Fall is officially here! With the change in season, many of us are typically more serious and goal oriented — ready to get down to business. Fall is also the time of year when I find it all too common in my practice to talk to people who are feeling stressed, overwhelmed or out of balance.
The reality is that most of us always have some tension in our lives — whether it stems from work, health or personal relationships. We can’t always eliminate the causes, but we can adapt and respond to stress so that it doesn’t negatively affect our bodies and minds. While many of us have developed calming techniques that work well for us there are age old natural herbs that can also come to the rescue. Bring on the adaptogens! Adaptogens are plant extracts that increase the body’s ability to resist the damaging effects of stress and promote or restore normal psychological and physiological functioning. They help you to “adapt,”whether physically, mentally or emotionally.
Ashwagandha and Rhodiola are two of my favorite herbal adaptogens that help you thrive during times of mental and physical stress.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an herbal medicine that dates back over five thousand years to India, where Ayurvedic practitioners began using it for people with anxiety, low energy and general anti-aging.
Ashwagandha is a tonic, meaning that it makes you feel better, stronger and healthier. It heals by replenishing your body’s vital reserves and helping your body adapt to stress. Like many adaptogens it has the ability to be both energizing and calming.
The benefits of Ashwagandha extend to curbing anxious feelings and regulating mood by lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Ashwagandha is often used to help enhance exercise endurance and stamina — better workouts and faster recovery time. It also strengthens the immune system. I recommend Ashwagandha for people with insomnia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and impotence associated with anxiety or exhaustion. It can also gently elevate thyroid levels and balance the adrenals.
Like Ashwaghanda, Rhodiola (rhodiola rosea) has a long history of medicinal use. It grows at high altitudes in Arctic areas of Asia and Europe, and has been used in Russia and Scandinavian countries for centuries.
I consider Rhodiola an “energizer extraordinaire,” with a demonstrated ability to to support cellular energy metabolism. Rhodiola has also been shown to fight off stress related fatigue. My experience with Rhodiola is that it’s more“revving” than Ashwaghanda, so taking it in the morning is a good idea.
Rhodiola positively affects brain function, depression, and heart health. It is also believed that Rhodiola helps the brain cope with stress by supporting healthy levels of enhances key brain chemicals such as serotonin and norepinephrine, and natural feel-good opioids such as beta-endorphins. Rhodiola improves concentration over a prolonged period. I also recommend Rhodiola for women in the perimenopausal stage of life.
Bottom line – if you are interested in finding a healthy, effective means to manage and reduce stress and feel more energized, Ashwagandha and Rhodiola, along with other adaptogens and a healthy lifestyle, can hold the key to an optimized sense of physical and mental well being. You’ll feel more vital, more energetic and more able to navigate the tide of stressful challenges every day. Doses vary per person and situation, so feel free to contact me at 310-650-2825 to set up an appointment to discuss how adaptogens might help you to feel better.