31  Anti-Stress Biohacks

Part 1
Anti stress biohacks

The Definitive Guide To Biohacking Your Stress 

Author AJ James
31% Of People Have Chronic Stress Levels

It's A Dangerous Worldwide Problem

Your health and your stress levels are inextricably linked

Everyone has some degree of discomfort in their life - It's unavoidable, but what many people don't know is that elevated cortisol as the result of a stressful lifestyle can lead to some very harmful health effects.

Stress & your health
As the stressful effects of anxiety, mental anguish, and tension take hold, health seems to correlatively take an inverse dive meaning what happens in your mind can manifest physically.

Cortisol - The death hormone

The mentally oppressive nature of stress convinces our body to release a hormone called cortisol, which is intended to help us deal with what you probably know as the  "fight or flight" response.

 

Increased cortisol helps break down tissue to be used for bursts of energy.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of the time this adrenal hormone is released, the human body isn't really in survival mode but rather is dealing with psychological pressure.  

 

As your body is in a constant process of breaking down molecules and rebuilding, all this extra work can lead to a myriad of negative effects which will be discussed further down the page.

 

Fighting the fight or flight

What we know for sure is that reducing stress levels is good for your physical and psychological health so, it obviously stands to reason that these 31 anti-stress biohacks could be very helpful for a number of reasons.

Biohacked question marks
So, Now What?

What's The Next Move?

 

Counter the effects of being stressed out
What we all need to know is what we can do to make the process happen a little faster and how to get a good night of sleep that leaves us rested and genuinely recovered.

Everything you need is here
All the science-backed stress-reduction biohacks are here.   The vast majority are practical and actionable, making it easy to start biohacking your stressed-out lifestyle immediately.

 

Now is the time to get started
But before we look at reducing your stress levels, let's take a moment to understand why it's incredibly important to do so.

What Is Stress?
reading anti-stress biohacks
Before We Start Biohacking Your Stress Levels

You Might Care To Know Some Things

Stress factors

There are many numbers of situations, events, and occurrences that can cause a stressful reaction and it's usually a different set of triggers for every person.

So, while we can not avoid every single thing in life that creates anxiety and a stressed consciousness, what we can do is be wary of our own particular set of trigger factors and learn to deal, diminish, and avoid, depending on which is the pragmatic option at the time.

Meltdown from pressure
Grave of a stressed out person
What Exactly Is Stress?

The Big Picture

Pressure/worry/anxiety/fear

There are many synonyms for stress, but the one thing we can pinpoint for sure is that too much is bad. 

The pressure of dealing with situations can have a psychological impact that actually results in biological alterations as our bodies produce different chemicals to cope with the impact of fear.

Fight, flight, or fright

As mentioned above, when we are in one of these anxious states, our brain has a hard time making the distinction between the kind of fear that some like embarrassment may cause vs being in genuine physical danger.

This is an issue because of the destructive hormone named cortisol that is released in order to give the body an immediate boost of energy as it catabolizes muscle tissue for survival which when done on a consistent basis (chronic stress), can lead to health problems of the most dangerous type.

You probably already know this but...

Adrenocorticotropic hormone molecule
Stress kills

Through Many Means

Accelerated aging

Every time a US president leaves office at the end of his term, he is said to have aged considerably.  Look at Obama's relatively youthful appearance compared to his aged, greyed demeanor, post service.

That is what one of the most stressful jobs on the planet can do.   There's a very real effect of aging due to chronically elevated stress levels.  It's something that many CEOs, politicians, managers, and people in high-risk jobs know all too well.

Sudden death

In a really interesting summation in the Harvard Medical School Health Blog, Takotsubo cardiomyopathy (stress-related heart issue) is believed to be almost twice as likely to be found in people suffering from the neurological effects of shock. (1)

This goes to show that significant psychological anxiety can be potentially fatal at its most extreme conclusion.

It can increase hypertension

High blood pressure is a significant factor in mortality rates.  If you have it, your chances of death increase dramatically.

The position of being stressed can contribute to an increased level of hypertension (high blood pressure) which given enough time could be quite a serious issue.

 

How Stress Affects Your Body

According To Science

 

ACTH

As previously mentioned, a heightened state of anxiety creates a hormonal effect in your body as it rushes to produce adreno-chemicals to facilitate a fight or flight response.

Adrenocorticotropic hormone is released in the pituitary gland which then signals the production of norepinephrine and epinephrine which you may already know as the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline.

Once these hormones reach your bloodstream vis the nervous system, several distressing changes to your body occur: 

 

Faster heart-rate

In theory, this is a biological advantage in situations requiring extra strength, however, this is potentially dangerous, especially to someone who may neither be in good health nor have particularly good cardiovascular fitness.

Bronchiole efficiency

As adrenal hormones enter the bloodstream the bronchioles of the respiratory system enlarge in order to allow improved blood flow for lipid and glucose utilization. (2)

This can be a double-edged sword because increased pulmonary action may place strain on the already increased workload of the heart.

List of adrenal hormones
Is That Everything?

Wait, There's More...

A stressed body isn't always bad

Many of the things we do that stress the body like exercise, stretching, and temperature conditioning can have beneficial results.  This hormetic effect (hormesis) is a fairly constant topic of conversation among biohackers and in biohacking circles.

Sometimes a little of what is bad for you in big doses is extremely healthful.

Should we all avoid stress?

NO!

Not only is this a bad idea to think plausible (because it's impossible to avoid all stressors) but learning to manage stress and deal with fear can make you more adept at being able to face the inevitable high-anxiety events in life that will arise at some point.

It's better to be prepared with a plan and a pattern of behavior regulation.

Stressed levels
Can I Manage My Stress?

Is It Even Possible?

You can

The vast majority of psychological stressors are things that can be dealt with through a variety of means.  These 30 anti-stress biohacks cover a fair few ways to manage the anxiety of fear.

Sure, some occurrences in life are so impacting and huge that it's far too trite to just say they can be waved away with a few simple changes but to live life is to encounter highly improbable events with a seemingly contradictory chance of probability.

It's better to have the knowledge than not.

Facing fear

Many people worry that in dealing with anxiety and mental stress that they're going to be forced to face incontrovertible fears in order to find a resolution.

Don't panic.  This is not the case in the vast majority of solutions to stress management.  

There's no point worrying about {worrying about} worrying...

 

Just one important question before we see the biohacks...

Can You Really Fight Stress?
Range of emotions happy, sad, and angry
It's Absolutely Possible

With Biohacking

 

How?

For every single occurrence in life that elicits an emotional response, there (sort of) exists its counter. 

 

That isn't to say emotional stressors can be eliminated or that dealing with all the issues that leave you stressed out will necessarily be in perfect balance, but there are many ways to lessen the negative effects of stress to a point of acceptability in many situations.

Biohacking For Stress-Management

Unlike most stress-management, this page isn't going to tell you just "be happy" and send you on your way empty-handed and filled with pointless platitudes that are as weak are they are worthless.

Fighting anxiety can require a several-pronged approach that can help, not just physiologically but also at a biological level.

Types of stress

If you're a living breathing human being which most of you reading this are (I'm watching you A.I), then there are going to be a number of potential stressors that you can encounter in life.​

For some of you, your life might consist of having a great job but your romantic relationship is terrible, for others, it may be vice versa.  

The only certain thing is that you'll experience many forms of stress and it's a great idea to have coping mechanisms in order to manage the anxiety these stressors can produce.

Physical stressor
Psychological stressor
Physical Stress
 Kinetic Body Stressors

 

Pain in the body - Pain in the mind

Physical stress on the body can be excruciatingly painful at times and can place all your biological systems under immense pressure.

Most people at some point in their life experience injuries that apart from the physical pain, place a huge tax on their mental well-being.

Types of physical stressors

Physical stressors may include:​

Injury

Exhaustion

Surgical Procedures

Toxin Exposure

Unhealthy Eating

Diminished Oxygen Intake

Lack Of Adequate Hydration

Infection

All of which affect both the body and mind.

Psychological Stress
Inward Mental Pressure

Emotional pressures

Another unavoidable part of the human experience, emotional stressors comes from how we react to the world around us.  For people who struggle, this can be a constant issue requiring much education and support.

Types of psychological stressors

Psychological stressors may include:

Severe Anxiety

Jealous Mindset

Depressive Behavior

Anger Issues

Rational & Irrational Fear

Anxiety-Attacks

At the very worst end of the scale, these can be some of the most harrowing feelings a person can experience.

 

Financial Issues

Family Dysfunction

Marriage Disatissfaction

Any one of these things can make life a lot more difficult but some people experience many at once which can lead to the type of severe mental pressure that may become quite unhealthy. 

Sudden stressor
Acute Stress
Sudden Impact 

Manageability

Acute stressors are those occurrences that are sudden and require an immediate reaction.

Not all forms of acute stress are necessarily bad.   Playing sport and reacting to ups and downs based on the score is an example of a perfectly healthy and normal activity filled with acute stressors.

Types of acute stressors

Acute stressors may include:

 

Reactions During Sport

Changes In Plans

Sudden Traffic Issues

Breaking A Household Object

Accidents

These are all part of the normal day-to-day rubric of life.

