Stress is a state of disharmony or threatened homeostasis. The maintenance of homeostasis in stages of internal or external challenges, called stressors, requires constant adjustments of hormonal, behavioral, and autonomic functions. The nuances of life may bring about unwanted stress to the human body. Some of the top causes of stress in America include work, finances, relationships, and health. There are numerous physical and psychological symptoms associated with long-term “chronic” stress, which include chronic fatigue, frustration, irritability, insomnia, frequent headaches, chest and back pain, weakness, and weight gain or weight loss. These symptoms of chronic stress are associated with depression, anxiety, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and even cancer. Stress causes a systemic elevation of the steroid hormone cortisol. In normal amounts, cortisol, which is synthesized from cholesterol, helps to stimulate gluconeogenesis, which is the formation of glucose in an early fasting state. Cortisol also helps to suppress the immune system's inflammatory response to mediators of inflammation. However, chronic psychological and physical stress can result in elevated cortisol levels. Some of the symptoms of elevated cortisol levels include anxiety, depression, hypertension, stress-related fatigue, insulin resistance and obesity. Stress-related fatigue is a form of occupational stress. It can often induce long-term exhaustion and diminished interest, producing a condition known as burnout syndrome. The syndrome is characterized by high levels of emotional exhaustion (EE) and depersonalization (DP) in relationships with a reduced level of personal accomplishment (PA). Adaptogens are plants that help your body adapt or adjust to stress. True adaptogens should protect against stress, stimulate mental performance, and normalize body functions. Previous studies have shown how these herbs have been beneficial to people experiencing chronic stress. These adaptogens contain active phytochemicals that help account for their adaptogenic functions. The aim is to review the scientific literature regarding the effects of three adaptogen herbs (Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and Bacopa) on cortisol levels and the symptoms associated with physical and psychological stress such as fatigue and cognitive function. Specifically, I want to examine the effects of the active phytochemicals in these adaptogens at various standardization percentages and dosages.
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Ajala, Tosin O.
"The Effects of Adaptogens on the Physical and Psychological Symptoms of Chronic Stress,"
DISCOVERY: Georgia State Honors College Undergraduate Research Journal: Vol. 4
, Article 2.
Available at: http://scholarworks.gsu.edu/discovery/vol4/iss1/2
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