No matter how much energy we muster up nor what mood booster we seek out, if we do not have a handle on our response to life’s daily stressors their impact on the body will inevitably prevail over the temporary relief of supplemental nutrients. Thankfully Mother Nature provides more than just a means of reacting and remedying imbalances after the fact. She also offers ways to strengthen our systems and better equip them to resist the stressors. This proactive class of herbs is known as The Adaptogens.
The adaptogenic herbs work specifically on the adrenal glands, improving the balance of our sympathetic nervous system. This is the system that kicks into gear when we perceive a situation as threatening to our status quo. We’ve all heard the phrase, “fight or flight”. This instinctive defense mechanism dates back to our primitive origins and has unfortunately not fully evolved to distinguish between a momentary drama and genuinely life threatening situation. If we don’t rein this reaction in and immediately correct its assumption that our life is at risk, it will advance rapidly and flood the body with an army of hormones ready to act. Too much of this literally causes an implosion, made visible to us in the form of acute illness and sometimes more dramatic and detrimental disease. Stress is thought to be the root cause of 70-80% of all illnesses. Adaptogens help return our bodies to their normal, balanced and stress-free states. The following are potent, commonly used adaptogenic herbs worth getting to know.
Ashwagandha Root is an ancient Ayurvedic herb loaded with components that increase the body’s production of three very powerful antioxidant enzymes -Super Oxide Dismutase, Catalase and Glutathione Peroxidase. These detoxify our organs and protect our cells and DNA from oxidative damage. Ashwagandha rejuvenates the nervous system; and studies have shown it to elicit effects similar to those of the nutrient Gamma- Aminobutyric Acid, thereby serving as a potential anti-anxiety aid. Recall from last week’s post that GABA acts as an emotional regulator helping us to maintain balance in our reactions.
Rhodiola Rosea is a colder climate herb commonly found in energy, adrenal and stress relief formulas. Over the years, it has shown great potential as a mental and physical performance enhancer. It is commonly used to boost mood, improve cardiovascular endurance and recovery, and combat fatigue. Like many other adaptogens, Rhodiola’s high antioxidant content and restorative impact on nervous system function makes it a strong immune booster and anti-ager. Two primary components thought to be responsible for these effects are rosavin and salidroside. If you decide to supplement Rhodiola, make sure the product contains at least 2% rosavin and .8% salidroside.
Schisandra Berries are commonly used in the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine to improve liver function, fight stress and improve physical and mental endurance. Schisandra also helps the body produce Glutathione Peroxidase and has a mild sedative effect resulting in a calming sensation for the body. It has proven effective in relieving the symptoms of emotional stress like dizziness, heart palpitations, and excessive perspiration. This herb has also proven helpful to those living with immune compromising illnesses; however, pregnant and nursing women should avoid Schisandra as should those with High Blood Pressure, peptic ulcers, gall stones and Epilepsy.
To get all three of these herbs in one formula, try Adrenal Health by Gaia Herbs. It is a simple formulation that cuts right to the source of nervous system imbalance, and the versatility of these herbs may make this supplement all you need for general mood and performance enhancement. Simple, clean and direct, just as I like it! Supplement this first on its own, without other products, to truly get a sense of its impact on your system. And for more immediate relief, brew a cup of The Republic of Tea’s Get Charged. It contains Ashwagandha, Hibiscus and other beneficial adaptogens but no caffeine to overstimulate and defeat the purpose.
Well my friends, that concludes the “Come on, Get Happy” series. I hope you’ve found it to be helpful, perhaps even entertaining as we’ve explored the realm of available options in the bad mood buster category. As always, take a moment to consult with your health care professional before beginning any supplement program; and never lose sight of our goal- to BeWell.
Until next week…