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Thread: effects of stress on brain

  1. #1

    effects of stress on brain

    Maybe I don't want to know the answer to this question, but I was reading a book about wellness and it said chronic stress kills cells in the hippocampus and leads to memory loss and learning issues. All of our lives seem very stressful. Constantly stressful, for instance I have a family member that has severe OCD and every minute of every day is very stressful for this person. Relationships, job (or lack thereof), health issues, death of loved ones...when is life not stressful? Are there any supplements one can take to reduce the cortisol produced by all this stress that are neuroprotective, and if you already have stress related damage to your brain, can you improve cognitive function or regrow the damaged cells? I'm afraid of the answer to this question, if it's bad news I will stress even more!

  2. #2
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    I wouldn't worry too much about this. While it is true that cortisol is increased in stress conditions, there are many highly intelligent people who have endured stressor's off the chart, including victims of child rape and abuse, holocaust survivor's, and victims of natural disasters. The amygdala has been shown to be larger in individuals who have endured horrific conditions over which they had no control. That sets the brain up to be in a constant state of readiness, the "flight or fight" reaction. The important part of the equasion is that when individuals must endure horror (and I am not talking daily mid-level stress) over which they have no control is when things like PTSD occur. Most people with disabilities have some control over many, many things, and are not subjected to continued horrors.

  3. #3
    Thanks for the info Eileen, sounds like you know quite a bit about the brain. Do you take supplements to improve health? I was just wondering because I take a bunch and I am beginning to wonder if taking too many could stress my liver or kidneys or that they could interact and cause an issue. I was reading that alpha lipoic acid, resveratrol, acetyl l carnitine, and phosphatydalserene (I'm sure that is mispelled) are good for the brain. I do not currently take any of these, does anyone here?

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Simpler Times View Post
    Are there any supplements one can take to reduce the cortisol produced by all this stress that are neuroprotective, and if you already have stress related damage to your brain, can you improve cognitive function or regrow the damaged cells? I'm afraid of the answer to this question, if it's bad news I will stress even more!
    It's good news, dahling!

    There's a whole class of plants called adaptogens that reduce cortisol. I found out about them about two years ago and started doing reasearch and experimenting with them like crazy. It's amazing how broad a range of benefits a single plant can have, and have no side-effects along with it. Some adaptogens include -


    • Ashwagandha. Used in Ayurvedic medicine.
    • Ocimum sanctum/ Tulsi/ Holy Basil. A sweeter version of basil, worshipped as a deity in India. Increased cognitive performance in studies
    • Schisandra
    • Ginseng
    • Rhodiola
    • Water hyssop/ bacopa monnieri
    • Jiaogulan
    • Mucuna pruriens
    • Tribulus terrestris/ puncture vine
    • Uncaria tomentosa/ Cat's Claw
    • Ginger

    If I were to list all the health benefits of each of these, we'd be here all day. They seem to just make you overall 'healthier' and give you energy. Don't bother with the capsules of these they sell at health food stores; they're a rip-off. Find an online bulk seller and get them by the kilo. Most of them make pretty good herbal teas; I just keep bags of the raw herbs by my kettle and make a tea whenever I need a boost.

  5. #5
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    Just be careful with some of the nutrients listed above, because some can combine with prescription meds in unintended ways. If you have access to a nutitionist (through your primary care doctor?) you might want to run these by her/him first.

  6. #6
    Senior Member mr_coffee's Avatar
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    Stress sucks but I need it to function. Without it I would be bored.
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  7. #7
    Stress is a normal process we use to appraise and attempt to cope with emotional threats and challenges. Stressors--events and situations--may be blamed for the uncomfortable effects of stress. But the way we perceive stressed determines whether stress is experienced as a panic or a challenge. While normal stress protects the body in times of threat, prolonged stress may potentially damage the body, including the brain.

    Coping with Stress

    Exercise strengthens the body.

    Relaxation through meditation, biofeedback, and a variety of other activities and techniques promotes lower blood pressure, slower respiration, reduced metabolism and muscle tension. These counteract the effects of stress.

    Social contacts, friends, and family relationships can help in creating emotional trust, support, and relaxation. Even caring for a pet can provide significant emotional comfort that helps reduce stress.

    Attitudes of confidence, positive ability to solve problems, and balance allow the cycle of stress response to resolve now and then instead of being sustained.

    Healthy lifestyle--not smoking, minimal use of alcohol, balanced nutrition and weight control, and slowing down and taking time to smell the roses--promotes a sense of peace and control over one's life. Stress is often related to the anxiety caused by a feeling of being out of control.

  8. #8
    Funny observation from Bill Maher: "I think anti-stress methods are a sham. Stress is life. I never have a no-stress day. It's the most natural thing in the world. Have you ever seen a woodland creature eating lunch? It's a nervous wreck as it eats and just waits for something to swoop down and grab it."

    It's even funnier if you see Bill mimic a squirrel eating nervously.


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  10. #10
    Aww! Thank you, Leif. You know how much I love my Bill Maher. He's my DILF.


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