Stressveda™ and Sleep·Essence: Natural Solutions for Stress and Sleep Quality

Do you often lay awake at night, tossing and turning, unable to fall asleep? Do you have a million-and-one thoughts running through your mind so you struggle to turn off your brain? If so, you inevitably lay awake restless, irritated and unable to sleep. Insomnia strikes most people at one time or another, often due to excess stress. Do you suffer from any of the following?

  • difficulty falling asleep
  • waking up during the night
  • not feeling refreshed in the morning
  • difficulty concentrating
  • daytime drowsiness

If you can relate to some or all of these signs of poor sleep quality, you aren’t alone. In fact, 30-40% of Americans have difficulty going to, or staying asleep at some point each year with 10% having regular difficulty. Considering how important sleep is to overall health, this is an alarming statistic.

Give Yourself the Gift of Sleep

Sleep is anabolic. It replenishes our energy stores, allows our bodies to rest, recover, replenish and rebuild. Sleep also clears our brains of damaging molecules (like beta amyloid proteins). Yes, that’s right – sleep literally cleanses your brain. A plumbing system called the glymphatic system opens up more while we sleep (around 60% more than in daytime), letting fluid flow rapidly through the brain. At night, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain increases dramatically. Studies suggest that toxic molecules accumulate in the space between brain cells during the day and are cleared at night when sleeping.

Poor sleep impairs immune function, increases inflammation, has negative effects on insulin and blood sugar balance, increases stress hormones and blood pressure. Pretty much every measure of good health and physical and mental performance is negatively impacted when you sleep poorly or don’t get enough hours in dreamland. Weight gain, depression, diabetes and cardiovascular disease are all associated with lack of sleep. Sleep also helps your brain function properly so you can concentrate, make decisions, and other basic functions on a daily basis. You get the picture. These days, we need restorative deep sleep and REM sleep (dreaming) more than ever to keep our immune response healthy and to reduce stress and anxiety and process emotions. The Sleep Foundation recommends getting 7 – 9 hours of sleep at night.

Herbal Allies

Sleep·Essence from Flora is a natural solution to your sleep troubles. This powerful combination of organic chamomile flower, lemon balm, linden flower, passionflower, skullcap, and lavender is designed to improve the quality of your ZZZZs.* All of the herbs in this liquid tea blend were carefully selected for their calming, sleep-inducing properties. These herbs are concentrated in a delicious liquid base of apple juice, hibiscus, and passion fruit for ease of use. This delicious tasting, natural sleep aid promotes a restful sleep, allowing you to fall asleep more easily and stay asleep all night.*

Sleep·Essence’s health claims are based on evidence from centuries of traditional herbal use, as referenced by traditional texts and there are also a few clinical trials on a number of the herbs (chamomile, lemon balm, skullcap, and passionflower) in the formula that help to corroborate what was observed in traditional use as well. These herbs are known as nervines, or nerve tonics, by herbalists. All of the herbs in the formula use flowers or leaves that help to calm, relax, and soothe high-strung, overactive or tense nervous systems, encourage sleep and restore strength to nerve fibres. Chamomile, linden, lavender and lemon balm also have calming effects on the digestive system by reducing cramping, gas, and bloating, and thus alleviating any sleep issues stemming from indigestion as well.* 

Chamomile was the subject of a 2009 study for its benefit in cases of stress and nervousness. This randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study found that a chamomile extract had a significant effect over placebo in reducing stress scores after 8 weeks of use for people with mild to moderate stress and nervousness.1

A double blind, placebo-controlled trial in 1999 used a combination of lemon balm (80mg extract) and valerian (160mg extract) three times daily and results showed it was able to improve the quality and quantity of sleep in healthy people.2

A clinical trial using passionflower tea found that it improved measures of sleep quality. The trial involved 41 people who kept sleep diaries for the duration, 10 of which also had various sleep body function measurements taken using polysomnography as well. The trial lasted 2 weeks and was placebo controlled.3

