Paula Thomas is the best, and I would recommend her to anyone! I put my condo on the market a couple of months prior to my wedding and I was fortunate enough to close one week after the wedding –to be precise, 62 days from market to closing. This would not have been possible without Paula’s hard work and expertise. Paula staged the house perfectly and met with both the electrician and heating/air technician after the home inspection identified a problem so that I would not have to miss work. Selling a home can be extremely stressful, especially when the market is saturated with condominiums. Paula made the process seamless and stress free! My husband and I look forward to having Paula sell our existing house and find us our perfect home in the future.
Published: March 25, 2011
Kitchen remodeling can turn a ho-hum room into your home’s pride and joy. Here are strategies to help your project run smoothly.
A significant portion of kitchen remodeling costs may be recovered by the value the project brings to your home. Kitchen remodels in the $50,000 to $60,000 range recoup about 69% of the initial project cost at the home’s resale, according to recent data from Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report.
To make sure you maximize your return, follow these seven smart kitchen remodeling strategies.
1. Establish priorities
The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) recommends spending at least six months planning your kitchen remodeling project. That way, you won’t be tempted to change your mind during construction, create change orders, and inflate construction costs. Here are planning points to cover:
- Cooking traffic patterns: A walkway through the kitchen should be at least 36 inches wide. Work aisles should be a minimum of 42 inches wide and at least 48 inches wide for households with multiple cooks.
- Child safety: Avoid sharp, square corners on countertops, and make sure microwave ovens are installed at the proper height—3 inches below the shoulder of the primary user but not more than 54 inches from the floor.
- Outside access: If you want easy access to entertaining areas, such as a deck or patio, factor a new exterior door into your plans.
A professional designer can simplify your kitchen remodel. Pros help make style decisions, foresee potential problems, and schedule contractors. Expect fees around $50 to $150 per hour, or 5% to 15% of the total cost of the project.
2. Keep the same footprint
No matter the size and scope of your kitchen remodel, you can protect your budget by maintaining the same footprint: Keep the walls, locate new plumbing fixtures near existing plumbing pipes, and forget bump-outs.
Not only will you save on demolition and reconstruction costs, you’ll cut the amount of dust and debris your project generates.
3. Get real about appliances
It’s easy to get carried away during your kitchen remodeling project. A six-burner commercial-grade range and luxury-brand refrigerator may make eye-catching centerpieces, but they may not fit your cooking needs or lifestyle.
High-priced appliances are worth the investment if you’re an exceptional cook. Otherwise, save thousands with trusted brands that receive high marks at consumer review websites, like www.ePinions.com and www.amazon.com, and resources such as Consumer Reports.
4. Light your way
Good kitchen lighting helps you work safely and efficiently.
- Install task lighting, such as recessed or track lights, over sinks and food prep areas; assign at least two fixtures per task to eliminate shadows. Under-cabinet lights illuminate cleanup and are great for reading cookbooks. Pendant lights over counters bring the light source close to work surfaces.
- Ambient lighting includes flush-mounted ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, and track lights. Pair dimmer switches with ambient lighting to control intensity and mood.
5. Be quality conscious
Functionality and durability should be top priorities during kitchen remodeling. Resist low-quality bargains, and choose products that combine low maintenance with long warranty periods. Solid-surface countertops, for instance, may cost a little more, but with the proper care, they’ll look great for a long time.
If you’re planning on moving soon, products with substantial warranties are a selling advantage.
“Individual upgrades don’t necessarily give you a 100% return,” says Frank Gregoire, a real estate appraiser in St. Petersburg, Fla. “But they can give you an edge when it comes time to market your home.”
6. Add storage, not space
Here’s how you can add storage without bumping out walls:
- Install cabinets that reach the ceiling: They may cost more—and you might need a stepladder—but you’ll gain valuable storage space for Christmas platters and other once-a-year items. In addition, you won’t have to dust cabinet tops.
- Hang it up: Mount small shelving units on unused wall areas and inside cabinet doors; hang stock pots and large skillets on a ceiling-mounted rack; and add hooks to the backs of closet doors for aprons, brooms, and mops.
7. Communicate early and often
Establishing a good rapport with your project manager or construction team is essential for staying on budget. To keep the sweetness in your project:
- Drop by the project during work hours: Your presence broadcasts your commitment to quality.
- Establish a communication routine: Hang a message board on site where you and the project manager can leave daily communiqués. Give your email address and cell phone number to subs and team leaders.
