As I said in my last post, adaptogens are herbs that help our bodies respond to stress. I like to think of them as ‘slow health’ workers, akin to the slow foods movement, where you are thinking strategically about long-term health goals and supporting those goals through small daily doses of herbs that help get the body out of ‘fight or flight’ mode and into a healthier zone. We want our bodies to be relaxed so imbalances can be addressed before they turn into illnesses. The demands of modern life are such that if we don’t consciously address the pace, stress, overwhelm, and information overload, we can get caught in a continuous day-in and day-out stress mode cycle, which is definitely not a thriving place for our health and well-being. We hear a lot about self care lately and that very often translates into hot baths or massages which are great things to do, but we also have herbal allies to keep it real on a daily basis, keep us healthy long-term, and remind us that there are no prizes for being the most stressed out.
You can take adaptogens in pill form, tinctures, teas (herbal infusions), or as powders. In powder form, you are getting the whole herb and nothing else, which is a nice way to do it. I like to add one of my adaptogen powder mixes into coffee or tea, and the other mix I make, which currently includes Eleuthro and Rhodiola, I put into smoothies for my family and myself. You can also mix them into juice or just water, or add them to foods such as yogurt or cereal. It’s best to start with just a 1/2 teaspoon per day of an herbal powder, then add another 1/2 teaspoon later in the day once the first half teaspoon is perfectly tolerated. More can be added in time if desired, but adding too much too fast is a recipe for digestive issues and that will only add stress, not help it. Concentrating on being consistent is more important than how much you take because only a small amount is needed if taken over a long period of time.
Switching up your adaptogens is advisable, and don’t worry, you will still get the benefits of sticking to adaptogens over time. If you are new to adaptogens, this article will introduce you to probably the best known adaptogenic herb, Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is a great place to start if you are new to adaptogens, but there are plenty of others to choose from as well, from many different traditions around the world. This article gives a brief overview of a few others, and these are some of my favorites you might want to look into: Tulsi, Rhodiola, Reishi, Fo-ti, and Schisandra, and keep in mind that combining adaptogens lets them work in a synergistic way.
Ashwagandha and other adaptogens are showing up more and more in functional foods and drinks, such as SpicePharm’s Golden Chai (pictured above) and Chocolate Elixir, and Gaia’s Golden Milk as well as Amazing Grass’s Brain Elixir. There are cold drinks by REBBL that have adaptogens in their full line of flavors which I’ve found at my local Whole Foods but not online yet. (They are tasty!)
All this is to say, that adaptogens are abundant in numbers, available in ready-made products, and easy to incorporate into daily life so there is no reason not to make a conscious choice to have them in whatever way works best for you. Don’t let stress mode become your everyday mode and if it already is, then know you can make choices to get to a healthier space. You deserve it. The holidays are fast approaching so this just might be the perfect time to start building up your body’s stress response for the better.