Your body is extremely resilient and adaptive under a variety of conditions, but it cannot accomplish the demands of whatever happens to be thrown its way without proper nutrition and physiological support.
In just one day, we can feel like we are on a crazy ride of opposites: stress and relaxation, happiness and sadness, bursts of energy and extreme fatigue. It is amazing how many emotions and physiological jolts we can experience in 24 hours.
Stress and fatigue tend to be a huge struggle for just about everyone, causing detrimental effects to your physical and mental health. Businesses are taking advantage of the growing number of caffeine and sugar addictions, hence the ability to find at least one, if not two, Starbucks on just about every block. The endless supply of sugar filled lattes and carb-loaded treats give your body and mind a boost of energy and a quick fix, and then abruptly leave you craving more and further exhausted.
Your body has a surprising ability to manage stress, yet on the inside your body is pleading for rest. Chronically elevated cortisol levels can affect every system in your body like burnt out adrenal glands, overstressed digestive tract, rapid aging, anxiety, cancer, chronic fatigue, common cold, hormone imbalance, irritable bowel disease, auto-immune disorders, thyroid conditions, and weight loss resistance.
Instead of just reaching for a short-lived remedy, I want to introduce an effective, long-term alternative for your body that will increase your resistance to stress, anxiety, and fatigue.
Adaptogens are a class of plants used for their healing abilities of balancing, restoring, and protecting your body as a whole — little miracles, I call them.
Adaptogens were granted their name because of their distinctive ability to "adapt" their function according to your body’s needs. An adaptogen does not have a specific action, nor target a certain body region; rather, it benefits the body as a whole, and is able to respond to any influence or stressor that it needs to.
These rejuvenating plants improve and recharge the health of your adrenal glands, counteracting the harmful effects of stress. Cells are accessed more energy and the ability to eliminate toxic byproducts of the metabolic process to help the body use oxygen more efficiently. More cellular energy in combination with boosting the adrenal glands strengthens the body’s ability to cope with stress, anxiety, and fatigue — calming you down and boosting you up simultaneously.
While prescription drugs remain in your system and influence multiple organs, once an adaptogen has completed its job, those herbs are eliminated or absorbed into the body without any side effects.
Adaptogens work slowly and gently, contrasting the instantaneous gratification of the caffeine cycle. You must be patient because they work subtly, but the benefits are undeniable and long lasting.
Here are the 9 adaptogens I recommend:
The easer of anxiety. Ashwagandha has immuno-modulating effects that boost and regulate the immune system and lower cortisol levels.
Increases the amount of anti-stress compounds our bodies use to prevent and repair stress-related damage. By reducing the ability of stress hormones like cortisol to bind to receptors, astralagus boosts immunity and shields the body from the effects of stress.
Funguses with antioxidant properties include Reishi, Shiitake, and Maitake mushrooms. Each are thought to have adaptogenic, anti-tumor, and immune enhancing properties.
Deer Antler Velvet:
Deer velvet covers the bone and cartilage in deer antlers and is used to boost strength and endurance and to counter the effects of stress. Additionally, this supplement is used to speed recovery from illness and protect the liver from toxins.
Referred to as the “elixir of anti-aging,” holy basil can help fight fatigue and stress, boosts the immune system, and regulates blood sugar, blood pressure, and hormone levels.
An energy and endurance booster, licorice root has been used to enhance the immune system and protects the thymus from the damage of cortisol. Because of the effects it may have on blood pressure, and the interactions it has with some prescription drugs, use with professional supervision.
Pine pollen is used to treat a number of issues, ranging from fatigue, prostate problems, rheumatic pain, strengthening the immune system, improving skin, moistening the lungs, strengthening the gastrointestinal tract and stomach, to increasing mental agility.
Also known as roseroot or golden root, rhodiola contains the phytochemical salidroside, which helps the body resist anxiety and stress. Rhodiola has also been said to suppress of the production of cortisol, increase levels of stress-resistant proteins, help the body resist mental and physical fatigue, and protect against oxidative stress, heat stress, radiation and toxic chemicals. Additional research has shown this adaptogen can protect the heart and liver, increase use of oxygen, and improve memory and longevity.
This adaptogen is used to prevent early aging and counteract cortisol’s aging effects. Schizandra is also used to increase resistance to disease, increase energy and physical performance, normalize blood sugar, and stimulate the immune system.
Incorporating adaptogens into your daily regimen could help you feel a huge improvement in your energy and stress levels — a much bigger improvement than you could think some small plants can do.
Photo credit: Sue Taylor via Flickr