iStock_000021356248_640x400-150x150Don’t catch stress! We’ve all heard that stress is both unhealthy and unavoidable. But did you know that it’s also contagious?

New research from The Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the Clemens Kirschbaum Technical Centre in Dresden, Germany has recently addressed the intriguing possibility that stress can spread like an infectious disease.

These researchers conducted a large-scale study investigating stress moving from person to person through observation and its physiological responses (1). They found that both men and women become just as stressed when observing indirect stress through a one-way glass as they do from direct stress.

This empathetic form of stress creates the same cascade of harmful hormonal and physiological responses that were thought to only result from direct stress. Contagious empathetic stress, given the amounts of unavoidable direct stress we already register as experienced, also merits investigation within the research and healthcare communities.

Stress is needed for our survival. In short bursts it is protective, preparing us for ‘fight’ or ‘flight’, but chronic stress, both direct and observed, can be harmful to the body (2). Increased concentrations of the circulating stress hormone cortisol is linked to a spectrum of metabolically related disorders including obesity and cardiovascular disease (2). Permanently elevated levels of cortisol can potentially disturb the immune system and can even become toxic to the brain (1). And this presents a valid argument for better attention to techniques and lifestyle stress management.

There are multiple avenues to stress management. Some are better known than others, such as relaxation, deep breathing, and routine exercise. Others are relatively new to the Western world, such as the use of stress-modulating herbs called adaptogens.

Adaptogens affect multiple body systems including our neurological, endocrine and immune systems, as well as the body’s homeostasis and energy metabolism (3). They offer a unique approach to stress management, especially for individuals that do not find meditation, yoga or deep breathing their particular ‘stress-reducing’ cup of tea.

Adaptogen expert Alexander G. Panossian, Ph.D., from the Swedish Herbal Institute, reported that an active component of the adaptogenic herb rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) had biological activity that helped regulate the stress response (3). This herb is one of the primary adaptogenic herbs found in Ionix Supreme, along with wolfberry, ashwagandha and amla berry to support the body in modulating the effects of chronic stress. Ionix Supreme is an adaptogenic tonic, suited for everyday use.

It’s our responsibility to do our part to stop the spread of unwanted worry, anxiety and pressures that come with everyday life. However, with adaptogens, anyone who is confronted by stress can better manage their response to it. Along with other healthy habits such as exercise and quality sleep, stress can be controlled.


  1. Engert V, Plessow F, Miller R, Kirschbaum C et al. Cortisol increase in empathic stress is modulated by social closeness and observation modality. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2014 ; 45 :192-201.
  2. Jantz G L PhD. The physical dangers of stress: Is being stressed out more harmful than you realize? Hope for Relationships. 2014.
  3. Panossian A G PhD, DSci. Adaptogens in Mental and Behavioral Disorders. Psychiatr Clin N Am 36 (2013) 49–64.