- Set house rules: Be clear about smoking, boom box noise levels, available bathrooms, and appropriate parking.
Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates changing little for the second consecutive week amid mixed consumer confidence and housing data. Fixed mortgage rates remain near their 60-year lows.
30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.10 percent with an average 0.8 point for the week ending October 27, 2011, down from the prior week when it averaged 4.11 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.23 percent. 15-year FRM this past week averaged 3.38 percent with an average 0.7 point, the same as the previous week when it averaged 3.38 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.66 percent.
According to Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac, “The latest monthly housing market indicators were mixed, with consumer confidence soft, house prices largely flat, and new home sales up from very low levels. Consumer confidence fell below the market consensus forecast in October to the lowest reading since March 2009, according to The Conference Board.”
[SOURCE: Freddie Mac]
Art Show Honoring Josephine Mayo
Sunday, Sep 11, 2011, 2:00pm
Mark you calendars for this beautiful event on Sunday, September 11, from 2:00 until 5:00, at 2nd Presbyterian Church, 2829 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN.
We will be honoring Josephine Mayo, artist and church member, by displaying her paintings.
Art students of Josephine and area artists will also be exhibiting. At present, church and community artists participating in the show include Leilla White, Patrick Minton, Harriet Campbell, Beverly Gilmer, David Gilmer, Brice Gilmer, Elizabeth Rochelle, David Klieman, Mary Burnett, Amy Campbell, Bob Leggett, Dot Galloway, Joyce Ryan, Joy Arnett, Bill Rudd, Dick Penner, Deborah Cain, Julie Warren Martin (Conn), and the family of William Russell Briscoe. Others are still being contacted. If you know artists who might like to exhibit, please call Brenda Goslee at 521-7910.
Art will be available both for viewing and for sale. Twenty percent of the proceeds will go into the organ fund to purchase a Great Trumpet stop for our instrument.
Entrance to the show is free, and live classical music will be performed in the exhibit areas. Coffee, tea, and sweets can also be enjoyed in the parlor and court yard.
Please come—with your friends and neighbors—to greet Josephine and the other artists. Then stay to admire their fine paintings, photography, sculpture, pottery, china painting, needlework, and bevelled glass articles.
Real Estate Tax Talk
By Stephen Fishman
From time to time the IRS releases tips designed to help people with their taxes. Some of these are quite useful.
Last week the agency released “Ten Tax Tips for Individuals Selling Their Home,” (IRS Summertime Tax Tip 2011-15).
As a real estate agent or broker, it is not your job to give home sellers tax advice. Indeed, it is advisable not to, since you could end up getting sued if you give wrong advice.
Instead, refer sellers to this list of IRS tips. It’s a good starting place for them to begin to understand this often complex area of tax law. You could even print it out and hand it to anyone who asks you about these issues.
Here are the IRS’s top 10 tax tips for home sellers:
1. In general, you are eligible to exclude the gain from income if you have owned and used your home as your main home for two years out of the five years prior to the date of its sale.
2. If you have a gain from the sale of your main home, you may be able to exclude up to $250,000 of the gain from your income ($500,000 on a joint return in most cases).
3. You are not eligible for the exclusion if you excluded the gain from the sale of another home during the two-year period prior to the sale of your home.
4. If you can exclude all of the gain, you do not need to report the sale on your tax return.
5. If you have a gain that cannot be excluded, it is taxable. You must report it on Form 1040, Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses.
6. You cannot deduct a loss from the sale of your main home.
7. Worksheets are included in Publication 523, Selling Your Home, to help you figure the adjusted basis of the home you sold, the gain (or loss) on the sale, and the gain that you can exclude.
8. If you have more than one home, you can exclude a gain only from the sale of your main home. You must pay tax on the gain from selling any other home. If you have two homes and live in both of them, your main home is ordinarily the one you live in most of the time.
9. If you received the first-time homebuyer credit and within 36 months of the date of purchase, the property is no longer used as your principal residence, you are required to repay the credit. Repayment of the full credit is due with the income tax return for the year the home ceased to be your principal residence, using Form 5405, First-Time Homebuyer Credit and Repayment of the Credit. The full amount of the credit is reflected as additional tax on that year’s tax return.
10. When you move, be sure to update your address with the IRS and the U.S. Postal Service to ensure you receive refunds or correspondence from the IRS. Use Form 8822, Change of Address, to notify the IRS of your address change.
