Dr. Dwayne Jackson

The Vital Science Blog

Starting Living Your Best

Soften stress!

Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. For many worldwide, psychological stress is considered a “way of life” – a way of life that negatively affects mental and physical well-being. 


Stress + Rest = Growth

Stressors come at us in all kinds of ways, but when kept in check (with adequate recovery), they lead to healthy personal, professional, and physical growth/development. For example, the physical stress of consistent exercise leads to increases in physical strength and endurance. As well, the psychological stress felt in the days leading up to important speaking engagements dampens as you gain experience. 


That which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger?

We’ve all heard the saying, “that which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”, well this is only partially true. Although the body has a remarkable ability to adapt to stress, it can only do so if there is sufficient recovery between stressful events. Conditions of unmanageable long-term stress, without adequate rest, lead to states of anxiety and depressive symptoms that detract from overall health and wellness. 


In this article we highlight the science behind 3 novel nutraceuticals that target different parts of the body and serve to decrease your feelings of stress and improve your wellbeing.  


Believe it or not, the brain and gut communicate back and forth (known as the gut-brain-axis) and recent data indicate that gut inflammation, due to imbalances in the gut microbiome (known as dysbiosis), contribute to mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. Probiotics can restore normal microbial balance in the digestive tract, and research suggests that probiotics may aid in the treatment and prevention of anxiety and depression [1]. 


The gut microbiome is constantly challenged by changes in diet, stress, and antibiotics— this leads to dysbiosis. As a result, the intestines become ‘leaky’ which allows important bacteria and metabolites to enter into the circulation, known as leaky gut syndrome [1]. 


Current research suggests that dysbiosis promotes increased inflammation throughout the body and central nervous system. In the end, neuroinflammation (inflammation of nerves in the brain) leads to neurochemical and hormonal changes that affect motivation, learning and memory, and promote anxiety and depression. Under this umbrella of science, probiotic supplements are showing positive effects on neuroinflammation, cognitive function, anxiety and depression [2]. 


How to use probiotics to glorify your gut: For the best results find a product that contains an array (5-10 strains) of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. The best products will guarantee at least 10 billion live colony forming units (CFU) per serving. Take 10-50 billion colony forming units (cfu), 1x daily (with food), for 2-4 weeks then follow with 10 billion cfu daily for maintenance. Since probiotics are live, refrigerate when possible and always eat an abundance of prebiotic foods (fermentable fibers) like inulin and greens, this will ensure you support a viable and sustainable colony of good bacteria in your gut. 



  1. Clapp M, Aurora N, Herrera L, Bhatia M, Wilen E, Wakefield S. Gut microbiota’s effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis. Clin Pract. 2017 Sep 15;7(4):987.


  1. Frank MG, Fonken LK, Watkins LR, Maier SF, Lowry CA. Could Probiotics Be Used to Mitigate Neuroinflammation? ACS Chem Neurosci. 2018 Aug 15. [Epub ahead of print]


We all know that mental stress negatively impacts many facets of life, including work and physical performance, focus, and intensity. Stress also promotes chronically elevated blood cortisol levels, a potent catabolic (muscle wasting) hormone—which impacts immunity and overall wellbeing. 


Research has shown that a patented compound called Relora®, made from Magnolia and Phellodendron barks significantly improves the mood of moderately stressed men and women. In a placebo-controlled trial, scientists reported that stressed subjects, who received Relora®, had a 42% reduction in anger and 13% reduction in tension, a 20% decrease in depression, an 18% increase in vigor, a 31% decrease in fatigue, 27% less confusion, and an 11% increase in mood state. To top it off, the researchers reported an 18% decrease in salivary cortisol levels with Relora® supplementation. So, with Relora® you not only improve your mood, but also improve your hormonal responses to stress [3]. 


How to use Relora to modify your mood: Relora® is a patented extract of Magnolia and Phellodendron barks that have been standardized to not less than 1.5% honokiol and 0.1% berberine. If you are stressed out and are looking to improve mood and want to keep cortisol levels regulated, this study suggests taking 250 mg of Relora with breakfast and another 250 mg with dinner. 



  1. Talbott SM, Talbott JA, Pugh M. Effect of Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense (Relora®) on cortisol and psychological mood state in moderately stressed subjects. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013 Aug 7;10(1):37. 

Rhodiola Rosea is a potent herbal adaptogen— which simply means it increases the body’s ability to handle stress and fatigue by maintaining hormonal homeostasis. Adaptogens have been noted to increase energy and focus as a result of their effects on neurotransmitter levels in the brain. 


Normally, compounds called monoamine oxidases (MAOs) in the brain breakdown and deactivate many of the neurotransmitters that make us feel good, enhance focus, and give us energy— examples of such neurotransmitters include dopamine, serotoin, adrenaline, noradrenaline, and dopamine. 


Rhodiola Rosea works by blocking MAOs, which lets neurotransmitter levels rise [4]. Studies show that Rhodiola supplementation before exercise decreases fatigue by increasing time to exhaustion during intense training. Subjects who supplemented with Rhodiola one hour prior to exercise had slower heart rates and greater training endurance, due to decreased perception of effort [5]. Additional studies have shown rhodiola can increase workplace performance and decrease the effects that sleep deprivation can have on your energy levels [6]. 


In a randomized double-blind and placebo-study, participants with chronic fatigue syndrome received either Rhodiola rosea or placebo for four weeks. Those who received Rhodiola rosea had significant improvements in symptoms of fatigue and in tests of attention. As well, waking cortisol responses were significantly blunted in those who received Rhodiola rosea extract versus placebo. It was concluded that anti-fatigue effect of Rhodiola rosea extract increases mental performance (particularly the ability to concentrate) and decreases cortisol response to awakening stress in “burnout” patients with fatigue syndrome [7].  


How to use Rhodiola Rosea to fight fatigue: The average dose should be between 150 mg and 500 mg per day of a product that is standardized to contain active rosavins and salidrosides in at least a 2:1 ratio. 




  1. A, Bravo J, Reist M, Carrupt PA, Hostettmann K. Monoamine oxidase inhibition by Rhodiola rosea L. roots. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Mar 18;122(2):397-401. 


  1. Noreen EE, Buckley JG, Lewis SL, Brandauer J, Stuempfle KJ. The effects of an acute dose of Rhodiola rosea on endurance exercise performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Mar;27(3):839-47.


  1. Anghelescu IG, Edwards D, Seifritz E, Kasper S. Stress management and the role of Rhodiola rosea: a review Int J Psychiatry Clin Pract. 2018 Jan 11:1-11. [Epub ahead of print].


  1. Olsson EM, von Schéele B, Panossian AG. A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the standardised extract shr-5 of the roots of Rhodiola rosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue. Planta Med. 2009 Feb;75(2):105-12. 
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