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Adaptogens for Beauty!?

Ever been through a severe period of stress and sworn you have gained about 900 grey hairs (unfortunately not in one sophisticated streak) and wrinkles to match? Turns out that maybe you are not tripping! Yes, you see cortisol and all the agitated stress that causes its release can cause premature aging. So although you may be thinking you are going to age gracefully ending up in looking like Jane Fonda, you may be hurtling towards Golum.

So whats happening here? Why does stress cause premature aging? Well, ladies - let me count the ways... and this list is totally not exhaustive ( although quite exhausting)

Stress really f's up the immune system. This of course can cause bigger issues than having a few wrinkles but can also reduce the first defences in the skin. This means you might suddenly become allergic to your fave creams and get a rash.

Stress increases free radicals Being under pressure up regulates metabolism and thereby increases free radicals which cause damage to your tissues and DNA! AHHHH!

Stress reduces collagen synthesis. It does this is two ways- by reducing the absorption of nutrients so your poor bod don't get the nutrients it needs to make collagen and secondly it reduces circulation to the periphery, thereby reducing collagen regeneration and healing.

Stress messes with gut flora. Yes, the lovely cortisol changes the pH in the gut which for some lovely reason allows the bad guys to proliferate more freely and the good guys to get forced out. This means you may be more prone to gut stuff but also reduced nutrient absorption and reabsorbtion of hormones that are supposed to be excreted and that means the dreaded wrinkles and pimples- at the same time.

Stress messes with hormonal balance Yes, I wont go into the minutiae but stress effects hormones en masse from both a higher brain level and then down into your bits. This can mean reduced or increased sebum synthesis resulting in either the pimple brigade or the wrinkle brigade or both.

Stress can bugger the melanocytes - the jury is out but there is the thought that stress can at once cause hyperpigmentation ( thats those dark patches that are super hard to cover with concealer) and depigmentation in the hair ( thats those grey hairs that are super hard to cover with hair dye) Perfect!

So, there is no magic bullet . You have to address your stressors. Look at the things you can change and make the changes. Talk to a friend or a professional. See you doctor. Do your homework. Take care of your diet.

Herbs called adaptogens are also really helpful to try and minimise the physiological and psychological effects of stress and the effects that stress have on your appearance. The key adaptogen for those worried about the effect that stress has on their dial is schisandra.

A berry from traditional Chinese medicine, schisandra is a potent true adaptogen, reducing the physiological effects of stress on the body but also has other key actions which make it the perfect beauty boosting stress berry. Schisandra promotes tightness and moisture in the skin and also enhances circulation for nutrient delivery and collagen synthesis. It also helps to detoxify through the liver so perfect for those who get hit with the monthly pimple plus wrinkles battle. Schisandra is also packed full of antioxidants which help to reduce the damage from free radicals which are ramped up when the bod is under pressure!

It is the five flavour berry so has a pleasant flavour and the benefits are so varied! Every fellow naturopath I know , when i mention schisandra , says " I love that herb" and I can see why!

Schisandra is the key adaptogen in Pretty Brew