Long Term Disposition of distress
Chronic Stress
Long Term Issues 

Problems that won't go away

Life pressures that are constant and possibly unrelenting can be very difficult to deal with no matter how skilled or adept you are at stress-management strategies.

Chronic stressors are those occurrences that must be dealt with on a regular basis over an extended period of time.

Types of chronic stressors

Chronic stressors may include:

A Negative Place Of Employment

Financial Issues

Family Dysfunction

Marriage Disatissfaction

Any one of these things can make life a lot more difficult but some people experience many at once which can lead to the type of severe mental pressure that may become quite unhealthy. 

Psychosocial Stress
Interpersonal Related

Social pressures

Psychosocial stressors are those interaction-based, social pressures.  

These can come from basic human interactions but mostly stem from relationships.

Types of psychosocial stressors

Psychosocial stressors may include:

Loneliness

Bereavement

Social Ostracization

Marriage Altercations

Social Anxiety

Many of these can fall under the other categories as they could potentially be acute or chronic. 

Psychosocial pressure
Episodic Acute stressing
Episodic Acute Stress
Regular Exposure

Haphazard events

Some stressors are neither acute nor chronic but happen with an unpredictable regularity.   These are called episodic acute.  

It may be poor skills that lead to circumstances such as regular traffic infractions or motor accidents.  It may be a run of bad luck where things just don't go your way.

Types of episodic acute stressors

Episodic acute stressors may include:

Experiencing Constant Car Breakdowns

Exposure To An Individual With Anger Issues

Proximity To Someone Experiencing Psychological Issues

Some of these become chronic when they become long-term with predictable occurrences.

Cluster of questions
 Can A Normal Person Fight Anxiety Stressors?

Can You Beat This?

Most issues have at least some key strategies that can be implemented in order to reduce and relieve the mental strain associated with stress.  

Let's take a look at some biohacks that could help.

Let's Begin
Anti-anxiety education
Let's Biohack Your Stress Levels

Time To Get Started

 

3,2,1

Okay, let's take a look at these stress-reducing hacks and learn how to cope with mental pressure.

You're ready to begin

Now that you understand why we get stressed and the stressors that affect our lifestyle, biohacking your stress to achieve maximum happiness will be starting to sound like a fantastic proposition.

If you've made it this far and don't know what biohacking is you can check out this page:

What is biohacking?

 

That should explain things nicely and have you excited to apply all of our biohacks to improving your life and evolving your mind.

Let's see our first biohack:

Starting at number 31...

31. Non-Functional Mastication

Chew gum to calm distress
A.K.A Chewing Gum 

Destress With Chewing

Is it really true that chewing can lower your stress levels?

It actually is true and for many sporting celebrities, it's a bit of an inside trick.

Many sports stars chew gum to relieve tension and keep their minds focussed on the high-pressure environment they revel in.

Gum can be used to lower anxiety and help bring about a calming effect.

It's not actually the gum - It's the chewing

Technically, the act of chewing is what helps relieve the effects of stressors, but because it's clearly untenable to eat all day (though some do try) in order to relieve anxiety, calorie-free gum can literally help to fill the void.

Non-Functional Mastication is basically chewing without actually eating anything and that's where gum is exceedingly useful.

It's backed by hard science data

When it comes to destressing, chewing gum has some sound science to back its effectiveness. 

Let's take a look at how using gum can help to biohack your stress levels...

Masticating jaw
The Science Of Chewing 

How It Affects Disposition

Chewing alleviates a negative mood

In a study by the Tokyo Dental College, they found that chewing helps to prevent the noradrenaline release that occurs when a subject is feeling stressed. (3)

How does this work?

It appears that chewing may affect the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis through the stimulation of the brain's right prefrontal cortex which plays a large role in the stress response system.

Another study shows a direct correlation between mastication (chewing) and higher production of catecholamines and plasma corticosterone whilst reducing salivary levels of cortisol which is highly present in stressed people. (4)

Increased mental performance

It seems that the decrease in cortisol production (stress hormone) that comes from chewing may increase the subject's mental acuity.

In a study of 133 people, those who chewed gum were shown to acquire a higher level of alertness, faster reaction times, and a more positive mood, (5)

Baseball fun for a good mood
Psychological Advantage

Sporting Chance

Boosting performance

Many high-level athletes chew gum to assist with a reduction in nerves. This Non-Functional Mastication gives all the benefits of eating (sans the calories) without the digestive toll.

At the peak level of competitive sport, the extra boost to perceptive skill can be the difference between winning or losing, and as cited in the above study, an increase in alertness may be an invaluable addition to an already skillful champion. 

Combating anxiousness 

Playing a sport in front of thousands of people is nerve-racking, even for the professionals.  Chewing gum has helped hundreds of high-level pros as well as amateurs to combat the distress and intense mental pressure that comes with playing an important game.​

From baseballers, and tennis pros, to international cricketers, chewing gum might well have played a crucial role in settling their nerves and assisting them to victory.

Is gum for mood control safe?
Is Chewing Gum Safe
Cautions

Gum safety

Okay, ​the idea of gum being dangerous might sound ridiculous to some but like most things, there are some precautions when it comes to chewing gum

Choking hazard

There is always the potential for anything that you eat to be a choking hazard but where gum differs is that because you don't swallow it, it's easy to tune out and forget you're even chewing it.

Where this becomes a greater danger is when you're tired and drift off to sleep with the gum in your mouth.   This happens a lot more than you may believe.   So, it's important to be aware of this possibility.

Laxative effect

Most gum (although not all) now comes sugar-free but the sweeteners may contain sugar alcohols such as maltitol and lactitol which when consumed in greater than modest amounts can cause gastrointestinal distress.

This internal upset can manifest in a laxative-like effect which could be pretty troubling unless that's exactly the outcome you were looking for.

So, to summarize:

> Chewing gum can reduce anxiety

> Science shows a positive effect of chewing, on stressed subjects

> Too much sugarfree gum could have you running for the bathroom

AJ's Biohack Rating:​

[7.0/10]

AJ James biohacker talking about chewing gum for stress relief

AJ Says:

"Chewing gum for 2 hours per day could burn you an extra 8000+ calories per year or almost 2 pounds of fat - Nice! "

Time for a biohacked drink...

30. Matricaria Recutita

Calming chamomile tea
Calming Chamomile Tea

Not Just For Bedtime

Well known sleep remedy

You've probably spotted Matricaria Recutita (chamomile) tea on the shelf at a supermarket or health food store, in fact, you may even know someone who swears by how good it is as a sleeping aid.

Chamomile relaxes

It's the relaxation properties of chamomile (Matricaria Recutita) tea that make it such a great biohack for relieving anxiety and mental strain.

It is becoming a lot more popular as a remedy for anxiousness in addition to helping with relaxation.

Science says its calming properties work

We'll delve into the science of chamomile tea a little bit down but it's exciting to see such a readily available natural product with some sound scientific backing.

Apigenin compound in test tube
 Apigenin & Rare Aminos

Superpowered Antioxidant

Powerful health substance

Also known 4′,5,7-trihydroxyflavone, apigenin which is found in chamomile tea has an abundance of health-related properties but for the purposes of this biohack, it's all about how this antioxidant powerhouse can help you to relax.

Muscle relaxing

in a study on women suffering from dysmenorrhea, chamomile tea was shown to help reduce the painful effects of muscle cramps. 

 

This has been theorized to be rare forms of amino acids contained in the tea but the exact reason has not yet decisively been concluded, but its effectiveness has. (6)

Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
 Chamomile Side Effects​

Possible Cautions?

It's really quite safe

Chamomile tea is a natural tea product and like most natural remedies, it's pretty safe to consume regularly.   There are a couple of cautions to observe, though.

Pregnancy

DIt's not recommended to consume chamomile tea during pregnancy.  While it's not proven to have any effect whatsoever on unborn feti (fetuses), not enough research has been done to definitively know either way. 

Endometriosis

You should not consume chamomile tea if you have a history of endometriosis or any uterine fibroid issues.

Pollen Allergies

People with pollen allergies may find chamomile tea to be an allergen.

 

So, to summarize:

> Science says chamomile tea is an effective anti-anxiety remedy

> It may help relax muscles and it has a powerful anti-oxidant effect.

> It is free of side effects for the majority of people, but there are a couple of cautions.

AJ's Biohack Rating:​

[7.1/10]

side effects of Matricaria recuita
GABA-Promoting
Anti-Anxiety 

The science is sound

In an 8-week study into the effects of chamomile tea on anxiety, the results found that consumption of chamomile in the doses prescribed in the study found that it was ostensibly as effective as anxiolytic drugs at relieving depression and the anxious effects of psychological pressures. (7)

Why this is amazing

If you look at the aforementioned study, that's actually a huge deal.   It effectively means that those harsh anti-depressant anxiolytic medications with their side effects were not much more efficacious than the humble chamomile tea leave.   ​

GABA

Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid is a neurotransmitter that affects mood. (8

Chamomile tea helps in the efficiency of GABA uptake, which may be one of the primary reasons that studies confirm the positive effects of chamomile tea on stress and anxiety.

