Life is stressful and the winter doesn’t always help with our ability to cope with it. There’s less sunlight, it’s colder, wetter, and everyone seems to go a little insane. Stress builds up and wreaks havoc on our bodies and minds. Headaches, muscle tension, fatigue and restlessness are just a couple of the fun gifts stress likes to bring us.
Long-term stress can have serious consequences for our health, however, and society is gradually becoming aware of how bad it can get. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issues today, with 12% of Canadians suffering from an anxiety disorder and 1 in 4 people being diagnosed at some point in their life. This is where adaptogens come into place.
Adaptogens are natural, non-toxic plants that enhance the body’s resistance to stress. Pressure increases the stress hormones in the body, regardless of whether it’s has a physical or psychological source. This results in unpleasant symptoms like nausea, brain fog, depression, anger, headaches and more.
The best way to combat stress is to help your body return to homeostasis, which is the state of equilibrium needed for optimal functioning. Adaptogens work by supporting the adrenal glands, which are responsible for managing your hormones. They act as resources for your body to grab onto when things get stressful. So, basically, they’re like sweet weapons you collect in your arsenal for coping with stress.
Everything has side effects, and herbal remedies are no exception. Herbal supplements can interact strongly with prescription medications, so it’s really important that you talk to your doctor about them. They can interfere with the way your body absorbs your prescription medications, and they can also alter the effects of those medications. Just because it isn’t a prescription doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk to your doctor it, at least let them know what you’re taking. In addition, these herbs are not a cure for stress or stress-related disorders. Long-term adaptogens can help you cope with your condition, but it’s only a part of a treatment plan.
There are long-term and short-term adaptogens. Short-term adaptogens help with acute stress and anxiety. While these are helpful, long-term adaptogens can be more beneficial for people struggling with chronic stress. Some examples of these are:
Reishi, cordyceps and chaga are all types of mushrooms that are full of health benefits. Ashwagandha has been used in ancient Chinese medicine for literally thousands of years. Tulsi has been used in Ayurvedic medicine with a lot of success.
You can almost always take adaptogens as capsule supplements, but that can get both tedious and easy to forget. The simplest way to incorporate them into your diet is to add them into your cooking, or use them as a tea. Mushroom tea sounds like it should taste awful, but you’d be surprised at the delicious tea blends out there that include mushrooms. You can also get the herbs and make a blend of them and add the powder into smoothies, salad dressings and cooking spices. There’s no need to stress over how to incorporate your stress-fighting herbs into your diet!