Adaptogens are herbs that help to combat stress and restore the bodies’ natural balance by lowering cortisol levels, the stress hormone. Adaptogens are considered medicine for healthy people because they do not fight a certain ailment, but instead, help the body achieve homeostasis, and help to stabilize mood. Research has found that taking adaptogens contributes to your energy level, your immune system, your feelings of peace, and premature aging. Here are five of the most power adaptogens:
The mushrooms in the reishi family have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, and in Vietnam, they are called linh chi, or soul mushroom. Chinese medicine purports that the mushroom can make you immortal, can improve your memory, or even bestow supernatural powers. While traditionally the mushrooms’ fruiting body would be cut and boiled in a tea or soup, nowadays it is easy to find the mushroom in powdered capsule form or as a tincture. Modern studies have found the the reishi mushroom detoxifies the liver, balances hormones and blood pressure, helps to fight asthma and allergies and fights infections.
This variety of ginseng, also called Rhodiola Rosea, grows in the coldest parts of the world, and was even used by the Vikings. The ancient Greek physician Dioscorides mentions the treatment in the first century AD. Siberian Ginseng has been very popular in the Soviet Union and was used by the cosmonauts and the Soviet Olympic team. The Russians and Scandinavians traditionally used the flowering herb to combat the stresses of the cold Siberian climate, and it has also been found to fight altitude sickness. Siberian ginseng has been found to help lessen fatigue, deepen sleep, and fight colds and flu.
Holy Basil (Tulsi)
This variety of basil, different but related to the common culinary basil, grows primarily in India and South East Asia. Ayurveda praises Holy Basil as an elixir of life and is often used as an essential oil for cosmetic purposes, or drunk in a tea or eaten as a powder. Holy Basil balances the body and reduces stress, and studies have found that it is a strong antioxidant and may help to combat cancer. It is easy to grow holy basil, and it is recommended to add to your garden or windowsill to use the fresh leaves in your cooking or to make a tea. Dried tea bags are also commonly found in markets and health food stores.
Ashwagandha is grown in India, Yemen, Nepal, and China, and the roots are collected and used in herbal medicine. Externally, the berries and leaves can be used to treat ulcers, tumors, and burns and internally the medicine combats stress, sleeplessness, hormone imbalance, and liver disease. The plant affects the body by altering the chemicals in the brain that cause stress, inflammation, immune disease, and high blood pressure.
LicoriceThe name licorice is from the Greek, meaning ‘sweet root’ and is well known as a traditional European candy, but it has been used in herbal medicine long before it was a flavoring agent. In Chinese medicine, licorice is an important ingredient and used widely to harmonize formulas and carry the medicinal properties to the twelve meridians of the body. In Ayurveda, licorice is used for rejuvenation. Modern medicine has found the plant to be anti-viral and anti-inflammatory, and a strong adaptogen.
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