Stress Less with these Herbs

Need exercise? Just need to maintain? In top form?

| May/June 1999

  • Photography by Steven Foster

No matter your physical state, ­ adaptogens can help your body meet each day’s challenges. 

As most of us know all too well, everyday life presents a lot of stress. Even basic survival skills—solving small problems, filtering a barrage of mental and physical stimuli—contribute to stress levels. And if you exercise regularly, you know the health benefits of your physical fitness regimen, but you also know how difficult it can be to recover from one evening’s overzealous workout.

Not all of this stress is unhealthy, certainly. Yet any type of stress requires a healthy body in order to stay balanced. A clue to maintaining equilibrium—helping your body stay in peak form—can be found in the experiences of Russian cosmonauts. If you think that daily stressors are tough on the body, try spending months in space. How did the Russian cosmonaut Valery Polyakov endure 429 days on the space station Mir—the longest time period any human has spent in orbit? Part of the answer may be that, since 1961, when the Soviets launched Vostok, the first manned space flight, Russian cosmonauts have relied on a class of herbs known as adaptogens.

Choose your adaptogen

Asian Ginseng

Adaptogens explained

In simplest terms, adaptogens are substances that help the body return to a normal state while also increasing resistance to adverse influences, including viruses, exertion, and daily stress. Some say that adaptogen is just a fancy word for tonic; however, as we will see, recent research has revealed that adaptogens are a category all their own.

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