These tips can be found on the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/content/0„id=104608,00.html.
Stephen Fishman is a tax expert, attorney and author who has published 18 books, including “Working for Yourself: Law & Taxes for Contractors, Freelancers and Consultants,” “Deduct It,” “Working as an Independent Contractor,” and “Working with Independent Contractors.” He welcomes your questions for this weekly column.
Copyright 2011 Inman News
A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his
work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his
education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He
simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing,
and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To
himself, he always appears to be doing both.
— Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand
Worship in the City®, Knoxville 2011 will be celebrated at the World’s Fair Park August 26th -27th. This annual outdoor celebration festival will feature two stages featuring many popular Christian artists. The World’s Fair amphitheater will host the “Festival of Choirs” a gathering of local area church choirs which will set the tone for an amazing local worship experience. Exciting entertainment, exhibits, Christian art walk, and children’s pavilion will all be included for a fun, family oriented, Spirit filled two day celebration. http://worshipinthecity.com/
Household Hazardous Waste
What is Household Hazardous Waste? Many common household products contain hazardous substances. These products become household hazardous waste (HHW) once the consumer no longer has any use for them. The average household generates more than 20 pounds of HHW per year. As much as 100 pounds can accumulate in the home, often remaining there until the residents move or do an extensive cleaning.
What is Household Hazardous Waste?
Many common household products contain hazardous substances. These products become household hazardous waste (HHW) once the consumer no longer has any use for them. The average household generates more than 20 pounds of HHW per year. As much as 100 pounds can accumulate in the home, often remaining there
until the residents move or do an extensive cleaning. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set stringent requirements for the management of hazardous waste generated by industries. Some HHW can also pose a risk to people and the
environment if not used, stored carefully, and disposed of properly. Hazardous products will have one or more of the following properties: Toxic/Poisonous: Capable of causing injury or death through ingestion, inhalation, or skin absorption.
Corrosive: Can eat away materials and living tissue by chemical action. Reactive: Can react with air, water, or other substances and result in explosions or the generation of toxic fumes. Flammable/Combustible: Can undergo spontaneous combustion at relatively low temperature thereby presenting a significant fire hazard.
Goals of Knoxville’s HHW Program
In April 1997, the City of Knoxville opened the state of Tennessee’s first permanent HHW Collection Center with the following goals:
- To provide a high level of convenience for Knoxville and Knox County residents.
- To maximize diversion of HHW to recycling and re-use options.
- To provide public education aimed at helping people understand the hazards associated with HHW.
- To reduce the community’s liability for the cleanup of contamination resulting from improper HHW disposal.
The HHW provides a permanent location for Knoxville and Knox County residents to drop-off hazardous household materials. The service is free of charge and includes:
- Full time staff
- Ongoing public education
- A facility for on-site storage of HHW
- Recycling and re-use of material
Restrictions: Residents may bring no more than 20 one gallon cans or 100 lbs. of HHW per visit. Only residential material is accepted. Businesses must privately
contract for disposal of wastes.
HHW Collection Center…….215-6700
3 Green Home Improvements that Pay Off
Forget big savings on your energy bills if you make green home improvements. Instead, choose green retrofits and home improvements that offset rising energy prices.
Why have my green home improvements fallen flat?
Energy prices as a whole have gone up over the last decade, especially in certain regions of the country.
Although natural gas prices have dipped a bit since 2008 and electricity prices have stayed level, the trend line goes up for both from 2011 forward.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates an average annual increase in residential energy costs of 2.3% through 2035.
So…if energy cost projections hold, and assuming an average annual American energy bill of $2,200, you’ll pay 2.3% more each year (that’s $50 the first year) if you do nothing to reduce your consumption. Your bill will inch closer to $4,000 by the year 2035. Ouch.
3 energy saving retrofits that pay off
If the only reason you’re making retrofits is to manage energy costs, look for projects with maximum bang for the buck.
Rule of thumb: Try to beat the 2.3% annual average with green home improvements that reduce your energy consumption by 5% or more but have a modest initial investment. And don’t forget to ask whether your utility or state government offers rebates or tax credits for these improvements.
1. Seal and insulate ductwork that runs through unheated spaces—the attic, a crawl space, a garage. It’s not glamorous, but it can improve the efficiency of your heating system by 20%—a 5% bill reduction overall. If you hire an HVAC pro for this job, you’ll invest a few hundred dollars for labor and materials.
