National Stress Awareness Day 2017
Although some studies show that short term stress is potentially beneficial in short bursts, it is common knowledge that long term or chronic stress is bad for us.
The feelings of stress associated with anxiety are horrible, but the damage which is done to our brain cells long term can make this look minor. Brain changes that are induced by stress can lead to chronic anxiety and depression.
Recently Turmeric has been featured in the press as a stress relief and after doing some digging through turmeric journal article, it appears that there is scientific research to suggest that there could be truth to these claims.
A large percentage of the research revolves around Curcumin which is one of the compounds in Turmeric. Studies show that not only does curcumin stimulate the formation of new brain cells but it can also reverse changes in the brain induced by chronic stress. These two processes can prevent or reduce the symptoms of depression.
Primarily stress studies were undertaken on animals which mimic the types of stress humans are likely to unexpectedly encounter in everyday life. In these studies changes included increased size and weight of adrenal glands, the glands responsible for the production of cortisol. Stressed animals also exhibit reduced performance, memory and though functionality.
At a cellular level, stress reduces the functionality of our bodies' natural antioxidant systems, and injures the cellular structures (mitochondria) where cell energy is managed.
Studies show that curcumin reverses these damaging changes to the body’s physical systems. When fed to rats, curcumin has been shown to restore the cortisol balance and the adrenal glands to their normal function, and to normalise the animals’ behaviours.
More recently, human studies have also been undertaken and they appear to be validating the studies previously undertaken on animals. In a study of healthy, middle-aged people the benefits of taking curcumin included lowered salivary amylase levels (which are a marker of acute stress) and lowering blood markers of brain deterioration. These are all effects that would be expected to reduce the impact of stress in the brain.
A further study looked at 80 adults with occupational stress disorders took curcumin in a double blind trial for 30 days. Occupational stress has been shown to be very harmful to health. Those taking the enhance-absorption curcumin experienced significant improvements in quality of life, stress reduction, anxiety and fatigue.
Another study focused on anxiety in obese people at risk for both anxiety and depression. Subjects took curcumin (1,000 mg/day) or a placebo. After 30 days, the curcumin-supplemented subjects experienced a significant reduction in anxiety scoring.
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- Amy Griffiths