Stress and Brain Health: To Shrink Or Not To Shrink

Hello again:

Here is another report that chronic stress can shrink our brain because the stress hormones (specifically the stress hormone cortisol) damage the brain.

The authors conclude:

“Conclusion Higher serum cortisol was associated with lower brain volumes and impaired memory in asymptomatic younger to middle-aged adults, with the association being evident particularly in women.”

Furthermore, the researchers found that people with high levels of blood cortisol had much poorer memory when compared with peers with normal cortisol levels. Importantly, impaired memory was present in these individuals even before obvious symptoms of memory loss set in. They went on to comment that it is very important to find ways to reduce stress by daily lifestyle activities: “So it’s important for people to find ways to reduce stress, such as getting enough sleep, engaging in moderate exercise, incorporating relaxation techniques into their daily lives, or asking their doctor about their cortisol levels and taking a cortisol-reducing medication if needed.” (Dr. Justin B. Echouffo-Tcheugui)

Bottom Line: Find ways to incorporate stress reducing activities in your daily life, such as yoga, meditation and prayer, exercise, 4-7-8 breathing technique, and relaxation methods including mindfulness activities of all types (lots of online references and things to learn about this). Please do not think these activities are too wimpy to put the damper on stress…they are powerful daily tools that will really assist you to ward off the negative, brain shrinking aspects of stress.

There are supplements that are really effective in lowering cortisol, even if the stress in your life does not reduce. The best one is an herb called Ashwangandha, which we use in combination of cortisol lowering vitamins and herbs such as Vitamin C, Panax Ginseng, Holy Basil, Rhodiola, Eluethro and Pantethine (B5). If you use Ashwagandha by itself, we see good results with 200 mg. capsules taken 3 times per day…the only thing to be aware of is that Ashwagandha is part of the nightshade family…so if you know you do not tolerate night shades you should avoid it and try the others listed.

To really do the best job and guard your brain health, think of the strategies listed above as a PART of a comprehensive lifestyle plan and not the only thing you should do. For more info, you can refer back to my previous blogs and from there you can construct a more comprehensive protocol for yourself.

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