Finding InnerCalm in Nature
There are many ways for us to take individual responsibility for our health and wellbeing. A healthy lifestyle is made up of a healthy diet, balanced mental and physical exercise and of course, time for the body itself to find its own inner balance, through periods of rest and repair.
For many people, overcoming their almost perpetual state of stress and also their individual experiences of anxiety are up in the top health considerations for modern living.
Becoming mindful of what it is we truly need, is a great start; and remembering to find 'time' to nourish our mind, body and soul may seem like just another item on the ever-growing 'to-do' list, or it can be a voyage of excitement and discovery.
So one of the things that always calls my attention, and speaks to my soul, is anything that helps me to connect into the natural world, and especially into the world of colour and vibration. Nature has a way of satisfying my spirit in a way that nothing else does. It makes me feel 'connected' and even protected.
Walking in nature helps me to release my worries, planting my flowers in garden pots, or into the soil of the earth brings me into a state of pure acceptance. Just being in the moment, enjoying the coolness of the soil, even digging the dirt out from under my nails is strangely satisfying!
Images and sounds of nature are also panaceas for almost all ills. Getting out into the fresh air, observing a vast panoramic view - all these things release my mind from any state of 'trapped-ness' that it may be experiencing in that moment.
Foods and Spices are another reminder from nature that we are surrounded by the colours, smells and tastes of a vibrant and glorious world. Even todays blog image makes me want to smile - and even sing a little!! I get uplifted and renewed by just seeing the vibrant orange of the Saffron against the yellow Turmeric and vibrant blue indigo. Amber shards of ginger crystals are more muted, along with the deep red of the chilli and rich hue of the dates...all of it reminds me of what joy there is in the exploration of what the world has to offer me...what delights there still might be for me to taste...
I'm always deeply moved too, by the extraordinary gift that each of these miraculous plants has to offer us. A cornucopia of natural chemical catalysts, nutritional elements, some of which we know, and many of which we are still yet to discover, identify and name. None-the-less, our bodies recognise a language that exists between our own cells and those nutritional gifts from nature. Like our experience of walking in the woods, watching a sunset, or gazing out across the ocean to the horizon, we 'feel' the benefit that they bring to us, even when we cannot 'name' it, or categorise it in chemical form.
As some of you may know, I am an advocate of Arbonne, and so I am excited to share one of their new releases with you!
This little package combines ashwaganda, saffron and L-theanine into a beautiful harmonious pick me-up. I love it on two levels:
1) It goes together with a little skin care package that helps to nourish skin inside and out.
(This package combines the 'SuperCalm' skin range and the 'InnerCalm Peach Green Tea Powder')
2) It is a 'stand-alone' haven of calm in our busy lives, providing powerful herbal benefits for mind and body.
This Innercalm Peach Green Tea Powder is Vegan, gluten-free and made with non-GMO ingredients. It is an amino acid and adaptogenic botanical blend that supports feelings of emotional wellbeing. (People with known medical conditions, or those who may be pregnant or breastfeeding should consult a doctor before use).
It has minimal ingredients, so that you are getting more of each ingredient that is included because it knows how to pack a powerful punch of 'goodness' into your system.
So lets break it down, and look at the huge benefits that the ingredients of this little lovely dietary supplement provides.
Benefits of Saffron
Saffron is one of the most expensive spices on Earth. Mainly due to the time and care that is required to harvest it. Saffron is the "stigma" that comes from the Crocus Sativus, and requires delicate hand picking to harvest it.
It has a long history of uses, and has been held in high esteem by many cultures, over time. I particularly love that the Phoenicians served saffron cakes to honour the moon and the Goddess of fertility – Ashtoreth.
Other attributes that have been given to Saffron include the following:
Ancient Mediterranean civilizations associated the spice with strength, sexual potency and fertility.
Ancient Egyptian healers prescribed saffron for gastrointestinal conditions.
The Romans used saffron to relieve respiratory problems and speed up wound healing.
Ayurvedic practitioners in India have used saffron as a sedative, an expectorant, and an emmenagogue.
