The Herb Stop Blog
Adaptogenic Herbs For Stress
The occasional stress may not be all bad, as long as we are capable of dealing with the situation at hand. It is actually a good force to challenge and motivate us to do things we do not think we are capable of. On the other hand, long-term stress can build up and take a toll on our physical and emotional health. How we adapt to physical, emotional, and environmental stressors determines whether we stay balanced and healthy or fall into disease. With all this said, how can herbs help us deal with everyday stress? Nature has provided us with specific plants known as adaptogenic herbs.
What Are Adaptogenic Herbs
Adaptogenic herbs have the ability to help us adapt to and resist stress, in other words, keep us in balance (maintain homeostasis). These plants can increase the body’s resistance to physical, biological, emotional, and environmental stressors, support overall health and, because they’re packed with antioxidants, protect our cells from free radical damage. Essentially, adaptogenic herbs give our bodies a tune-up, reducing the wear and tear that comes with daily living. They can even increase the effectiveness of other herbs. Some say that adaptogenic herbs may actually increase the effectiveness of medications and eliminate the side effects of some drugs. Best of all they have a track record of being safe and effective. Here are some of nature’s best adaptogenic plants:
American ginseng has a long history of use among Native Americans for various maladies, including digestive problems, coughing, arthritis, and as a general tonic. Today, herbalists recommend American ginseng for general debility, exhausted adrenal glands, and mental fog. It has also been used for anemia and other blood weaknesses. It restores energy beautifully if used over a period of time.
Amla is also known as amalaki or Indian gooseberry. This traditional rejuvenative and adaptogenic Ayurvedic herb is used to cleanse and nourish the bodily tissues. It is high in Vitamin C. Each berry contains approximately 3000 mg of vitamin C. In Ayurvedic medicine it is used for HIV, anemia, biliousness, colitis, constipation, diabetes, gout, premature gray, balding hair, liver weakness, hepatitis, mental disorders, osteoporosis, spleen weakness, and vertigo. It regulates blood sugar, increases red blood cell count, as a heart tonic, strengthens teeth, stops gum bleeding, stops stomach and colon inflammation, aids eyesight, treats lung inflammations, and soothes painful urination.
Ashwagandha, gets its name from the Hindu word ashwa, or horse, giving the user the strength and stamina of a stallion. Ayurvedic practitioners look to the plant to prolong life, stimulate the mind and enhance vigor and sexual drive. It is a rejuvenating tonic for stress-induced fatigue, nervous exhaustion, mental fog, and general debility. While most adaptive herbs stimulate body functions, ashwagandha has a calming effect.
This highly energizing and tonic herb is one of the most outstanding herbs during stressful times to build immune strength, energize the entire body, and to promote circulation. Astragalus stimulates the rebuilding of the bone marrow reserve that supports and regenerates the body’s “protective shield” or immune system. Astragalus is also beneficial for adrenal fatigue.
Eleuthero is a superb adaptogen, builds stamina, enhances immunity, strengthens adrenal function, regulates blood sugar, and benefits the musculo-skeletal system. Russian athletic coaches prescribed eleuthero for their Olympic contenders to combat stress, increase endurance and mental focus. When under mental or physical stress and exhaustion, this herb is very valuable. During stressful times, with chronic anxiety, depression and irritability, eleuthero can be of great support. Although it is not a sedative, eleuthero is helpful for many nervous disorders, including insomnia, especially when insomnia is due to tension, worry, and stress.
Foti (He Shou Wu)
This adaptogenic tonic herb has been used for hundreds of years as a longevity herb by millions of people, to increase vitality and inner strength. Although it is energizing, it is relaxing and useful during times of stress and anxiety. Foti has also been used for its beneficial effect on cholesterol levels and to enhance circulatory function.
Holy Basil (Tulsi)
Holy basil, or tulsi, comes to us from India, where it has been used for a wide variety of ailments, such as colds and flu, and to rid the body of excess mucus in the respiratory tract. Today’s research shows holy basil’s adaptogenic properties and its ability to modulate levels of the stress hormone cortisol to relieve tension, improve mental focus, and balance blood sugar. Curbs cravings for sugar!
This sweet root is a specific for adrenal exhaustion so prevalent in mid and late life. Licorice contains anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties. Licorice has estrogenic activity, which helps stimulate the production of estrogen if needed in the body. Licorice works as a mild laxative, soothing the digestive tract for those who experience gastric irritation, IBS, and Crohn’s disease. It is beneficial for chest congestion, cough, sore throat, and to heal inflamed mucous membranes in the respiratory tract.
Schizandra’s adaptogenic properties raise the body’s ability to resist all kinds of stress and disease. Schizandra has a dual action on the central nervous system, acting as both a mild stimulant, enhancing reflex response and mental agility, and as a calming agent to relieve anxiety and palpitations. It also has dual action when it comes to blood pressure, lowering elevated levels and raising low ones. Herbalists use this herb to increase the production of digestive enzymes and to help eliminate toxins via the liver.
Suma comes from Brazil, where it is also known as “para todo” meaning for everything. It is said that it is more powerful than ginseng. Much research has been done on this adaptogenic herb. Suma increases energy, strengthens the immune system, relieves stress, fortifies and balances hormones, regulates blood sugar, reduces tumors and cancers. Here in the United States, it has been used to help overcome chronic disorders resulting from a lowered immune system, such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Epstein-Barr virus. It has also been used to lower cholesterol levels and to strengthen the heart. Suma is a wonderful antioxidant containing a high level of germanium to fight free radicals.
A great number of people have been under stress for many years and don’t even know it. If you are experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, adaptogenic herbs may be of great help.
- High blood pressure
- Tense muscles in the neck and shoulders
- Digestive problems and nausea due to the tightening of stomach muscles
- Sweaty palms
- Chronic fatigue
- Illness, due to a weakened immune system
- Poor concentration
- Inability to retain information
- Negative thoughts
- Loss of sense of humor
- Situations become magnified
Although adaptogenic herbs are of great value when under stress, their effects are heightened with a healthy lifestyle, nutrient-rich meals, exercises that make you feel good, as well as a good laugh everyday.
Famed Longevity Tonic Formula
This is an Herb Stop formula in capsule form and contains amla, eleuthero, suma and astragalus - herbs described in this newsletter to help us increase our resistance to stress and strengthen our immune system.
Leilah & Natalie
**Consult your healthcare practitioner before using any herbs in this article if you take pharmaceutical drugs or have a medical condition.