2. Buy a programmable thermostat. Is it possible you haven’t done this yet? For just $25 to $250, the you can save, on average, around 8% on energy bills simply by programming it properly.
3. Add attic insulation and seal air leaks. One of the best energy-saving improvements out there, because insulating and sealing your home can reduce your energy bills by 10%. Upgrading your attic insulation to the R-value recommended for your region costs anywhere from $.25 to $1 per square foot, including materials and labor; it’s less if you do it yourself.
But you won’t get the maximum savings if you don’t seal air leaks, so plan this as a combo job. Caulking and weather-stripping typically costs from $50 to $350, depending on the size of your house.
“Ah. That pillow feels good. That new eco-friendly laundry soap I use is nice, and I’m glad I’m not hurting the environment. Of course, it costs more than the old stuff, and my commissions have been down at work. If I can just do a stellar presentation on Thursday, maybe I can get a raise. When do I have time to work on it? I can’t do it Tuesday because I have to meet with Kevin’s teacher; I wonder why he’s been acting up in class. Is it because Troy and I have been fighting more? But I thought we were keeping it quiet. Speaking of quiet, I need to calm down my brain to get some shut eye….”
This common scenario happens nightly to many shoppers. People are worried, stressed and tired. And, unfortunately, the awareness of the importance of sleep and how little they get of it causes more stress. Sleep and stress have a chicken-and-egg relationship that’s cracking up the psyche of much of the population.
“People in many walks of life are concerned about losing their houses, losing their jobs and losing the future for their children,” said Robert Foster, CEO, Novus Life Solutions LLC. “Secondly, the environment in which we live continues to become more toxic. This condition is the result of the food we eat, the water we drink and the electromagnetic smog in which we find ourselves living.”
Maybe the one worry that will help consumers end this sleepless cycle is the fear of pharmaceuticals and their side effects. “Consumers have gotten very wary of the pharmaceutical industry,” observed Deanne Dolnick, vice president, Next Pharmaceuticals. “Who doesn’t know somebody who’s taken an anti-anxiety medication or a sleep medication and has had terrible side effects or they can’t get off the medication? Another huge concern of mine is that I know people who have been prescribed anti-depressants for anxiety. Isn’t that overkill?”
Natural nutrients can offer the same and even better results than drugs without the potential threats such as dependency, restless sleep and next-day grogginess. In fact, sleep supplements may work themselves out of necessity. “I think a person can take these as often as they need, but my experience has been that once they get into a pattern of sound, restful sleep, it begins to maintain itself,” said Cheryl Myers, chief of scientific affairs and education for EuroPharma. “In other words, many people just need to take these sleep supplements for a short time until they re-establish quality sleep.”
Many are seeking to re-establish the healthy sleep schedule to help reduce stress. “According to a 2010 CDC study, nearly 25 percent of all Americans experience occasional sleep deprivation—this means one out of every four people walking into a health food store has trouble sleeping,” figured Autumn Blum, group vice president and founder, TheraNeem and TheraVeda Nutraceutical Corp.
The American Psychological Association (APA) said nearly 75 percent of Americans are stressed, which is no doubt a major contributor to a number of different illnesses including chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, depression cancer and even death.
“Sleep time allows repair and recovery to occur, both mental and physical,” said Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA, NOW Foods’ nutrition education manager. “The inability to recover from chronic stress can increase stress-related eating habits with a subsequent accumulation of abdominal fat on the one hand, and lead to physical and emotional exhaustion on the other. Energy deficits can lead to a diminished immune response. So we see a host of common complaints that can be at least partially attributed to a lack of sleep and the causes thereof.”
People who are experiencing chronic stress have elevated levels of adrenaline and cortisol, explained David Winston, RH (AHG), founder and president, Herbalist & Alchemist. “High levels of cortisol increase stress-induced eating, stress-induced palpitations and stress-induced hypertension, and contribute to the process of what is known as metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance,” he said. “Chronic stress affects literally every aspect of our bodies and our health. While small amounts of stress are necessary and actually beneficial, chronic high levels of stress are not. We also know people who have poor-quality sleep are at greater risk of heart attack, cancer, depression, anxiety and hypertension, as well as diabetes.”
