Stress can come at you from all directions. Day to day dealings with work, home, bills, and relationships are normal sources of stress. Stress is a natural part of life and can push you to be better and to grow personally and professionally. How you handle stress is incredibly important, and you must have an outlet so that stress does not build up and affect your life in negative ways.
When your body is under stress it enters a sympathetic nervous system response called “fight or flight” which is triggered by a flood a stress-specific hormones. The major stress hormones are cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. These hormones can impact physical, mental and emotional changes in the body. Proper diet, exercise, supplements, and essential oils are all great methods of managing appropriate levels of hormones and stress. Meditation and being very aware of your beliefs is the best way to manage your stress.
Remedies to lower levels naturally: Vitamin C, Omega-3 fatty acids, Clary Sage essential oil
Cortisol is created by the adrenal glands which sit on top of the kidneys. Cortisol increases the glucose supplied to the brain and blood to give you energy during “fight or flight”. Cortisol also suppresses digestion, reproduction organs, and growth which can cause health issues when pre-sent in chronic high levels. Weight gain due to increased appetite, poor memory or concentration, infertility and poor healing can also be attributed to high cortisol levels long term.1 Since cortisol is made from the hormone progesterone, high levels of cortisol can lead to low progesterone leading to fertility issues.
In a 2014 study by Lee et al. published in the Journal of Phytotherapy Research, Clary Sage Essential oil was found to significantly improve symptoms of depression and lowered cortisol levels.2 On the other hand, thyme essential oil can be used to balance the progesterone levels in your body.
Remedies to lower levels naturally: Vitamins B & C, Rose essential oil
Adrenaline is also produced by the adrenal glands. This hormone increases your sympathetic nervous system response which leads to raised heart rate and blood pressure and gives you a boost of energy. Epinephrine also frees up glucose and breaks down glycogen for energy use.
Haze et al. showed that rose oil and patchouli oil can reduce the sympathetic response by 40% and that inhalation of rose oil alone can decrease adrenaline concentration by 30%.3
Remedies to lower levels naturally: Lemon essential oil, Lavender essential oil, Valerian root oil
Norepinephrine or noradrenaline is synthesized from dopamine and also released from the adrenal glands. It acts as both a hormone and a neurotransmitter in the body influencing the sympathetic nervous system in a similar way as cortisol and epinephrine. Symptoms of high norepinephrine levels include headaches, high blood pressure, nervousness and anxiety, sweating, heart palpitations and nausea.
Lemon essential oil has been shown to act as an antidepressant and can improve mood by mod-ulating the levels of norepinephrine.4 While lavender oil can also help, lemon oil is more effective. Valerian root activates serotonin and GABA receptors which in turn causes inhibition of excitatory dopamine and norepinephrine.5
- Chronic stress puts your health at risk. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037. Accessed on: 5/20/16.
- Lee KB, Cho E, Kang YS. Changes in 5-hydroxytryptamine and cortisol plasma levels in menopausal women after inhalation of clary sage oil. Phytotherapy research : PTR. 28(11):1599-605. 2014.
- Shinichiro Haze, Keiko Sakai, Yoko Gozu . Effects of fragrance inhalation on sympathetic ac-tivity in normal adults. Jpn J Pharmacol. 2002 Nov;90(3):247-53.
- Hao C-W, et al. Antidepressant-like effect of lemon essential oil is through a modulation in the levels of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin in mice: Use of the tail suspension test. Jour-nal of Functional Foods. 2013 Jan; 5(1):370-379.
- Yuan CS, Mehendale S, Xiao Y, Aung HH, Xie JT, Ang-Lee MK. The gamma-aminobutyric acidergic effects of valerian and valerenic acid on rat brainstem neuronal activity. Anesthesia and analgesia. 98(2):353-8, table of contents. 2004.