Other traditional uses of the spice include treating spasms, colds, bronchitis, fevers and insomnia.
More recently, saffron has been used for various medicinal issues. It has been used to protect against cancer, for its anti-inflammatory actions and certain cognitive issues.
WebMD states that saffron is at least as beneficial as modern medical drugs in at least two cases: "Some studies show...oral saffron supplements may help with Alzheimer's disease. One small study found it worked as well as standard drugs in slowing down the symptoms. In addition, Saffron may also help with depression. Several small studies showed that it seemed to work as well as a common antidepressant in helping symptoms."
Saffron is also been found to lower blood pressure , improve liver metastasis outcomes  and male fertility issues , whilst also reducing the symptoms of mild to moderate depression [4, 5].
In another nod to the benefits to the reproductive system, it has also been shown to help to relieve PMS .
It may also be a Satiety Enhancer and Weight Loss Promoter ," as well as being an immune system modulator. 
Regulator of Weight
This aspect of Saffron may be attributable to research over the last few years, whereby several studies have proposed that obesity might be an inflammatory disorder [9, 10 , 11, 12]. In addition, oxidative stress has been suggested as a potential inducer of inflammatory status and susceptibility to obesity and related disorders [9, 13].
As an MBD, there is little doubt in my mind that any biological imbalance is a result of 'stress'. I also know, that inflammation is part of a healthy 'recovery' response. It is an aspect of the bodies activity of 'repair' that is actively restoring healthy tissue.
Having personally had a hypothyroid condition for many years, I know that weight gain is not solely connected to calorific parameters. Individual metabolism (based on Thyroid and Adrenal functions) and a healthy fully-functioning liver are two key factors that also affect our bodies ability to regulate our weight.
One possible strategy to support our efforts to reduce oxidative stress and improve weight regulation is to address inflammation and insulin resistance through the consumption of an antioxidant rich diet. Studies have found that a diet with high total antioxidant capacity has been found to be inversely related to central adiposity, metabolic and oxidative stress bio-markers, and risk for cardiovascular diseases [14, 15, 16].
Sexual Potency and Fertility
As seen in a couple of studies [3, 6] saffron was shown in 2009 to be beneficial to men with erectile dysfunction. Improving erectile function and sexual potency even after as little as 10 days. This obviously has emotional and psychological benefits, but is also essential for potential male fertility issues.
In 2008, during a double blind trial ., it was found to be very beneficial for women with PMS symptoms. As a TCM Acupuncturist, PMS symptoms are a flag for a degree of fertility issues. And from an MBD perspective they are also an indicator of an ongoing emotional stress related to feminine sexuality or reproductive themes. Therefore, I always advocate working on the root-cause emotional issue, alongside a therapeutic and nutritional/energetic approach.
Balance in the body is about so much more than cells and tissues, it is about our mind, our emotions and how our soul is responding to our life events.
Benefits of Ashwaganda
Known as an adaptogen, Ashwaganda is all about helping us to get the right 'balance'! Used for over 3,000 years in Ayurvedic medicine as a revitalising 'rasayana herb'.
It contains similar active ingredients to Ginseng, but studies have proved that the ingredients in Ashwagandha are in relieving stress compared to it's Asian cousin.
As a mediator of our stress responses it has an adaptogenic affect, and has been associated as a natural remedy for adrenal fatigue. According to 'Thyroid Advisor' website, it is now purchased by those with hypothyroid conditions, for its action upon thyroid stimulating hormones and active thyroid hormones via the HPT axis.
It works by directing thyroid stimulating (THS) hormone to travel to the pituitary. TSH triggers the thyroid gland to produce sufficient amounts of T4 and T3.
T4 and T3 up-regulate metabolism and cellular utilisation of energy. Once T3 has accumulated to optimal levels, the hypothalamus notes it and directs the pituitary gland to stop production of TSH.
For more information read my article on Ashwagandha and the Thyroid.
