Adaptogenic Herbs

Whether you are traveling or staying home, the holidays are a great time to connect with friends, share a meal with family and enjoy all the festivities of the season. This is also the time of year when we can experience an increase in stress, sugar and exposure to viruses. All of which can take a toll on our bodies. Last year I shared some holiday self-care tips, that you can revisit here. But I think this is the perfect time to share information about the benefits of adaptogens.

Adaptogens are herbs that strengthen almost every system in our body. Whether you are looking for immune support, mood enhancement or stress resiliency, adaptogens can be really beneficial. Below I have shared information about some of my favorite adaptogenic herbs.

  • Ashwagandha – has been shown to mitigate the effects of stress. Helping not only to lower cortisol levels, but also reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression and insomnia. Cortisol is our stress hormone.
  • Reishi– an edible mushroom known as “the mushroom of immortality” has been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine. Best known for immune support, it also helps to reduce fatigue and increase resistance to stress. Additionally, it has been shown to enhance sleep by supporting the GABA pathways. GABA is a calming neurotransmitter.
  • Rhodiola Rosea– helps reduce symptoms of both mental and physical fatigue. Often fatigue is a result of stress and burnout. I recommend having Rhodiola earlier in the day (i.e., avoid after 2 pm), so it doesn’t hinder sleep.
  • Lemon Balm or Melissa officinalis – a member of the mint family, helps to soothe the nervous system, providing relief from stress and nervousness. It also works on GABA receptors, promoting feelings of relaxation.
  • Holy Basil (Tulsi) – also a member of the mint family, supports the body’s ability to balance cortisol levels.

Adaptogens can be incorporated as teas, supplements or the actual herbs added to smoothies and soups. They can be done on an “as needed basis.”  I know there is overlap with some of the herbs and their benefits, which can make it confusing to know where to start. I’ll share some quick tips but also feel free to reach out if you would like more information.

Before bed to help with sleep, and to calm a busy brain – Ashwagandha 
For immune support and stress resilience – Reishi
Feeling fatigued or experiencing low energy – Rhodiola
Feeling anxious, having trouble ‘letting go’ of an experience or ruminating thoughts – Lemon balm
Feeling stressed – Holy Basil