Most of us know how important it is to strive and make every effort to be physically healthy. It is also equally important to maintain your emotional health so that you feel your best every day. While it may not be as obvious, your mood and stress level can have effects, sometimes detrimental, to your overall health. Fortunately, there are some natural ingredients that have proven to be great options when trying to boost your mood.
Ashwagandha is an Indian herb that has been used in medicinal treatments there for thousands of years. Though used as a daily tonic with conditions ranging from immune to cardiovascular health, ashwagandha’s effects on psychological well-being and stress is definitely its strong suit. This ingredient is known for its properties as an adaptogen, which are a group of botanicals that work to provide resistance to stress and help keep the body and mood balanced.
Preliminary evidence suggests ashwagandha helps to regulate stress induced levels of dopamine receptors in the brain and also promotes normal levels of plasma corticosterone, blood urea nitrogen and blood lactic acid. Ashwagandha contains bioactive compounds called glycowithanolides, which are responsible for many of its positive benefits.
These compounds help reduce cortisol levels in the body, and thus eliminate the negative consequences that come with cortisol such as feelings of anxiety, fatigue, poor memory and concentration, sleeplessness, and weight gain particularly around the abdomen. Clinical studies confirm its action as a mood stabilizer in clinical conditions of anxiety and depression.
L-Theanine is an uncommon amino acid found in green tea. Historically, theanine has been used for its promotion of relaxation effects, without drowsiness. It naturally stimulates activity in the brain known as alpha waves, which are correlated with a relaxed, but alert mental state of mind. Theanine helps promote normal levels of GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), which is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, thus giving it properties of promoting calming effects.
Evidence suggests theanine is a useful treatment for anxiety due to its ability to sedate the central nervous system. It has also shown benefits for improving concentration and learning ability by minimizing anxiety.
Siberian Ginseng—also known as Eleuthero—is a plant known for its mood-boosting properties. Specifically, it is an adaptogen that works to increase resistance to environmental stress, thus improving mood. Siberian ginseng helps promote the body’s natural balance by allowing the normal regulation of the endocrine system’s response on stressors take effect during stressful conditions.
In addition to the adaptogenic benefit, other research suggests it helps support feelings of well-being and increases cognitive function. Siberian ginseng’s activity is due to the active compounds in the eleuthero root called eleutherosides. It is speculated they work to stimulate the pituitary-adrenocortical system which allows stress response to be more efficient and also promotes healthy levels of cortisol, all related to stress and mood.
Bacopa—also referred to as Brahmi—is an herbal commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine. It has a long history of use in the management of improving mood, memory enhancement and cognitive performance. The constituents of bacopa, bacosides A and B, are considered to be the active components, but the plant also contains some flavonoids and sterols.
Bacopa’s mechanism of action involves enhancing nerve impulse transmission and repairing damaged neurons. Bacosides have also demonstrated antioxidant activity in the brain. In one clinical trial of 35 patients dealing with anxiety, they were treated with bacopa for one month. After the treatment period, there was a significant decrease in the levels of anxiety.
B vitamins are also worthy of mention, as they have established roles in cardiovascular health and energy production. Supplementation with these nutrients can also improve mood and cognition as they work on serotonin levels. It is important to make sure your body is getting adequate amounts of these important vitamins on a daily basis.
Maintaining an optimal mood is a very important step when choosing to live a healthy life. Stress can have a great effect on our mood and is often something we cannot control. Fortunately, natural ingredients such as ashwagandha, l-theanine, Siberian ginseng, bacopa and B vitamins are available to provide effective alternatives for boosting our mood.