Stress can have a powerful impact on our physical, mental and emotional health. Although some stress is inevitable, efforts should be made to avoid or eliminate chronic stress, which can cause significant health issues.
Stress Awareness Month, initiated by physician Dr. Mort Orman in 1992, was created to encourage people involved in health care to help spread awareness about “…what stress really is, what causes it to occur, and what we can do about it.” The last point is especially important, as stress has become so common that it may seem impossible to avoid or to remedy it. But it is possible. There are ways to combat stress and to diminish its damaging effects. Suggestions on improving diet, exercise and sleep are fairly common and well known, but a powerful aid in fighting the negative effects of stress that is only recently gaining greater awareness is found in herbs known as adaptogens.
Adaptogens and Stress
Adaptogens, used for thousands of years in global healing traditions, have the unique ability to increase our resistance to stress and to help the body restore balance. They help us “adapt” to physical, mental and emotional challenges that produce stress.
To be characterized as an adaptogen, an herb must be safe and nontoxic, must have broad use for normalizing and protect the body systems and restoring equilibrium, and must reduce the effects of stress – physically and mentally.
Among the more well-known adaptogenic herbs are: Panax Ginseng, Reishi, Rhodiola Rosea and Schisandra.
Schisandra Chinensis, the original super-berry, has been used for thousands of years in Chinese, Japanese and Korean traditions. Used as a tonic, is helps increase energy and fight fatigue. But typical of the balancing nature of adaptogens, when the body needs to relax, this herb calms and relaxes. It also supports the immune system, helping to protect a body dealing with stress.
Rhodiola Rosea is another popular adaptogen. It has been shown to reduce the levels of stress-induced chemicals that can damage the functioning of the nervous and glandular systems. It helps improve endurance and stamina, strength and brain function.
Reishi is a mushroom that helps regulate the body’s organs and functions. It also enhances the immune system function and acts as a normalizer to help sustain body system balance. It has a calming effect and enhances cardiovascular health.
Panax Ginseng is probably the most famous and well-studied Chinese herb. Used for more than 4,000 years, it promotes resistance to stress and fatigue. It supports normal function of the immune, cardiovascular, endocrine and nervous systems – all beneficial in fighting the negative effects of stress.
Restoring balance to the body and mind – combatting the effects of stress and illness – adaptogens help address multiple debilitating issues, protect the body systems, and enhance performance and enjoyment of life.
Do all you can to eliminate situations that cause stress and to nourish and support your body and mind. Diet, exercise, relaxation practices and social discourse are all important. Adding the support of nutrients such as adaptogen herbs can help you in your efforts to move forward toward a more balanced and healthy life