A 2013 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial using skullcap for nervousness and mood enhancement found that 350mg three times daily for 2 weeks resulted in significant improvements to nervousness and mood scores without causing fatigue in the daytime.4

Stressing about Stress

There’s a bit of a vicious cycle that happens with stress and poor sleep, with one feeding into the other. An acute stress response increases our blood pressure, increases our heart rate, and super charges our muscles with glucose for fuel in order to possibly save our lives. But when stress becomes a persistent, lingering, chronic, low grade response to everyday living, it can negatively impact our health. This kind of stress over the long term is associated with everything from fatigue to chronic headaches, irritability, changes in appetite and indigestion, skin problems, allergies, memory loss, low self-esteem, social withdrawal, teeth-grinding, high blood pressure, shallow breathing, nervous twitches, insomnia, sped up depletion of essential nutrients, hair loss, lowered sex drive and suppressed immunity. It’s not good. It can become a kind of self-perpetuating, “stressing about stress”, vicious cycle.

Adaptogens to the Rescue

There is a certain class of herbs that have become known as adaptogens for their ability to help us better adapt and deal with a heightened stress response. A true adaptogen must increase the body’s ability to resist physical, chemical, or biological agents, have a normalizing influence on the stress response, and be safe and without side effects at normal doses

Ashwagandha is one of the most prized herbs in the Ayurvedic medicine materia medica. Ashwagandha falls under the adaptogen class of herbs, meaning it can safely be used long term to fortify and support the body and mind in response to all of life’s daily stressors (which seem plentiful in our current day and age!).* I’d be hard-pressed to think of someone who would not benefit from using ashwagandha at some point in their lives.

Not all ashwagandha root and powder extractions are made equal though. At Flora, we opted to use KSM-66 Ashwagandha® in our new Stressveda™ formula. KSM-66 is made by a family owned business in Rajasthan, India and has 14+ years of R&D behind it. They are a vertically-integrated company, meaning they oversee the creation of the root extract from farm to finished product. KSM-66 is made using only grade A roots and is extracted using ‘green chemistry’ with no use of alcohol or chemical solvents.

Human, placebo controlled clinical trials have found significant benefits for KSM-66 Ashwagandha® in key areas related to stress and sleep:

  • Stress: 27.9% reduction in cortisol, 71.6-77% reduction in stress test scores5
  • Stress and weight management: a 22% decrease in cortisol levels, 3% reduction in body weight, and significantly greater reductions than placebo on PSS (perceived stress scale) and FCQ (Food-Cravings Questionnaire-Trait) scores6
  • Sleep quality: significant improvements in sleep quality, time to fall asleep, and in reducing nervousness7

We have turned to plant allies like these therapeutic herbs for millenia to support us through challenging times. Herbal wisdom is at the very heart of what Flora does and we hope that these formulas are able to relax and enrich and recharge your vitality so you can get the most out of life.

References:

  1. Amsterdam JD, et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral Matricaria recutita (chamomile) extract therapy for generalized anxiety disorder.J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2009 Aug;29(4):378-82.
  2. Cerny A, Shmid K. Tolerability and efficacy of valerian/lemon balm in healthy volunteers (a double blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre study). Fitoterapia 1999;70:221-8.
  3. Ngan A, Conduit R. A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (Passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality. Phytother Res 2011;25:1153-9.
  4. Brock C, Whitehouse J, Tewfik I, Towell T. American skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora): A randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled crossover study of its effects on mood in healthy volunteers. Phytother Res. July 22, 2013.
  5. Chandrasekhar, K., et al. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of Ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian journal of psychological medicine, 34(3), 255, 2012.
  6. Choudhary, D., et al.Body Weight Management in Adults Under Chronic Stress Through Treatment With Ashwagandha Root Extract: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Journal of evidence-based complementary & alternative medicine, 22(1), 96-106, 2017.
  7. Langade, D., et al.Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha ( Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Insomnia and Anxiety: A Double – blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled study. (2019). Cureus, 11(9), e5797, 2019.