 

AJ talking about biohacking with calming chamoile tea

AJ Says:

"Chamomile tea is a fairly useful sleep-biohack because of its relaxant properties so it stands to reason it makes a pretty decent calmative"

Time for our next diet-based anti-stress biohack...

29. Glucose Management

blood sugar monitor
Blood Glucose Effects Mood

Beat The Sugar Blues

Ups and downs

Something that is gaining traction in the field of fighting depression is the concept of controlling blood sugar in order to keep one's mood steady.

Spiked blood glucose can lead to low moods

You're probably well aware of how with every blood sugar high, there's a concomitant and unavoidable low.   It can go so far as to cause sadness, anxiety, and elevated feelings of being stressed out.

Control can help

Controlling both the amount of blood sugar and the frequency of consumption can go someway towards biohacking your stress levels and can even have a couple of really positive bonus effects.

Let's look at how to avoid the melancholic effects of sugar on mood...

Sugar's effect on temperament
Managing Glucose

Managing Stress

Harness the power of alternatives

There are many options when it comes to avoiding sugar if you're looking for positive changes in your mood.   

 

Alternatives such as stevia, monk fruit extract, and xylitol can help replace the sweetness factor in food as well as dramatically reduce the caloric content.

Carb biohacking

You can biohack the way your body absorbs, processes, and stores carbohydrates by carb biohacking.

Products like Berberine and Bitter Melon can help reduce the impact of carbohydrates on your blood sugar and possibly reduce the effects of said carbs on your mood.

Lowering carbs intake

To perform most routine tasks with maximum efficiency, you need to have some carbohydrates in your diet.   That said, you may not need to be consuming quite as many as you do.   

 

Some people by increasing a small amount of saturated fat and omega 3 fatty acids in their diets, while reducing some carbs, can often improve overall health, energy, and attitude.

Why Sugar Effects Temperament​

Two Ways

The Cambridge University Study

Over 3000 people were subject to an analysis of dietary behaviors in a Cambridge University study that concluded that the long term effects of excess sugar consumption could result in changes in levels of ω-3 fatty acids in the blood as well as increases in issues that escalate the pathogenesis of depression such as inflammation and coronary heart diseases. (9)

 

Mood fluctuation study

There are several studies citing erratic blood sugar as having a causal link to anxiety and mood disorders.

One study, in particular, shows that people who had their blood sugar monitored in relation to their disposition were found to experience significant effects on their mood. (10)

Your blood glucose & temperament

So, it appears that ingesting sugar in moderate to large amounts can have a serious impact on how you feel in the short term as well as having the potential to cause further alterations in mood in the long term when consumed regularly.

glucose molecular structure
Carb monitoring for mood enhancement
Should You Go Low Carb?

Fat burning + Mood Enhancement?

NO!

Low-carb diets can be some of the least healthy on the planet.  ​

They are pretty effective at causing weight loss but they can have very negative effects on sleep, energy, and hormones - All of which are directly related to mood, temper, and anxiety levels.

But don't low-carb diets work best?

Actually, they don't. 

If you train, then you'll likely suffer significant losses in energy and strength output resulting in a reduction in training benefits.

If you're just trying to lose weight, the lack of sleep could drastically increase cortisol levels leading to muscle loss and poorer body recomposition.

Carbs good, sugar bad

If you're trying to achieve lowered stress levels then having some carbs can actually improve your mood. 

The key is not to overdo it and not to have too many sugary carbohydrates in any one meal.

So, to summarize:

> Sugar does short-term and long-term damage to your anxiety levels

> Carb control can help balance your reaction

> Low carbs is not the answer because it may make things worse

AJ's Biohack Rating:​

[7.4/10]

AJ rating the blood sugar biohack for relieving anxiety

AJ Says:

"You need carbs for energy but not so many that they give you the sugar-blues, crash your energy levels, and put you in a bad mood."

Right on time for one of my absolute favorite anti-stress biohacks...

28. AMSR

Music symbols for happiness
Let Music Soothe You
Sound's Like A Plan

ASMR

Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is the resulting psychological and biological reaction to sound.  This feeling has been proven to make people calmer, happy, and more temperate.

Destress with some tunes

Everyone knows that music can be a great tool for helping you relax, unwind and destress.

Studies have been undertaken to find out exactly why music can be a useful therapy for stressfulness and the results are pretty easy to understand.

 

Positive brain chemistry

Music can elicit thoughts of happiness, enjoyment, and hope.   All things that can lead to positive increases in dopamine in the brain.

Increased happiness

Music is one of the easiest ways to attain an elevated mood.  It's cheap/free and requires very little effort to enjoy.

Let's take a look at how music therapy can be used as an efficacious stress-fighting tool...

have never heard of...

Musical frisson emotional explosion
What is ASMR?

Feeling The Vibe​

Experience the chills?

If you've ever had the pleasure of listening to a piece of music and having literal chills over your body, even including goosebumps then you've experienced musical frisson, this is known as autonomous sensory meridian response and is what you're looking to achieve.

It's a very pleasurable sensation and as such has a comparatively affirmative effect on mood.  

French origin

It's no secret that many of the great composers of the past were European, so, it would come as no surprise that the word frisson is French meaning "shiver". 

ASMR devices

In recent times companies have developed AMSR devices that concentrate on eliciting the frisson feeling thus making you feel relaxed and calm.  They can use sounds that aren't necessarily music and may even be humming noises on a relaxing frequency.

Neural activity from happy sounds
Why Music Makes You Happier​

The Dopamine Kick

Increased neural activity

When you listen to music there is a subsequent elevation in the amount of neuronal stimulation in your brain.  This is pretty well documented in terms of playing a role in increased intelligence. (11)

When this increase in neural activity is due to a positive (not negative) effect, dopamine (the happy hormone) increases which can help relieve the effect of environmental distress and anxiety in less than 12 minutes according to a 2012 study on music and happiness. (12)

Reduction in cortisol

Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone or sometimes the "death" hormone due to its negative effects on health and mental well-being.

In a 2013 study on the effect of music on the human stress response, subjects who listened to music for the duration of the investigation were found to have lowered salivary cortisol levels, showing that exposure to music may indeed protect us from the effects of everyday anxiety. (13)

How to use asmr for happiness
How To Employ Sound Frisson

The Best Method For Stress-Relief

Choose your genre

Classical music has been (by the above-cited studies) shown to work on people from any background.

 

When it comes to more personal tastes, the music should be uplifting and preferably contain lyrical content that is enjoyable, light-hearted, and positive.  ​  

 

It doesn't have to be easy listening

Obviously, easy listening styles of music lend themselves to being superior for music therapy but personal taste plays a huge role in whether the songs can make you feel good.​

Just as music can be a positive, listening to depressing music with a dark subject matter can be detrimental to some folk's psychological health.  Again, completely dependent on the person and their taste/tolerance.

Try an ASMR device

These are specialized headphones designed to emit a very specific frequency that can allot for instant frisson and stress relief. You can purchase them online and they are usually a little more expensive but can hit specialized frequencies with greater ease.

So, to summarize:

> ASMR increases happy hormones and decreases stressors

> Most music is suitable, positive songs and classical music work best

> Musical frisson is the ultimate feeling from the appreciation of music

AJ's Biohack Rating:​

[7.5/10]

AJ James singing about his favorite biohacks, music

AJ Says:

"Music can be a huge motivational tool to help you get things done.   Some of the happiest people I've ever met listen to A LOT of music. "

The next biohack uses something you probably have never heard of...

27. Passionflower

Passionflower anxiolytic
Natural Anxiety Relief

Science-Based Herbal Support

All-natural

There are a lot of synthetic anti-anxiety medications (anxiolytics) on the market, the vast majority of which are very powerful and work as intended but there can be a laundry list of side effects that may be too much for many people to find tenable.

Passionflower is a natural stress-reliever and may be considered far less potentially harmful.

Health benefits

Apart from improving mood and calm, passionflower also has some useful health benefits which we'll cover further down.

Easy to acquire

The good news is this once-rare and hard-to-find product is actually quite easy to obtain should you wish to try it. 

Let's take a look at why passionflower is considered a natural anxiety relief product...

The Science Of Passiflora Incarnata
The Science Of Passionflower

 Passiflora Incarnata

Relax

Passionflower or Passiflora incarnata as it's known in Latin is primarily known for its sedative properties.   

 

As a clinically proven mild sedative, it can be not only useful for those who are stressed out and find relaxation difficult but can also assist in helping those with anxiety. (14)​

Anti-Depressant qualities

In a study commissioned to investigate the possible role of passionflower as a pre-operative relaxant in lew of anti-depressants such as benzodiazepines.

Patients who took passionflower were shown to have a measurable reduction in anxiety levels showing that it (passionflower) could be a useful natural anxiolytic (anti-anxiety supplement). (15)

 

Mild but still very useful

Although many studies have found subjects' reactions to passionflower ranging from mild to strong, it's a very useful tool to have in your kit if you're interested in reducing stress and the subsequent effects of cortisol.

