Challenges of Stress Management—A Doctor’s Perspective

Written by Anne Thiel, ND & Submitted by Integrative Therapeutics

Integrative_brand_page_mobile_01Stress management is frequently focused on patient intervention, but it can be improved upon by digging into the nuances of the signs of stress and teaching people that coping with stress can improve their outcomes—regardless of their chief complaint. Some signs of stress are obvious, such as areas of tension that regularly occur after weekly meetings with an overbearing boss. Less obvious signs of stress may involve blood pressure or blood glucose readings that defy improvement despite numerous medications and supplements, or gastrointestinal complaints without corresponding pathology or lab diagnoses.

While these nuanced signs are often easier for an objective third party to recognize, helping someone realize the role of stress in seemingly unrelated health concerns may require a different strategy. A common complaint of someone that needs stress management is never feeling rested despite adequate sleep time or feeling excessive fatigue after exercising.

The challenges of stress management can occur in many stages. In early stages of HPA axis activation, ashwagandha can reduce stress and anxiety while L-theanine can promote calm feelings during exposure to stress.* In the later stages of the stress response, B vitamins are necessary for all cells to generate energy.

 Addressing Stress

For the person who does not think stress affects them or do not recognize the signs of stress, asking focused questions, such as how their energy levels fluctuate throughout the day, do they have difficulties falling or staying asleep, or how they feel after eating a meal can be valuable clues. Complementary to a person’s history are lab tests that evaluate key hormones and neurotransmitters like cortisol, DHEA, and epinephrine/norepinephrine. Cortisol can provide helpful guidance in developing a plan and potential stage of HPA axis dysfunction, although normal results do not negate complaints of stress or fatigue. A full thyroid panel is also necessary as adrenal and thyroid functions are intimately connected. Lab work before and after working through a plan of action is a great way to provide tangible information regarding efficacy of interventions or supporting the need to adjust the plan.

Most people know they should be getting a good night’s sleep, eating less sugar and more vegetables, and managing their stress with yoga or meditation, instead of a pint of ice cream while watching TV. How to manage stress in a manner that restores health and maintains the motivation for healthy habits is the art of medicine. A simple skill for stress management is to bring awareness to the heart rate through deep breathing. Anyone can find their pulse and feel the change that a long exhale brings; this can be done almost anywhere, at anytime.

Physicians often ask patients to do more than just take a pill, so providing them with an organized reference sheet can improve their understanding of recommendations and lead to improved compliance and outcomes. Asking them to fill out a form allows them to play an important role in their care, instead of a practitioner just telling them what to do. Organizing their care in a form that is easily read and referenced allows the person to spend more energy on taking care of themselves, instead of deciphering a treatment plan. This also creates the space to develop a dialogue with patients about their care and for them to take responsibility for their progress, or lack of, in a non-judgmental style. For example, ask them to provide an example of a personal mark of progress or goal, such as having enough energy to join a sports team or not relying on a cup of coffee to make it through the afternoon. This provides more descriptive information than simply rating stress or exhaustion on a scale of 1-10.

 Supplement Recommendations for Stress Management*

Supporting sleep and metabolic processes is necessary for all phases of stress management. Different supplements offer certain benefits for the various phases of coping with occasional stress.* Understanding where you fall on the continuum of HPA axis function provides a guide for recommendations. Lab values only tell part of the story; listening to the verbal and non-verbal clues can provide invaluable information. In early stages of HPA axis activation, calming the nervous system can support cortisol balance. Ashwagandha can reduce stress and anxiety, while L-theanine can promote feeling calm during exposure to stress.* In the later stages of the stress response, supporting appropriate cortisol rhythms is still important as well as supporting energy levels. B vitamins are necessary for all cells to generate energy—particularly in the citric acid cycle and in the mitochondria.* Melatonin is well known for supporting sleep, but it also provides support for immune-modulating activity that may be affected by stress.*

By paying attention to the signs of stress and integrating multiple stress management techniques, you will succeed in coping with occasional stress. We can’t avoid or control all sources of stress, but we can always improve how we manage it!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
  1. Pratte MA, Nanavati KB, Young V, Morley CP. J Altern Complement Med. 2014; 20(12):901-8.
  2. White DJ, de Klerk S, Woods W, Gondalia S, Noonan C, Scholey AB. Nutrients. 2016; 8(1):53.
  3. Kennedy DO. Nutrients. 2016; 8(2):68.
  4. Carrillo-Vico A, et al. Int J Mol Sci. 2013; 14(4):8638-8683.