And then there’s the weight issue. A 2010 study from France found men consumed 22-percent more calories after a short night of sleep with an average increase of about 560 calories per day.1 The researchers suggested people may eat more after a short night of sleep because mammals have evolved to store up calories in the summer, when nights are short and food is plentiful. Conversely, weight loss reduced obstructive sleep apnea in obese men, with the greatest effect seen in patients with severe disease, in another 2010 study that involved 63 obese men aged 30 to 65 years.2
Maybe the reason stress and lack of sleep influences so many areas of health is because it both are perceived differently by each individual. This adds another layer of complexity to addressing this issue. “People may not sleep due to a number of factors, and their individual stressors makes it more difficult to figure out which products may help them to normalize their sleep and minimize their stress,” Levin said. “Matching the person to the solution is always the biggest challenge, and some trial and error may need to be factored in before a solution is found.”
Mary C. Borneman, media relations manager for Hyland’s Inc., added, “There is an incredible multitude of products on shelf because there’s no great solution that fits all.”
Everyone gets stressed for different reasons, and the effects are displayed in myriad ways; however, one thing we all experience during chronic stress is increased adrenal function. The adrenals are small, triangular glands located on top of each kidney that secrete hormones. Cortisol, one of these hormones, controls the body’s use of fats, proteins and carbohydrates, and also helps the body to cope with stress by secreting adrenaline, which increases heart rate and facilitates blood flow to the muscles and brain. Overworked and tired adrenal glands may not be able to produce necessary hormones, and then fatigue, anxiety and reduced immunity set in.
However, certain herbs have been shown to aid adrenal function, stopping this stressful situation. “Adrenal Cleanse is a dietary supplement formulated expressly to provide nutritional support for the structure and function of the adrenal glands,” explained Sunil Kohli, COO, Health Plus Inc. “Adrenal Cleanse, which combines potent antioxidants with adaptogenic herbs, features Ester-C Mineral Blend, amla extract, ashwagandha extract and astragalus root.”
Jarrow’s Adrenal Optimizer® also contains a proprietary ingredient, specifically Sensoril® from Natreon, an extract of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) that is clinically-tested to help reduce stress levels as well as biochemical indicators of stress such as serum cortisol levels, serum C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, pulse rate and blood pressure without adverse effects.3
Ashwagandha is known as an adaptogen, a class of herbs that help lower cortisol levels, enhance immune function, and reduce anxiety, insomnia and depression. “Adaptogens are herbs that help the body and mind adapt to physical, emotional and environmental stressors,” Blum said, noting TheraVeda Organix Stress Ease contains ashwagandha along with its adaptogen cousin shatavari. “Adaptogens work on many body systems at once, including the immune system and nervous system. They work differently in each person, giving your body specifically the tools it needs. In some cases, they can be energizing (but not necessarily stimulating), and in other cases, they can be calming (but not necessarily sedating).”
Next Pharmaeuticals supplies Relora, a combination of a patented Magnolia officinalis bark extract and a proprietary Phellodendron amurense bark extract, for stress and Seditol, a combination of magnolia bark extract and a proprietary Ziziphus spinosa seed extract, for sleep. “Both products help to calm the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis,” Dolnick noted. “When the HPA axis gets ‘switched on,’ the brain can’t shut down. It leads to a cascade of hormones that eventually cause damage throughout the body.” In a Nutrition Journal study , Relora reduced perceived stress levels in healthy, overweight premenopausal females who eat more in response to stress.4 Relora also prevented weight gain for obese women who eat in response to stress as compared to placebo in a 2006 study where researchers supposed the combination reduced cortisol levels.5 Seditol was considered relaxing by 86.9 percent of subjects in an unpublished study from the LaValle Metabolic Institute, Cincinnati, that also found 82.8 percent of the subjects said it assisted in a restful sleep, and 82.8 percent said it reduced fatigue due to lack of sleep.
NOW uses Relora® along with other adaptogenic herbs, chromium and corosolic acid in Super Cortisol Support. This blend, Levin said, helps the body to manage the negative effects of stress such as excess abdominal fat deposition, overeating and low energy levels.