WebMD states that Ashwaganda contains chemicals that might help calm the brain, reduce swelling and inflammation,
Other benefits are reported to be that it:
Supports stress management
Encourages mental focus
Promotes homeostasis (hormonal balance in the body)
Restores better Sleep Cycles
Balances the HPA Axis (Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal)
For a list of uses and unbiased view on areas that it has been studied or investigated, VISIT WebMD.
Ashwagandha has been shown in studies to have significant effects on reducing stress levels [19, 20]. Studies showed that taking specific ashwagandha root extract (KSM66, Ixoreal Biomed) 300 mg twice daily after food or another specific extract (Shoden, Arjuna Natural Ltd.) 240 mg daily for 60 days appears to improve symptoms of stress.
For ease, I have reproduced the list of benefits that Ashwaganda may be effective for (as published on the WebMD site as of this first publication date). Many of these are noted as still requiring further evidence to verify initial findings:
Metabolic side effects caused by antipsychotic drugs. Antipsychotics are used to treat schizophrenia but they can cause levels of fat and sugar in the blood to increase. Taking a specific ashwagandha extract (Cap Strelaxin, M/s Pharmanza Herbal Pvt. Ltd.) 400 mg three times daily for one month might reduce levels of fat and sugar in the blood in people using these medications.
Anxiety. Some early research shows that taking ashwagandha can reduce some symptoms of anxious mood.
Bipolar disorder. Taking a specific ashwagandha extract (Sensoril, Natreon, Inc.) for 8 weeks might improve brain function in people being treated for bipolar disorder.
Tiredness in people treated with cancer drugs. Early research suggests taking a specific ashwagandha extract 2,000 mg (Himalaya Drug Co, New Delhi, India) during chemotherapy treatment might reduce feelings of tiredness.
Diabetes. There is some evidence that ashwagandha might reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
A type of persistent anxiety marked by exaggerated worry and tension (generalised anxiety disorder or GAD). Some clinical research shows that taking ashwagandha can reduce some symptoms of anxiety.
High cholesterol. There is some evidence that ashwagandha might reduce cholesterol levels in patients with high cholesterol.
Under active thyroid (hypothyroidism). People with under active thyroid have high blood levels of a hormone called thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). People with under active thyroid can also have low levels of thyroid hormone. Taking ashwagandha seems to lower TSH and increase thyroid hormone levels in people with a mild form of underactive thyroid.
Conditions in a man that prevent him from getting a woman pregnant within a year of trying to conceive (male infertility). Some preliminary clinical evidence suggests that ashwagandha might improve sperm quality, but not sperm count, in infertile men. It is not known if taking ashwagandha can actually improve fertility.
A type of anxiety marked by recurrent thoughts and repetitive behaviours (obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD). Early research shows that ashwagandha root extract might reduce symptoms of OCD when taken with prescribed medications for 6 weeks.
Sexual problems that prevent satisfaction during sexual activity. Early research shows that taking ashwagandha extract daily for 8 weeks along with receiving counselling increases interest in sex and sexual satisfaction in adult women with sexual dysfunction better than counselling alone.
Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Brain damage that affects muscle movement (cerebellar ataxia).
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Altering immune system function.
Preventing the signs of aging.
Ulcerations, when applied to the skin.
Benefits of L-Theanine
This is an amino acid, mostly found in green and black tea.
It has been found beneficial to help ease stress and many stress related symptoms. However, once again it is not an easy substance to isolate for pharmaceutical use, which is illustrated by the Williams et al.  study  , which stated:
"l-THE (L-Theanine) is a predominant amino acid found in tea leaves that contributes to the taste sensation called “umami”. The methods of l-THE synthesis (synthetic and biosynthetic) ... are labour intensive and time consuming and have relatively low yields of l-THE. Apparently, no current technique offers an environmentally sustainable and economically viable method for commercial production of purified l-THE. As a result, there is a considerable demand for further research in devising newer extraction and purification procedures to reduce the environmental impact and manufacturing cost of producing l-THE.
