📸: WU HAUS
I have always been more interested in preventative medicine, using herbs and lifestyle changes to stay healthy. Like most modern herbalists I am particularly interested in how fungi and herbs are used as adaptogens in traditional medicine for healing and vitality.
What makes adaptogens so fascinating, is that to be classified as one, adaptogens must not cause harm to the body when taken. They should also be able to help the body adapt to environmental and psychological stresses. Thirdly, they must have a nonspecific action on the body and support all the major systems within (nervous system, hormonal system, immune system) as well as regulating functions (think: blood sugar.)
The pharmacological effects of adaptogenic herbs are complex and interesting. They can support adrenal function and help to build endurance while reducing fatigue. Indirectly, adaptogens also help to stimulate the immune system. This helps to raise our resistance to pathogens and toxins as well as other non-specific stresses like emotional burnout.
By gently supporting and balancing the hormonal system (endocrine), adaptogens help to boost our immune system. Studies also show that adaptogens help our cells utilize oxygen more efficiently and help with cellular respiration.
Most interestingly is the fact that our body and mind are interconnected and do not work independently of each other. It has been found that our moods and the way we think can directly cause biochemical changes to our body. Since adaptogens can help us to build resistance to emotional stress and at the same time as supporting our body internally (example: adrenal function) it makes sense to include them daily in our lives.
Some safe, gentle adaptogenic herbs worth taking to help you adapt on the daily are reishi, holy basil (tulsi) and ashwagandha. These herbs can be safely incorporated into your daily life and your mind and body will thank you. In today’s modern world, we can all use a little physical and emotional support. Adaptogenic herbs do just that.