Managing Stress With Adaptogenic Herbs

Adaptogenic herbs have been used for centuries in various traditional healing systems. These remarkable herbs contain the unique ability to help our bodies adapt to stressors, whether they’re physical, emotional, or environmental. When adaptogenic herbs are a consistent part of your daily routine, they work to balance and strengthen your body’s systems, promoting homeostasis and resilience.

When the human body is under stress, it goes through 3 phases. 

1. The alarm phase: This is the phase when a stress trigger happens. The hormone spike floods the body and gives us the ability to perform during a stressful task or event.

2. The phase of resistance: This is our body’s act of resisting the stressor. Fighting against it.

3. The phase of exhaustion: This is when we begin to crash. Hormones drop sharply and we are exhausted mentally and physically.

Adaptogens make the spikes and drops more gentle, and we’re able to stay in the phase of resistance longer, having the capability of tolerating stress without as much damage to our bodies.

That’s all pretty technical. What it all comes down to, is that this amazing group of herbs helps our bodies to stay strong and capable during stressors, no matter what it is. A stressor can be a positive and exciting event like getting married, a birthday party, or even a good workout. Of course, negative stressors like a storm damaging your roof, financial hardship, or marital strain also cause stress in our bodies.  Stress is stress, and too much of it starts to wear on the body. 

We experience trouble sleeping, a rise in blood pressure, headaches, stomach upset, flares in chronic conditions…the list can go on and on…when we’re stressed. Being in a prolonged state of stress can have devastating results for the body…that’s where adaptogens come in.

There are many different adaptogens, and they all have their place. These 5 herbs I’m discussing in this post are our family’s favorite adaptogenic herbs. They are versatile, can be used daily, and have few to no warnings or contraindications.

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)

Astragalus root

Astragalus is an immune-modulating herb. It has the ability to help restore balance to the immune system. It’s a tonic herb that holds anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, diuretic, and hypotensive properties.

It’s a helpful herb for preventing colds and flu, and has been the subject of studies surrounding the strengthening of immune systems in those who have gone through chemotherapy.

My preferred way to prepare astragalus is in tincture form. It has a very strong flavor and is not very tasty as a decoction.

It can be added to elderberry syrup to create a potent immune tonic.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Ashwagandha is our absolute favorite herb for managing stress. It includes anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, and nervine properties that make this herb superb for stress and anxiety that leaves you weak and exhausted. 

There have been several studies regarding ashwagandha and its effects on male reproduction. It does impact male hormones and can be quite helpful in balancing some testosterone levels when they are low.

 

**Ashwagandha should be avoided during pregnancy!

ashwagandha root

Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)

rhodiola root in a bowl

Rhodiola is an adaptogenic tonic herb that works particularly well in the brain and nervous system. Besides its excellence in lowering stress, it supports mental clarity, memory function, and can boost energy levels with its antidepressant and astringent properties. 

The best preparation for rhodiola root is in tincture form.

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)

Stinging nettle is such a wonderous herb. It really is a little miracle plant. It’s anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, and anti-allergenic properties make nettle our top choice for fighting inflammation associated with allergies and asthma.

But, that’s not where the benefits stop. It’s also an adaptogen and tonic herb that is supportive to the kidneys and extremely helpful in lowering inflammation and painful symptoms in inflammatory arthritis and gout.

The entire nettle plant can be utilized from the seed to the leaf, stem and the roots. In spring the young shoots should be harvested and sauteed for a nutritive boost after a long winter.

Stinging nettle’s nutritive properties also help to build bones and red blood cells, fighting anemia. As a side effect of that, it can also help to normalize an unusually low blood pressure.

It can be used as a tincture or in a tea blend, all receiving equally impressive results. 

The only warning regarding this plant is that it is covered with tiny white hairs that can get underneath your skin and cause severe itching and irritation to the skin. So, when you are handling nettle, be sure to use a good pair of non-porous gloves.

stinging nettle leaves

Holy Basil / Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum)

Holy Basil, also known as Tulsi, is a tonic herb with a particular gift for helping to heal the circulatory system. Because it protects the heart from stress, it also is busy supporting blood pressure, whole body circulation, memory and concentration abilities. It’s also a good addition to a tea blend for allergies and asthma.

It’s properties also include antibacterial, antiviral, carminative, hypotensive, and immune-modulating, benefits and can be taken in a tea, or prepared as a tincture.

 

There are many more adaptogenic herbs that you can use for a variety of purposes, but we feel that these herbs are as powerful as they are versatile and can be easily incorporated into your daily schedule. Remember, adaptogens in particular, and need to be taken consistently to gtake advantage of all the benefits they have to offer.

Want to get a sneak peek of our education center in progress and hear more about our top 5 favorite adaptogen herbs? Watch this YouTube video.

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