Health Benefits Of Passionflower
Health Benefits Of Passionflower

How It Can Help

Quercetin 

Quercetin is a flavonoid that is found in passionflower, which has been shown to have anti-inflammation properties, anti-carcinogenic (cancer-fighting) as well as possibly helping with blood pressure control.

Quercetin may also help reduce the reaction of allergies in some people. (16)

Kaempferol

Kaempferol has been shown to be chemopreventative meaning that it may stop or slow the malignancy of carcinogenic cells.  (17)

This antitumor effect is promising as it may result in cellular apoptosis (cell death) in cancerous cells.​

Sleep aid

In an aforementioned study, passionflower has been shown to be a mild-to-strong relaxant that may assist people in falling asleep faster.  

Passionflower Side​ Effects
AJ relaxing with calming passionflower
Passionflower Side​ Effects?

Any Downsides?

Pregnancy

Like many remedies, it is recommended that passionflower extract, tea, and powders in any form not be consumed during pregnancy.

Drowsiness

As previously discussed, it may cause a relaxing effect resulting in feeling drowsy.  This could be dangerous in all situations where drowsiness may not be recommended such as but not limited to driving, working with machinery, and heavy lifting.

So, to summarize:

 > Passionflower is effective at reducing stressfulness and anxiety

 > It has powerful anti-cancer properties

> Not recommended for pregnant women or those who would not which to be sedated.

AJ's Biohack Rating:​

[7.6/10] 

AJ Says:

"I use this once or twice a week.   It's part of my sleep routine on days where I need to get to bed a little sooner due to earlier wake-up times."

Time for the most well-known way to biohack your stress levels (but it still has to be done right)...

26. Oxygenation

Oxygenation for calming
Oxygenate Your Blood

De-Stress Your Distress

Breath easy

Meditative breathing has been around for hundreds of years and its popularity has not waned one bit

 

Using techniques such as breathing regulation can help to induce a feeling of calm and is also known to be physically relaxing.​

The science is pretty clear:  Breathing regulation helps

The science is pretty clear when it comes to the positive psychological and physical effects of using breathing regulation techniques to lower anxiety and feel happier.

The best part is that they're exceptionally easier to learn and use as well as being free.

 

Let us take a more in-depth look at how breathing regulation can help biohack your stress levels... 

 Lung arteries
Deep Breathing 

Fighting stressfulness

Why deep breathing works

You take over 20000 breaths every single day because your body needs oxygen to survive.​

Deeper, controlled breathing has a psychological element that lets your body know it need not struggle for vital oxygenation as you fortify the ordinary autonomic function.

What do studies say?

One neuro-scientific study seems to link enhanced breathing to improved parasympathetic activity including the central nervous system. (18)​

This most likely assists in the modulation of breathing reducing the more erratic breaths associated with stressed reactions.  

It appears that if you control your breaths, you control your heart rate which potentially induces a calming effect.

The power of your breath

According to another study, the act on breathing regulation may also lead to better blood-pressure control as well as cardiovascular improvements.  (19)

What seems clear from the scientific data is that there is an immediate positive effect by taking controlled, deep breaths.

Meditative breathing for a calmer mind
How To Use Deep Breathing

Breathing Techniques

Meditation

Okay, meditation may not be everyone's "cup of tea" but you don't have to look far to find that many of the most ardent practitioners of meditative breathing also seem to have some of the mildest and calm demeanors.

Meditation combined with breathing deeply seems to be an observably effective activity.

Focused breathwork

You can, at any point in your day simply choose to commit to some focused breathing.   All this requires is that you take deep, slow breaths and exhale with the same energy.

Mentally you can imagine that with each breath you are relaxing and becoming happier, calmer, and improving your health.

Dragon's breath

Another form of breathing is known as the dragon's breath.  This is quite a simple technique where you take a deep breath and with full lungs or air, you exhale with a large "ha" pushing the breath out and exhaling with purpose.   

Diaphragmatic breathing

This is where you inhale focusing on filling the belly area with oxygen, exhaling with the force that you please.   It helps to improve diaphragm efficiency as well as overall lung capacity.

 

Positive health benefits of breathing
Other Benefits

Breathing Bonuses

Focus

By controlling your breathing you can help to increase all-important focus.  Many high-level, competitive sports people swear by using breathing to reduce nerves and increase focus.

Great for any activity that may require intense concentration.

Pain relief

Deep breathing techniques may help to relieve mild pain symptoms.  

 

May improve growth hormone regulatory output

Increased oxygen supply may lead to a concomitant increase in growth hormone and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), both of which play a role in energy production.

Enhanced growth hormone levels may also lead to increased strength and muscle mass as well as lower body fat.

Increased caloric expenditure

Performing deep breathing for 30 minutes per day may help to burn additional calories leading to body recomposition due to fat loss.

So, to summarize:

> Breathing regulation is great for nerves, anxiety, and general mood​

> There are several ways to control your breathing, all of which help

> Regular breathing exercises may burn body fat and can improve focus

AJ's Biohack Rating:​

[7.8/10] 

AJ talking about breathing's effect on mood improvement

AJ Says:

"Deep breathing ticks a few boxes.   It's really effective for when you're stressed, it has an amazing effect on mood, and it can help burn extra calories even when you're not working out"

Did you want to play with lasers as a kid?  Well, now you can... Sort of.

25. Photobiomodulation

Photobiomodulator to influence hormones
Photon Therapy

Destress Your Mind

Light therapy 

With proven benefits such as positive hormonal influence, sleep assistance, and injury recovery, light therapy in particularly low-level laser therapy (LLLT) a.k.a photobiomodulation could also be useful as a tool to improve your mood.

Not just a fad

I see a lot of health and wellness fads come and go.  The ones that have little scientific grounding never last as long as the methodologically sound, proven tools.

Low-level laser therapy has some interesting studies showing effectiveness at decreasing incidents of depression and improving mental well-being.

 

Let us take a more in-depth look at how photon therapy can help biohack your stress levels... 

Another study on major depressive disorder found that the improved mitochondrial absorption of cytochrome C oxidase had as large an effective reduction in depression as anti-depressant medications. (22)

Photobiomodulation on inflammation

Inflammation may be a major contributing cause of depression and surrounding conditions.  (23)

Low-level laser therapy helps reduce inflamed cells and may combat some of the ways inflammation can cause psychological stress. (24)ally occurring substance making waves...

What Is Photobiomodulation book
What Is Photobiomodulation? 

Low-Level Laser Therapy

The power of the light compels you

Light plays a significant role in human health and well-being.  Natural light exposure can determine when you wake up, when you sleep, and often dictates the production of an essential nutrient - Vitamin D.

We can also use light to manipulate our health in a myriad of ways.

Beneficial light

Low-level laser therapy is the simple use of light-emitting devices to produce certain beneficial results depending on what the goal is.  The light penetrates the skin and the reaction to photons at a cellular level creates an environment where many favorable biological changes may take place.

 

As mentioned above, there are quite a few reasons to use LLLT but this biohack is specifically about stress.

Light exposure for mental health

The evidence seems to indicate that using LLLT correctly can have positive effects on mental well-being and reduce depression. One of the earlier studies into simple light therapy produces exciting results by rather impressively reducing depression in post-partum suffering women in a 2011 trial (20)

Regenerating cells
Studies Showing LLLT Effectiveness

A Look At The Science

Regenerative properties

A lot of causes of impaired mental health are degenerative in nature.  These illnesses from the decay of brain tissue can have a huge impact on the mental well-being of the sufferer.

A 2016 study on several degenerative and psychiatric disorders, found that exposure to photobiomodulation's regenerative properties improved mood in patients with conditions ranging from Alzheimer's through to post-traumatic stress disorder. (21)

Reducing depression

Another study on major depressive disorder found that the improved mitochondrial absorption of cytochrome C oxidase had as large an effective reduction in depression as anti-depressant medications. (22)

Photobiomodulation on inflammation

Inflammation may be a major contributing cause of depression and surrounding conditions.  (23)

Low-level laser therapy helps reduce inflamed cells and may combat some of the ways inflammation can cause psychological stress. (24)

Is Photobiomodulation Safe?

Cautions

 

Range

There are a lot of competing LLLT photobiomodulation devices spanning several types of use. 

The vast majority are tested and safe to use.  Being a consummate consumer is important and due diligence to research should be made when purchasing any product.

Electrical danger

All electrical devices have a degree of potential danger.  Exposure to moisture (think toaster in the bathtub) frayed wires from overuse, or improper voltage adherence can be potential dangers but does not inherently mean safe devices are dangerous because of the potential for misuse.

It should go without saying, but you know that a certain small proportion of people do some pretty dumb/reckless stuff.  I'm sure you the reader don't fall into that category.

Heat sensitivity

Some people with extreme degrees of heat sensitivity may feel discomfort using some devices.  This shouldn't be the case for the average user.

So, to summarize:

> LLLT ( Synonym for Photobiomodulation) can reduce depression

> Light therapy can reduce inflammation and boost cytochrome C oxidase utilization (good)

> It appears safe for general use

AJ's Biohack Rating:​

[8/10] 

Is photobiomodulation safe?
AJ says photon therapy prevents anxiousness

AJ Says:

"I've used infrared devices for many of the benefits - No doubt that mood improval one the strongest points to acquire one of these pretty nifty items"

Right now it's time to take a look at a naturally occurring substance making waves...

