French researchers may have found a natural way to deal with stress—eat melon. Melon contains an enzyme called superoxide dismutase (SOD). SOD is thought by many scientists to be more powerful than antioxidant vitamins. It spurs the body’s manufacturing of its own antioxidants to repair cells and reduce damage caused by superoxide, the most common type of free radical in the body.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that volunteers who were given a daily supplement containing 140 IU of SOD had fewer symptoms of stress and fatigue than those given a placebo capsule. Even though the placebo effect was high at the beginning of the four-week study, it disappeared after seven days. However, the volunteers receiving SOD continued reporting improvements in sleep and concentration, and reductions in perceived stress, weariness and irritability.
The volunteers who took part in the study had ordinary levels of stress and anxiety. Lead author Marie-Anne Milesi from Seppic, the distributor of a commercial extract of SOD called Extramel, believes results may have been even more impressive if the volunteers had higher levels of stress and anxiety than normal levels.
“Several studies have shown that there is a link between psychological stress and intracellular oxidative stress,” said Milesi. “We wanted to test whether augmenting the body’s ability to deal with oxidative species might help a person’s ability to resist burnout. The 35 people in our study who received capsules containing superoxide dismutase showed improvement in several signs and symptoms of perceived stress and fatigue.”