March 5, 2018 at 1:04 pm Leave a comment

Heart Health Tips from Dr. Sherry Rogers’ Is Your Cardiologist Killing You?

Written by Shannon Morehouse, MA, CHHC

 Is your Cardiologist Killing You? Is an insightful book written by Dr. Sherry Rogers with the goal of empowering readers to protect their heart with the help of nutrients as alternatives to medications (whenever possible). She points to recent research as evidence of the effectiveness of nutrients over commonly prescribed heart medications. Dr. Rogers boldfaces the research evidence and cites the specific studies, which makes this book a great tool for those who value the scientific backing of natural therapies.

Whether you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a type of arrhythmia, heart failure, or even a previous heart attack, Dr. Rogers offers many nutrient suggestions that can help you boost your heart health long-term. The two nutrients she recommends most emphatically are magnesium and omega-3 essential fatty acids.

For high blood pressure, doctors often prescribe diuretics or fluid pills, which are harmful and may make your condition worse according to Dr. Rogers. Diuretics cause your body to lose potassium and magnesium. Mineral deficiencies are often the cause of high blood pressure in the first place, hence the reason why a diuretic may worsen your condition. Dr. Rogers points the reader to several studies that have found that more than half of Americans are deficient in magnesium and that the average American diet offers less than 1/10th the amount of magnesium that people need. She recommends Peter Gillham’s Natural Calm magnesium. If that causes diarrhea, she suggests Carlson Labs Chelated Magnesium or Pain & Stress Center’s Mag Chlor 90.

If you have arrhythmias, magnesium and essential fatty acids are also beneficial. Dr. Rogers cites studies that have found that magnesium deficiency is one of the most widespread causes of the common arrhythmia known as atrial fibrillation. Even the USDA published a study in 2007 with strong evidence that magnesium deficiency induces arrhythmias. In fact, several studies have found magnesium to be more effective than any prescription drug at treating arrhythmias. Dr. Rogers recommends the magnesium chloride solution for people who have arrhythmias.

Congestive heart failure is a very dangerous disease; close to 70% of those diagnosed die within five years. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) quadruple your risk for heart failure. NSAIDs include aspirin, which many cardiologists recommend to stop unwanted blood clots. Your heart needs essential fatty acids for protection and Dr. Rogers recommends fish oil for those with congestive heart failure. One study found that cod liver oil was 10 times more effective than statins for those with heart failure. If you have high C-Reactive Protein (CRP) levels, an indicator of inflammation, you are at risk for heart failure. Correcting hidden magnesium deficiencies can lower your CRP levels.

 Is Your Cardiologist Killing You? is a great resource even for those who have never been to a cardiologist. If you have any risk factors for heart disease (such as high cholesterol, high levels of stress or anxiety, overweight, high blood pressure, alcohol consumption, and diabetes), you would certainly benefit from adding magnesium and fish oil into your supplement regimen, in addition to several other nutrients that Dr. Rogers discusses in this remarkable read!

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

February 9, 2018 at 2:16 pm Leave a comment

The Power of Activated Vitamin B

B vitamins are a group of essential, water-soluble vitamins that every cell in your body, particularly nerve cells, utilizes every second of every day. These vitamins are crucial to many of our body’s functions, such as breaking down carbohydrates for energy production and keeping up your metabolism, mood, hormones, and nervous system functions—just to name a few.

Unfortunately, there are several factors that deplete these critical nutrients. Refined sugar and starches demand B vitamins to metabolize and convert into energy. Alcohol can quickly deplete B vitamin stores in your body. Caffeine is a diuretic and causes B vitamins to be flushed out of your body at a faster rate. Stress causes your body to utilize B vitamins as a coping mechanism, rapidly depleting these nutrients. Certain medications can leach onto B vitamins in your body and interfere with proper utilization. Also since B vitamins are water-soluble, your body cannot store them—meaning they are quickly excreted through urination.

Jigsaw Activated B w/SRT® (Sustained Release Technology) addresses these issues by providing a steady, balanced stream of active B vitamins throughout the day, rather than flooding your system all at once. In addition, when massive amounts of B vitamins are immediately released into the body, unfriendly bacteria in the digestive system may use them as a food source, which can cause you to feel even worse.

