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Adaptogenic Herbs For Today’s Stressful Times

Stress comes in many forms and durations. Short term stress can actually be beneficial. However, prolonged stress, such as the stress many of us have experienced during the “season of COVID” can be harmful both physically and mentally. How our bodies adapt to stress is critical to a healthy outcome. How do we navigate through the many stressors that are part of our daily lives? Thankfully, there are many ways to help us manage stress, including exercise, meditation, music, and yes, adaptogens!

What are Adaptogenic Herbs?

Adaptogenic herbs, also known as adaptogens, are a unique class of healing plants in botanical medicine. They help balance, restore, and protect the body - promising to boost the immune system, increase mental focus, encourage a balanced mood, and combat high stress. According to Naturopath Edward Wallace, an adaptogen doesn’t have a specific action; it helps you respond to any influence or stressor, normalizing your physiological functions.  He goes on to say, "At the core of an adaptogen's scope of actions is the ability to help the body cope more effectively with stress. Specifically, adaptogens recharge the adrenal glands, which are the body's nominal mechanism for responding to stress and emotional changes." 

 Top 5 Adaptogenic Herbs

  1. Ashwagandha – Also known as Indian Ginseng, Ashwagandha is an ancient Ayurvedic herb used to support the bodies stress response, reducing stress and anxiety, assisting the immune system, supporting cognition as well as helping to regulate thyroid function, especially in women. It's been a studied and proven benefit in a diet for over 4,000 years.
  2. Astragalus - Astragalus has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. It is often promoted for its effects on the immune system, liver, and cardiovascular system.
  3. Ginseng - Ginseng has been an integral part of traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Ginseng not only balances yin and yang, but also supports in weight loss, brain function, immunity, energy, inflammation, and controlling high blood sugar.
  4. Holy Basil – Holy Basil is thought to be one of India’s most powerful herbs and has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for more than 3,000 years. Today’s herbalists use Holy Basil for issues related to the nervous system, including memory support, recovery from head trauma, and as a treatment for depression. Its immune-stimulating properties also make Holy Basil helpful for environmental allergies.
  5. Rhodiola – Rhodiola is used to help an already healthy body adapt to stress. Rhodiola may provide support in reducing recovery time after physical activity. Additionally, it may support memory and overall cognitive function.

Why Has Ashwagandha Become so Popular With Herbalists?

While most Herbalists and Health Practitioners utilize different adaptogens in treatment, Ashwagandha’s ability to work as a stress-protective agent has made it extremely popular. Like all adaptogenic herbs, Ashwagandha helps the body maintain homeostasis, even in moments of emotional or physical stress. Couldn’t we use this now more than ever?

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