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The good & bad of stress

People are capable of incredible feats of sporting excellence, outstanding bravery or creative brilliance: all of which may be encouraged by healthy stress levels. Severe and prolonged distress however, has been linked to mental health issues.

Physiologically, stress causes disruption to endocrine and neural pathways. It activates the flight or fight response, releasing cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream, increasing heart rate and blood pressure. In the short term this can boost performance, focus, memory and creativity, but at a certain level its benefits disappear and performance declines.

Everyone reacts to stress in different ways, the trick is to identify your own stress-response pattern and learn how to manage it. Prolonged stress leads to hormonal decline and is associated with exhaustion and stress induced symptoms such as anxiety, fatigue, depression, headaches and lowered immunity.

Fortunately, herbal medicine provides us with an arsenal of different herbs to help when under stress. The most recent herb we are using is Gynostemma, also known as Southern Ginseng. It has been used in the mountainous regions of Southern China as a rejuvenating elixir to increase endurance, strength and to relieve fatigue. More recent trials have shown that it can improve body weight in obese individuals, can improve symptoms of bronchitis, can help with fatty liver disease, can lower blood pressure and cholesterol in those individuals who have high levels and confirms historical use of a tonic for fatigue and stress. Moreover, Gynostemma grows like a weed in Asian countries making it a reasonably cheap herb.