Stress is a reality of life. According to a survey conducted by the American Academy of Family Physicians, about two-third of the patient problems are stress related. However stress itself is not a disease, it is simply a fact of life and always has been.
Wouldn’t it be great to know an herb that could help you handle stress and stimulate your body’s ability to bring itself back into health and balance? Well, there is an entire group of herbs that do just that - Adaptogens!
Adaptogens are herbs whose gentle effects on the body are tricky to measure scientifically. But adaptogenic herbs are infinitely useful, because they perform in a way that no pharmaceutical drug does. They are nontoxic, have no side effects, and help your body counter physical, chemical, and biological stress. These are not the latest invention but are associated with the Indian Ayurveda. The word ‘Adaptogen’ was introduced by a Russian scientist named Lazarev in 1947.
Adaptogenic herbs have been known in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. But it was not until the second half of the 20th Century that adaptogenic herbs underwent major scientific study and become better-known in the Western World.
Adaptogenic herbs have been shown to reduce the release of stress-related cortisol. An excess of cortisol has been associated with weight gain, hypertension, depression, many other diseases, as well as accelerated aging.
The stress provokes imbalance of hormonal activities which can be prevented by Adaptogenic herbs. Adaptogenic herbs improve the successful handling of stress by recharging the adrenal glands. These glands are responsible for the mechanism for responding to stress. Adaptogens regulate the body functions at the time of stress and enable the body energy to be used more effectively.
Adaptogens boost the power of resistance against stressors, prevent sickness and keep you healthy. Adaptogenic herbs are so powerful that they can change the course of disease.
Adaptogens help people:
• “adapt” to the stress
• decrease anxiety
• sleep deeply and more soundly
• balance all body systems
• improve immune resistance
• improve recovery time
• improve athletic performance
• improve muscle tone
• increase strength
• increase energy and stamina
• improve feeling of overall well-being
In general adaptogens work by:
Increasing the concentration of enzymes that help produce energy of the whole body;
Another important function is helping cells to eliminate waste by-products;
Supporting adrenal function and thus neutralizing the exhausting effects of day stress;
Increasing protein biosynthesis provide an anabolic effect that helps to build, nourish and maintain muscles and other tissues;
Removing free radicals to slow down and prevent oxidizing processes;
Stimulating the defence system and endocrine glands.
Help the body use oxygen more efficiently and enhance the regulation of biorhythms.
Providing a benefit to higher awareness of surroundings and ultimately, spiritual concepts.
Providing a steadiness to heat, cold, barometric pressure, ultraviolet, ionizing, cosmic & other types of radiation, motor activity, hyper-hypo functions, etc.
Saving from mutation by preservation of the genetic code.
List of best adaptogenic herbs:
Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) is considered a chi tonic. Numerous studies support Asian ginseng's effectiveness at improving a person's ability to withstand stress, improve work performance and quality, and enhance mental function. This plant seems to be the number one on a list of Adaptogens.
Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), as can be seen by its Latin name, is not actually a ginseng, but it has been called one because of its similar properties. It is found in Russia, Asia, northern China, Japan and Korea and, in fact, Russian researchers consider it to be even more effective than Asian ginseng.
ASTRAGALUS (Astragalus membranaceus) is one of the more famous tonic herbs. Numerous studies show the herb enhances immune function by increasing natural killer cell activity, increasing T cell activity and enhancing macrophage activity in immune-compromised patients.
LICORICE root (Glycyrrhiza glabra and G. uralensis) is another popular herb in China. Licorice is perhaps the only herb claimed to benefit all 12 meridians in Chinese medicine. Rich in both saponins and flavonoids, it is anti-inflammatory. Licorice root also promotes and enhances immune system functioning.
RHODIOLA, Golden Root (Rhodiola rosea) is found in northern latitudes and mountainous regions and has long been used in Siberia and Scandinavia to combat the effects of the cold climate on the human body and mind. It regulates the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin and has been shown to decrease fatigue, depression and time spent in recovery from exertion. It increases endurance, mental and physical strength, regulate immune function, mild nervous system tonic balances stress-related cortisol hormone levels.
SCHISANDRA (Schisandra chinensis), Chinese Magnolia vine – balances the nervous, immune, and endocrine systems; relieves anxiety, stress-induced asthma; promotes the production of glutathione, an essential liver antioxident and healthy liver function.
BURDOCK seeds are good source of nutrients such as iron. It is also good for skin sores and is antibacterial and antifungal. Hormonal balancing, a strong liver purifier with particular value for skin, arthritic, and glandular problems. It is a specific in all blood cleansing and detoxification problems as an aid in neutralizing and eliminating toxins from the body; in the support treatment of liver problems, gallstones, flu, and to support the kidneys in filtering acids from the blood stream; to purify the blood, to treat gout and ulcers, arthritis, rheumatism, and help with skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis. The root is said to be an effective aphrodisiac, useful in treating impotence and sterility. Burdock is also considered a diuretic, mild laxative and aids in the elimination of uric acid.
ECHINACEA helps strengthen the body's first line of defense against infection and lowers its permeability to pathogens. Since the body is undergoing massive connective tissue changes during metamorphosis taking Echinacea at this time would reduce infection potential when the body is in a vulnerable condition, and will help the emerging spiritualized body to have greater strength and integrity.
FEVERFEW might be a useful herb to reduce the hyperactivity. Long term users often report beneficial side effects such as relief from depression, nausea and arthritic pain due to inflammation. The migraine-relieving activity of feverfew is believed to be due to parthenolide, an active compound that helps relieve smooth muscle spasms, thus it helps prevent the constriction of blood vessels in the brain (one of the leading causes of migraine headaches). It has been shown to inhibit serotonin release from platelets. Platelets release the hormone serotonin during a migraine attack and serotonin constricts blood vessels.
GARLIC probably is the best antioxidant. Garlic is rich in selenium is cofactor of glutathione peroxidase and also in another trace mineral, manganese, which also functions as a cofactor in superoxide dismutase. Studies have found that in adults deficient in manganese, the level of HDL (the "good form" of cholesterol) is decreased. Garlic also increases antioxidant enzyme, glutathione-S-transferase in the stomach and small intestine.
ROSEMARY is an antioxidant, boosts glutathione levels, nervine, memory, anti-inflammatory. Pure rosemary oil is good to rub into areas of congestion and nerve pain. In the morning rub rosemary essential oil into neck and spine to help protect tissue from free radicals.
ST. JOHNS WORT is pain relieving, reduces anxiety, improves memory, relieves depression and is inflammatory, strengthens the neurology of the spine. St. JohnsWort is a mild MAO inhibitor which preserves serotonin levels and inhibits cortisol release. Make massage oil for pains with St. Johns Wort and Rosemary in olive oil.
VALERIAN is one of the best nerve tonics. It reduces stress, muscle tension and hypertension while improving coordination, concentration and quality of sleep. Cardiovascular tonic herbs such as ginseng, valerian root, hawthorn berry and motherwort are advised to stabilize and strengthen heart action and improve circulation.