Stress and Nutrition

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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If there are terms in these articles you don't understand, you can get a definition from the Merriam Webster Medical Dictionary. If you want information about a specific disease, you can access the Merck Manual. You can also search Pub Med for more abstracts on this, or any other health topic.

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Stress and: Ashwagandha Beta-sitosterol L-Theanine L-Tyrosine

Acidophilus Alpha Lipoic Antioxidants Beta Carotene

Bioflavonoids Co–Q10 GLA Ginkgo

Glucosamine Magnesium Omega-3 Selenium

Soy Protein Vitamin B Antibiotics Iatrogenic

Conditions That Respond to Chiropractic Alternative Medicine Approaches to Disease

Stress Articles

The Chiropractic and Stress Page
This compilation from the Research Section details the impact of chiropractic management upon stress.

Adaptogenic Herbs: Nature's Solution To Stress
Nutrition Science News

The American Academy of Family Physicians in Kansas City, Mo., estimates that approximately two-thirds of all office visits are for stress-related complaints. Yet stress itself is not an illness; it is simply a fact of life––and always has been. The stressors have changed over the years, but human physiology has remained the same.

Adapting To Long-Term Stress
Nutrition Science News

When faced with a stressful situation, the human body instinctively responds by secreting hormones that change physiology and enhance the organism's ability to either run away or stand and defend. The response includes stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system and the adrenal glands, and it results in higher heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate as well as increased blood-sugar levels. It's the body's way of gearing up for unexpected situations.

Stress: The Hidden Factor For Weight Gain
Nutrition Science News (April 2001)

Stress can affect virtually any part of the body and produce physical, mental and emotional symptoms including allergies, dizziness, headache, heart palpitations, environmental sensitivity, impaired coordination, impaired immunity and weight gain. Weight gain is often associated with emotional eating and the too-busy-to-exercise lifestyles of people under chronic stress. But researchers are finding that changes in the body triggered by stress, such as elevated cortisol levels, can cause insulin resistance and weight gain.


Stress Abstracts

Nutrients and Botanicals for Treatment of Stress: Adrenal Fatigue,
Neurotransmitter Imbalance, Anxiety, and Restless Sleep

Alternative Medicine Review 2009 (Jun); 14 (2): 114–140 ~ FULL TEXT

Research shows a dramatic increase in use of the medical system during times of stress, such as job insecurity. Stress is a factor in many illnesses - from headaches to heart disease, and immune deficiencies to digestive problems. A substantial contributor to stress-induced decline in health appears to be an increased production of stress hormones and subsequent decreased immune function. Non-pharmaceutical approaches have much to offer such patients. This article focuses on the use of nutrients and botanicals to support the adrenals, balance neurotransmitters, treat acute anxiety, and support restful sleep.

Nutritional and Botanical Interventions to Assist with the Adaptation to Stress
Alternative Medicine Review 1999 (Aug); 4 (4): 249–265 ~ FULL TEXT

Prolonged stress, whether a result of mental/emotional upset or due to physical factors such as malnutrition, surgery, chemical exposure, excessive exercise, sleep deprivation, or a host of other environmental causes, results in predictable systemic effects. Based on human and animal research, it appears a variety of nutritional and botanical substances - such as adaptogenic herbs, specific vitamins including ascorbic acid, vitamins B1 and B6, the coenzyme forms of vitamin B5 (pantethine) and B12 (methylcobalamin), the amino acid tyrosine, and other nutrients such as lipoic acid, phosphatidylserine, and plant sterol/sterolin combinations - may allow individuals to sustain an adaptive response and minimize some of the systemic effects of stress.

The Pathogenesis, Clinical Implications, and Treatment
of Intestinal Hyperpermeability
Alternative Medicine Review 1997 (Oct); 2 (5): 330-345 ~ FULL TEXT

Normally, the gastrointestinal epithelium provides a semi-permeable barrier which allows nutrients to be absorbed while preventing larger, potentially toxic, antigenic, or pathogenic molecules or organisms from crossing into the bloodstream. Pathogenicallyincreased intestinal permeability predisposes the individual to diffusion of antigenic food molecules and translocation of bacteria and/or yeast from the gut to extra-intestinal sites, including mesenteric lymph nodes, liver, spleen, and systemic circulation. This can be secondary to drugs, microbial overgrowth, radiation, stress, alcohol intake, enteral/parenteral nutrition, or injury. Increased intestinal permeability occurs commonly with diseases including inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, asthma, eczema, food allergies, alcoholism, trauma, and surgery. Glutamine, phosphatidylcholine, flavonoids, soluble fiber, and fish oil, as well as probiotic organisms, including Lactobacilli and Saccharomyces boulardii can assist in correcting this abnormal permeability.