24. Terpenes

Terpenes molecules
Cannabinoid Terpene

Calm Enhancing Extract

Exact extract

Chances are that you've never heard of myrcene which is known mostly as a stress-reducing extract found in cannabis.  It's a member of the terpenoid family also known as a terpene.

Something new

The science on terpenoids is pretty new but it's something worth looking at given some of the current conclusions being drawn about the effectiveness of myrcene in the field of mood supplementation.

 

Let us take a look at how terpenes may help when you're stressing out... 

Naturally occurring sources of terpenes

Terpenes can be found naturally in lemongrass, turmeric, basil, tea, citrus fruits, and many other foods and plants.

What are terpenes? In beakers
What Are Terpenes? 

An Analysis

Not just a cannabis extract

If you are a person who prior to this already had heard of Myrcene then the odds a high that it's because you knew it was a substance found within cannabis. It's not the only terpene.

The fact is though, terpenes can be found in many common foods and the potential to extract them for supplemental use is quite an exciting prospect.

Isoprenoids

Terpenes are isoprenoids that are found very widely across many types of foods, plants, and some are found in animals.  They are quite ubiquitous in nature but have varied and differing properties.

Stress-relieving properties

Inflammation may have a pathophysiological inhibitory effect on neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin (mood chemicals)

The anti-inflammatory properties of terpenes may help to boost mental well-being by reducing the inhibiting effects caused by inflamed cells. (25)

A possible future product

As evidence mounts for their effectiveness and the fact that cannabis is not legal in many countries and areas with different countries, the therapeutic use of non-cannabis sourced terpenes for stress relief could be a huge potential market in the not-too-distant future.

Terpene science graph
Studies Showing Terpenes' Effectiveness

A Look At The Science

Further study on inflammation

In the European Journal of Pharmacology, terpenes such as myrcene and limonene were found to have promising anti-inflammatory and anti-catabolic effects on human chondrocytes. (26)

Pain relief

Apart from fighting inflammation, terpenes appear to possess medicinal benefits that include pain reductions as evidenced by a study on migraines and headaches. (27)

Pain relief can have significant effects on mood improvement, obviously.

Sedative effects

Another study (Gurgel do Vale et al, 2002) found a particular terpene, myrcene to be as an effective sedative as the powerful phenobarbital. (28)

Naturally occurring sources of terpenes

Terpenes can be found naturally in lemongrass, turmeric, basil, tea, citrus fruits, and many other foods and plants.

Are terpenes safe?
Are Terpenes Safe?

Conjecture

Many foods have terpenes

If you've eaten an orange recently or consumed a cup of tea, then you've had some form of terpenoid and in these forms, they're completely safe.

Carcinogenic?

Studies have shown some terpenes to have excellent anti-carcinogenic potential but there is some evidence that large quantities of myrcene may have had a carcinogenic effect on the mammaries of female rats. (29)

Chemically different

There are far too many terpenoids to say that a study on rats on one type (myrcene) means that the vast majority are not safe.

It would appear that terpenes are potentially very beneficial to stress reduction and the supplement industry may start to reflect this.

So, to summarize:

> Terpenes are known because of the cannabis terpenoid myrcene

> Most terpenes are safe and many may have stress-relieving properties

> Many various natural substances contain terpenoids.

AJ's Biohack Rating:​

[8.1/10] 

.

AJ speaking about how terpenes help stressed out people

AJ Says:

"While there are already terpene anti-inflammatories on the market, terpenoid stress-relievers are becoming huge online right now"

Right now it's time to take a look at a natural plant-based anxiolytic...

23. Ginkgo Biloba Extract

Ginkgo Biloba Leaf
Eastern Remedy Meets Western Needs

An Interesting Little Herb

Life is hectic
There's no doubt that modern living is busy.  It can seem like technology never really lessened the many burdens of "adulting".  So much to do, so much to process.


Casting a wider net
In order to manage the mental burden of living in the Western world, many people including scientists are casting their eye to the East to look for traditional herbal remedies and test their effectiveness in helping to manage stress.


Fair maiden
Ginkgo Biloba, also known as Maidentree is one of those Eastern herbal remedies under the microscope a lot lately.


Ginkgo Biloba is already popular in the west, so, let's take a look at this potentially potent product...

Yin Yan symbol of the Orient
Ginkgo biloba literature
Ginkgo safety analysis
Ancient Eastern Medicine

Claims Versus Efficacy

 

Lofty expectations
There are very few products on the market that don't have the zealous hand of an over-eager marketing team pushing the truth to its very limits. Ginkgo Biloba is no different.


There are quite a few claims being pushed against Ginko but not all of them stack up and a lot of them are pretty far-fetched.


The outrageous
Claims have been made that Ginko Biloba can make you live longer, improve memory,  helps eyesight, cures asthma, grows male reproductive organs, and alleviate dementia symptoms.


None of which are definitively proven to be true.  


How about biohacking stress levels?

Well, this is where there is some positive feedback.   Ginko has some evidence to suggest that when it comes to stressed-out minds, it might be quite useful.

 

Studying Ginkgo's Effectiveness

A Look At The Science

Reduced anxiety and mental fatigue

In a Singapore study on refugees and war survivors, Ginkgo Biloba was found to have measurable positive effects on those who were administered the herbal remedy. (30)

Totipotency

The effectiveness of Ginkgo Biloba (especially on stress) lies in its totipotent property meaning that it is able to have more than one effect. (31)

The mechanism appears to include flavonoids and proanthocyanidins which may help combat oxidative cell damage and platelet-activating factor (PAF).   

Better dopamine control

Ginkgo Biloba leaf extract may also have an anti-inflammatory role which as discussed in previous sections of the page, may prevent inhibited dopamine utilization. 

Enhanced glucose uptake

Ginkgo Biloba may improve the brain's ability to facilitate glucose by assisting in ATP generation.  

This may reduce the neuro-degradation of neurotransmitters caused by catechol-o-methyltransferase (COMT). (33)

Is Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract Safe?

Dangers

Extract is the operative word
The whole leaf has been shown to contain substances that in large enough quantities can have several nasty side effects.


For this reason, the best Ginko Biloba leaf supplements only use the leaf extract which eliminates all the unnecessary substances that can cause issues and only contains the effective ginkgolides and bilobalides in the extract, usually in a concentrated dose.


Whole leaf issues
If you don't use the extract then there are quite a few issues, albeit many of them occurring in folks who've consumed fair quantities.

 

Side effects of taking the whole leaf include possible headaches, heart palpitations, dizziness, and constipation.  According to the NCCIH, the side effects are not an issue when taking the extract in moderate amounts compared to the whole leaf. (34)

So, to summarize:

> It seems to have a multivariant function that helps reduce anxiety levels & distress

> It won't give you a larger male reproductive organ or cure your asthma

> The extract seems to be a safe form to use

AJ's Biohack Rating:​

[8.2/10] 

Aj talking about ginkgo's anti-angst mechanisms

AJ Says:

"I  take Ginkgo Biloba semi-regularly for its stressfulness mitigation properties as part of a multi-supplemental approach to relaxation and mental optimization"

Can furry friends really help you biohack your stress?  Let's find out...

22. Animal Interactions

Loving kitten to ease your mind
Get A Pet

Furry Joy

A wonderful addition

If you grew up around domesticated animals then there's a good chance you've probably already experienced the many benefits of owning and cat or a dog, guinea pig, rabbit, or whatever it was that you were allowed to keep.

It can be an amazing thing to be a pet owner and the stress-reducing properties are real and well documented.

A new best friend

Now for many animal enthusiasts, their pets bring them so much happiness that this stress-reliever should be number 1 on this list, and for many people that had their puppy chew their brand new pair of shoes, it may seem like it shouldn't be on this list at all.

Let's be real - A new best friend can be an amazing addition to any family big or small as long as you have the wherewithal to look after your new pal.

Massive health benefits

People who have pets are happier, live longer, and generally have lower levels of anxiety, so, it's probably worth taking a look at why that is...

Happy pet owner
How Pets Make You Happier

More Than Just Smiles

 

Oxytocin

Not dissimilar to the effects of human touch, contact with pets can make your body release oxytocin, a peptide hormone created in the hypothalamus that gives us the warm and "fuzzy" feeling.


Washington State University Study

According to a WSA study of 249 college students, only 10 minutes of pet interaction was enough to produce significantly positive results. (35)

Lowered cortisol

This page talks a lot about cortisol the "stress hormone" which can be incredibly destructive (not always). 

 

Cortisol production is one of the most dangerous aspects of having elevated anxiety levels but according to the aforementioned study, interactions with pets resulted in lowered salivary cortisol levels, showing that pet interplay relay does have a lowering effect on stress levels.

