3 Adaptogenic Herbs That Will Change the Way You Handle Stress

Rhodiola by the water
By Gérald Tapp [CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Stress is an inevitable part of daily life and at times it can easily become unmanagable. What are we to do when the amount of stress we face is increasing and the amount of time we have to ourselves is decreasing? What interventions can we use that will help us in the short term as we work towards a better balance? Let’s take a look at what stress is and how adaptogenic herbs can help us when we need it the most.

In a very basic sense, when we look at the nervous system we have two states; fight or flight (sympathetic) or rest and digest (parasympathetic). In our not so distant past, when we heard a rumbling in a bush or the snapping of a twig, our nervous system would mount a response in our body and we would rush into action to either fight for our lives or run away from the danger.

In modern times, the snapping of the twig has been replaced by our boss, a constant flood of emails, and the ever increasing “to do” list. When our bodies decide to use the same tactic it has evolved from centuries before, this tactic tends to come up short. We simply cannot fight or run from our day to day activities like we could from the beasts that were ready to eat us.

Furthermore, if left uncheck, this stress response can have detrimental effects on the body. Chronic stress contributes to a host of negative signs, symptoms, diseases, and disorders including but not limited to:

  • Memory and concentration impairment
  • Heart disease
  • Depression/anxiety
  • Digestive problems
  • Aches and pains
  • Exacerbation of any chronic disorder or diseases

Having healthy lifestyle habits in place can contribute towards diminishing chronic stress. Our experience has shown us that when people are working really hard, their good habits drop off.

This is where adaptogenic herbs can contribute the most. When people are too busy to exercise, eat healthy, and sleep well. Adaptogenic herbs can buy us time to reestablish a balance in the nervous system and supports the body to better handle the stress.

Adaptogenic herbs are classified as herbs that help protect the body from various stressors, including physical, mental, or emotional stress. These herbs have been used for centuries and across many civilizations. Stress is by no means a modern condition and we are only the latest generation to grapple with how to best defuse it.

Astragulas has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Known primarily for its wonderful benefit as an immune system enhancer. It typically is used to combat colds, influenza (flu), and upper respiratory tract infections. It has the additional bonus of providing energy for people suffering from fatigue due to chronic stress

Ashwagandha, known in the ayurvedic traditions as Indian ginseng, has been associated with promoting good health for centuries. A study indicated that administration of this herb effectively increased tolerance to stress in individuals and improved overall scores in in quality of life samplings. Ashwagandha can also be used to help with reducing inflammation and decreasing pain.

Grown in the artic regions of Asia and Europe, rhodiola is our go to herb for chronically high stressed patients. This plant can increase physical endurance, mental performance, and reduce stress induced fatigue in humans. In a study of military cadets undergoing sleep deprivation and stress found that rhodiola greatly helped the cadets with the effects of fatigue. Athletes are also taking advantage of rhodiola’s properties while training. Rhodiola is great at improving endurance capacity during exercises and shortening the recovery time from high endurance activities.

These are just the tip of the ice burg when it comes to adaptogenic herbs. There are many more adaptogenic herbs that can assist in treating chronic stress. Not to mention an entire pharmacopia of herbal therapies for acute and chronic conditions. If you would like to know more please talk to your local acupuncturist about what they can do for your health.

Lastly, we want to hear from you, our readers. What do you do to manage chronic stress? Are there certain regimens that you use that help with stress? We would love to hear from you and how you go about tackling this common condition.

 

References:

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