Adapt to Stress with Adaptogenic Herbs
This article is based on a Thrive Tribe 419 podcast conversation with herb expert Rebecca Ahern of Rebecca Ahern Apothecary. Nothing in this article is intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Please consult a medical professional if you need one.
“Adaptogens are a wonderful herbal tool to have our toolbox to deal with stress.”
Rebecca had some postpartum depression and no matter what she tried, it wasn’t enough. The midwife suggested trying Ashwagandha which helped support her adrenals, and in turn helped her survive PPD.
“We think we’ve become experts at dealing with stress in our modern lives, but it increases the inflammation in our body, affects our immune systems, and can eventually cause chronic health problems.”
Rebecca feels that it isn’t a matter of when we need an adaptogen, but what adaptogen we need!
Adaptogenic plants are nontoxic to humans and have the ability to adapt to the stressors of their environment. The survival instinct of a plant, written in the DNA, can help humans too. Think of a plant that bends to reach the light. They help us “remember what our baseline is”… and nudge us back to health. They enhance the body’s ability to deal with stressors from food, environmental toxins, and daily life.
Ashwagandha root can be found in powdered form, in a capsule in a tea. Rebecca feels since digestion starts in the mouth, and the sensory experience of tasting and feeling the herb in the mouth, that it stimulates her brain in a primal way.
This herb is beneficial for insomnia and nervous tension. It’s great for someone who is high-energy and “busy.” It helps you to take a breath and think about the present moment. It’s anti-inflammatory, and reduces muscle spasms, and it stimulates the thyroid in a supportive and synergistic way. Ashwagandha manages hormone surges and is especially helpful for women.
Any adaptogen is not going to be an immediate fix. Nourish the body continuously with the herb and then the full effect will be noticed with time.
Holy Basil or Tulsi is one of the mildest adaptogens as far as stimulants. It’s an antioxidant (can fight free radicals), and it stimulates concentration. It can even help with the ability to “juggle” many responsibilities. It’s one of the only adaptogens that is specifically eliminates bloating and digesting. It can help control blood sugar levels and there have been studies showing that people with diabetes have benefited from using Holy Basil. It could also be a great choice for women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. The best time to use a stimulant is earlier in the day if adrenal fatigue is present and the herb keeps you awake.
Of course, it’s important to check contraindications with medications and communicate with your general practitioner, especially if you plan to wean off a medication and replace it with a natural option.
Eleuthro (Siberian Ginseng) is an adaptogen that is much more stimulating than Holy Basil. Listen to your body and take it during the time of day that seems to work best for you. Listening to your body takes practice. Keeping a journal may help.
Rhodiola, another popular adaptogen, provides for immune function, stabilizes mood, and is recommend for people who are feeling depleted and have fatigue and a rigorous physical lifestyle. Rhodiola can be helpful for women who have just given birth and who experience dysphoria while breastfeeding.
Adaptogenic herbs are readily available in a few commercially-sold teas. Rebecca recommends drinking it in powdered form if possible. She buys the herbs and powders them and makes her own blends. She suggests using a base of nettles, which isn’t an adaptogen, but is very nourishing and tastes good. Then add the adaptogens, which don’t always taste wonderful, and then add something delicious, like a freeze-dried fruit or rose hips, local raw honey, or a milk of choice.
If you need help implementing adaptogens in your life, Rebecca is able to share information and her personal experience and moral support, even if you are not purchasing from her.
If you really don’t want to go to the work, you can order your tea at www.AhernApothecary.com or purchase your handmade adaptogenic tea at Toledo Naturopathic in Waterville (419-376-6104) or Naturally Simplified Alternative Wellness Boutique at 1012 Ralston Avenue in Defiance. Rebecca Ahern Apothecary is also on Facebook and Instagram.
To listen to the full podcast episode, go to www.ThriveTribe419.com