We are all under a tremendous amount of stress these days; it affects us in multiple ways, taking a toll on our bodies. And when it becomes chronic, it depletes our immune system and causes us to lose valuable sleep, gain weight, even to begin early aging. But how did our early ancestors deal with stress?
Way before the Olympic Games began, our ancestors used medicinal “adaptogenic” herbs to help themselves stay strong – their herbal medications helped the natural body-mind connection “adapt” to their forms of stress so they could not only survive but also thrive in a very unforgiving world.
When these herbs are used properly, they can help today’s tired athletes recover and stay strong. For educational purposes only, let’s look at eight of these adaptogenic herbs that you might choose to include in your 2017 health regimen.
Ashwaganda (Withania somiferum) has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for over 4,000 years for exhaustion and high levels of chronic stress. Ashwaganda is known for mood stabilization and to support optimal physical and emotional well-being. It’s believed to reduce the effects of stress on the body and is also known to have aphrodisiac properties that could possibly aid in erectile dysfunction and fertility.
Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng) roots are taken orally as adaptogens, aphrodisiacs and nourishing stimulants. As a proven anti-inflammatory, it can regulate blood sugar and works as an anti-depressant, for endurance, memory, calmness and energy. No wonder it’s in most of today’s energy drinks.
Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis) is known as the “ginseng of mushrooms” and is known to have a wonderful effect on endurance and stamina. It has stress-reducing properties and research shows it to be highly effective in treating respiratory ailments, enhancing aerobic performance, increasing sex drive and strengthening the immune system.
He Shou Wu (Fallopia multiflora) is also known as polygonum multiflorum and used as a tonic to slow down the aging process. It calms the nervous system, and has been shown to promote hair growth, alleviate insomnia. Additionally it may aid with learning and memory.
Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) is used traditionally to alleviate stress and inflammation while many studies show it to be the equivalent to many modern painkillers. Recent studies reveal it’s a powerful antioxidant that may be able to reduce blood glucose levels and cholesterol.
Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is highly beneficial for reducing fatigue, enhancing energy and endurance – an effective adaptagen for everyday living. It contains 55 phytochemicals known to have vitality-enhancing body effects and is incredibly mineral dense and nutritious. It may heighten libido and even alleviate medication-induced sexual dysfunction caused by pharmaceutical antidepressants.
Rhodioloa (Rhodiola rosea), found in the high north tundra and Arctic, it’s the herb of endurance that’s great for chronic physical and mental demands because it’s effective in improving mood and alleviating depression. Athletes and students may experience increased performance with the proper use of this herb.
Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis) is a berry known in China for its sexual tonic qualities and ability to help with long-term stress and mental exhaustion. It supports the immune system, relieves anxiety, increases energy and can improve mental clarity. Berries can be eaten as is or mixed with other adaptogenic herbs for combating stress on the body and mind.
Remember that herbs are only as good as their overall quality. You want to know where they were grown and harvested, and which part of the plant is used. Pay attention to freshness and overall quality – there can be large quality differences between quality brands and cheaper versions so don’t buy simply based on price. Let quality be your guide when working with herbal products.
Always consult your specially trained medical professional before starting any herbal products, especially if pregnancy is a possibility. It is possible for herbal medications to interact with prescription and over the counter (OTC) medications and drugs, and cause undesirable interactions so let your health care provider know about any complementary and integrative health approaches you use. Do not use these products to replace conventional care or to postpone seeing a health care provider about a medical problem.
By Miriam Latto
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