Everyone in our modern world seems to be dealing with some form of stress. While some stress is necessary to help us stay alive, prolonged, chronic stress can contribute to many different health issues like leaky gut, adrenal burnout, insomnia, PCOS, anxiety, and more. What can we do about it? We can use adaptogens for anxiety!
Adaptogens for anxiety
Unfortunately, stress doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. We have long hours at work, bad traffic after a busy day, financial worries, and other things that we simply have no control over at all. So instead of trying to control it, run away from it, or avoid it entirely, what if we just learned to better manage it?
Managing stress with adaptogens
Adaptogens are some of our favorite tools for managing and regulating anxiety. Adaptogenic herbs or “adaptogens” are a class of herbs that help the body adapt to stress. Adaptogens have been used for years in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda.
Adaptogenic herbs increase the body’s ability to cope with internal and external stressors and help normalize the functions in the body. They help boost strength and vitality and combat fatigue. Since stress is at the root of many chronic illnesses, adaptogens can be one of our biggest tools.
Adaptogenic herbs support a more balanced response to ongoing stress, regulating stress hormone and cortisol production to prevent adrenal fatigue. Adaptogens also help modulate cellular sensitivity to stress hormones, thereby encouraging a healthier response to stress overall. Basically, instead of numbing to the stress, or getting rid of it, they prepare our bodies for dealing with it more efficiently. So where do we start?
Adaptogens for anxiety regulation
1. Fermented Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha has been used by Ayurvedic practitioners for thousands of years and features flavonoids and steroidal lactones called withanolides. Withanolides are believed to help support a healthy response to stress, to bolster mental and mood outlook, immunity and energy levels. In studies, ashwagandha has been shown to tame high cortisol levels significantly.
Some other amazing benefits include increased energy, better sleep, less fatigue, healthy blood sugar levels, and healthy lipid profiles. Simultaneously, ashwagandha has been able to help bolster DHEA levels to balance cortisol out. Today, it’s often prescribed to treat high blood pressure, insomnia, chronic fatigue, and impotence related to anxiety or exhaustion.
2. Asian Ginseng. Ginseng can significantly reduce chronic stress by regulating the HPA axis, effectively decreasing depression, anxiety, and other HPA axis (hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis) disorders. Studies have demonstrated the potential of ginseng to prevent and reverse several inflammatory conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma. Ginseng also may prevent autoimmune disease by suppressing pro-inflammatory cytokines generated by chronic stress.
3. Tulsi or Holy Basil. In India, Holy Basil is known as the “elixir of anti-aging.” It has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, but it’s best known for helping us relax and enhancing the body’s natural response to stress. You can even use it as a base for your daily morning smoothie.
Have you heard about the brand new Plain flavor Daily Shake? It’s perfect for adaptogenic smoothies.
4. Rhodiola Rosea. This herb acts as a thermostat for our hormones, particularly cortisol. It raises or lowers the levels of cortisol in our bodies as needed, which is critical for homeostasis. Rhodiola Rosea also has a positive impact on brain function, depression, and heart health.
5. Eleuthero. Eleuthero was first used in China as an herbal remedy at least 2,000 years ago. In addition to helping the body cope with stress, eleuthero acts as a natural stimulant, increasing nervous system functioning and boosting energy levels. Eleuthero contains compounds that combat fatigue and burn fat for energy. Eleuthero offers tons of other benefits too, including enhanced immune function, stabilized blood sugar levels, better blood pressure, improved concentration, and increased lymphatic function.
6. Cordyceps. Ok this may sound a little crazy, but cordyceps isn’t an herb at all. It’s actually a type of fungus. Research has shown that when human cells are exposed to Cordyceps, special proteins that increase inflammation in the body become suppressed. It’s also a natural energy booster that possesses immune-enhancing properties. When we have more energy and stronger immune systems, we can handle anxiety and stress better. You can substitute cordyceps in this medicinal mushroom tea.
So how do we use adaptogens?
It’s super simple. You can take adaptogens as herbal supplements in capsule form, added to smoothies as powders, or concocted into teas or soups. We love adding adaptogen supplements to our Daily Shakes and other Clean-approved recipes. You can check out some of our favorites here and here.
Recipe and photography by Hannah Aylward
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