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July 24, 2020
Life has been pretty stressful lately, no doubt about it – we’ve all been impacted in some way by recent events, knocked out of our normal routines and habits, feeling overwhelmed and anxious, and possibly not sleeping properly. Let’s be honest, these have not been easy times. Constant stress, especially when it feels out of our control, can really take a toll – it impacts our sleep, lowers our immune system, diminishes our digestive system, endocrine system, mental clarity and focus, and alters our moods. It can create chronic inflammation, destabilize our blood sugar balance, and put too much strain on our hearts. Yikes! But here’s the positive thing: Humans have survived tens of thousands of years because we have the ability to adapt. Our bodies and minds have an intelligence built right into the systems that power us every day, and keep us tolerant to assault. I believe that given the right tools, and removing or reducing the obstacles in the path of good health, the organism that is us will heal.
It’s about having the right tools. And here’s the beautiful thing about one of those tools: herbs and other plants have evolved right along with us over all these years, and are the perfect things to reach for to power up our brains and our bodies, and give us the physiological boost we need to raise our vitality and rebuild our resiliency.
One of my favourite herbs that has been in use for over 4000 years and is classified as an ‘adaptogen’ (look at that – ‘adapt’ is built right into how this herb works) is Ashwagandha, an amazing root herb that aids our critically important adrenal gland in returning to proper balance and function. With good adrenal function, we have better resilience to stress, better sleep, improved blood sugar control, a more balanced nervous system with adrenaline and cortisol behaving themselves, reduced levels of generalized anxiety, better energy, deep immune support, and even an improvement to thyroid function. I would suggest any number of Botanica’s wonderful adrenal formulas, based on how you like to take your herbs, and what kind of strength you need. The Daily Energy Shot is an easy teaspoon a few times a day to give yourself a boost, and because it’s fermented, it can actually help your digestive system at the same time! Or go up to the next level with the Adrenal Support Liquid Herb, Botanica’s lovely liquid herb formulation. If you’re feeling quite depleted and need a strong lift, reach for the Daily Adrenal Support Liquid Capsule, with the benefit of old artisanal methods of alcohol extraction but super-concentrated in the easy-to-take vegan-friendly capsule form. One of my favourites, for myself and for my patients.
One thing I really love about herbs is that they are as much ‘food’ as they are ‘medicine’; Ashwagandha is a great food – and since it’s summer – I would add a daily smoothie full of berries, your go-to milk (oat, almond, cashew), a tsp of coconut oil, and a scoop of Botanica’s Perfect Protein Elevated Adrenal Support. You can also throw this into your pancake mix – did you know that Ashwagandha is a great source of soluble fiber, in addition to being one of our best adrenal boosting herbs? So many benefits.
As inflammation is now considered a primary driver of almost all of our modern-day chronic diseases, and increases with high stress, we’re going to want to give ourselves the tools to decrease that inflammation. Top choice here of course is the mighty Turmeric – research is just exploding on this herb, and for good reason. It is one of my favourite herbs to wear the double identify of food and medicine. Like many root herbs, turmeric contains certain active components that are not readily available until we help to activate them. In powdered form, as in the spice we add to food, or Botanica’s Turmeric Golden Mylk, it needs to be combined with something that has some heat, to help it absorb into our cells – such as black pepper or ginger – as well as some kind of fat, such as coconut oil or grape seed oil. Once activated, the curcuminoids and turmerones, two of the main medicinal constituents in turmeric, act in a similar manner to our drug-store anti-inflammatory products, but without the uncomfortable digestive side effects: they act on an enzyme system to block inflammatory prostaglandins. Turmeric also contains an abundance of bioflavonoids, often found in our brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. These important bioflavonoids help to stabilize cell membranes in every tissue of the body, including, according to the latest research, in our brains. Keeping inflammation down around the synapses of our neurons could potentially be a key player in reducing depression, anxiety, and dementia.
On a chilly, rainy day, you can add Botanica’s Turmeric Golden Mylk to hot oat milk with a cinnamon stick, and you’ll feel like you’re getting a treat, not taking your medicine. Using fermentation to further increase that absorption and bio-availability is one of Botanica’s fermented shots, The Daily Anti-inflammatory Shot, containing turmeric as well as ginger, another highly-researched and potent anti-inflammatory. One tsp of this, 2-3 times daily, is just so easy.
In addition to keeping your adrenal system supported, there are three herbs that jump to mind immediately when I think of immune boosting or balancing: Echinacea, Oregano, and Medicinal Mushrooms. The aim with immune formulas is not only to reduce symptoms of colds & flus and other kinds of infections, but to lessen the time that we are sick, and strengthen the immune system overall to help us be more resilient to bugs going around.
In many of Botanica’s formulas, the herbal artisans who have created the combinations have started with these basics, and added in some beautiful herbs to create synergy. Botanica’s Echinacea Goldenseal Liquid Herb, for example, contains Oregon Grape for its potent berberine content, and Propolis, an ancient remedy for fighting infections, making this a great formula for when you know you’re getting sick. The Immune Strength Liquid Herb on the other hand, containing Schisandra berries and Siberian Ginseng, is one to reach for to strengthen your immune system, especially when you know others around you are getting sick.
Oregano oil, of course, is hugely popular, and Botanica’s Oregano Oil is no exception: it comes in two strengths of drops, Regular Strength and Extra Strength) and for those who aren’t crazy about the taste, Botanica also makes an Oregano Oil Liquid Capsule. The one issue with straight oregano oil, as amazing as it is for those 3-5 days that you take it as soon as you feel something coming on, is that it isn’t really recommended to take all Fall and Winter – the potential risk is that we end up wiping out our good bacteria, not just the bugs we want to eliminate.
Lastly, we have the mushrooms. So much research is pouring out on the medicinal immune boosting properties of the mushroom family. Botanica’s Seven Medicinal Mushroom Liquid Herb contains powerful immune potentiating substances, to help balance things like cytokines and T-cells, key players in the fight against pathogens. Using this combination all winter, or at any time that you’re under stress and your immune system is either weakened (you find yourself getting every cold) or overactive (you’re becoming allergic to everything or even developing an autoimmune condition), it turns out that the mushroom family has a unique modulating effect on this system. Using the herbal formula a few times a day is great – but you can also make this a tasty treat: Botanica’s Reishi Hot Chocolate is to die for – safe to drink daily, mixed in your favourite hot milk of choice, you won’t even know you’re taking your medicine!
I see a lot of kids in my practice, which means I see a lot of parents, and they’re worried. Right now, recent events have been especially stressful for our kids, and they could use a boost, especially as they start back to school, and then move into summer activities. For kids, one of my absolute favourites is the Kids Cold and Flu Liquid Herb. It’s the perfect formula: containing Echinacea & Elderberry for immune function, and Lemon Balm to reduce stress & anxiety, and help them sleep better at night. I would also reach for one of Botanica’s two throat spray formulas: the Sore Throat Spray containing Echinacea, and the Olive Leaf Throat Spray. When we get sick from a respiratory-borne pathogen, the first landing place where the initial colonization starts is the mucous membrane of our nose and throat – if we can stop an infection there, we stand a much better chance of staying healthy. Which throat spray you choose for your kids comes down to taste, but either way it should be a mainstay in your medicine cabinet.
For more recipes using all of the Botanica products mentioned today for powering up your health and boosting your resilience, please go to our recipes page for more inspiration.