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January 26, 2018
It’s no secret that stress can be detrimental to your health but most of us really don’t know what to do about it! Since it’s not as simple as a push of a button to stop or reduce stress, what are we to do?
I was recently visiting a dermatologist with my husband to get to the bottom of his allergic reactions. And we were shocked to hear what the dermatologist linked the cause to, you guessed it: Stress!
After inquiring as to what can be done about it, the specialist recommended that he ‘[not] stress’ (easier said than done doc!).
Unfortunately, for most of us earthlings, the achievement of a state of zen is a life-long pursuit and the modern day lifestyle of busy schedules certainly does not help. Our minds are so occupied with endless thoughts and worries that even the very thought of stressing less is STRESSFUL!
Let’s quickly breakdown what stress really is and how we can address besides just “wishing for it to go away”. The typical stress-response we experience is mediated through the hormone Cortisol. This is the same amazing hormone that helps wake you up every morning but it also contributes to a number of health problems including immune dysfunction, memory impairment, chronic fatigue, and central obesity when left unchecked. These latter effects are insidious and appear slowly over time completely under our radar.
To ensure that this hormone is in balance, there are a number of pro-active measures you can take. Lifestyle factors such as sleep, exercise, diet and relaxation practices are very effective. Nevertheless, when your stress is beyond what healthy habits can manage, other means of support may be required.
Amazingly, certain herbs understood by medical herbalists as adaptogens, have the ability to improve our bodies’ response to stressful events. The best way to understand adaptogens is to understand the process of studying them.
Researchers have developed what’s called a “stress test” in animal models where the animals’ ability to endure through one of these tests, with or without adaptogens is analyzed. Stress tests are a little tricky to perform on humans as there are myriad confounders that cannot be controlled for. In animal models, however, there is a clear observable and significant difference in the length of time the animals endure the stressful event before giving up when given adaptogenic herbs (1,2,3).
Think of these herbs as a sail that help propel you through the ups and downs of life.
Here are 5 adaptogens with centuries of traditional use as well as scientific evidence attesting to their adaptogenic nature to help you reduce Stress:
Adaptogenic herbs are natures wonderful strength-building elixirs. Stress being a natural part of daily life is not in and of itself detrimental. But whether our body has the means to deal with these stressors is what may prove injurious. Moreover, since “not stressing” isn’t an option -as the switch that turns ‘stress’ ON is outside most people’s control- nature, in its ultimate wisdom has provided for those high-stress times. Adaptogens ensure our body has what it needs to get through stress with ease and in total health. Thus, continue in your practice of mindful living and use one (or a combination) of these herbs to give your coping strategies a boost.