“Active” forms of B vitamins are extremely important. Most B vitamin supplements use cheap, inactive forms that require your liver to convert them into active forms that your body can utilize. However, they are quickly eliminated from your body before your liver can finish the job, which offers little benefit. Jigsaw Activated B w/SRT® doesn’t require conversion and can be absorbed and used in the body much more efficiently, which makes Jigsaw’s B vitamins the superior choice that is gentle on your liver.

Jigsaw Activated B w/SRT® comes highly recommended and includes everything you need in a B vitamin formula:

  • Active, Ready-to-Use Forms of all B vitamins
  • Sustained Release Technology (SRT®) to steadily release B vitamins all day long to keep body systems functioning properly
  • Active Forms + Sustained Release Technology=Super Absorption
  • Easy on the liver, since Jigsaw’s B vitamin forms don’t require conversion
  • Includes benfotiamine for extra nerve function support
  • Ideal if you’re running low on B vitamins or if you simply want to maintain healthy levels

With Jigsaw Activated B w/SRT®, the work of conversion is already done for you so your body gets the vitamins it needs in the form it can instantly use. This comprehensive B vitamin supplement can help maintain your energy levels, promote a healthy response to stress, support mental alertness, concentration, and memory— plus so much more! If you’re looking for practical and effective B vitamins, Jigsaw Activated B w/SRT® is by far the best choice; offering quality ingredients in an easily-absorbable form that contains no artificial colors, dyes, yeast, preservatives, or carnauba wax.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

December 19, 2017 at 11:53 am Leave a comment

NEW RESEARCH: Whey Powder + Nutrients Help Support Stronger Muscles

By Jen Morganti, Naturopathic Doctor (ND) & NEEDS Education Director

 Sarcopenia is the medical term that describes the common age-related decline in muscle strength and mass. Sarcopenia is to blame for many health-related problems in seniors, such as loss of balance that can cause falls and/ or bone fractures. Sarcopenia also leads to frailty, which can decrease a person’s ability to care for themselves and puts the elderly at a much higher risk for mortality.

As we grow older, it’s important to take steps to fight the progression of sarcopenia and maintain independence, quality of life, and longevity. There are proactive steps that can be taken to slow muscle loss and improve strength and balance.

A recent study helped prove that a combination of specific nutritional supplements, paired with a simple exercise program can help slow the progression of sarcopenia. In this study, 49 relatively healthy men over 60-years-old participated in an 18-week program to determine if supplementation and exercise could improve their muscle mass. Twice a day for 6 weeks, they consumed a supplement containing whey protein, creatine, calcium, vitamin D, and omega-3 oils. After the 6-week span, they participated in an exercise program that involved strength/resistance training and high-intensity interval training for 12 more weeks—all while continually taking the supplements or a placebo. They were also instructed not to change their regular daily diet.

After the initial 6-week time period, which did not include exercise, the group taking the supplements gained 700 grams of lean body mass (muscle) and the placebo group showed no change in lean body mass. After the 18-week program, which did include exercise, the group taking the supplements lost fat mass and gained muscle strength; whereas, the group that did not take supplements gained fat slightly.

The takeaway message from this study is that exercise alone may not increase muscle mass, but supplementing with protein and various nutrients in addition to exercise can help to prevent sarcopenia from developing.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


Kirsten E. Bell et. al., A whey protein-based multi-ingredient nutritional supplement stimulates gains in lean body mass and strength in healthy older men: A randomized controlled trial. PLOSONE, 2017; 12 (7): e0181387.

October 18, 2017 at 9:39 am Leave a comment

Keep Your Cholesterol in Check

High cholesterol affects over 65 million Americans! It is a serious condition that can increase your risk for heart disease. Lowering excessively-high cholesterol levels can help lessen your risk for developing heart disease and reduce the chance of having a heart attack or dying of heart disease.

We know that diet, exercise, and supplements are all necessary to keep cholesterol levels in check. Low fat diets can be beneficial as well, but don’t cut out the healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, and be careful not to load up on sugar as a substitute for fat. When we consume more sugar than our body needs (for energy or exercise), it gets converted to glycogen and is stored in the body—just in case your body needs more energy later. Once those stores are filled, the excess sugar gets converted in the liver to fatty acids, triglycerides, and then gets stored in fat cells.