Natural Approach to Hypertension
Alternative Medicine Review 2001 (Dec); 6 (6): 590-600 ~ FULL TEXT

Hypertension is a common problem facing many Americans today, with two million new cases being diagnosed each year. Although billions of dollars are spent annually in the United States for the treatment and detection of cardiovascular disease, current conventional treatments have done little to reduce the number of patients with hypertension. Alternative medicine offers an effective way to decrease the rising number of people with high blood pressure. Research has found a variety of alternative therapies to be successful in reducing high blood pressure including diet, exercise, stress management, supplements, and herbs.

The Causes of Intestinal Dysbiosis: A Review
Alternative Medicine Review 2004 (Jun); 9 (2): 180–197 ~ FULL TEXT

Alterations in the bowel flora and its activities are now believed to be contributing factors to many chronic and degenerative diseases. Irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis have all been linked to alterations in the intestinal microflora. The intestinal dysbiosis hypothesis suggests a number of factors associated with modern Western living have a detrimental impact on the microflora of the gastrointestinal tract. Factors such as antibiotics, psychological and physical stress, and certain dietary components have been found to contribute to intestinal dysbiosis. If these causes can be eliminated or at least attenuated then treatments aimed at manipulating the microflora may be more successful


Ashwagandha Abstracts

In Vivo Effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Extract on the Activation of Lymphocytes

J Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2009 (Apr); 15 (4): 423–430

Five (5) participants consumed 6mL of an Ashwagandha root extract twice daily for 96 hours. Significant increases were observed in the expression of CD4 on CD3+ T cells after 96 hours. CD56+ NK cells were also activated after 96 hours as evidenced by expression of the CD69 receptor. At 96 hours of use, mean values of receptor expression for all measured receptor types were increased over baseline, indicating that a major change in immune cell activation occurred across the sample.

Ancient Medicine, Modern Use:
Withania somnifera and its Potential Role in Integrative Oncology

Alternative Medicine Review 2006 (Dec); 11 (4): 269–277 ~ FULL TEXT

Withania somnifera Dunal, commonly known as ashwagandha, has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to increase longevity and vitality. Western research supports its polypharmaceutical use, confirming antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune-modulating, and antistress properties in the whole plant extract and several separate constituents. This article reviews the literature pertaining to Withania somnifera and its botanical constituents as antitumor agents and in conjunction with radiation and chemotherapy treatment.

Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) Monograph
Alternative Medicine Review 2004 (Jun); 9 (2): 211–214 ~ FULL TEXT

Withania somnifera, also known as ashwagandha, Indian ginseng, or winter cherry, has been an important herb in the Ayurvedic and indigenous medical systems for over 3000 years. Clinical trials and animal research support the use of ashwaganda for anxiety, cognitive and neurological disorders, inflammation, and Parkinson's disease. Ashwaganda is also used therapeutically as an adaptogen for patients with nervous exhaustion, insomnia, and debility due to stress, and as an immune stimulant in patients with low white blood cell counts.

Adaptogenic Activity of Withania somnifera:
An Experimental Study Using a Rat Model of Chronic Stress

Pharmacol Biochem Behav 2003 (Jun); 75 (3): 547–555

Withania somnifera (WS) Dunal is classified in Ayurveda, the ancient Hindu system of medicine, as a rasayana, a group of plant-derived drugs reputed to promote physical and mental health, augment resistance of the body against disease and diverse adverse environmental factors, revitalise the body in debilitated conditions and increase longevity. The results (of this study) indicate that WS, like PG, has significant antistress adaptogenic activity, confirming the clinical use of the plant in Ayurveda.

Nootropic-like Effect of Ashwagandha
(Withania somnifera L.) in Mice

Phytother Res 2001 (Sep); 15 (6): 524–528

On the elevated plus-maze, ashwagandha reversed the scopolamine (0.3 mg/kg)-induced delay in transfer latency on day 1. On the basis of these findings, it is suggested that ashwagandha exhibits a nootropic-like (memory protective/enhancing) effect in naive and amnesic mice.

