Top 4 Healthy Brain Supplements for Stress Relief
Roughly 3 in 4 Americans report that their physical and mental health is negatively affected by stress. And nearly half say it impacts their sleep.
Other than tiring out our bodies and minds, stress can impact our brain chemistry long term. Cognitive issues such as Alzheimer's and dementia can even be brought on by prolonged stress.
Clearly, perpetually feeling stressed isn't a sustainable state. Rather than relying on medication once the damage is done, it's better to take control and reduce our stress levels now.
How does stress affect the brain, and what can we do to combat stress and keep our brains as healthy and resilient as possible?
How Stress Ages the Brain
"There is evidence that chronic stress may actually rewire your brain," according to Harvard's Dr. Ressler.
Much like exercising one part of the body and not the other, stress can change our brain's strengths and weaknesses, ultimately damaging them. Under prolonged stress, the part of the brain that handles stress improves, just like exercising a muscle.
However, other areas suffer. Parts of the brain that deal with more complex thought get less use and attention when our energies are focused on processing and handling stress. Over time, they begin to deteriorate before they should.
To avoid this eventual loss of brain function, stress levels need to be reduced.
Practical Steps to Reduce Stress
While stress can be a positive, moving us to action, over time the negatives outweigh the positives.
Some of the most dangerous stress is the type with no relief in sight. For example, while stress over a presentation can motivate you to write and deliver it well, stressing over children or money doesn't have an end date.
There are practical steps we can take to combat this long-term type of stress.
Regular exercise (that you enjoy) produces endorphins. These positive 'feel-good' chemicals can help to combat stress hormones in our bodies. Exercising on our own can also give us time to think while away from a stressful environment, whether that is home, work, or someplace else.
Maintaining our health in other ways is also important. With a good diet and enough sleep, our body and mind are in the best position to deal with the stresses of life without becoming overwhelmed and damaging our brains.
But what if, despite our best efforts, the stress remains?
Some stress in life is out of our hands, and no practical routines can combat it. Are we then doomed to rewiring our brains in a damaging way?
No! There is another healthy, natural method for reducing stress levels:
Found in plants and animals around the world, healthy brain supplements work as superfoods for the brain. Made of all-natural ingredients, supplements that target stress relief give our bodies and brains the tools they need to calm down and stay in control when under stress.
Top 4 Supplements for Stress Relief
From decreasing the release of stress hormones to increasing beneficial brainwaves, these supplements each work in their own way to reduce and regulate our stress.
The first supplement on our list, Ashwagandha, has a dramatic effect on overall brain health. As well as lowering stress and anxiety levels in the brain, Ashwagandha also protects it!
The herb is adaptogenic. As the name suggests, that means it helps the brain and body to adapt to their surroundings by moderating them.
That includes lowering any hormones in our body that are too high, such as when we’re stressed. The herb does so by regulating the release of these stress hormones, keeping them at a normal level, all in a natural way.
Ashwagandha, also called winter cherry, is additionally credited with improving memory and focus. When stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline want to go into overdrive, the herb steps in to calm us. No longer overwhelmed by these stress hormones that make it difficult to focus, our calmed minds can think clearer.
In the long run, Ashwagandha also works to protect the brain. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter necessary for many brain functions. But any issues with the neurotransmitter working incorrectly can cause insomnia or even cell damage in the brain.
As Ashwagandha reduces inflammation levels, it protects us from these malfunctions. It can even help to sustain neurotransmitter levels, keeping our brains healthy and active as we age!
As with all substances, there is a recommended dosage and some cautions to be aware of. Rarely, side effects can include gastrointestinal issues, headaches, anxiety, or insomnia.
Between 500 and 1,000mg per day is generally considered safe, but always check with your doctor before taking it, as it may not respond well to prescription medication, and can cause drowsiness.
Despite its benefits, it is recommended that those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, have autoimmune diseases, or who are allergic to potatoes, tomatoes, or eggplant, avoid it.
2) Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola Rosea is a rare plant found near the peaks of some mountains across Europe and Asia. It is a rhizome, which is essentially a stem that grows underground, like a root. For hundreds of years, this rhizome has been used in traditional medicine to combat stress and other issues.
Much like Ashwagandha, it is an adaptogen. To reduce our stress levels, Rhodiola Rosea works by increasing the flow of positive chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine. This can help to balance our moods when we’re stressed, stopping the stress hormones from taking over.
Studies suggest its benefits further include combatting aging, inflammation, and cancer, as well as improving immunity and DNA repair. All of these benefits can be linked back to its stress-reducing effect.
As our bodies fight to resist stress, to push through it in difficult times, it wears on the brain and the body. Therefore, by reducing the need to work against stress, Rhodiola Rosea is credited with this plethora of other very real benefits. This minimizing of stress can also contribute to better energy levels and sleep when taking the supplement.
