Adaptogens: The Stress Solution

| 2/3/2017 10:46:50 AM

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What are adaptogens?

Herbs have been used for their health benefits across the globe for millennia. Among many effective and useful medicinal herbs, one class of plants stands apart from the rest: adaptogenic herbs, or simply adaptogens. Adaptogens are a classification of herbs that have a normalizing effect on the body. Herbs with adaptogenic qualities bring the body to homeostasis or balance. Specifically, “they increase the body’s resistance to physical, biological, emotional, and environmental stressors and promote normal physiologic function.” *

An adaptogen’s power comes not from a specific action, but rather, a reaction. Adaptogens help the body respond to stressors in a more healthful way, ultimately maintaining balance in physiological functions. Adaptogens are like very good friends;

they help promote and maintain wellness.

The Stress Response

If a bear were charging toward us, our bodies would respond by turning on our “fight or flight” mode, releasing a surge of adrenaline and cortisol to enable us to run, fight and survive. The fight or flight mode, or stress response, is meant to activate and deactivate as needed. This response causes cortisol, known as the “stress hormone” to rise and fall, ultimately returning to normal levels once the stressor has subsided.

The tricky part of our current western lifestyle is that day to day stressors are taking the place of the bear: We are bombarded everyday by social media, breaking news, traffic... While we may not be in immediate physical danger, our bodies react to these stressors with the same physiological response. While there is (hopefully) little likelihood of a bear charging you at the office, you may have a deadline that’s been blaring in your head all week, causing your “fight or flight” mode to activate and remain activated. In the wild, the bear comes and goes, and with it our fight or flight mode turns on and off, problem solved. In the office, the deadline lingers in our minds and creates a phantom stressor that has very real consequences for our bodies.