In addition, there is immense interest in l-THE as a supplement as well as a functional food ingredient for its therapeutic health benefits, including but not limited to its effects on learning ability, immune function, cancer suppression and vascular relaxation. l-THE also promotes the generation of α-waves in the brain, inducing a state of relaxation without causing a state of drowsiness. Therefore, further research is warranted to develop l-theanine as a functional food additive and to explore its role in disease prevention and health promotion."
The same study by Williams et al.  also said that L-Theanine was shown to help regulate sleep patterns, and may require further study to understand how it may interact with and negate sleep medications .
Kakuda's  study found that ingestion of l-THE (47.5 mg) inhibited incorporation of extracellular glutamine into neurons, suggesting that l-THE may improve cognitive dysfunction in elderly .
Overall, studies have indicated promising signs that the combination of ingredients in Arbonne's InnerCalm may reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, whilst also having a positive impact on further biological stress reactions. They may also increase specific reproductive outcomes related to sexual function, and may be beneficial to the signs of ageing.
This combo may support efforts in reducing lipids and blood sugars and improving inflammatory and immune-modulatory responses. As a modulator for the stress responses, this may be a great tonic for those experiencing thyroid / adrenal issues.
Blood and Spirit
As an a Acupuncturist I look at this combination and recognise how nourishing it is to the 'blood', and I note that this powerful herb has influence over functions that are associated with the organs related to blood in TCM - namely the liver, the spleen and the heart. These strongly correlate to the ability of our spirit to be anchored into the human biology through the blood itself! Hence, it is of no surprise to recognise the strong connection this herb has to the many and varied functions within the human biology which are related to our emotional-psyche life.
When our spirit is not 'anchored' well in a stable environment within ourselves, we may find ourselves more easily agitated - through our experiences, which we categorise and name as "STRESS".
As you can see, this InnerCalm Dietary Supplement by Arbonne contains a fabulous set of compound ingredients that make it beneficial for emotional and physical health.
Take it alone, or as part of the SuperCalm skin care range to enhance anti-aging and anti-inflammatory benefits both inside and out.
Please contact me if you would like to purchase, or become an Arbonne preferred Client (for annual reductions of purchase of up to 20% per purchase)
This dietary supplement does not have medical endorsement, and is not regulated by any health authorities or bodies. It is part of the Arbonne range of nutritional products that Deborah advocates and is regulated by the appropriate authorities for such products. Deborah does not have any responsibility in production of these items. Please be conscious and consider this information and your decision to use any products mentioned here, in accordance with your own further research and appropriate professional medical advise.
Ebrahimi F, Aryaeian N, Pahlavani N, et al. The effect of saffron (Crocus sativus L.) supplementation on blood pressure, and renal and liver function in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: A double-blinded, randomised clinical trial. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2019;9(4):322-333. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31309071/
Hosseini A, Mousavi SH, Ghanbari A, et al. Effect of saffron on liver metastases in patients suffering from cancers with liver metastases: A randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2015;5(5):434-440. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26468463
Shamsa A, Hosseinzadeh H, Molaei M, Shakeri MT, Rajabi O. Evaluation of Crocus sativus L. (saffron) on male erectile dysfunction: a pilot study. Phytomedicine. 2009;16(8):690-693. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2009.03.008 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19427775
Akhondzadeh, S., Fallah-Pour, H., Afkham, K. et al. Comparison of Crocus sativus L. and imipramine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: A pilot double-blind randomized trial [ISRCTN45683816]. BMC Complement Altern Med4, 12 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-4-12 https://bmccomplementalternmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6882-4-12