Red yeast rice (RYR) is one of the most effective nutrients to reduce total cholesterol and LDL “bad” cholesterol levels. Statins, the most commonly used cholesterol drugs, mimic the key chemical in red yeast rice called lovastatin. Small clinical trials have shown that RYR can reduce LDL by about 25% in just a few months. The recommended dosage is 1,200–2,400 mg per day.

The plant compound, phytosterol, also lowers cholesterol by enhancing the excretion of cholesterol and reducing the synthesis and absorption of cholesterol from food. Phytosterols are naturally occurring in plant-based foods, such as rice bran, wheat germ, and nuts, but it is hard to eat enough of these foods daily to get therapeutic dosages. Supplementation is the most convenient and effective option, with the optimal dosage being 2,000 mg daily. The results are dose-dependent, which means smaller quantities will lower cholesterol a little and taking higher doses will lower cholesterol more dramatically.

Natur-Tyme’s Prolessterol is a cholesterol-balancing formula containing red yeast rice, with guggul, policosinol, and inositol to keep cholesterol levels in check, along with turmeric to support the liver as it metabolizes cholesterol. Many NEEDS customers have informed our Wellness Educators that they have had great results when using Prolessterol. If you have been struggling to manage your cholesterol levels, it may also help you!

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

September 5, 2017 at 11:38 am Leave a comment

Trace Minerals–The Foundation for Health

By Dr. Darrin Starkey, N.D., Manager of Education and Training for TMR

 When you look at the health of our society today, minerals are clearly being overlooked as an important part of the typical American diet. Trace minerals are not only as important as vitamins, but in many cases, they are more important especially when it comes to the health issues we face. Trace minerals make up just one hundredth of our body weight, but I believe nearly everyone is deficient in these minerals. But oftentimes, we take for granted their importance when it comes to our overall health.

No matter where I travel in this nation, whenever I give a seminar on the importance of supplementing our body with minerals consumers tell me, “I eat a healthy raw organic diet” or “I take a good multivitamin.” My response to these statements is always the same, “Where is the soil that your food is being grown in?”, “Are you sure it’s healthy and rich with a full-spectrum of balanced minerals?”, and “Does your multivitamin have all the trace minerals that exist in nature?” Unfortunately, most of us can’t answer these questions.

Did you know that 90% of our blood, 85% of our brain, 70% of our tissue, and 30% of our bone is water? We must look at water as a supplement! There are so many beverage choices that complicate our internal health and cause dehydration. I’m always pleased when I find out that some have already embraced this idea of “supplementing” their body with water. I recommend that the average person should be drinking—at minimum—half their body weight in ounces of water per day (200 lbs=100 oz of water). To do this, many are choosing distilled or RO (purified) water. But here’s the caveat, though these water options provide “clean” water that is stripped of impurities, they are also stripped of the very trace minerals that our bodies desperately need! Therefore, it’s important to put clean trace minerals back into your water.

ConcenTrace® Trace Mineral Drops contain a full-spectrum of over 72 naturally-occurring, water-soluble ionic trace minerals and elements that can be added to water to remineralize those that have been removed through the purification process. But, what makes trace minerals so important? We must first explain what ionic trace minerals are, just like the ionic trace minerals that are found in ConcenTrace® Trace Mineral Drops. An ionic mineral is defined as an atom or group of atoms with either a positive or negative charge. This means they conduct electrical impulses within the body to keep organs, such as the brain and heart functioning. Keep in mind that an ion is the smallest form of a mineral. Because an ionic mineral is the smallest form of a mineral, it’s the easiest form for the body to assimilate because it is small enough to pass through cell walls. Ionic minerals also create a proper pH balance and are found naturally in raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes.

The problem is that we have depleted the trace mineral balance in our soil by adding herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers to enhance the quantity of food we can grow. Sadly, while we have increased productivity of the soil, we have reduced its quality. And if it’s not in the soil, it’s not in the food. It has been proven that the foods we eat today don’t have the nutrient density they used to have, especially trace minerals. This is the reason I strongly believe in the need for trace mineral supplementation.

