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Serenity Formula Product Review

October 27, 2009 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

According to the October issue of the AARP Bulletin, 10 of the most popular medications prescribed in the United States are used to address psychological symptoms. In fact, over 243 million prescriptions were written in 2008 alone expressly for this purpose. Anxiety, depression and insomnia top the list of conditions for which these drugs are dispensed. But that startling statistic doesn’t reveal whether or not any natural alternatives were tried prior to the use of these powerful, psychoactive agents.

I recently tried an herbal product that has helped me through a particularly stressful period in my life. In the past, I’ve experimented with a variety of nutritional supplements that are intended to promote a “healthy mood”. Many of these formulations attempt to balance adrenal gland function and brain chemistry in order to ease anxious feelings and promote a more optimistic perspective. These natural alternatives also strive to avoid the common side effects associated with prescription medications that are used for the same purpose.

The Product – Natural Factors’ Serenity Formula

Serenity Formula is recommended by Michael Murray, a highly regarded naturopathic physician. The “structure/function” claim on the label states that this product “promotes emotional well being” and further describes it as “a unique combination of herbal extracts that help the body cope with stress”.

Serenity Formula – Dosage and Ingredients

The supplement provides: 250 mg of a patented Ashwagandha extract (Withania somnifera) known as Sensoril. It also features 150 mg of standardized extracts of Eleuthero (“Siberian ginseng”), 150 mg of Lavender extract and 75 mg of Rhodiola rosacea. The recommended dosage is 1 capsule twice daily. That dosing pattern will provide the quantities listed above. A higher dosage of 2 capsules twice daily can also be implemented if required.

The Science Behind Serenity Formula

Ashwagandha, the primary ingredient in the herbal blend, has a long history in traditional Indian medicine of supporting mental health. Recent scientific inquiries indicate that it may be a useful tool in the management of anxiety, cognitive decline, depression, drug addiction and a variety of neurological conditions. There’s even a study underway that’s examining its effects in patients with bi-polar disorder. Eleuthero and Rhodiola are typically classified as “adaptogens”, substances that assist the body to safely adapt to physical and psychological stressors. Lavender’s effect on mood tends to be associated with its lovely fragrance. Specifically, essential oils from lavender flowers have been historically used as a calming agent. But there is also some preliminary evidence that suggests that lavender consumption can provide an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) and antidepressant effect. (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11)

My Personal Experience with Serenity Formula

I started using the lowest recommended dosage for the first week (1 capsule 2x day). I almost always suggest beginning slowly with any new supplement. My initial impression was that I was experiencing some degree of a “mellowing” reaction. I also noted that this calming sensation did not bring about any daytime sleepiness or grogginess. As an experiment, I decided to increase my intake on the second week to 2 capsules 2x a day. This seems to work more effectively for me. But please keep in mind that I’m a rather large fellow – 6 feet tall and 180 pounds.

Additional Observations and Tips

A pet peeve of mine is when supplement manufacturers don’t give precise recommendations in the “Suggested Usage” portion of a product label. For instance, the directions for Serenity Formula omit whether it should be taken on an empty stomach or with food. I did however place a call to Natural Factors’ Canadian office and was told that taking it on an empty stomach would be preferable, unless doing so caused digestive upset. For about 3 weeks now, I’ve been taking 2 capsules between breakfast and lunch and again between lunch and dinner. It hasn’t upset my stomach yet.

Naturopathic Care (NC) vs. Psychotherapy (PT) – Beck Anxiety Inventory Results

Source: PLoS ONE 4(8): e6628. (link)

Concluding Remarks on Serenity Formula

While putting together today’s product review, I visited several online supplement providers. Many Internet based “health food stores” allow their customers to submit brief reviews of products that they’ve tried in order to better inform other customers. Serenity Formula seems to be very well received by most of the people who’ve actually tried it. This is reassuring because my report is purely anecdotal in nature. However, I want to point out that I’m a rather tough customer with regard to mood altering supplements. I generally don’t respond to them at all. That’s part of the reason why I wanted to highlight this particular herbal formula. Simply stated, it worked for me.

One of the best aspects of natural medicines is that they often provide “side benefits” instead of side effects. In this instance, Ashwagandha can improve fertility and immune function during stressful times. Eleuthero and Rhodiola may “increase mental performance and physical working capacity in humans”. Likewise, lavender may one day “provide the key to eradicating degenerative inflammatory disease, infectious disease, and carcinogenesis” according to some researchers. Natural foods and medicinal herbs are multi-taskers. When they’re used judiciously, they have great potential for improving specific symptoms and overall quality of life. (12,13,14,15,16)

Be well!


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Posted in Mental Health, Nutritional Supplements, Product Reviews

22 Comments & Updates to “Serenity Formula Product Review”

  1. anne h Says:

    Just this VERY DAY, I bought some Eleuthero –
    Here we go, thinking alike again!
    Next time soon, I will try this combo Serenity Formula.
    Great work.

