What in the world are adaptogens?
It's 2021, the age of stress for so many. Most of us are dealing with our everyday stresses but adding a pandemic to the mix has us all worrying to the max! This stress can cause acute stress (comes on quick but dissipates soon after) or more of a chronic stress (it's harder to see our way out of stress) on a daily basis. Soon stress hormones are released and physical symptoms can occur, such as heart palpitations, nausea, chest pain, headache, abdominal pains or more severe symptoms, such as heart disease, hypertension and migraines. It's safe to say we all could use any extra help to level out our bodies.
Enter adaptogens. Adaptogens are are a class of healing plants that help to balance, restore, and protect the body from the prolonged release of stress hormones due to stress. These amazing plants boost the immune system, increase physical endurance and mental focus, reduce discomfort caused by poor health, encourages a balanced mood, and balances hormones.
There are quite a few different adaptogens but I'm going to talk about holy basil, ashwagandaha, licorice root, ginseng, and astragalus root. Each adaptogen has its own unique properties that can help with specific types of stressors.
Holy basil works to enhance the body's response to physical and emotional stress naturally by optimizing the functions of the body in times of stress. It is also known to balance stress hormones. It can be taken in pill form, as an extract, or brewed as a tea. Here is an easy tea recipe for you to dabble with:
1/4 cup fresh holy basil leaves
Instructions: Wash basil and place in a cup. Use the back of a spoon to press the leaves against the side of the cup to help bruise them, which allows the essential oils to escape. Pour hot (not boiling) water over the leaves and stir. Place a saucer on top of the cup to trap the essential oils inside the cup as the tea steeps. Wait for about 5 minutes. Remove the saucer, strain the leaves, and sweeten the tea as you like. Drink warm or pour over ice.
Ashwagandha, also known as the "strength of the stallion" due to its use as immune system support, is a natural stress reliever. It helps to balance glucose levels, lower blood pressure, reduce brain cell degeneration, and increase sex drive. It is usually taken in the form of herbal teas, powders, tablets, and syrups. Ashwagandha can be difficult to consume in its raw form due to its bitter taste. Here is a cookie recipe to try and sweeten the bitterness:
1/2 cup refined wheat flour
Pinch of salt
2 tsp ashwagandha powder
1/4 cup butter
1/8 cup sugar
1/4 cup of milk
Sift the flour, salt, and ashwagandha powder together. Melt butter in a pan. Add sugar to the melted butter and mix well. Add milk and mix together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mix, and knead into a dough. Form the dough into cookies on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven at 375 F for 2-3 minutes. Enjoy!
Licorice root is actually a therapeutic herb that has been used for its natural balancing abilities for centuries. It is a power house herb when it comes to treating adrenal fatigue, which as you know, is often associated with chronic stress. Licorice root can be found in many specialty health stores in the forms powder, capsules, tea, and tincture.
Ginseng is a slow-growing root used for its stress-related benefits in the United States and Asia for centuries. Ginseng not only helps to balance the hormones, it also works to treat stress-related issues like adrenal fatigue. While ginseng is often served as a tea or in pill form, there are other creative ways to get it in. Here is smoothie recipe to try:
8oz coconut water
1/2 cup mango
1/ cup pineapple chunks
1/2 tsp ginseng powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg
Add everything to your blender and enjoy!
Astragalus root is an essential herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine and it has been used as a natural curative for thousands of years. It is most commonly known as an herb capable of slowing the aging process. Like many of the adaptogens, astragalus is used to help balance stress hormone cortisol to prevent adrenal fatigue. It is also used to prevent or reduce conditions that can be related to stress, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and works as an anti-inflammatory. It is commonly available as a pill, or extract, but many recipes include the powerhouse root. Here is a recipe for an immune-boosting soup:
1 tbs olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 bulb garlic, minced
1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger root, grated
1 1/2 cups veggie stock
5 pieces of sliced, dried astragalus root
2 cups fresh, sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 large reishi mushroom
Cayenne powder, if desired
Bring water to a boil in large pot. Heat olive oil, sauté garlic, onions, and ginger until soft and aromatic. Add contents of skillet into water. Add broth, shiitake, astragalus, and reishi. Simmer covered for two hours. Remove from heat, allow to sit for two more hours. Remove astragalus and reishi mushrooms. Reheat and add salt and pepper to taste, and cayenne powder if desired.
I hope this run down of 5 common adaptogens has been helpful and has you thinking a little. Even though these adaptogens are all natural please check with a trusted medical doctor to make sure you are cleared to start any major treatments. Every person is different so it's better to be on the safe side. Start researching today and see what you can start incorporating into your diet today!