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Americans are seeking reasonable ways to cope with the high levels of stress they are experiencing.

When you add war-related news, threats of terrorism, and a frightening new disease like SARS to the normal strains of our lives, the stress is palpable, said Hyla Cass, M.D., associate clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA. Unfortunately, stress is more than unpleasant; its very dangerous Current research shows that stress plays a major role in the onset of many serious diseases.

According to Dr. Cass, stress creates a biochemical imbalance in the brain that needs to be corrected. We seek remedies because our bodies need protection from stress, she said. Sleeping pills are only a short term solution, but they dont correct the basic biochemical problem. In fact, the cycle of addiction that occurs as the brain adapts to the medication often creates a worse problem.

A better choice is a combination of lifestyle changes, simple vitamin, mineral and herbal therapies, and sometimes psychotherapy. Among her recommendations:

Drink calming beverages Cut out caffeine (found in sodas, coffee, and chocolate, for example). Drink soothing herbal teas like chamomile and peppermint.

Get more exercise Exercise is an immediate and effective stress-reducer and the most recent research shows it is an excellent antidepressant.

Get plenty of sleep Herbs like valerian and passion flower can help you sleep better.

Calm your stomach naturally Ginger and chamomile are both excellent natural nutrients for calming gastrointestinal upset.

Fight stress with adaptogens Herbs like ginseng and rhodiola help your body and mind adapt to stress, instead of the usual fight or flight stress response.

Fight depression with Essential Fatty Acids The popularity of fish and flax oils, which contain Omega 3 essential fatty acids (EFAs), is usually associated with heart health. The most recent research shows that EFAs are also effective antidepressants and may help reduce anxiety.

Improve your nutrition Stress depletes antioxidants and other nutrients. Its important to replenish them by adding more fruits and vegetables to the diet. It is also essential to take a good multivitamin every day.

Therapy can help people cope with stress. But before you take sleeping pills, or start a regimen of antidepressants, try eating a more healthful diet and adding safe, simple nutritional supplements to your diet, said Dr. Cass. These steps can be remarkably effective very quickly and easily.

For more information on nutritional supplements, including vitamins, minerals and herbs, visit This Web site, which sells no products, provides accurate, science-based information to the public, including appropriate dosages and possible interactions with medications.


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