Trace minerals work synergistically with one another to ensure that proper absorption, activation, regulation, and pH balance occurs within the body. An example of this synergistic relationship is the one between molybdenum and iron. All the iron in the world will do you no good without molybdenum. Molybdenum performs a very important, but basic function by mobilizing iron from its storage location in the liver so that it can help blood carry oxygen to cells and tissues. This important, but often overlooked mineral is vital in sustaining our lives and only recently was its purpose discovered.

Many ask me, “Who should be taking these trace minerals?” or “Should I be taking trace minerals every day?” I like to answer those questions this way, we lose between 2½-3 cups of body fluid daily just by breathing. Through respiration, perspiration, urination, defecation, and—for women—menstruation, can you imagine just how many trace minerals we lose in one day? Plus, with summer upon us, we spend more and more time sweating away the very trace minerals we need to help ensure our health. Whether you are working, exercising, or simply enjoying an outdoor activity in the scorching summer sun, you’re losing trace minerals.

Because the ionic trace minerals in ConcenTrace® Trace Mineral Drops are harvested and NOT manufactured, I believe it is perfection in a bottle! Mother Nature has provided minerals for us, just as she has provided the very foods we consume. So the real question is…are you consuming enough good, clean remineralized water? Do you ingest enough trace minerals through your diet for your body to be able to replace your mineral output? I urge you to make water and trace minerals a part of your daily supplement regimen. ConcenTrace® is the perfect way to replenish your body with all the elements you need to plug in and recharge!†

† These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

August 4, 2017 at 10:51 am Leave a comment

NEW RESEARCH: Adaptogenic Ashwagandha for Improved Memory

Adaptogens are herbs that support various bodily functions and serve to balance, rather than force a particular action. Adaptogenic herbs are generally very gentle and can be safely taken at high doses, without risk of side effects. An adaptogen is particularly effective in supporting the body’s response to stress and helps the body manage the negative effects of stress.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an adaptogenic herb with a long history of use in India. It’s known for its restorative properties that benefit the adrenals, but also the immune system and thyroid. This ancient herb is useful for many modern day problems, including chronic stress, chronic fatigue, and poor concentration. It’s a calming agent that also improves thinking and memory. Over 200 studies have confirmed its benefits, including counteracting the damaging effects of stress on the brain and cognitive function. Because it is so safe and helps with balance, ashwagandha is an excellent addition to a variety of herbal formulas, especially those relieving stress.

The adrenals secrete cortisol, a hormone meant to help the body adapt to stress, in reaction to dealing with emotional or physical challenges. When under long-term, chronic stress, cortisol levels can become excessively high. Cortisol is beneficial in small doses; when excessive, cortisol causes blood sugar imbalances, sleep disruption, low immune function, and impaired thinking and memory. As an adaptogen, ashwagandha can help regulate cortisol levels and reduce its damaging effects.

In a new study, researchers measured the effects of ashwagandha on brain function, including memory and thinking skills. In this study, 50 patients with mild cognitive impairment were divided into 2 groups and took either ashwagandha root extract, 300 mg twice daily or a placebo. The study lasted 8 weeks and baseline measurements for memory and thinking skills were recorded at the beginning of the study. The same tests were given at the end of the study to determine if there were any improvements. At the end of the 8 weeks, the group taking ashwagandha showed significant improvement in the tests and demonstrated enhanced memory, improved attention, and were better able to process information, as compared to the group taking the placebo.

Memory decline is a common and prevalent problem for aging Americans, and to date, very few options are available to slow loss of memory. Based on the results of this study, ashwagandha may be an effective herb to add to a supplement regimen to improve brain function. It’s not fully understood how the herb helps with memory and attention, but some scientists believe that it inhibits acetylcholine-esterase, an enzyme which breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a chemical that helps brain cells communicate and supports the brain in creating memories. An acetylcholine esterase inhibitor decreases levels of this important neurotransmitter.

Adaptogenic Ashwagandha can help your body cope with external and internal stresses that affect our daily lives. This ancient herb has been shown to combat the effects of stress, support the immune system, promote brain health, and much more! Ashwagandha is a safe, effective, and powerful herb that is most well-known for its restorative benefits and makes an excellent addition to any herbal formula.


Journal of Dietary Supplements. (2017). Volume 14, Issue 6.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

July 24, 2017 at 6:33 pm Leave a comment

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