I’m stressed at the moment, I have to admit. Working two lives means a busy day in the office, with pressures to face, important decisions to make and potential conflicts in the making.
When I get home, I switch back on and start working on my new wellness project which brings different pressures. Stress may just be something I have to put up with at the moment, even watching my premier league football team seems stressful. There’s no hiding from it, except on the yoga mat and meditation cushion.
But that’s ok. We all go through stressful periods in our lives. They are often forced upon us and we don’t have any option but to cope. The Health and Safety Executive estimates that over 11 million days a year are lost to stress.
Luckily though, there are many ways in which we deal with stress. Yes, we can do yoga. Yes, we can meditate. But nature also has some secrets that can help. They are known as ‘adaptogen herbs’, which are the perfect weapon to combat stress.
What are Adaptogen herbs?
Often the give away to the meaning of a word is found in its epistemological meaning, in Greek or latin for example. In the case of adaptogens, it’s an easy one. They help you ‘adapt’ to your surroundings. That could be the physical or emotional environment you find yourself in. So, in this case, it’s whatever is causing your stress.
The term adaptogen was given its name by a Russian toxicologist (yes, great timing I know), by the name of Nikolay Lazarev who in 1957, classified certain substances that:
‘increase the state of non-specific resistance‘.
Broadly speaking, such substances are non-toxic, nourishing and can help the body fight against stress, fatigue and anxiety. They also have the effect of bringing the body into homeostasis, the effect of assisting the body back into balance when it is out of whack. In particular, it acts on both hypo and hyper functioning systems (such as the thyroid). Feeling sluggish, you got it. Feeling wired, or stressed out, you bet – adaptogens are there for you too.
My stress herb of choice is Ashwangandha. Having its origins from an Indian plant known as Withania somnifera (and also known as ‘Indian Gingseng’), Ashwagandha means “the smell of a horse” in Sanskrit – a metaphor for strength and vitality.
How can Ashwagandha help you?
Ashwagandha has many uses. As it is an adaptogen, it both energises and calms – the perfect antidote to busy stressful City living. As it works directly on the adrenal system, Ashwagandha helps to normalise cortisol levels, therefore having a de-stressing effect upon the body. It can help with getting a deep night’s sleep and is known as a powerful nerve tonic.
It’s also known as a potent libido enhancer… just for your information.
Ashwangandha has many other properties, including lowering blood-sugar levels, and is also claimed to fight cancer well. An article by Dr Axe provides a good summary of the overall health benefits of Ashwagandha.
Where can you get Ashwagandha?
I’m currently taking Wild Nutrition’s Ashwagandha Plus, which provides for organic whole root Ashwangandha as well as food grown magnesium. There are many varieties out there available at all good health food stores or online. You can take it in powder form as well.
So there you are. If there’s stress in your life, what are you waiting for? Don’t be another stress statistic. Take the fight to stress and find some balance in your life, adaptively.
Do you have any other herbs that you use to fight stress?