Herbs to Handle it All: Adaptogens
I’ve spoken in the past about my love for adaptogens. They are truly our herbal allies: they help us combat the physical and mental stresses of our daily lives. There are many herbs in the adaptogen family. I’ll explain how they benefit us and introduce you to Rhodiola, our supplement of the month. If you struggle with stress, worry about your immune system, feel overwhelmed, or battle exhaustion, read on to discover how these herbs can help!
What Are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens are herbs celebrated for their ability to adapt to our needs. In times of physical and mental stress, they provide the following support:
- Increased performance and stamina
- Reduced side effects of chemotherapy and radiation
- Increased resistance to chemical carcinogens
- Balanced mood
- Weight management
- Immune system boosts
In addition to these benefits, they are also recognized as generally safe and non-toxic. Each individual herb also has its own positive properties.
The Stress Response
When our bodies undergo stress, they respond as if under attack. This response is commonly known as “fight-or-flight” mode. Fight-or-flight serves us well in moments where we are actually fighting (or fleeing) for our lives. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyles often push us into a constant state of this stress response. Inadequate nutrition, insufficient rest, and unresolved anxieties can all cause our bodies to remain in a heightened state, leading to a host of problems like digestive disturbances and a fearful, negative outlook.
During times of stress, the hypothalamus releases chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream. Blood is directed away from the digestive tract to prepare our limbs for running or fighting. Our pupils dilate, in search of danger. Traditionally, this state is resolved by either fighting or fleeing. The excess energy is used, chemicals are absorbed, and we return to our normal, functional selves.
The danger today lies in the source of our stress. An argument with your teenager, unexpected bill, or a parent-teacher conference can trigger these chemical changes, but these opportunities don’t allow for a release. Instead, we are forced to respond in ways that are counterproductive to our mental, emotional, and spiritual survival. Conditions like high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, and depression are more likely to occur.
Enter our Allies, The Adaptogens
There is a way to combat this stress response, however. This is where adaptogens really shine! Not only do they counteract this response, they can help boost your immune system as well! They are essential in times of sustained stress, and also beneficial when your system is not under attack.
Our Supplement of the Month, Rhodiola
The use of Rhodiola Rosea dates as far back as 77 A.D. It has been recognized for the following benefits:
- Supports the immune system
- Combats depression
- Strengthens nervous system
- Increases physical stamina
- Enhances memory
- Assists in weight management
- Improves sexual function
- Increases energy levels
- Improves hearing
- Stabilizes blood sugar
- Protects the liver from toxins
It is no secret that we are all living with more stress than our bodies can handle. Spend time checking in with yourself to see whether this has affected your outlook on life. If you are operating from a place of fear rather than love, it will start to manifest more negativity in your life. Herbs like Rhodiola are wonderful sources of support, as are beliefs in a higher power, compassion for others, and patience with yourself. Check in with your body, mind, and spirit often to determine the areas that would benefit the most from additional support, and allow yourself the ability to heal.