Another study

In a study of the reduction of state anxiety by petting animals, even people who were not animal lovers were found to exhibit positive emotional effects from petting turtles and rabbits. (36)

Pet therapy in hospital
Pet Therapy

Animals Helping The Sick

Animals and the mentally unwell

The positive psychological effects of being in the presence of and interacting with animals have been shown to have exciting ramifications in the treatment and assistance of those who experience mental unwellness.

In a collection of six peer-reviewed studies on victims of child abuse, war veterans. and people with depression, having interactions with animals helped to reduce PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), depression, and anxiety.  (37)

Animal intervention

The use of animals to help sick patients has been around for quite a while.  Everything from dogs to horses has been used to visit hospital patients and improve their moods, even going so far as to have observable improvements in recovery times. (38)

Improved heart health

People who own pets may not only find they visit the doctor with less frequency but may also have somewhat improved cardiovascular health.  (39)

Whether or not this is down to correlation or cause is difficult to determine.  It's entirely possible that healthy people are more likely to own pets or that pet interactions like walking the dog may improve heart health.

should you own a pet for happiness
Should You Own A Pet?

Things To Consider 

 

Can you afford it?

If you ask me, pets are absolutely wonderful.  The problem is a lot of people may not have the means to take care of an animal even though they'd love to own one.

It's a big responsibility that requires a lot of thought.   Is the financial burden something you're able to cover?   Costs like pet food, grooming, vaccinations, flea treatments, vet visits, and bedding can all add up and that's not all the expenses you're likely to encounter.

Time

Pets require care.  Sometimes it's a second job keeping your pet fed, cleaning up after them, and making sure their exercise requirements are met.  

Allergies

Some unlucky people have the unfortunate experience of being allergic to many animals.  Certainly not an ideal situation for a pet owner but some people still choose to fight on and take medications and other measures to ensure they can still own a furry friend.

 

Not all allergies are the same

Some people are allergic to dogs but not cats and vice versa.  This can often make the choice easy.

Others may find that keeping their animals exceptionally well-groomed can eliminate many of the allergens that cause the problems.

Housing
It's unfortunate for many renters that in such a tight housing market, owning a pet may be completely off the table simply because the landlord won't allow it. 

 

Many people choose to still keep a pet in secret because the trade-off of doing something forbidden versus not owning a pet is a risk they're willing to take.  A lot of people.

 

So, to summarize:

> Pets are great for your health, happiness, and anxiety levels

> Studies show people who own or are around pets are happier

> Owning an animal is a big decision not to be taken lightly

AJ's Biohack Rating:​

[8.3/10] 

AJ chatting about pet therapy

AJ Says:

"I  get excited to see any dog on my morning walk, so, I guess I'm one of the really lucky people that get a massive happiness "kick" out of being around animals.  10/10 would recommend pets"

Right now it's time to take a look at a natural herb that is great for when you're stressing out and which you've probably heard of...

21. Hypericum

Hypericum Perforatum​
St  John's Wort 

Hypericum Perforatum

A mild anti-depressant

If you've heard of any natural herbal anti-depressant then chances are you know St John's Wort also known as Hypericum (Hypericum Perforatum).

You can find it in every health food shop, whole food store, and naturopathic retailer.  It's popular and widely used.

Tried, tested, trusted, and tranquil

The good news about products that have stood the test of time and endured mass consumption is that every single negative effect is well documented and studies on its effectiveness usually abound.

Hypericum is in that category.  It's incredibly well-researched and found to be a very useful tool in your arsenal of anti-stress biohacks.

Bonus health effects

St John's Wort has a couple of extra health effects that make it quite appealing but let's start by taking a more in-depth look at what exactly Hypericum is and how it can help counter the stressed-out lifestyles of the modern age...

What is St John's Wort?
What Is Hypericum?

Plant Power

Perennial bloomer

Hypericum (St John's Wort) is a wild plant that has been used for hundreds of years as a herbal remedy.  

Its long-proven efficacy is promising for future natural pharmacological treatments for anxiety and depression-related mental health issues.


As effective as pharmaceutical anti-depressants?

In a six-month-long stud of over 100 people, Hypericum was found to elicit similar anxiolytic properties as the pharmaceutical drug sertraline. (40)

29 trials show the effectiveness

In another investigation into the effectiveness of St John's Wort (Hypericum) they found that in over 29 trials and 5489 patients, it was shown to be an effective and measurably efficacious stress-reducing substance. (41)

Hypericin molecule
How Does Hypericum Help?

Hypericin & Hyperforin

Neuroactive ionic influx

Sounds simple eh!

Effectively, the neuro-enhancing properties of Hypericum appear to improve cellular electrolyte uptake which may positively benefit neurotransmitter efficiency. (42)

Adrenergic Neurotransmission

Two active constituents of Hypericum, hyperforin, and hyperoside appear to downregulate β1 adrenergic receptors at a given dosage which may result in a positive mood alteration. (43)

Dopaminergic Neurotransmission

Hypericin and hyperforin may increase extracellular dopamine by up to 40%. (44)

Dopamine is a powerful neurotransmitter known for many effects particularly motivational salience.

Pharmacological Interactions with hypericum plant
Is Hypericum Safe?

Pharmacological Interactions 

 

Drug interactions

St John's Wort is known to affect pharmaceutical anti-depressants and is advised to not be taken with prescribed mood control medication​

It seems like very much a choice between natural or lab-made in this case.

Pain killers

Hypericum may interfere with anesthetics and analgesics.

Other contraindications:

St John's Wort has been contraindicated for use with hypertension medication, some anticoagulants (especially warfarin), and some statins.

Check with your physician before using any supplement as there may be more interactions than listed here. 

So, to summarize:

> Hypericum may be as powerful as anti-depressants

> It has positive effects on neurotransmitters

> It may affect some drug interactions which would require medical advice

AJ's Biohack Rating:​

[8.4/10] 

AJ ruminating about using St John's Wort for psychological pressure

AJ Says:

"I take hypericum as part of a supplement stack in order to destress and help me sleep - I definitely enjoy the relaxing effects"

Right now it's time to take a look at a natural amino acid that may be an excellent mood improver...

20. Glycine

Glycine Molecule affects mood
Pro Calming 

Anti Excitation

Glycine the wonder amino

This isn't the only biohack that uses glycine.  Its powers for beneficial health are pretty well documented on this website.  

From anti-aging to anti-stress, glycine has a lot of really positive applications.

Contingentially anti-excitatory properties

Another benefit of glycine is in its ability to help produce calming effects which I use as part of a supplement stack for sleeping but the good news is glycine can be consumed any time of the day for its calmative benefits.

Easy to obtain

Generally speaking, the harder something is to acquire, the more expensive it is.  My biohacking journey sees me consume quite a few different products and it can get kind of expensive but the good news is that glycine is abundant, inexpensive, and best of all effective.
A study into the development of neurosteroid-based novel psychotropic drugs showed that glycine's receptor modulation benefits may have plausible therapeutic potential in reducing stress, helping with anxiety, assisting learning, decreasing aggression, and treating depression. (49)

Comet containing glycine
What Is Glycine?

C2H5NO2

Amino acid 

Glycine is a proteinogenic amino acid found in everything from animal tissue to comets and meteorites.

Although glycine is non-essential because it can actually be biosynthesized from the amino acid serine, it does still have many properties that may potentially be essential to human development given that serine/glycine biosynthesis has limitations. (45)


Neurotransmitter

Glycine also works as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system assisting in the functioning of sensory processes which may be why it's being noticed for its potential therapeutic properties in the field of mood alteration. (46)

Applications

Glycine is used for several applications including as a preservative, a sweetener, and is even used in some natural and synthetic herbicides.

But for the purpose of this biohack, we want to see how glycine affects stress...

Sleepy from glycine C2H5NO2
How Does Glycine Help?

Amino Power

Sleep effect?

Supplemental glycine has been shown to assist in sleep elicitation and it's thought that the role it plays in the calming effect is the same reason that glycine may have anti-anxiolytic, stress-reduction benefits. (47)

This anti-excitatory mechanism is better explained by looking at the sensory neuro-inhibition effects that dietary and supplemental glycine can help to produce.

Inhibitory neurotransmission

Glycine can possibly help to inhibit the action of glutamate at NDMA receptors potentially reducing sensory overexcitement. (48)

This system of reduction in excitatory activity explains how glycine can be used to produce calming effects. 

 

Future uses
A study into the development of neurosteroid-based novel psychotropic drugs showed that glycine's receptor modulation benefits may have plausible therapeutic potential in reducing stress, helping with anxiety, assisting learning, decreasing aggression, and treating depression. (49)

Animal sources of glycine
Sources Of Glycine?

Where To Find It

Gelatin 

More bad news for vegetarians/vegans as the most abundant sources of natural glycine are animal-based gelatin and gelatin products. 

 

Connective tissues of animals are a good source of glycine as is skin which means pork crackling/scratchings products are an excellent way to boost your intake.

Don't despair, though - There are plant-based gelatin sources as well as synthetic supplements available.

Plant-Based glycine sources

Seeds such as pumpkin, sesame, and safflower are reasonable sources of glycine, however, as a biohacker I avoid products with polyunsaturated fats because of their inflammation-causing characteristics as well as them having some evidence to show tumor=promoting properties.​

Beans, lentils, and leeks are healthier sources of glycine albeit containing smaller quantities.

