Adaptogens - Gifts from Nature
Are you benefiting from these powerful herbs?
Adaptogens are truly wondrous herbs. Their power lies in their ability to adapt to your body's needs. For example, if your stress hormone cortisol level is high, an adaptogen will lower it. If it is too low, it will raise it.
These incredible herbs are used to improve the general adaptability of your body and to create homeostasis (balance within the various body systems). They are recognized for their ability to increase resistance to a variety of stressors - chemical, physical, and emotional.
Simply put - they help you to adapt better to change. A much needed attribute in our fast paced and constantly changing world.
Some of the most commonly used adaptogens for stress relief and adrenal fatigue are:
Rhodiola nourishes the nervous system, helps to replenish energy, ease depression, and balance the body. As an adaptogen, rhodiola helps to increase the body's resistance to various stressors.
This herb has a direct effect on the adrenal glands and has been found to have a normalizing effect on cortisol levels. For this reason, it has been used for support in adrenal fatigue.
When dealing with stress, this herb might help by supporting healthy cortisol levels and blood sugar metabolism. In Western countries, Holy basil is one of the less known adaptogens.
The main constituent of licorice is glycyrrhiza, a substance that gives licorice its sweet flavor. However, do not be fooled and eat licorice candy. The candy usually contains only licorice flavoring and loads of sugar which is detrimental for the adrenal glands.
Caution: Licorice has been shown in some instances to cause high blood pressure and water retention.
Siberian ginseng is known to increase the body's resistance to stress and environmental pollutants, to calm nervousness, improve physical stamina and vitality. This root is also known to aid in sleep and in balancing the adrenal glands.
While Panax ginseng is a widely used adaptogen in Chinese medicine, Dr. James Wilson, and expert on adrenal fatigue, does not recommend this herb (or root) for women. He also cautions that men should only begin taking this herb in small doses and watch for possible side effects such as: increased aggression, irritability, or sexual excess.
A great way to have ginger is to make a tea. Peel and grate ginger. Use approximately 1 teaspoon of grated ginger for each cup of water. Boil water and pour over the grated root. Let it steep for approximately 15 minutes. Strain and if you want to, you can add a little honey or stevia to sweeten.
Never use stimulant herbs when suffering from adrenal fatigue or when you are looking for stress relief. Herbs like Ephedra (used for weight loss) and strong black teas stimulate the adrenal glands and cause more exhaustion and problems in the long run.
Like with all supplements, be cautious and always consult a qualified practitioner before using any herbs for stress relief. A naturopath or a herbalist can advise you of various interactions of adaptogens with other herbs and prescription medicines.
Other ways to deal with stress are:
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