Your alarm blares, jostling you out of a fitful sleep. You half-heartedly down a cheap breakfast sandwich and coffee while trapped in morning rush hour traffic. Your boss emails you about a critical upcoming deadline. You spill part of your lunch down the front of your newly pressed shirt. You can feel your heart thudding away in your chest, and your brain struggling to keep it together through the fog and overstimulation. You already feel exhausted and emotional, ready to throw in the towel, and it’s not even noon!
Our modern world is jam-packed with stress, and it can often feel like we’re on a never-ending treadmill. It’s hard to keep your cool when you’re constantly drowning in bills to pay, errands to run, and obligations to fulfill. If you’re not careful, you can put yourself on the fast track to burnout, upping your risk of things like adrenal fatigue, insomnia, and mood disorders. While it’s always a good idea to include more downtime in your self-care regimen, what if there was an easy, natural way to help your body stay on top of things?
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Well, you’re in luck! Meet the adaptogens, a powerful family of herbs that can nourish your adrenals, calm your nervous system, and clarify your cognition. Their moniker comes from their wide-reaching actions on the human body, helping you naturally adapt to stressors in your environment. As a class of herbal remedies, the adaptogens work on several levels of the endocrine system, immune system, and neurochemical network. They help the body maintain homeostasis, and their active herbal compounds can blunt the “fight or flight” stress response that is so often triggered in our modern world.
While each herb possesses its own unique powers, together, these plants have an impressive range of benefits, including:
• Improved sleep-onset, duration, and overall quality
• Enhanced immune activity
• Stabilized output from adrenal and thyroid glands
• Clearer, quicker thinking
• Lower cortisol levels
• Increased physical and mental stamina
• Easier weight loss
• Reduced levels of anxiety and depression
• Better athletic performance
Personally, I take adaptogens every single day, and I believe it was the addition of these amazing plant extracts that helped me to heal my chronic fatigue. I recommend adaptogens to each of my clients as well, no matter what they’re struggling with, because I’ve seen first hand, their transformative powers! If you are tired of feeling run down, on edge, and anxious all the time, these incredible herbs might be just what the doctor ordered.
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There are more than 16 different herbs that have been classified as “adaptogens,” in Traditional Chinese, Ayurvedic, and Western Herbal medicine. Here are some of my favorite adaptogenic herbs, and their associated superpowers.
Ashwagandha: soothes frazzled nerves, boosts stamina and physical performance, improves sleep, promotes longevity
Rhodiola: acts as a hormonal thermostat by regulating adrenal output, brightens mood, speeds cognitive processes
Eleuthero: calms overactive muscles, reduces muscle and joint pain, improves mood and optimism, boosts stamina and wakefulness
Holy Basil (aka Tulsi): slows the aging process, regulates blood pressure, increases immune response, aids in blood sugar stability
Asian (Panax) Ginseng: boosts mental performance, upregulates immune system, combats depression, improves energy and stamina
Licorice Root: regulates blood pressure, soothes overactive adrenals, increases metabolism, boosts physical endurance
Schisandra: reduces oxidation and slows aging, beats fatigue, increases tolerance to hot and cold, promotes cellular detoxification
There are many more adaptogenic herbs that are worth exploring, and you can easily tailor your herbs to suit your particular lifestyle. This class of herbs is, on the whole, very safe and has low toxicity; these remedies also work best over a longer period of time. Many cultures across the globe take adaptogens as a daily tonic for optimal health, and I’ve seen the best results when used in this fashion. You can enjoy them as teas, tinctures, or capsules…or all three!
Ready to say goodbye to your fatigue and feel like your very own superhero again? Adaptogens are the ideal sidekick, no matter what life throws at you.
Remember to always check with your healthcare provider before starting any new herbal remedies, and use caution if you are pregnant, nursing, or on prescription medication.
Boost your health and reduce stress with this Adaptogenic Chai Recipe, featuring ashwagadha, rhodiolia, licorice root, and eleuthero, from MOTHER EARTH NEWS.
All information and resources provided are based on the opinions and experiences of the author, unless otherwise noted. Information is intended to encourage readers to do their own research and come to their own conclusions, and should never substitute or replace the recommendations of a qualified healthcare provider. Always consult your physician before making changes to your diet, exercise, or general wellness plan, even when using holistic methods.
Melani Schweder is a Certified Health Coach and Reiki Master/Teacher based in Denver, Colorado. She’s dedicated to helping people heal their lives through natural medicine, holistic nutrition, and mindful self-care. Connect with her and get started on your own healing adventure.