blend. Highly rated for customer satisfaction, this formula is designed for optimal effect. Excipient free, vegan formulation.


ExhilarinExhilarin® by Metagenics – This formula provides a proprietary blend of time tested Ayurvedic adaptogenic botanicals in support of cognitive function and a strategic stress response. The formula includes Holy Basil, Ashwagandha, Amla and Bacopa. Gluten free, Non-GMO vegetarian formula.  

How stress affects your health. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress.aspx
Seniors. The American Institute of Stress. http://www.stress.org/seniors/
Metabolism: Does stress really shorten your life? https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/biology-aging/metabolism-does-stress-really-shorten-your-life
Stimulating effect of adaptogens. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16261511
Astragalus. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/astragalus