Using Adaptogens to Help Reduce Stress

An interesting review by Robert Provino titled “The role of adaptogens in stress management” appears in the Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism (2010, 22, 2, pp 41-49). The author states: “Adaptogens can be viewed as tonics and are prescribed to enhance vitality and are indicated when stress levels are high, during convalescence after surgery or illness, or during periods of challenging or difficult life changes.” “Adaptogens appear to exert their antistress effects by regulating homeostasis via the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis and inhibiting or decreasing circulating levels of nitric oxide (NO) and cortisol.” The author searches peer reviewed journal articles on adaptogens and ends up finding papers on the following 8 (to which I have linked to the Wikipedia articles): Withania somnifera (ashwagandha) : Some research indicates a potential ability to decrease anxiety. In a study on memory deficient … Read more

Physical Causes of HPA Axis Hyperactivity and Smaller Hippocampus Volumes Linked to Depression in Multiple Sclerosis

I found this new research to be quite interesting.   Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease in which the fatty myelin sheaths around the axons of the brain and spinal cord become damaged.  Depression has been found to be present in nearly 50% of MS sufferers. It is clear though that the depression is not just a psychological reaction to having the disease.  This is because in patients the depression occurs and it has been found to not be related to how severe one’s MS is and it also can occur at different stages of MS. Recently researchers at UCLA have showed a physical cause for depression in those patients suffering from MS atrophy of a specific region of the hippocampus which is part of the brain. The researchers also found a relationship atrophy of the hippocampus and hyperactivity of the … Read more

Medical Students Often Depressed

New research reveals the extent of how medical students frequently suffer from depression. Sergio Baldassin, from the ABC Regional Medical School, Brazil, led a team of researchers who carried out a study on 481 medical students. He said, “We used cluster analyses to better describe the characteristics of depressive symptoms – affective, cognitive, and somatic. This is the first study to directly evaluate, in a cross-sectional design, the characteristics of depressive symptoms by applying such clusters”. Affective symptoms represent the core symptoms of a depressive mood, based on students’ reported levels of sadness, dissatisfaction, episodes of crying, irritability and social withdrawal. The cognitive cluster assessed pessimism, sense of failure or guilt, expectation of punishment, dislike of self, suicidal ideation, indecisiveness and change in body image. Finally, the somatic cluster assessed the presence of slowness, insomnia, fatigue, loss of weight and … Read more