Mazidi M, Shemshian M, Mousavi SH, et al. A double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial of Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) in the treatment of anxiety and depression. J Complement Integr Med. 2016;13(2):195-199. doi:10.1515/jcim-2015-0043 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27101556
Agha-Hosseini M, Kashani L, Aleyaseen A, et al. Crocus sativus L. (saffron) in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: a double-blind, randomised and placebo-controlled trial. BJOG. 2008;115(4):515-519. doi:10.1111/j.1471-0528.2007.01652.x https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18271889
Mashmoul M, Azlan A, Khaza'ai H, Yusof BN, Noor SM. Saffron: A Natural Potent Antioxidant as a Promising Anti-Obesity Drug. Antioxidants (Basel). 2013;2(4):293-308. Published 2013 Oct 29. doi:10.3390/antiox2040293 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26784466
Shemshian M, Mousavi SH, Norouzy A, et al. Saffron in metabolic syndrome: its effects on antibody titers to heat-shock proteins 27, 60, 65 and 70. J Complement Integr Med. 2014;11(1):43-49. Published 2014 Feb 6. doi:10.1515/jcim-2013-0047 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24501162
Zulet, M.; Puchau, B.; Navarro, C.; Marti, A.; Martínez, J. Inflammatory biomarkers: The link between obesity and associated pathologies. Nutr. Hosp. 2007, 22, 511–527. (in Spanish). [Google Scholar] [PubMed] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17970534/
Bastard, J.-P.; Maachi, M.; Lagathu, C.; Kim, M.J.; Caron, M.; Vidal, H.; Capeau, J.; Feve, B. Recent advances in the relationship between obesity, inflammation, and insulin resistance. Eur. Cytokine Netw. 2006, 17, 4–12. [Google Scholar] [PubMed] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16613757/
Das, U. Is obesity an inflammatory condition? Nutrition 2001, 17, 953–966. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0899900701006724?via%3Dihub
Dandona, P.; Aljada, A.; Bandyopadhyay, A. Inflammation: The link between insulin resistance, obesity and diabetes. Trends Immunol. 2004, 25, 4–7. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] https://www.cell.com/trends/immunology/fulltext/S1471-4906(03)00336-3
Codoñer-Franch, P.; Valls-Bellés, V.; Arilla-Codoñer, A.; Alonso-Iglesias, E. Oxidant mechanisms in childhood obesity: The link between inflammation and oxidative stress. Transl. Res. 2011, 158, 369–384. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1931524411002647
Vincent, H.K.; Innes, K.E.; Vincent, K.R. Oxidative stress and potential interventions to reduce oxidative stress in overweight and obesity. Diabetes Obes. Metab. 2007, 9, 813–839. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] https://dom-pubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1463-1326.2007.00692.x
Abete, I.; Goyenechea, E.; Zulet, M.; Martinez, J. Obesity and metabolic syndrome: Potential benefit from specific nutritional components. Nutr. Metab. Cardiovasc. Dis. 2011, 21, B1–B15. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0939475311001293?via%3Dihub
Hermsdorff, H.; Puchau, B.; Volp, A.; Barbosa, K.; Bressan, J.; Zulet, M.Á.; Martínez, J.A. Dietary total antioxidant capacity is inversely related to central adiposity as well as to metabolic and oxidative stress markers in healthy young adults. Nutr. Metab. (Lond.) 2011, 8. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] https://nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-7075-8-59
Nam, K.N.; Park, Y.-M.; Jung, H.-J.; Lee, J.Y.; Min, B.D.; Park, S.-U.; Jung, W.-S.; Cho, K.-H.; Park, J.-H.; Kang, I.; et al. Anti-inflammatory effects of crocin and crocetin in rat brain microglial cells. Eur. J. Pharmacol. 2010, 648, 110–116. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0014299910008836?via%3Dihub
[online: 28.07.2020] https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/qa/why-do-people-take-saffron
Bhattacharya SK, Muruganandam AV. Adaptogenic activity of Withania somnifera: an experimental study using a rat model of chronic stress. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2003;75(3):547-555. doi:10.1016/s0091-3057(03)00110-2
Malhotra, C. L., Mehta, V. L., Das, P. K., and Dhalla, N. S. Studies on Withania-ashwagandha, Kaul. V. The effect of total alkaloids (ashwagandholine) on the central nervous system. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1965;9(3):127-136.
Williams, J.; Kellett, J.; Roach, P.D.; McKune, A.; Mellor, D.; Thomas, J.; Naumovski, N. l-Theanine as a Functional Food Additive: Its Role in Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Beverages2016, 2, 13.