Friday, June 28, 2019

Healing Herbs For Stress & Fatigue

Stress causes very real physical changes in the body, including harming the neurological, endocrine, and immune systems. Adaptogens have stimulant properties that help counteract those harmful effects. They work to counteract the effects of stress in the body.

To qualify as an adaptogen, an herb must be completely safe and non-toxic, it must have broad uses for health, and it must reduce stress, both mental and physical. To put it simply, adaptions help us adapt to everyday stressors we find in our lives.

While not a complete list of adaptogens, the following herbs provide significant adaptogenic actions:

Ashwagandha: Of all the medicinal plants used in India’s several millennia old tradition of Ayurveda, Ashwagandha is the most highly prized. Also known as Indian Ginseng, it has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects and relax the central nervous system. Some people also use Ashwagandha for improving thinking ability, decreasing pain and swelling (inflammation), and preventing the effects of aging. It is also used for fertility problems in men and women and also to increase sexual desire. Some people also use Ashwagandha for improving thinking ability, preventing the effects of aging, and to aid with fertility problems in men and women. Do not take Ashwagandha without consulting your physician if you are pregnant, have diabetes, high or low blood pressure, stomach ulcers, certain autoimmune disorders (MS, Lupus, RA, etc), thyroid conditions, or are scheduled to have surgery.

Eleuthero: Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to increase sexual function, boost vital energy and normalize overall body functions, Eleuthero is classified as an adaptogen, enhancing immunity and vitality overall. Some people also use Eleuthero to reduce fatigue, improve cognition, reduce symptoms of certain neurological disorders, reduce inflammation, protect the heart, improve respiratory health, and help control blood sugar levels. If you suffer from certain mental conditions (mania or insomnia) or hormone-related disorders, it can be dangerous to take Eleuthero. Also, in the case of heart conditions, diabetes, or cancer, its use can be beneficial, but only under the strict guidance of your medical provider. This is a very powerful herb and can have complex interactions with other drugs, so caution and consultation is necessary.

Holy Basil: Holy Basil functions as an adaptogen, enhancing the body's natural response to physical and emotional stress. Holy basil is incredibly beneficial for human health, primarily due to the unique composition of its essential oil. It's rich blend of organic compounds delivers a number of health benefits and can help relieve acne, asthma, inflammation, respiratory issues, and lower your chances of heart diseases and atherosclerosis. Holy basil is not the same as basil used in Italian or Thai dishes. Holy basil, or tulsi, has a pungent and bitter taste and it is not used for cooking. It is however used to make tulsi tea which has adaptogenic properties.

Maca: Maca has been dubbed “Peruvian ginseng,” though it bears no relation to ginseng. But like ginseng, the root increases strength, energy, stamina, libido and sexual function. Maca root powder is a popular supplement among bodybuilders and athletes. It has been claimed to help you gain muscle, increase strength, boost energy and improve exercise performance. Maca works within our body to lower cortisol levels that have been shown to cause imbalances in our sex hormones such as progesterone, estrogen, testosterone and even our DHEA.

Panax Ginseng: This Ginseng is the one most people are familiar with as a tonic herb used for rejuvenate and invigorate. It is considered an adaptogen, by providing non-specific protection against various mental, physical and environmental forms of stress. Some of the more commonly reported side effects include headaches, lower blood sugar levels, nervousness, and insomnia. Ginseng may affect your hormone levels, so if you have a hormone-related condition such as endometriosis, uterine fibroid, or cancer of the breast, ovaries, uterus, or prostate, you should avoid ginseng. Children and women who are pregnant should not take Ginseng.

Rhodiola Rosea: A well studied adaptogen, Rhodiola defends the body overall, and protects general health and well-being. Its anti-stress and fatigue-fighting properties make it one of the most popular botanical in all of Siberia. Side effects can happen, so be sure to take the prescribed dose your physician recommends. Side effects are agitation, insomnia, anxiety, and occasional headache.

Schisandra: Schisandra is a plant that produces a berry-like fruit. The fruit can be turned into a potent tonic for decreasing fatigue, enhancing physical performance, and promoting endurance. The berry counters stress by reducing the levels of stress hormones in the blood. In some people, schisandra has been known to cause heartburn, upset stomach, decreased appetite, and stomach pain. Itching and skin rashes are uncommon but can occur. You should not use schisandra if you have uncontrolled gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) as it may trigger reflux symptoms.

Adaptogens greatly improve your body's ability to adapt to stress, whether it's a busy schedule, heat/cold, noise, traffic, high altitudes or any other stressors. This class of herbs bestows strength, energy, stamina, and endurance, while improving mental clarity. In many parts of the world adaptogens are used with consistency in high-risk, quick-reflex occupations.

However do not use more than one at a time. Instead try one for a week, and if you don't feel an improvement then try another. For example, I began using Ashwagandha directly after my hiking accident in 2012, but it wasn't exactly what I needed. It helped, but not with everything I was experiencing. So I tried Maca instead because my body had been thrown into post menopause, as well as creating post traumatic stress and anxiety. After three days it began making a huge difference, and still does to this day.

Be sure to only take the amount your naturopath, or naturopathic physician, prescribes. The "serving size" on a package is not indicative of the amount you should be taking.

As always, if you are on any other medicinal herbs or pharmaceutical medications, consult your doctor before introducing any new medicinal herbs to your regimen.

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My work fluctuates between human and animal, discerning the best means of healing for each. I use my medical intuitive gifts for both, my naturopathic knowledge for humans, my ability to communicate with and lay hands on animals, and all so both can live harmoniously together with great health and well being. The articles on this site are for reference only. Please consult your physician, mental health professional, or veterinarian before making any changes to you or your pets wellness routine.

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Information shared on this site is not intended for use without first consulting your personal physician, mental health professional, or veterinarian. In shamanic cultures naturopathic means are used first because patients are taught to be in tune with their own body's needs from childhood. If you are on conventional medicine, be sure to learn about the side effects that they can create when adding naturopathic herbs to your wellness program, before adding them to your routine.