When we think of the word medicine, we often think of a substance that is taken when one is sick. The beauty of herbal “medicines” is that they can be used not only to relieve acute illnesses, such as say the common cold, but also to support the body and bring back balance when we are under, dare I say the word…STRESS. While stress is a completely normal and natural way for your body to respond to a threat or demand, our modern lifestyles and culture have created an environment where we are almost constantly living in a stressed state. Stress hits us from many different angles be it a physical such as lack of sleep, environmental such as being exposed to a toxic chemical or mental and emotional stress such as social isolation during a pandemic. Our bodies are well equipped to handle these stressors but if they become constant and chronic the body may fall out of balance (homeostasis) and that’s when things start to come undone. The bottom line is that living with chronic stress is no good for our health.
But don’t stress! It is not all doom and gloom. With some awareness and a little nudge from our herbal allies we can help our bodies and minds to better handle stress and return to homeostasis faster after a stressful event. Awareness is key here. Can you stop yourself when you are in a stressed state and see it for what it really is? Perhaps after a few deep breathes you may find you can better handle the perceived stress with a much clearer mind? The power of conscious breathing cannot be underestimated in bringing our body back into a restful and relaxed state.
Herbs that help us better handle stress are called adaptogens. Herbal adaptogens are extraordinary plants that highlight the true synergy and evolution of humans and plants between phytochemistry, pharmacology and physiology. They literally help us better adapt and recalibrate depending on our current emotional and physical surroundings. By helping us to handle stress, adaptogenic herbs create an environment in the body that is better able to resist disease. Some of the most commonly used adaptogens include Withania somnifera (Ashwaganda), Panax ginseng (Ginseng), Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng) and Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice). An herbal medicine practitioner will often include an adaptogen (or two!) in a formula based on the individual and their health history. This is the beauty of liquid herbal extracts as the formula and dose can be adjusted to suit the individual being treated. It is a truly unique and powerful form of “medicine”!
If you are feeling the effects of stress I’d love to give you a helping hand, I am in the AHARA HEALTH clinic on all day Fridays. Follow the link HERE to book in your next consultation
Words: Tamara Welsh