Rhodiola Rosea Cautions
The suggested daily dosage is between 100 and 600mg, but everyone should consult with their doctor before incorporating it into their diet as it can interfere with certain medications.
The supplement is not recommended for those pregnant, breastfeeding, or with heart conditions. Occasional side effects have been reported, but they are minimal, such as headaches, dizziness, dry mouth, tiredness, and gastrointestinal issues.
Unlike the plants Ashwagandha and Rhodiola Rosea, L-Theanine is an amino acid. Millions consume the acid every day without realizing – it’s found in tea! No wonder a cup of tea is so relaxing.
L-Theanine works to reduce our stress levels by counteracting them. By increasing serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, the so-called ‘happy chemicals,’ the supplement regulates our moods. Unlike Rhodiola Rosea however, it also increases alpha waves.
What are alpha waves?
These brainwaves occur when people feel relaxed, as opposed to beta waves that increase when we concentrate and focus. By increasing the alpha wave levels in our brain, L-Theanine brings on a state of calm that combats feelings of stress and anxiety.
As a naturally occurring supplement, L-Theanine is generally safe when taken in appropriate quantities. For most people, that will be 200mg a day. However, always check with your doctor first, as any medications, as well as your overall build, could affect that number.
Side effects can include – strangely enough – anxiety, but it is generally mild if it even occurs at all. Headaches can also be brought about by the amino acid, so always check with your doctor before incorporating it into your diet. It is also suggested that people with schizophrenia don’t consume it.
4) Bacopa Monnieri
For thousands of years, Bacopa Monnieri has been credited with naturally enhancing our memory, improving blood circulation, and having anti-inflammatory properties. More recently though, it’s been found to help with stress.
Also called water hyssop or Brahmi, this hardy herb with little white flowers is also an adaptogen; it helps the body and brain regulate themselves. In particular, it intervenes when we’re stressed. Bacopa Monnieri not only improves our mood but reduces our cortisol levels – one of the primary stress hormones.
Some studies have found its effectiveness as significant as that of benzodiazepines, a common anxiety medication.
Others have even found that it can reduce ADHD symptoms. While stress and ADHD are not the same, ADHD's hyperactive, restless symptoms are often associated with anxiety. So this can only mean good things for its effectiveness in fighting stress.
As with the other three supplements, it also has many benefits to overall brain health. Reduced inflammation, improved brain function, lower blood pressure, and antioxidizing and anticancer properties have all been connected with Bacopa Monnieri.
Bacopa Monnieri Cautions
The suggested dosage is around 300mg for most adults. However, you should always check with your doctor before taking the supplement, as it may interfere with some medications. Side effects are rare and mild but can include dizziness, tiredness, and gastrointestinal upset.
There is not yet enough research into the effects of Bacopa Monnieri on those pregnant or breastfeeding, so it is best to avoid it in those cases.
How to Take Healthy Brain Supplements
As effective as these supplements are, buying them individually can start to become complicated, not to mention expensive.
For that reason, Sage Nutrients developed a single supplement for cognitive health that includes all four of these stress-reducing ingredients in perfect balance, plus three more!
Pyrroloquinoline quinone, or PQQ for short, is a naturally occurring nutrient.
As an antioxidant, it promotes cell health and growth. Antioxidants benefit the body by combatting unstable atoms in the body known as free radicals. When left unchecked, these atoms can harm the body by reacting with things they shouldn't.
Taking PQQ reduces the levels of free radicals in our bodies. This has a positive impact on memory, energy, sleep, and overall brain function.
An antioxidant found in microalgae and other sea creatures, Astaxanthin slows down the effects of aging on the brain. Much like PQQ, it works against the dangers of free radicals. In the case of Astaxanthin, this contributes to overall brain health, as well as benefitting our joints, heart health, and skin.
Only discovered at the end of the 20th century, this naturally occurring substance is found in a type of moss from China.
Increasing our acetylcholine levels, Huperzine-A helps the nervous system as well as the brain. It has been credited with improved memory and cognitive function, even in Alzheimer's patients.
For more details on these three supplements, check out the rest of our blogs!
The Benefits of Cognitive Edge
If you weren't convinced at the start, we’re sure you are now.
All seven of these naturally occurring substances are beneficial on their own, but when combined, can take your brain health to another level.
Stress and anxiety are detrimental to the brain, especially over long periods of time. Whether you suffer from anxiety, chronic stress, or would just like to alleviate the pressures of the day-to-day, healthy brain supplements are the answer.
As well as calming the mind, Sage Nutrients’ Cognitive Edge Supplement improves memory and overall cognition, reduces brain fog, and keeps healthy the aging brain. The sooner you try it, the better. Buy direct from our website today!
And if you’d like a little more information before you invest in your brain’s future, our website has even more information detailing the benefits of Cognitive Edge.