Supplementation 

One of the ways in which you can add glycine to your diet with relative ease is with simple glycine powder supplementation.  It's cheap, easy to source, and can be consumed in a smoothie without any funny aftertaste.  

It's an easy way to get a little glycine into your diet quickly but also to help with consistently having the benefits without worrying about if the food you consume has enough.

So, to summarize:

> Glycine has relaxing properties that help calm and reduces psychological stressing 

> It has an anti-excitatory effect on sensory processing

> Animal tissue/skin is the most abundant source but synthetic supplementation is a perfectly serviceable and convenient alternative.

AJ's Biohack Rating:​

[8.5/10] 

AJ mentioning glycine for stressed out folks

AJ Says:

"I eat a lot of gelatin for its collagen-like benefits but also supplement with glycine powder for sleep and calming at night"

Did you know that the company you keep has a massive effect on your mood?   You need to choose your social circle wisely...

19. Social Interaction

Happy Social group
Find The Positive

Escape The Negative

Positive social interactions 

Did you know that the human touch can produce significant psychological benefits? We still have much to learn on the subject but it appears that even a hug can make a huge impact on mood.

Sometimes just quality time with people you care about can have a similar effect but just as our social interactions can make us happy, they can make our lives considerably worse when the outcome is negative.

Setting the right course

It can be very rewarding to make friends, find a partner, or reaffirm existing bonds but what about the bonds that tie us to extreme negativity?   Sometimes our social interactions are the very things making our lives difficult and our mood anxious.

To fix a problem you kind of need to identify it first

People can be a huge source of positivity in life but they can also be one of the greatest causes of stress and anxiety.  Some people will just make your life unbearable.   ​

Sometimes there are fixes with communication and mediation - Sometimes the only solution is to escape.

Your social environment matters

The environments we place ourselves in and the company we keep have a huge flow-on effect on just how stressful life can be.

Evaluating relationships can make a huge difference in managing stress and anxiety so let's take a look at how and why...

Controlling social stressors
Why Control Matters

Optimizing Stress Reduction

Your social environment

Your surroundings and the people within, matter.   Finding good people and net positive interactions should always be a pretty firm goal to have in mind but you'll need to exercise a measure of control to achieve the optimal social environment.

Being realistic

You can control what you do and how you react which is very important but realistically you can't control everything around you.

Good communication can help solve a lot of problems but it's not the be-all-end-all of fixes for poor relationships and stressful situations.

Evaluating the people in your life and controlling your contact can give you a psychological advantage by reducing the unknown and making everything more manageable.

Control what you can

There are places we have to go and people we have to see that can't be avoided.  Welcome to life as an adult human being.  

I believe it's really important to deal with issues with people head-on, as diplomatic as you can until such methods cease to be effective.  

Many relationships whether they are romantic, platonic, or familial can be parasitic, abusive, or even violent.   

Some relationships are just a losing prospect that should be avoided or escaped for your own mental well-being and in this day and age, psychological health is very important.

Of course, you can't control everything​

That's okay.   You're gonna have to go to the dentist about that root canal at some point - It's unavoidable but that's not what I'm talking about. 

Wedding rings
Toxic Relationships​

Death By Marriage

Be mindful of your situation

Marriage can be a beautiful union when there's the right formula of compassion, caring, love, and trust, unfortunately, this often isn't the composition of many intimate relationships.

Many studies cite toxic relationships as one of the most significant reasons an individual may be stressed out.  It's tough and in many circumstances, separation is not a viable option, at least in the short term.

Leave or change

 I understand it can be difficult to leave any relationship (for some the suggestion might be downright ludicrous),  but if it's causing more stress than the absence of said relationship would, then maybe it's time to end it and move.

Tough decisions can require help

Like many things, it's easier said than done but where help is available, ask friends and family for support, when you can.

Repair

Is the relationship salvageable?   This is something that needs to be asked and it's one of the most difficult questions because it's quite subjective and that can be unsettling when a firm plan for your own control is the goal.

Unhappy at a stressed out work place
Bad Work Environments

An Epidemic

I get it - We'd all like to just walk away from our job

For many people though, they legitimately have the option to look for and find a better job in a far less stressful environment but for whatever reason, they don't.

For those people, it might be time to explore the options.

Your job can be a lot like your relationship

It's often something you've been with so long that the thought of leaving may elicit feelings of stressfulness, so you don't ever leave.

Workplace stress is abundant

But if you find your workplace is a constant source of the kind of stress that ages you and you dread going there - It might be time to reevaluate your priorities.

A terrible boss or badly behaved colleagues can make you never want to get out of bed in the morning and that's no way to live.

Being aware might be the beginning

Knowing that a bad work environment can detrimentally affect your health, might be the push you need to leave.

Negative, backstabbing group
Negative Communities

No One Is Talking About This

A double-edged sword

This author can attest to the positive value of a strong social group having run a relatively large one for years.  Groups can be an amazing source of friendships and exceptional support, but for some people, it can be quite the opposite.

If you're a member of a gym, sports club, charity, social group, or really any community organization that is very negative and creating serious stress issues for you then maybe it's a positive thing to leave.

It's a bit of a shock

 It's actually quite alarming  how often negative communities and organizations that are supposed to be a really positive part of your life become the opposite because of toxic people.

Social groups can turn quickly from places of support and fulfillment into backstabbing and excessive in-group politics when opinions differ.

Pay attention

It's always  important to identify if you're in a situation  that exposes you to negative relationships and the associated stressful situation that ensues.

Decisive judgment for your happiness
Be Decisive​

Weigh Up Your Options

This isn't easy

I'm not saying walk away from things that could possibly change for the better, by all means, fix what can be fixed, be it relationships, communities, or whatever is keeping you down.

Finding new friends, communities, partners, and pals can be incredibly uplifting.  A lot of people don't realize that they really do have the power to walk away and find new people.   Sometimes it's very important that they do.

Being aware is the first step

You can't fight what you don't know exists. 

The key takeaway here is that you're aware that stress can diminish your happiness and that there are things in life that are a constant source of stress so, you may need to make a hard choice or two.

Plan before action

It's important to be aware of who and what are potential stressors for you and act on your decisions accordingly. Never be afraid to ask for help. 

So, to summarize:

> People can be serious stressors in your life

> Evaluating relationships can help determine whether they're beneficial

> Opting out may be the best thing for your psychological well-being.

AJ's Biohack Rating:​

[8.6/10]

Ace James talking about socialization's effect on anxiety

AJ Says:

"Some people just suck.  It's can't be helped but if you can eliminate them from your social or work sphere by changing your environment then it might be worth considering"

Now to get biohacked with an alleged memory booster that has proven anti-stressing properties ...

18. Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa Monnieri the memory & happiness herb
Ayurvedic Memory Compound

With Stress-Reduction Properties

The memory booster

The odds are that if you have heard of Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi) then it's likely because of its memory-enhancing characteristics that are increasing its popularity in the world of herbal and alternative remedies.

Turns out it can help anxiety

A lot of people who took Bacopa Monnieri supplements for their memory found that they felt less stressed out and their anxiety levels reduced.  

Several studies were commissioned and as we'll see further down, showed some really promising results.

New to the Western market

Bacopa Monnieri is definitely not new if you're from an Eastern civilization but in the West, it's something that is only just starting to find real traction.   The newly realized fact that it serves double-time as a memory enhancer and a potential anti-stress biohack means I've been very interested in this fascinating little plant.

Let's take a look at Brahmi's power to help deal with distress...

Traditional water hysop in mortar with pestle
What Is Bocopa Monnieri ?

Water Hyssop

A.K.A Brahmi

Bacopa Monnieri is a creeping plant that inhabits swampy marshes in India. It is colloquially known as Brahmi named after Lord Brahma a Hindu deity.

Cognitive Improvement

In Ayurvedic medicine Brahmi (Bacopa) has been used traditionally for the treatment of cognitive impairments.  Memory and focus have been the most popular application of this plant.

Effectiveness

The degree to which Brahmi (Bacopa) helps cognition is fairly mixed with the evidence tending towards showing it helps memory and concentration in an observable way but not excessively so. (50)

It definitely appears to have a minor positive effect on memory and focus but for the purpose of this biohack, we want to see how Bacopa Monnieri affects stress...

Neuro-Regenerative brain matter
How Does Bacopa Help?

Neuro-Regenerative

Dendrite growth

One of the ways Bacopa may help prevent anxiousness is in its neuronal-enhancing properties.  In a study of laboratory rats, Brahim was shown to increase dendrite growth with may explain the cognitive enhancements that the plant has been attributed. (51)

Neurodegeneration precedes depression

People with neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's often develop forms of depression and anxiety. (52)

It's possible to surmise that neuronal regeneration may prevent the environment in which depressive disorders can flourish.

Anti-oxidant activity

As discussed in a few previous biohacks, oxidant damage occurring in the brain may reduce the functions of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin.

Is bacopa monnieri safe?
Is Bacopa Monnieri Safe?

