By Jena Covello and Alexa Ouaknine
Stress is part of every day life, for every person, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t the ones who decide how we deal with it. Adaptogens have been an extremely hot topic in the wellness world lately, and we've been mixing up some of these potions ourselves to keep our stress in check, our skin luminous, our immune system strong and our hormones balanced, to start. The verdict is in, and we can’t rave about adaptogens enough. Now that we’ve given them time to work and have seen the amazing results for ourselves, all we want to do is share all of their glory.
You can’t spell adaptogen without the word adapt, and adapting is exactly what adaptogens help our bodies to do. These balancing herbs have been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, and are prized for their ability to help the body adapt to stress. They help to normalize our physiological functions regardless of the direction of change, going where they are needed when they are needed and adjusting to our body’s demands. Adaptogens give us that middle ground that many of us have trouble finding. If you are up, they calm you down, and if you are down, they pick you up. If your immune system is autoimmune they can have a suppressing effect, and if your immune system is deficient they can help to pick it back up. Moreover, Adaptogens do wonders for supporting adrenal function. They regulate our nervous response to stress by making the stress response efficient and the ability to switch them off efficient as well. We have to be able to switch off our stress response in order to avoid running them to exhaustion and to protect the host from its own defense mechanisms. If we don’t, responses like inflammation, immune activation and changes in the liver will have seriously harmful effects.
Stress happens more frequently than we can put our finger on. Stress hormones are secreted when we exercise, have a bad night’s sleep, are sick and fighting off illness, aren’t eating nourishing foods, etc. A stressor is really anything that knocks us out of homeostatic balance, and what our body does to get itself back to “normal” is what we refer to as the stress response, which can be even more damaging than the thing that knocked us out of balance in the first place. What’s great about these herbs is that not only are they totally non toxic to the body when taken in therapeutic doses (we recommend starting with ½ to ¼ teaspoon and increasing over time), but they help our bodies to be more resilient to these stressors without acting as a chemical straightjacket, like antipsychotics and antidepressants do. Since some adaptogens are calming (such as cordyceps, schisandra, and reishi) and some are stimulating (like rhodiola), we suggest rotating them and starting with small amounts. Test them out and see what works for you, but like with most things, give them time to work their magic before throwing in the towel. If you are pregnant, nursing, or have a pre-existing medical condition, consult with your doctor before incorporating these herbs into your regular routine.
OUR AGENT TIP:
We love to get our adaptogens in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs. They are the same high-quality as some of the fancier brands, but are much easier on the wallet because you’re not paying for the fancy packaging. (https://www.mountainroseherbs.com)
Some of our favorite anti-stress agents listed below!
Also referred to as Tulsi and is “known as the "Queen of the herbs". Holy Basil is an ancient adaptogen that helps to balance hormones, boost the immune system and reduce inflammation throughout the body. It is used to calm anxiety, and help with adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism, acne and blood sugar.
Yes, the same kind of pearls we wear on our ears and around our necks are also what we are calling the golden ticket to glowing skin. As Dr. Will Cole (https://drwillcole.com) says, crushed pearl powder is an adaptogenic source of amino acids, proteins, calcium, trace minerals and polysaccharides that promises glowing skin, healthy hair and stronger nails. Pearl also helps promote bone and cell building. It is made up cell building compounds, helping us repair tissue, promote peaceful mood, and slow the aging process. Pearl powder promotes regeneration of new skin cells, regenerates collagen, and improves skin elasticity. It is nearly tasteless and so easy to incorporate daily.
Chaga/ Reishi/ Cordyceps
Chaga – The ultimate immune and health tonic for fighting off bacteria and viruses and supporting immune system. By providing our cells with such a significant amount of antioxidants, Chaga slows down the natural aging process and can even help repair skin damage.
Reishi – A calming, grounding, and balancing adaptogenic mushroom that has traditionally been used throughout Asia to assist in deepening meditation. Reishi contains many antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds and can help improve the central nervous system and balance hormones naturally. We love using Reishi for a less stressful menstrual cycle.
Cordyceps – This adaptogenic mushroom is known to be a longevity-promoting herb that helps fight the effects of stress and aging and increases immunity against viruses. Cordyceps can help control autoimmune disorders, excessive inflammation, and tissue damage while speeding up healing time.
Rhodiola is a stimulating adaptogen, so if you’re looking to be productive and get that natural energy boost without the crash, look no further. Rhodiola burns stored fat for energy, is great for enhancing athletic performance by increasing red blood cell count, lowers cortisol and improves brain function. It helps fight depression by increasing dopamine and serotonin sensitivity, which are two neurotransmitters known for increasing focus, memory, pleasure, and improving mood.
Triphala is a natural laxative and colon cleanser, therefore making it a great adaptogen for anyone with digestion issues. It is known to lower cholesterol, aid in weight loss and detoxification, fight off cancer and is an excellent source of vitamin C.
This powder from pine trees is packed full with B Vitamins and vitamin D. This nutrient powerhouse is high in antioxidants and helps with energy levels. It is most commonly used for balancing hormones and can be incredibly useful for naturally increasing low testosterone levels. Pine pollen protects the immune system, acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and helps to beautify the skin.
He Shou Wu
A true “a youth elixir” that has proven to stimulate the body’s longevity promoting substances. It has been used for thousands of years to promote healthy aging by tonifying the Kidney and Liver functions. He Shou Wu stimulates the most potent antioxidant in the body, called superoxide dismutase, which heals from disease and extends lifespan. He Shou Wu helps keep the skin moisturized and contains iron, zinc, copper and other minerals that are important for women’s health and fertility, making it a great blood tonic after a period cycle.
Schisandra is a true brain and beauty food that acts as an aphrodisiac and nourishes the inner organs, resulting in shinier hair and glowing skin. It is a natural beauty tonic that protects the skin from toxins, allergic reactions, environmental stress and dermatitis. It contains a high concentration of antioxidant compounds, therefore making it useful for combating inflammation.