Capitalizing on the ability of adaptogens to help the body adjust to stress, Europharma combines four different extracts; the key botanical in the product is rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), which exerts an anti-fatigue effect that increases mental performance, particularly the ability to concentrate, and decreases cortisol response to stress in patients with fatigue syndrome.6 Rhodiola also helped reduce mental fatigue in students during the stressful period of exam week.7
Mixing stress-reducing herbs is definitely a theme in this market, with valerian (Valeriana officinalis), hops (Humulus lupulus) and schisandra (Schisandra chinensis) all making cameos in a variety of products. With research backing, these adaptogens in combination are hits with consumers looking for a calmer mind. For instance, a combination of hops and valerian was superior to a placebo in keeping subjects asleep longer than did valerian extract alone.8 However, other studies on valerian have shown it works well alone, giving the German Commission E enough evidence to approve it as a mild sedative. A meta-analysis of 16 of these studies reported the botanical improved sleep quality without producing side effects.9 Schizandra is included in the National Pharmacopoeia of the USSR, and a review of Russian/USSR studies noted schizandra affords a stress-protective effect against a broad spectrum of harmful factors, and increases endurance and accuracy of movement, mental performance and working capacity.10 Other adaptogens include Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng), American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus), Indian gooseberry (amla; Phyllanthus emblica), passion flower (Passiflora incarnate) and lycium (Lycium chinense).
Nervines, like adaptogens, are a class of botanicals that aid in stress relief, except they elicit a direct response from the central nervous system to help restore emotional foundation. Fresh milky oat (Avena sativa), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), linden flower (Tilia argentea), American skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), passion flower (Passiflora incarnate), hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), lavender (Lavandula), chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) are all considered nervines. Nervines also come with scientific clout. American skullcap—not Chinese skullcap—possesses possible anxiolytic and sedative qualities,11 and passion flower was noted in one German study to have pharmacological confirmation of sedative and anxiolytic effects.12 Both scientific and clinical data support the traditional uses of lavender, including its carminative (smooth muscle relaxing), sedative and anti-depressive effects.13 And a controlled clinical trial found chamomile extract reduced mean total HAM-A (Hamilton Anxiety Scale) score in patients with mild to moderate generalized anxiety disorder versus placebo.14 A lower HAM-A score indicates fewer depressive symptoms.
Blum said TheraVeda Organix Sleep Ease is a two-herb formula that contains the nervines bacopa (Bacopa monnieri) and jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi). “The unique thing about this specific formula is that it is a non-sedative formula, so you don’t wake up groggy the next morning,” she said. “This is an ideal formula for those who can’t sleep because their mind is constantly racing. For people with high-stress jobs or lifestyles, we recommend combining this formula with our Stress Ease for around the clock adrenal support.” Bacopa showed the potential to modulate certain cell functions that allow the brain to be prepared to act under adverse conditions such as stress,15 and jatamansi demonstrated significant anti-stress activity, possibly due to its antioxidant activity.16
Soft Gel Technologies (SGTI) offers Posinol®, an extract from the leaves ofApocynum (Apocynum venetum L.) that contains 4 percent of the flavonoid glycosides isoquercitrin and hyperoside. “The leaves also have flavonols and other phenolic substances that possess antioxidant, anti-depressant and anti-anxiety activities,” said Steve Holtby, president and CEO, SGTI. “Hyperoside is most efficacious in mental relaxation. It works with the brain’s neurotransmitters, including serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. Posinol differs from St. John’s wort in that it does not contain hyperforin, an active compound that interacts with the metabolism of certain pharmaceuticals. This patented extract is clinically evaluated for its positive effects on depression and anxiety, providing manufacturers with a scientifically researched compound for emotional wellness.” An unpublished double blind, randomized, parallel group, pilot study sponsored by Soft Gel and Tokiwa Phytochemical Co. Ltd. found subjects with mild depression treated with Posinol experienced an overall reduction in HAM-D score by 47.3 percent. A lower HAM-D score means patients experienced fewer symptoms of depression. After eight weeks of treatment, 40 percent of the subjects in the Posinol group showed greater than a 10-point decrease in HAM-D scores, according to Holtby, who added the Posinol group also showed a trend toward a decrease in insomnia. The average mean insomnia score was reduced by 60 percent in the Posinol group, he said.
Kava (Piper methysticum) is also an often-used herbal solution to stress. “NOW® Kava Kava Extract is safety and ID tested to assure quality and helps people to relax, but does not act as a strong sedative,” Levin said. “Kava has been used by people to stay calm before taking a test and may support mental focus and calmness.”
Herbs that address these issues come from all over the globe, but Pac Herbs chooses to focus on Chinese herbal medicines in its iSleep Herb Pac. Cathy Margolin, L.Ac, Dipl. OM, Pac Herbs, said, “These herbs have been used for centuries, and there are many clinical studies proving the effectiveness of these herbal formulas. One study done in Taiwan in 2002 reviewed 16,000-plus cases of insomnia, and the Chinese herbs most commonly prescribed are the same herbs in our iSleep Herb Pac.17 Those experiencing a high degree of stress may also use iSleep during the day time to calm their over-active mind.”
