I think that stress might affect me more acutely than the average person. Whether it manifests as insomnia or IBS, stress is always wrecking havoc on my body.  Living in a city surrounded by stressors, from ear-splitting subway trains to endless lunch lines, and being notoriously late for everything by nature, I have come to appreciate the importance of stress management.  For this reason, the Whole Body Stress Cleanse by Enzymatic Therapy piqued my interest.

Apparently, I am not alone, since nearly 1 in 3 Americans today are living with extreme stress, according to the American Psychological Association.  When a person's body is tense, cortisol (stress hormone) levels rise, taking a toll on health and skin.  An increase in cortisol can lead to oily skin, stress-related acne, and other temporary skin problems. In fact, a 2001 study in the Archives of Dermatology found that periods of high stress hinder the skin's ability to heal itself after an injury.  Stress can also trigger hair loss, brittle nails, and painful medical maladies such as ulcers.

Enzymatic Therapy's Whole Body Stress Cleanse is a 10-day system involving two horse pills the size of small pickles.  The Cortisol Modifying Formula, which comes in a bottle of ten tablets, is meant to be taken only at bedtime. The other bottle containing 20 "Ultracaps," represents the Purifying Cleanse Formula and is recommended to be taken once in the morning and once at night.  Both formulas are free of artificial flavoring, preservatives, yeast, gluten, corn, dairy, and ingredients of animal origin.

The cleanse's daytime component, the Purifying Cleanse Formula, is supposed to fuel the body's stress defenses with high-ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) antioxidant power.  As you probably know, antioxidants have the ability to deactivate harmful free radicals and prevent the production of stress-induced toxins.  If you're not eating enough antioxidant-rich foods, such as blueberries, strawberries, red cherries, and spinach, this supplement will more than compensate.  One serving of the Purifying Cleanse Formula delivers nearly two times the antioxidant power of these food sources.

Inside a single Ultracap, there is a whole forest of wholesome botanicals.  Besides the three big vitamins: A (from beta carotene), C (ascorbic acid), and E (d-alpha tocopheryl succinate), the pill packs in a blend of european elder berry extract, grape seed extract, lowbush blueberry, turmeric rhizome extract, and acai fruit.  Polyphenols in the grape seed extract protect cells against damage caused by free radicals and block enzymes that cancers need for growth.  Curcuminoids from turmeric have been associated with all sorts of antioxidant, antitumor, and antiarthritic pharmacological actions. There is also giant knotweed root and rhizome extract containing 50% resveratrol, a non-flavanoid polyphenol optimistically linked to cures for cancer, heart disease, and aging.

And the antioxidants keep going.  Quercetin, a phytochemical that is found in the skins of apples and red onions, is a natural anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory, as well as a powerful antioxidant linked in studies to cancer-fighting properties.  Alpha lipoic acid, a fatty acid naturally occuring inside every cell in the body, is able to transport its antioxidant benefits through the body's barriers of water and fat, unlike vitamins C and E.  Selenium is a trace mineral found in soil, water, and certain foods and an essential element in several metabolic pathways.  Its long-term clinical benefits remain controversial since scientific trials found that selenium supplements reduced the risk of prostate cancer in men, but they were ineffective for other types of cancer and actually increased the risk of squamous cell skin carcinoma.

The night segment, Cortisol Modifying Formula, is intended to help the body relax and rebuild by reducing cortisol levels and promoting a natural sleep cycle.  Based on a 28-day clinical trial presumably conducted by Enzymatic Therapy, results indicated that the nighttime formula averaged a 75-83% reduction in cortisol after a month of use (a rather strange time span for a 10-day system).  This internal calibration promotes a natural sleep cycle and a healthy energy level during the day.

The Cortisol Modifying Formula contains a proprietary cortisol-lowering combination of magnolia bark extract, 1% magnolol, and epimedium aerial part extract.  The Japanese use magnolia to help control stress and anxiety, and researchers in Japan have determined that the honokiol chemical in magnolia bark is up to 1000 more potent than vitamin E in antioxidant activity. Epimedium, or Horny Goat Weed, is one of the most valued tonics of Chinese herbalism, believed to support healthy sexual activity.  The formula also boasts a stress-reducing blend of ashwagandha root and leaf extract and the amino acid L-theanine.  Ashwagandha is widely used in Ayurveda medicine to promote gentle relaxation and emotional balance.  Because it can enter the brain, theanine has psychoactive properties including diminished mental and physical stress and improved cognition and mood.

After taking the 10-day treatment, I can't say that I have felt any less pressure when pushed up against a deadline or more composed when rushing to catch a train.  However, I did have some very restful nights and, on the whole, had more energy throughout the day.  Even if it was all in my head, the Whole Body Stress Cleanse won't do any harm.  With its dual all-natural and antioxidant-loaded formulas, this system could safely eliminate stress-induced toxins.  Just be sure to follow up with a lavender-scented bubble bath.

Ingredients in Cortisol Modifying Formula (serving size 1 tablet):

Stress-Reducing Proprietary Blend (250 mg)- Ashwgandha (Withania somnifera) root and leaf extract standardized to contain 8% withanolides and L-theanine, Cortisol-Reducing Proprietary Blend (225 mg)- Magnolia (Magnolia officinalis) bark extract standardized to contain 2% honokiol and 1% magnolol and epimedium (Epimedium koreanum) aerial part extract, Phosphatidylserine (50mg), Sodium (5mg), Dextrose, Cellulose, Modified Cellulose Gum, Modified Cellulose, Magnesium Stearate, Stearic Acid, Titanium Dioxide Color, Soy Lechitin, and Carnauba Wax.

Ingredients in Purifying Cleanse Formula (serving size 2 UltraCaps):

Antioxidant-Rich Food Blend (700 mg)- European elder (Sambucus nigra) berry extract, Grape (Vitis vinifera) seed extract standardized to contain 95% polyphenols including procyanidolic oligomers (PCOs), Lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), Organic Acai (Euterpe oleracea) fruit, Turmeric (Curcuma longa) rhizome extract standardized to contain 90% curcuminoids, Vitamin A (as beta carotene- 5,000 IU), Vitamin C (ascorbic acid- 120 mg), Vitamin E (as d-alpha tocopheryl acetate- 60 IU), Selenium (as sodium selenite- 70 mcg), Alpha Lipoic Acid (200 mg), Quercetin (100 mg), Giant Knotweed Polygonum cuspidatum) root and Rhizome extract containing 50% resveratrol, Modified Cellulose, Cellulose, Silicon Dioxide, Magnesium Stearate, and Soybean Oil.