The Globe and Mail gets it right on herbal stress relief

Herbal products are a largely unregulated segment of the health industry that provides a lot of money for manufacturers.  In an article in the Globe and Mail, Adriana Barton recommends a walk instead of herbal remedies for stress relief.

There’s no shortage of products with catchy names that promise to calm the nerves. Whoever came up with Chill Pills – herbal and B-vitamin capsules produced by New Roots Herbal – deserves a gold medal in marketing. Then there’s Stress Shield, Relax-All, Ex-Stress and more than 2,000 other supplements for stress at

One of the newest products, Profect, is a “shot” of fruit-flavoured protein (25 grams) that its maker, Protica, claims “can help relieve the side effects of stress.”

What all of these products have in common are product development and marketing plans that are not based on anything other than the desire of these companies for profit. There is no research that shows these are either effective or harmless. It is, of course, possible they could be either, neither, or both. We just don’t know. The companies themselves are under no incentive to provide answers. The rules are such that weasel words that skirt closely around explicit medical claims are enough to avoid the types of regulations that actual pharmaceutical companies must follow.

While there is some evidence that specific nutrients and botanicals may have a positive effect on stress, studies “haven’t necessarily shown that giving these to everybody will confer a benefit,” says Devon Christie, a doctor at Connect Health Centre for Integrative Medicine in Vancouver.

Herbs may interfere with prescription drugs or cause nasty side effects, she points out. Panax ginseng, one of several herbs believed to reduce the stress hormone cortisol, may cause hypertension, diarrhea and vaginal bleeding, she says.

Quality control is lacking in many of the factories that package these products, and dosages and even ingredients can vary considerably from what appears on the package label.

Drop the woo and talk a walk; it’s more effective and has fewer potential dangers.

Save cash on supplements and go for a brisk walk instead. Even with 10 minutes of exercise, “you’re releasing the hormones in your body that are associated with stress relief and those endorphins, the feel-good chemicals,” Dr. Christie says.

Medical doctors are trained in understanding the body’s response to stress and recognizing deficiencies in vitamins and minerals and the symptoms of other diseases. If you suspect something is wrong, and walking doesn’t help, don’t head to a herbalist, head to your doctor’s office.

This entry was posted in CAM and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Globe and Mail gets it right on herbal stress relief

  1. Leisha Skone says:

    Herbal medicine — also called botanical medicine or phytomedicine — refers to using a plant’s seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark, or flowers for medicinal purposes. Herbalism has a long tradition of use outside of conventional medicine. It is becoming more mainstream as improvements in analysis and quality control along with advances in clinical research show the value of herbal medicine in the treating and preventing disease.:

    Our very own web-site

    • There are sciences related to finding plants that have useful medicinal properties. The first is Ethnobotany which is concerned with examine how plants are used in differing cultures around the world. The study includes the use of plants for food, shelter, , clothing, hunting, religious ceremonies, as well as medicine. The second, Pharmacognosy, is the study of medicinal and toxic products from natural plant sources.

      The traditional uses for plants are often considered in the hunt for effective treatments, but this tradition alone is not enough to recommend a plant. There are requirements for clinical trials, something that is seriously lacking in the current herbal medicine industry. In fact, so called ‘natural’ products are allowed to go to market with no testing whatsoever.

      The primary reason herbal and other alternative medicines are becoming mainstream is because of the ill founded beliefs and outright lies of this CAM industry.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s