  2. JP Says:

    Thanks, Anne! 🙂

    I hope the Eleuthero works out well for you. Please keep me/us posted!

    I’ll continue to monitor my reaction to Serenity Formula as well. My body-mind is a constant science experiment!

    Be well!


  3. Nina K. Says:

    Oh JP,

    great. if i would know a similar product here in germany i would buy it asap. the only mood enhancing thing for me – until now – is matcha because of the l-theanine. your product seems to be very effective. i would take this through winter if i had the option.

    Stay healthy,
    Nina K.

  4. JP Says:


    I’ve heard that this can be an issue. Would ordering from a US-based (online) source be an option? Some of these stores apparently ship to international destinations. One of the sites I often shop from states that they do ship to Germany. However, they also mention that:

    “Shipping method limited to postal airmail service only. Orders must weigh no more than 3 pounds (1.36 kg), and have a value of $80.00 or less. Please check with your customs authority before ordering from us. As a general rule, we recommend that you don’t order hormone-type (DHEA, melatonin, etc.) supplements.”

    Maybe there is a way to get it to you yet! 🙂

    Be well!


  5. vadim Says:

    Harry, I will definitely try this product out. I was however wondering if it hleps with elevated high rate and panick attacks. I think I have had panick attack for a while and need something to calm my anxies mind, do you think it would be good for that?

  6. JP Says:


    I sincerely hope you find good success with it. I know you’re going through a lot right now and I would be thrilled if this helped you through this most difficult time.

    I’m not sure what effect Serenity Formula would have on heart rate and panic attacks in particular. I *suspect* that it *might* help to moderate both. Some evidence demonstrates that Sensoril (the lead ingredient in the formula) can lower cortisol levels and increase DHEA, both of which seem to play a role in panic attacks.


    I know that in the past you also mentioned a high CRP reading. Sensoril has also been shown to reduce CRP levels.


    I think there’s a good basis to try this for an anxious mind. I can honestly tell you that it’s helped me to better manage anxious feelings. I simply feel less “reactive” to the events going on around me. Not distant or numb, just more at peace in my thinking process.

    I hope this helps, my friend.

    Be well!


  7. Kristin Says:

    I was browsing through pages of information on the serenity formula and came across your page. I have just started takin it and hopefully this will be a wonderful healthy alternative to perscription anxiety pills. I will be sure to check back and let you know how it helped me ! Great page by the way!!!
    Take care!

  8. JP Says:

    Thank you, Kristen. 🙂

    I hope you find success with this product as well.

    Please keep us posted.

    Be well!


  9. DET Says:

    Would you recommend the Serenity Formula Product for a breast cancer survivor? It sounds fine except the part mention about increased fertility – this concerns me in regard to possible increase in estrogen levels???? Is that the case or……..

  10. JP Says:


    I can’t say for certain whether Serenity Formula is right for you. There’s simply not enough solid data to know if it’s appropriate for breast cancer survivors at this time. The best I can do is let you know about some of the preliminary research re: the ingredients in SF and breast cancer in general:

    Ashwaganda – Positive findings in test tube studies.




    Eleuthero – Positive finding re: cancer patients immune function.


    Lavender – The essential oil was mostly studied – both internally and topically. Some cause for concern. The SF formula contains very little of the volatile oil.



    Rhodiola rosacea – Only preliminary data available. What’s there is encouraging re: breast cancer.




    I hope this helps.

    Be well!


  11. Theresa Says:

    Does anyone know if we need to take the Serenity pills every day for it to be effective, or can we take it only as needed, like on days we know we will be facing some stress, anxiety? I don’t want to waste taking pills on days I don’t really need them so much, like days I’m home where I feel relaxed.

  12. JP Says:

    Hi Theressa,

    Most adaptogens are used on an ongoing basis. As an example: They’re taken like an antidepressant medication rather than an aspirin. Having said that, you can always try to use this product on an as-needed basis. If it works well for you, great! No harm will be done and you’ll save some money. A little experimentation can help you determine what works best for you.

    Be well!


  13. Theresa Says:

    Thank you so much for your reply, JP…. truly appreciate it! I suffer with social anxiety disorder…. I still experience anxiety inside my upper body during the more higher anxiety situations, so I may need to up my intake to more than one capsule a day, and keep at it every day for it to work best during these times. Again, thank you for your help!!!

