How would it be, if you could ‘modulate’ the way your body reacts to stress? Not with any strenuous exercise or rocket science but with plants. Adaptogen herbs cure stress. The health industry is booming with new ideas every day and these stress-busting ‘adaptogens’ have become a trending #buzzword!
Today’s world is highly competitive. With increasing work pressure and deadlines, family needs, a major percentage of the population suffers from stress/anxiety. Research reveals that stress and anxiety interfere with the lives of 72% of the population. While one-half of the population is turning towards yoga and meditation to shake off stress, the other half seems to be on a sugar high!
Caffeinated drinks are now taking over the market and seem to be a ‘way of life’. They might be your secret pleasure too, giving your brain a temporary high, but with their high sugar content, they pose a great threat to your body and immunity system. Sugar is proven to deplete calcium in the bones and even cause cancer. So is there any other way to ‘cure’ stress? Well, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
Origin Of Adaptogens
Although these herbs have been used to cure stress/imbalances for thousands of years in ancient India (Ayurveda) and China (Traditional Chinese Medic), the term Adaptogens was coined in 1947 by Russian scientist Dr Nicolai Lazarev. These herbs are named after plants which grow in harsh conditions. The ability of the plants, to adapt to the harsh environment, is passed on nutritionally to us through these herbs. This means that these magical herbs help the body to adapt to the changing environment. Hence they are known by the name ‘Adaptogens’. Scientists have found 3 major characteristics of adaptogens:-
- They are Non-toxic
- Produce a nonspecific response to stress (in a positive manner)
- Resistance to stressors
- These herbs basically act like Mechanics; tuning and repairing our bodies.
How Do Adaptogen Herbs Cure Stress?
Adaptogen herbs cure stress and are ‘Adrenal Superfoods’. They lower the cortisol level in our body. Cortisol is a hormone which is secreted by the adrenal glands. They help in regulating metabolism, controlling salt, water balance and influence blood pressure. Too much of cortisol could spell trouble, as it would lead to weight gain, high BP, osteoporosis and mood swings. Hence, by controlling the cortisol level they balance the body during peak performance and reduce the reaction to stress.
Adaptogens counteract the disturbances caused by stressors (they may be internal/external stressors) without causing any side effects. These herbs increase the body’s response to physical, emotional and environmental stress and also cures them. They help in regulating and channelling our energy.
Just imagine; what if the accelerator in your car did not work properly? The car would be difficult to drive, isn’t it? In the same way, these adaptogen herbs regulate the energy in the body, making you feel calm and relaxed in stressful situations.
Key To Control Hormonal Imbalance?
There are some days when you feel irritable/bloated or simply not your best. This can be a symptom of ‘hormonal imbalance’. Our bodies secrete various kinds of hormones (most of them secreted by the pituitary gland, thyroid, adrenal glands, ovaries in women and testes in men) and they keep changing as we age. Like a teenager goes through drastic fluctuations due to raging hormones, a woman has rapid changes in her hormones during pregnancy and menopause. But sometimes these chemical messengers may go out of hand and cause a ruckus to the human body. This is when they cause:-
- Irregular periods
- Appetite problems
- Weight gain
- Chronic acne
Well, the adaptogens can act like a God sent gift during these times. They have a balancing effect on the endocrine system, making you jump back to action in no time, with zero side effects! So think before you take any unwanted antibiotics.
Types of Adaptogens Which Cure Stress
1) Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Native to the dry regions of India, the Middle East, and Northern Africa, the leaves and roots of ashwagandha possess valuable therapeutic properties. It can be used as a general tonic since it promotes energy in the body. Studies suggest that this wondrous herb is an anti-cancer supplement. So what does it do?
Benefits of Ashwagandha:
- This adaptogen can cure stress
- Ashwagandha cures Insomnia/Anxiety disorders
- It calms the brain and lowers Blood Pressure
- It increases stamina and builds endurance in the body
Usage: 1 teaspoon of Ashwagandha in the morning and one in the evening (powdered form) either with water /milk.
2) Indian Gooseberry (Amla) (Phyllanthus emblica)
Yet another treasure from the Indian sub-continent, Amla is a superfood. Gaining immense popularity in the West, this humble berry is a powerhouse of Vitamin C. It has a unique blend of sweet-sour, bitter and astringent qualities all rolled into one!
Benefits of Amla (Indian Gooseberry):
- Amla improves digestion
- It prevents premature greying of the hair
- It cures depression and stress (It contains many Anti-oxidants)
- It is an excellent source for eye ailments
- It is a mild laxative, which helps in constipation
Usage: 3 grams of Amla powder mixed with water (you can also make fresh amla juice) and drink it early in the morning. (you can add some jaggery)
Note– *After this do not drink tea/coffee for 45 minutes.*
3) Ginseng (Panax)
Popularly known as the ‘King of medicine’, ginseng has been used for centuries in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). It is grown in Eastern Asia (particularly China and Korea) and North America. This herb is rich in Vitamins A, B1, up to B2 and C, minerals, enzymes, amino acids and many more components. They release ‘endorphins’/‘Happy Hormones’ in the brain. #YourDoseOfHappiness!
Benefits of Ginseng:
- Ginseng prevents heart diseases
- It is a super brain tonic
- It prevents Alzheimer’s/Parkinson’s disease
- It lowers BP
- It slows down the menopausal stage in women
Usage: Ginseng can be taken in the form of powder (200 milligrams ) / Ginseng Tea.
Note– *Take the herb continuously for a few weeks, then don’t take them for a while. This increases its performance.*
4) Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)
Rhodiola is found naturally in the Arctic regions, Europe and North America. It has been extensively used in Scandinavian countries and Siberia to cope up with the high altitude and cold climate. The leaves, shoots, and flowers of Rhodiola are used as medicine. It is also known by the name ‘Golden root’.
Benefits of Rhodiola:
- Rhodiola helps to cope up with stress
- It cures altitude sickness
- It increases vitality
- It provides emotional stability
- It induces sleep
Usage: Best taken in the morning in the form of extract, 100mg.
Note– *You can increase the amount up to 300mg.*
*Some people might not find this herb suitable, so test before consuming them*
5) Holy Basil (Tulsi) (Ocimum tenuiflorum)
The Holy basil is a plant found in every typical Indian household. Considered a holy plant in India, it possesses purifying properties and cleanses the air around us. It has been used in Ayurveda for thousands of years and is considered a ‘healing’ plant. It is also known by the name ‘Queen of Herbs’
Benefits of Tulsi:
- Tulsi not only prevents stress but also heals the damage caused by it
- It is anti-Bacterial
- It possesses anti-viral properties (Excellent for a cold)
- It gives a soothing effect on body and mind
- It treats allergies
Usage: Unlike the various adaptogens we saw before, Tulsi is your ‘daily adaptogen’
- It can be combined with your meals (salads)
- Taken as tea
- Munch some raw tulsi leaves in the morning to leave your taste buds tingling!
- Tablet form (2 tablets a day)
Note – *A small handful of tulsi leaves is enough for a day.*
The stress-busting world of adaptogens is truly intriguing. They are indeed nature’s very own formula to beat the stress. These adaptogen herbs cure stress easily and are beneficial in many other ways as we just saw. So incorporate these wonder herbs in your life and live a stress-free and healthy life.