Precautions

 

Sedative effect

The same sedating effect that helps relax you may not be for everyone.

It's probably not going to put you to sleep or make you drowsy for that matter but it's still worthy of note that it may slightly slow your heart rate.

Hyperthyroid caution

People with hyperthyroidism have been recommended to be cautious or avoid Bacopa.

Constipation​

Some people may find an issue with constipation though this is considered to be rare.

People with ulcers

Some people with stomach ulcers may find increased stomach secretions worsen the effects of said ulcers.

 

Like all supplements, it's recommended that you visit a physician before commencing consumption as well as discussing other potential effects.

So, to summarize:

> Bacopa Monnieri may help with memory, cognition, and reducing stress and anxiety

> It has anti-oxidant and neuroprotective properties that seem to have multiple effects

> It appears to be mostly safe unless someone has underlying conditions

AJ's Biohack Rating:​

[8.6/10] 

AJ talking about the cognitive effects of Bacopa

AJ Says:

"I've taken Brahmi (Bacopa) as part of a cognitive enhancement stack and am pretty pleased with the results.   The powder smells pretty bad (really BAD), so, you may want to take it in a pre-formed capsule/tablet"

Fighting stressors requires a multi-pronged approach and here's another natural "arrow in your quiver".

17. Tyrosine

Big T for tyrosine the neurotransmitter
Neurotransmitter Precursor

The Big T

Proteinogenic 

Just like the above-mentioned Glycine, Tyrosine is also a proteinogenic (protein-creating) building block of life.

 

It naturally occurs in many foods and can be taken supplementally.

Sleep deprivation helper

One of the more noted benefits of tyrosine is its ability to help with cognitive performance in people who are sleep-deprived.   

The very mechanism that enables this is the same one that can play a key role in assisting performance under stressful conditions.

Easy to obtain

The good news is that Tyrosine is an abundant substance found in many foods but is also available in very budget-friendly supplemental form.

Time to take a look at exactly what Tyrosine is and how it helps you perform during stressful times...

4-Hydroxyphenylalanine
What Is Tyrosine?

4-Hydroxyphenylalanine

Imino acid 

No, that's not a spelling error - Tyrosine is an imino which is a specific kind of compound that possesses both carboxyl and imine functional groups. 

Iminos can be converted into amino acids which is important because Tyrosine can be biosynthesized to assist catecholamines (dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine).


Precursor to catecholamines

Because Tyrosine is a precursor to the catecholamine series of neurotransmitters that have a mechanistic effect on mood, the imino Tyrosine has been studied for its role in potential pharmacological applications for anti-anxiety and stress reduction. (55)

Applications

Studies into Tyrosine's capacity for improving mood have proven satisfactory enough for clinical applications and supplements to be created with even more research being commissioned further.

Dopaminergic effect on mood and brain chemistry
How Does Tyrosine Affect Stress?

Dopaminergic

 

Forming L-Dopa

L-Dopa (Levodopa) is a dopamine precursor that plays a role in mood. (56)

Being that dopamine inhibition may play a large role in some depressive disorders, it's interesting to note that Tyrosine can be converted into L-Dopa by dopaminergic cells in the brain.

Study on unipolar depression

In a 2003 examination on UD (unipolar depression), subjects who were given tyrosine exhibited a happiness bias versus the subjects who received a placebo who exhibited a sadness bias. (57)

 

Study on nanoparticles

In a trial of tyrosine-loaded nanoparticles on 2 animal models of depression, the results indicated a potential use as an effective antidepressant treatment. (58)

What are sources of tyrosine?
Sources Of Tyrosine?

Where To Find It

High protein foods

It appears that the best sources of Tyrosine are high-protein foods.  Animal-derived Tyrosine is more abundant but there are plenty of plant-based sources of this Imino.

Meat and dairy sources include:

Chicken, fish, and turkey

Yogurt, milk, and cheese

Plant-based sources include:

Peanuts, almonds, and pumpkin seeds

Soy, lima, and sesame seeds

For biohackers avoiding inflammatory polyunsaturated fats:

Avocados and bananas are also good sources of Tyrosine if you don't eat meat or dairy.

Supplementation

Tyrosine powder and capsules are easy to come by and are quite economically priced.

So, to summarize:

> Tyrosine is a precursor to L-Dopa and can play a role in mood

> Studies appear to show some antidepressive characteristics 

> There are many plant and animal-based sources of Tyrosine

AJ's Biohack Rating:​

[8.7/10] 

Ace James speaking of the benefits of tyrosine on mood improvement

AJ Says:

"Luckily, I consumed a lot of Tyrosine-rich foods but still take the supplemental powder form in times of great stress"

Like berries but dislike being stressed out?  Good news...

16. Schisandra

Schisandra Chinensis
The Merry Berry

Russia's Secret 

 

Many names, many benefits

Schisandra Chinensis also known as magnolia berry, five flavor fruit, or schizandra, is a tiny red berry that is found in East Russia, Northern China, Korea, and Japan.

It has been used throughout Asia but also and especially Russia for many purposes which we'll cover soon but appears to exhibit some interesting stress-reducing properties that make it worth a place on this list.

Widening market availability

Because Schisandra berries have only been available in a small corner of the globe, the name is hardly recognized in the West and the ability to find and use the berry in fresh, dried, or extract form has been relatively difficult for quite some time.

Luckily, there are a lot of companies taking interest in the studies showing multivarious benefits of Schisandra Chinesis and have brought it to the west making it easier than ever before to acquire.

Interesting flavor profile

One of the more curious things about Schizandra berries is the taste.   It has the nickname five flavor fruit because its flavor characteristics range from sweet, salty, sour, spicy, to bitter.  

Having tried the powdered form myself, I can attest to its strangely varying distribution of flavor and have to say that I enjoyed the taste a lot.

Time to take a look at exactly what Schisandra is and how it helps you to manage your environmental stressors...

Schisandraceae family vine
What Is Schisandra?

Schisandraceae Family

 

Perennial Vine

Schisandra Chinesis grows all year round in quite cool conditions.  It's a vine berry that reaches sizes comparable to red currents with a similar yet milkier color.


In Russia

When I mentioned that Schisandra went by many names, I wasn't kidding.  In addition to all the aforementioned titles, in Russia, it is also called Maximowich's red grape (it's not a grape) and sometimes Limonnik due to the lemon-like scent emanating from the vine.

Applications

Claims of Schisandra's effectiveness in multiple areas include therapeutic use for energy enhancement, as a sleep aid, anti-anxiolytic, libido improver, blood sugar regulator, and as an anti-inflammatory (and many more).  

What matters for this biohack is its application in reducing stress and the science behind why...

Schisandrin A
How Does Schisandra Reduce Stress?

Cell Protection & More

 

Schisandrin A

Schisandra berries contain an important compound called Schisandrin-A. In a recent 2019 use of the extract, Schisandrin-A appeared to exhibit not only anti-cytotoxicity effects but also reduced inflammation and oxidative damage in epithelial cells. (59)

This effect could have implications for the neural efficiency of serotonin and dopamine.

Study on Alzheimer's disease

In a 2019 examination on the effects of Schisandra Chinesis on Alzheimer's disease, the extract Schisandrin-A indicated that Schisandrin inhibition of Aβ1-42 -mediated cellular damage in AD neurons was not only measurable but most likely effective. (60)

It seems the compound Schisandrin-A has a notable effect on neuronal activity.

 

Anti-mental fatigue

According to a 2009 study, adaptogens such as Schisandra Chinesis may play a role in the mediation of stress response by affecting the activity of molecular chaperones such as stress-activated c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase, nitric, and cortisol. (61)

Pro-Serotonin

In a pharmacological study of lab mice, the results showed a positive effect on serotonin levels and a reduction in stress-induced anxiety. (62)

Cautionary questions on schisandra berries
Schisandra Chinesis Cautions?

Are There Side Effects?

Heartburn

It appears that some people with gastroesophageal reflux or stomach ulcers might experience heartburn when taking a certain quantity of Schisandra.   

There is an extract form available that contains a concentration of the therapeutic compounds that might be more tolerable due to the reduced serving size.

Breastfeeding

It may be advised that some women breastfeeding should not consume Schisandra.

Skin irritation

Some people have purported to suffer skin irritations such as itching or rashes.

As always, it's best to consult a medical expert before undertaking a new supplement regimen​

So, to summarize:

> Schisandra Chinesis is a berry found in the East that has multiple claims of health benefits

> Studies appear to show some positive anti-stress and neuroprotective properties

> There are a couple of relatively mild side effects in some cases of consumption

AJ's Biohack Rating:​

[8.7/10] 

AJ recommending schisandra for neuroprotective properties

AJ Says:

"I'm a big fan of the extract of Schisandra and take it regularly.  If you get the chance to try the berry, it's an interesting experience given the flavor profile."

Time to power up your defense against stressors...

Continue reading the final and most powerful anti-stress biohacks

Disclaimer:

The information contained in this article is offered for informational purposes only.  This information is not intended for the purpose of diagnosing or treating ailments and should you wish to seek such advice, please contact an appropriate medical professional.

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