  14. Joanne Says:

    Hi there!! I came across this website because I am trying to explain to people that I meet how this Serenity Formula actually SAVED MY LIFE and why… but couldn’t explain it scientifically. I suffer from IBS related to anxiety… when anxiety is bad, the IBS is terrible and that makes me more anxious and well… it’s a vicious cycle. I suffered for years. It got so bad that I started having phobias about being in public or places where I had attacks for fear that I couldn’t find a washroom while the panic attacks came on. Then I tried yet another naturopath. I have seen homeopaths, naturopaths, a tibetan medicine doctor, a doctor in India who also studied yoga… Anyhow, this naturopath was very to the point and very scientific. I was doubtful that he would work for me to be honest. Well, this stuff really helped me. While I still have anxious feelings and worries now and again… it’s fear… I don’t let it run my life. So, I may worry that if I go walk my dog that I might panic and then have to go to the washroom, but I still GO and usually don’t panic. I still worry sometimes that if I am staying somewhere with only one washroom and there are 10 people staying there that I may have a problem… but I still go and usually don’t have a problem. Before the Serenity Formula I would have talked myself out of it. Just thought I’d add part of my story here.

    Oh, I also wanted to add that this is not a QUICK fix for acute anxiety and panic attacks. This is a long term solution that can help bring the nervous system back to balance. It needs to be taken for some time for the results to be experienced. For acute anxiety and panic attacks–so while I’m IN THEM–I used Anxiety Releif by NaturalCare. LOVE IT.

  15. JP Says:

    Update: Ashwaghanda, an ingredient contained in Serenity Formula, may offer new hope in the near future …


    “While plants cannot be patented, compounds from them can. MSU holds the patent for withanamides, and earlier research revealed that the compound, found in the plants’ seeds, proved to be a powerful anti-oxidant – double the strength of what’s on today’s market. The potent compound has shown that it can protect cells against damaging attacks by a rogue protein ­– the earliest stage of Alzheimer’s.

    Alzheimer’s begins when a specific protein starts breaking, or cleaving, at the wrong place to produce an unwanted fragment. This bad fragment, called BAP, stresses cells’ membranes, sparks plaque formation and eventually kills the cells. This attack begins in the frontal lobe, erasing memories and continuing its unrelenting assault deeper into the brain.

    A complicating factor is that the majority of protein cleaving is a natural, healthy process. Pharmaceutical companies, however, have focused their efforts on blocking the tiny faction of bad cleaving of the protein producing BAP.

    ‘Rather than trying to stop only the malevolent cleaving, our compound keeps the bad protein from entering the cell where it does its damage,’ said Nair, who’s in the horticulture department. ‘Our studies have shown that withanamides effectively protect the brain cells by neutralizing the effect of BAP.'”

    Be well!


  16. Maureen Hurt Says:

    After reading all of the comments about Serenity Tablets, I have another view of the tablets. The info regarding this was sent to me by my female doctor (I have very high Blood Pressure),I also get very anxious at various situations. I read the article and thought I would give it a go. After taking the tablets for a little while I had my first Arrhythmia attack which lasted 30 hours, two days later I had another which lasted 16 hours, I ended up in hospital and I took the tablets with me which they said (just another snake oil), since then I have had all sorts of heart problems, whether or not this was coincidental I am not sure but I warn people get a few opinions by your health people before embarking on this product.

  17. JP Says:

    Hi, Maureen.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your recent experiences! Can you please confirm that this (http://www.naturalfactors.com/en-us/product/stressrelax-serenity-formula-vegetarian-capsules/) is the product you tried? I only ask because you described it as a tablet. Serenity Formula is a capsule. And, there may well be other products on the market with similar names. I just want to confirm that we’re talking about the product.

    I sincerely hope you’re feeling better now and continue to stay healthy.

    Be well!


  18. Stephen A MacLeod Says:

    I have been taking serenity formula for about 4 days,it does make me feel better,I take it after breakfast or after lunch.Only problem is it irritates my stomach, can you offer a solution to this,I do have stomach issues and take Nexium. Thanks in advance.

  19. JP Says:

    Hi Stephen,

    You might try taking in the middle of a meal – essentially “sandwiching” it in between food. In some instances, this works better than taking it before or after meals.

    Be well!


  20. Stephen A MacLeod Says:

    I tried your suggestion JP,it still bothers my stomach, any suggestions as to what may work better


  21. JP Says:

    Hi Stephen,

    It’s possible/probable that one (or more) of the ingredients of this blend is causing your upset stomach. Therefore, you might want to experiment with individual components of the formula such as:

    1) Sensoril or KSM-77 (another clinically-validated Ashwagandha extract).

    2) Silexin, a patented lavender extract, has likewise been shown to support healthier stress-response and mood.

    3) Rhodiola rosea extract. 200 mg, twice-daily may be a good place to start: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ptr.5486/abstract

    Lemon balm can be helpful as well. More info. on that here:



    Have you tried any mind-body exercises/techniques to help manage your stress? That’s another way to go. IMO, mind-body practices are the best place to start.

    Be well!


  22. Stephen A MacLeod Says:

    Thanks for the suggestions JP,i wish the serenity formula didn’t bother my stomach, because it does make me feel great.

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