ADAPTOGENS are natural stress relievers that help your body adapt to environmental stressors. These herbs have been used for centuries to support the body’s response to stress and promote homeostasis.
Pressure is typically good: It can motivate us, push us out of our comfort zones, and even aid weight loss when accompanied by exercise. But chronic stress can be damaging to both mental and physical health…
For most people, everyday stress levels may be manageable with lifestyle changes such as getting plenty of sleep, exercising regularly, setting non-stressful routines, and practicing meditation or other mindfulness techniques. However, if you’re feeling chronically stressed out and want additional support against the harmful effects of excessive stress on your body, consider these six adaptogenic herbs as natural stress relievers:
Ashwagandha is a calming adaptogen famous for reducing anxiety and promoting restful sleep. Ashwagandha also helps the body deal with stress-related exhaustion, enhances endurance, and is often used in sports nutrition as an anti-inflammatory and performance-enhancing agent.
Ashwagandha’s stress-reducing properties are due to its rich content of withanolide compounds, which are antioxidants said to have anti-stress, anti-anxiety, and anti-inflammatory effects on the body. In addition to having neuroprotective and anti-aging qualities, ashwagandha may one day replace benzodiazepines as a treatment for anxiety disorders and sleep disturbances.
The sacred plant known as tulsi, sometimes holy basil, has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic treatment. Holy basil, an adaptogenic plant, helps the body cope with stress by regulating cortisol levels and bolstering the immune system.
Tulsi is often used as a sleep aid and can also be helpful for anxiety, depression, and stress-related headaches. Because stress-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers are on the rise, managing stress with herbal adaptogens may be a helpful and non-invasive way to prevent and even reverse these diseases.
Licorice root is a sweet root known for its ability to soothe and heal the body. Licorice is an excellent herb for people experiencing stress-induced inflammation in their bodies.
It has been used to support healthy adrenal glands (the organs that release cortisol), the pituitary gland (the “master gland” that regulates other glands in the body), and the immune system’s response to stress. Ingesting licorice at high doses can cause fluid retention, high blood pressure, and increased blood sugar levels. Therefore, it’s best to use licorice as an adaptogenic herb in moderate amounts.
Maca root is an adaptogenic herb that can increase energy and help reduce stress-related anxiety. Maca has been used for centuries in the Andes Mountains of Peru as a nourishing food that promotes fertility and longevity.
Maca root is rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids and has been shown to increase stamina, reduce fatigue, and improve mood. Maca also has adaptogenic properties and can help the body adapt to stress by regulating cortisol levels and the HPA axis.
Schisandra berry is an adaptogenic Chinese herb traditionally used to enhance mental clarity and reduce psychological and physical exhaustion. Schisandra’s potency for supporting healthy brain function makes it an excellent herb for students and professionals who work in high-stress environments.
Schisandra also helps the body adapt to stress by supporting the adrenal glands and producing cortisol, the “fight-or-flight” hormone. Schisandra has been used in Chinese medicine as a longevity herb and is believed to promote long life by energizing the body and enriching the blood.
Cordyceps mushroom, also known as “winter worm, summer grass,” has been used in Tibetan and Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Cordyceps mushroom is one of the most widely studied adaptogenic herbs. It has been used to prevent altitude sickness, increase energy, and reduce mental and physical fatigue in those who engage in physical activity.
Cordyceps has been shown to regulate cortisol levels and support immune function and mental clarity. Cordyceps is a rich source of antioxidants, amino acids, minerals, and B vitamins. Additionally, it has been demonstrated to increase oxygenation and blood flow to the brain, which suggests that it may be a valuable herb for those with mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety.
As the world becomes increasingly stressful, taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional health is essential. Although there’s no escaping stress, ultimately, you can employ various stress-reduction techniques like yoga, meditation, exercise, and spending time in nature to stay balanced and healthy.
Meanwhile, adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha, holy basil, licorice root, maca root, Schisandra berry, cordyceps mushroom, and Schisandra berry can support your body and mind during times of stress.