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More Than Half of All Women Report: 'We're Stressed!'

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"Even if you eat perfectly, you still need to supplement with three basic pills" -- one multivitamin/mineral pill, one of 100 to 400 international units (IU) of vitamin E, and a calcium/magnesium supplement containing 500 mg of calcium and 250 mg of magnesium, Somer says.

In addition to better eating habits, certain mood-altering medicinal plants and herbs can also help women curb anxiety and depression, says Tori Hudson, ND, a professor of gynecology at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Ore., and author of the Women?s Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine.

"Depression is diagnosed, on average, in two women for every man, and anxiety is the most frequently reported complaint among the general population -- affecting approximately 10% of the population," says Hudson. "And it occurs even more frequently in women."

She suggests St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) for the treatment of mild to moderate depression. This herb works in several ways, including boosting levels of the mood chemical serotonin, which is thought to be important in preventing depression.

Another medicinal plant that helps treat anxiety is kava (Piper methysticum), she says. Researchers are not yet sure how it works. Other herbs -- such as ginkgo biloba, Korean and Siberian ginseng, and passion flower -- also may help improve mood, she says.

"There are numerous medicinal plants and herbal therapies that are reasonable options for people suffering from anxiety and depression and they have fewer side effects [than prescription drugs]," she says.

Vital Information:

  • More than half of all women are affected by stress, and 25% are extremely concerned about the stress in their lives.
  • One expert argues that what you eat can help you combat stress.
  • To battle stress with nutrition, cut back on sugar, caffeine, and alcohol; include two fruits or vegetables in every meal or snack; eat small meals; and take vitamin supplements.
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