The herbs featured in the product include ophiopogon(Mai Men Dong; “used in this formula to nourish the yin, clear the heart and eliminate irritability”), poria(Fu Ling; “used for insomnia”), anemerrhena (Zhi Mu; “has properties of clearing excess fire and, at the same time, nourishing the yin”), arbortitae seed (yuan zhi; “excellent for insomnia due to blood deficiency along with excessive worry and forgetfulness”), light wheat germ (Fu xiao mai; “beneficial for those suffering from insomnia and irritability”), Polygoni multiflori (“along with insomnia, it’s also used in the treatment of emotional and mental confusion), spiny jujube (Suan Zao Ren; “used in Traditional Chinese Medicine [TCM] to treat irritability, insomnia, anxiety and palpitations”) and ligusticum root (chuan xiong; “ability to regulate blood circulation”), according to Margolin.
From India, curcumin (Zingiberaceae), the principal curcuminoid of turmeric, is a member of the ginger family and may help those who can’t sleep because of pain. “One of our newest products, Curamin® PM, addresses the issue of pain and sleep, so it contains ingredients that reduce pain and help muscles—and mind–—relax,” Myers said. The supplement includes the BCM-95® curcumin extract (from Dolcas Biotech LLC), BosPure® boswellia (also from Dolcas), DLPA (d,l–phenylalanine), the P-5-P (pyridoxal-5-phosphate) form of vitamin B6 and melatonin. “With this product, we’re really reaching out to those who have become too reliant on conventional over-the-counter (OTC) approaches and want to address pain that may interfere with a good night’s sleep.”
A more easily recognized plant, at least to Western consumers, that aids sleep is the tart cherry (Prunus cerasus), according to a 2010 study. Drinking a glass of unsweetened cherry juice at bedtime was associated with statistically significant pre- to post-treatment reductions in insomnia severity (minutes awake after sleep onset).18
Cherries are rich in melatonin, a naturally occurring compound found in animals, plants, and microbes. In humans, circulating levels of the hormone vary throughout the day, allowing it to control circadian rhythms, e.g., the sleep/wake cycle. “The lack of a good night’s sleep can be related to a lack of melatonin; a natural hormone made from the amino acid L-tryptophan and its metabolite 5-HTP,” Levin said. “Melatonin is formed from serotonin, a metabolite of 5-HTP that is made in the pineal gland during darkness. This means that falling asleep in a bright room or in front of the television may leave one less than fully engaged in sleep, and several stages of healthy brain waves allow true relaxation to occur. Melatonin is also an antagonist of the aforementioned stress hormone cortisol, and so adequate darkness/sleep/melatonin production is a key factor in controlling chronic stress and its negative effects on the body.”
Of L-tryptophan and 5-HTP, Levin said, “These amino acids are precursors of the important neurotransmitter serotonin, as well as its metabolite melatonin.”
Melatonin and all other hormones are a part of the endocrine system, which greatly affects how one sleeps and responds to stress. Certain hormones are known to play key roles, and they can be aided by natural substances. “There is a clear movement toward balance of the endocrine system, along with the recognition of general thyroid disturbance,” Foster said. “It is now recognized that most people with chronic conditions have decreased levels of DHEA (5-dehydroepiandrosterone), and if they are much past 30 years of age, they suffer from a decrease in growth hormone. These issues need to be addressed actively.” Foster explained vitamin C and methyl sulfonyl methane (MSM) are known to increase DHEA when taken together with an efficacy greater than taking DHEA orally.
Foster also noted the amino acid gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) supports the production of growth hormone and the general function of the pituitary. Marci Clow, senior director of product research, Rainbow Light Nutritional Systems, further clarified: “In the central nervous system, GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter. It is synthesized in the brain by the decarboxylation of glutamate, and it reduces nerve impulse transmission between neurons. GABA exerts anticonvulsant, sedative and anxiolytic effects at the cellular level. In lay terms, GABA’s role is to inhibit over excitation in the brain and thereby control anxiety and stress, an area of significant interest and research.” A 2006 Japanese study reported GABA could work effectively as a natural relaxant, and its effects could be seen within one hour of oral administration.19 Moreover, they found GABA administration enhanced immunity under stress conditions.
