Stress, Fatigue and Garlic

With the 8-5 drill of work each day, 5-6 days a week, we accumulate a lot of stress in our bodies and minds.  Letting go and relaxing can be difficult.  All too often we resort to alcohol and even drugs, whether prescription or illicit.  It may be an attempt to self-medicate, either to bring ourselves to rest or to stimulate ourselves out of a constricted existence or constant weariness.  We want to feel a sense of normalcy, we want to be able to “breathe,”  to feel in touch with our thoughts and feelings,  to feel good, calm, strong and rested, not on a constant racing treadmill of panic, stress and fatigue.

Though some nations around the world are reducing the number of days and hours, the work week won’t be changing any time soon; so, most probably, stress will be a constant in our busy lives.  Alcohol and drugs are  obviously not the solution.  Though they temporarily may give the sensation of relief, in the end, the user suffers withdrawal aftermath, depleting the body’s nutritional stores, and only exacerbating the symptoms of stress: all of which increases exhaustion that may lead to mental and physical degeneration, and illness.

The solution to stress and fatigue lies in a balanced approach:  managing stress, ridding our organism of excessive stimulants, such as caffeine, alcohol, drugs, and too much sugar and sweets, which can deplete precious vitamins and minerals from our bodies and/or induce hyper-activity.  Of paramount importance is eating nutritious food, which means abundant in vegetables and fruits, with sufficient sources of protein.  A properly balanced diet  combined with rest and exercise is the simple formula for good health.

Nutrition is Paramount

Nutrients from food play a major role in every aspect of our health, from mental and physical function and endurance, to mood and emotional stability.    For example, a deficiency in the B-complex vitamins can result in extreme nervousness, tension, insomnia, trembling, even an irascibile, quarrelsome mood.  Just as the B vitamins are essential to the healthy function of every nerve in our bodies, calcium serves to relax the nerve tissues, while magnesium, also essential to the nerves, takes part in the normal function of the brain and spinal cord.

The best sources of the de-stressor vitamins and minerals are whole foods, though supplements can also help.  Whole grain (brown) rice, as just one example, contains all of the B-complex vitamins.  Beans and turkey both contain tryptophan, which help induce sleep.  Herbs and herbal teas, such as Chamomile, can also help relax the nerves; Valerian root and St. John’s Wort may help restore a happier and more restful disposition.

Garlic Fights Stress and Fatigue

As a restorative herb, garlic can play a major role in balancing a stressful life and a fatigued body.  Besides protecting  us against a whole host of diseases and conditions, including high blood pressure and hypertension  (which already should give us a good measure of relief!!), garlic serves as a tonic, that is, it works to actually REDUCE fatigue and other symptoms of stress in the body.  It also works to increase energy levels, improve physical stamina and even extend our life expectancy!

The use of garlic as a tonic was well known even in ancient times.  The Egyptians gave garlic to the slaves that built the Pyramids, who, history reports, rebelled when there was a shortage of it. For them garlic was a life saving herb in that it not only helped the slaves resist disease, but  restored energy, and reduced fatigue.

Scientific Studies on Garlic

Today, scientific experiments with both mice and human subjects prove the effectiveness of garlic and explain how garlic reduces the effects of stress.

In the early 1980’s, Japanese studies on one thousand human patients with fatigue, depression and anxiety symptoms were given garlic extract along with vitamins for a month.  At the end of this period, 50-80 percent of the patients reported relief from their symptoms.  In another similar antifatigue experiment, 122 patients with stress related symptoms were given garlic extract and vitamins.  Some of the symptoms included, general fatigue, eyestrain, shortness of breath, stiff shoulders, lower back pain, weakness, headache, dizziness, appetite loss, constipation, numbness in the  limbs and cold feet and hands.  The study lasted for four to eight weeks.  At the study’s conclusion, 90.7 percent of patients reported an improvement in their fatigue.  Another 85.7 percent improved in general physical discomfort, including 82.5 percent for lower back pain, and 83.3 percent for coldness of the limbs.  Part of the group took the garlic and vitamins for four weeks and the other part for eight weeks.  The group that took the garlic extract for  the longer period of time reported the most improvement.  This study was repeated with the same results, showing that symptoms either disappeared or became minor.  And, again, those who took the garlic and vitamin supplments for the longest period of time, showed the greatest improvement, especially in overcoming weakness and fatigue.

More recent research by Dr. Benjamin Lau of the Loma Linda University in California, documents and scientifically confirms the benefits of using garlic to reduce stress and fatigue.  Dr. Benjamin Lau, M.D., Ph.D. is a professor of Microbiology, Immunology, and Surgery  at the University’s School of Medicine.  His book on the subject, Garlic and You: The Modern Medicine, was first published in 1996 and has a new edition out in 2010.

More research is still needed to better understand the actual mechanism by which garlic reduces fatigue.  Nevertheless, there is evidence suggesting that the adrenal glands’ response to stress is somehow affected by garlic, reducing the amount of stress hormones produced, and thus reducing fatigue.   Garlic’s anti-oxidant properties also play a role in fighting fatigue-causing free radicals; in particular is the mineral selenium, which garlic contains in the highest amounts among foods.

Eat Garlic and live to be a Hundred!

By reducing stress and increasing our energy, garlic also helps us live longer.  In Dr. John Heinerman’s book, The Healing Benefits of Garlic, he recounts a survey taken of 8,500 people who had lived to over one hundred years of age.  Two foods in particular stood out in a list of their eating habits, onions and GARLIC!!  Truly, when  consistently included in a healthy diet and lifestyle, garlic can be our life-boosting tonic and lifelong saving grace!

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