Scientific Basis for the Therapeutic Use of
Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha): A Review

Alternative Medicine Review 2000 (Aug); 5 (4): 334–346 ~ FULL TEXT

Studies indicate ashwagandha possesses anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antistress, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, hemopoietic, and rejuvenating properties. It also appears to exert a positive influence on the endocrine, cardiopulmonary, and central nervous systems. The mechanisms of action for these properties are not fully understood. Toxicity studies reveal that ashwagandha appears to be a safe compound.

Antistressor Effect of Withania somnifera
J Ethnopharmacol 1999 (Jan); 64 (1): 91–93

Withania somnifera is an Indian medicinal plant used widely in the treatment of many clinical conditions in India. Its antistressor properties have been investigated in this study using adult Wistar strain albino rats and cold water swimming stress test. The results indicate that the drug treated animals show better stress tolerance.


Beta-sitosterol Abstracts

Plant Sterols and Sterolins Monograph
Alternative Medicine Review 2001 (Apr); 6 (2): 203–206 ~ FULL TEXT

Beta-sitosterol has shown promise in normalizing T-cell function, dampening overactive antibody responses, and normalizing DHEA:cortisol ratios. Restoring balance to the immune system (with plant sterols) may be of therapeutic benefit in disease processes such as chronic viral infections, stress-induced immune suppression, tuberculosis, allergies, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune conditions.

The Effects of B-sitosterol (BSS) and B-sitosterol glucoside (BSSG) Mixture on
elected Immune Parameters of Marathon Runners: Inhibition of Post Marathon
Immune Suppression and Inflammation

Int J Sports Med 1999 (May); 20 (4): 258–262

In parallel, the BSS:BSSG capsules decreased the plasma level of IL6 in the runners using the active capsules (p=0.08) and significantly decreased the cortisol: DHEAs ratio (p=0.03), suggesting that these volunteers had less of an inflammatory response and were less immune suppressed during the post-marathon recovery period.


L-Theanine Abstracts

L-Theanine Monograph
Alternative Medicine Review 2005 (Jun): 10 (2): 136–138 ~ FULL TEXT

L-theanine was discovered as a constituent of green tea in 1949 by Sakato, [2] and in 1964 was approved as a food additive in Japan. It is a water-soluble compound and when ingested orally is absorbed in the small intestine. In rats, peak plasma concentration was found 30 minutes after oral dosing. [3] Theanine crosses the blood-brain barrier via the large neutral amino acid (leucine-preferring) transport system. Theanine, when reaching the brain, has been shown in rats to increase both serotonin and dopamine production. [4] Theanine is hydrolyzed in the kidney to glutamic acid and ethylamine by the enzyme glutaminase. [3]

L-Theanine Reduces Psychological and Physiological Stress Responses
Biol Psychol 2007 (Jan); 74 (1): 39–45

L-Theanine is an amino acid contained in green tea leaves which is known to block the binding of L-glutamic acid to glutamate receptors in the brain. Because the characteristics of L-Theanine suggest that it may influence psychological and physiological states under stress, the present study examined these possible effects in a laboratory setting using a mental arithmetic task as an acute stressor.


L-Tyrosine Abstracts

L-Tyrosine Monograph
Alternative Medicine Review 2007 (Dec): 12 (4): 364–368 ~ FULL TEXT

L-tyrosine is a conditionally essential amino acid because under normal conditions the body synthesizes sufficient quantities from phenylalanine. [1] For those with phenylketonuria, however, a severe deficiency in the enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase prevents conversion of phenylalanine to tyrosine, making tyrosine an essential amino acid for this population. [2] Tyrosine is incorporated into proteins of all life forms and is a precursor for synthesis of thyroxin, melanin, and the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. [1, 2] Food sources of tyrosine include fish, soy products, poultry, eggs, dairy products, lima beans, almonds, peanuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, oats, avocados, and bananas. [1, 3] Clinical conditions for which tyrosine supplementation may be of therapeutic benefit include depression, hypertension, stress, cognitive function and memory, Parkinson’s disease, phenylketonuria, and narcolepsy.

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