Jarrow’s GABA Soothe™ contains PharmaGABA™ (a GABA from Nutrition Formulators produced through natural fermentation of Lactobacillus hilgardii), Sensoril and theanine. “Theanine,” described Dallas Clouatre, Ph.D., a Jarrow Formulas consultant, “is found in green tea, supports relaxation without drowsiness, and may improve learning by affecting brain dopamine and serotonin.”
Added Clow, “It’s thought that theanine might work for anxiety by increasing levels of GABA and serotonin, while under resting conditions.20 Behavioral animal studies suggest improvement in neuropharmacology as a possible neuroprotective and cognitive-enhancing agent, which warrants further research.”21 One 2009 study reported taking supplements such as GABA, theanine, tryptophan and 5-HTP promoted relaxation.22 The researchers said they appear to act as GABA-receptor agonists or to boost GABA levels, and added 5-HTP may act through elevation of serotonin.
Help from the Periodic Table
Stress reduction is not only the game of plants. Minerals such as magnesium, calcium and zinc also play roles. “Magnesium is critical when it comes to stress,” said Ken Whitman, president, Peter Gillham’s Natural Vitality. “It comes down to the action of two key minerals on a cellular level—calcium and magnesium. These important minerals need to be balanced. Calcium and magnesium are two different sides of a coin. Calcium excites nerves, while magnesium calms them down. Calcium makes muscles contract. Magnesium is necessary for muscles to relax. The problem arises with an imbalance of these two minerals. Too much calcium and not enough magnesium will result in stress and sleep disturbances. In America, we take three to five times the calcium we need and only half or less than half the amount of magnesium required.” He added magnesium should be taken in supplement form every day.
Research has found optimal, rather than high or low, magnesium levels are needed for normal sleep regulation,23 and low levels of the mineral are associated with inflammatory stress in adults with poor quality sleep, as well as oxidative stress.24 Magnesium mixed with melatonin and zinc improved the quality of sleep and the quality of life in long-term care facility residents with primary insomnia in a 2010 study,25 and combined with alpha-tocopherol, magnesium reduced oxidative stress.26
Milky Stress Management
While calcium is associated with both increased stress and milk, a patented milk-protein hydrolysate (Lactium®, from Pharmachem Labs) has been shown to prevent sleep disturbance, help maintain slow wave sleep duration and increase paradoxical sleep (PS) duration in treated rats.27 It also decreased anxiety in rats.28 Lactium significantly improved the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) score, particularly improving sleep quality and decreasing sleep latency and daytime dysfunction in a Japanese trial involving 32 subjects.29
Mitch Skop, senior director of new product development, Pharmachem, added a 30-day double blind, crossover study conducted on 63 women with at least one stress symptom revealed those who took Lactium had a significantly greater reduction in stress symptoms versus placebo in the following areas: digestive, intellectual, social, cardiovascular and emotional. He also noted a second study was conducted on 44 healthy men and women with difficulty sleeping where subjects took Lactium for four weeks. Results showed Lactium improved sleep duration and efficiency, especially in subjects with a moderate anxiety or depression profile. Lactium was also shown to reduce daytime sleepiness. Thirdly, he said, an in vivo study demonstrated Lactium’s ability to reduce cortisol levels.
Lactium is currently available as a supplement, which Dolnick said is standard delivery for sleep and stress products because supplements are easy to take. Clouartre added most stress-taming and sleep products require only a small amount, making capsules and tablets good options.
Still, more shoppers are looking to beverages (think relaxing tea) and liquid shots for their fast-acting abilities. “We believe that the most popular delivery form remains pills (capsules and tablets) with functional beverages addressed at reducing stress and inducing relaxation a very close second and growing in popularity,” Kohli said.
Margolin said iSleep comes in granules that dissolve directly in the mouth. “Many people report having indigestion after ingesting a handful of pills,” she said. “iSleep Herb Pac eliminates that concern, and one packet is the equivalent of approximately 25 capsules of most other herbal products, because our herbs are cooked in highly concentrated batches.”
Water-soluble powders are the best delivery method, according to Whitman, because of their high bioavailability.
Whatever delivery form gets shoppers to take these stress relievers, it’s up to retailers to help educate shoppers on the importance of sleep and stress reduction. With catchy store displays and offering a wide variety of science-backed botanicals, minerals and specially ingredients in multiple forms, retailers can help quiet busy minds for sleep and stress management.
For a list of references, e-mail NPMreferences@vpico.com.