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What You Need to Know About Adaptogens & Stress

My whole life has revolved around stress; It goes all the way back to when I was a young child. Growing up, I lived in a constant state of fight or flight mode because of the anxiety-provoking family environment I was surrounded by. My adolescent ecosystem required so much of me to perform, so I lived in that anxious mode for years.

As I got older, I learned that I could be extra “productive” as a result of the adrenaline rush that I would create for myself. I learned how to force myself into that fight or flight mode by creating deadlines and other pressures. I was releasing adrenaline and cortisol continually and never gave myself a break until I got sick. I had no understanding of the amount of stress that I put on my body for so many years and it eventually lead to Hashimoto’s, cancer, celiac, thyroid issues, anxiety, and who knows what else. My illnesses were direct results of living in that unhealthy mentality and lifestyle for so long. I had fully burned myself out.

The common symptoms of burnout are stress and feeling overwhelmed but it can appear in many other ways. If you find yourself overworked to the point where you’re frequently snapping at your partner or have significantly less patience when it comes to your kids, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing burnout. It can also lead to procrastination, low motivation, anxiety and even depression, so it’s a very serious condition

Adaptogens came into my world about five years ago, when I finally realized that I was experiencing burnout and needed to make a significant change. I was tired of being sick from stress and started researching how it can affect the body and mind. I learned that adaptogenic herbs are an effective long-lasting alternative to fast and, ultimately, unhelpful remedies. They are a class of plants used for their healing abilities of balancing, restoring, and protecting your body and I am now obsessed with them.

These calming varieties of adaptogens are an absolute must for anyone suffering from burnout:

Ashwagandha:  the easer of anxiety, depression and sleep issues, Ashwagandha has been used in India for over 4,000 years. The herb is known as the mind, mood and muscle soother. It helps to lower cortisol levels, so it’s ideal for anyone who is feeling anxious or nervous and it is very effective for anyone experiencing chronic muscle tension. Despite some popular misinformation, Ashwagandha is considered safe for women with autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s. You can take Ashwagandha in liquid or capsule form. I recommend Nature’s Answer Alcohol-Free Liquid Ashwagandha and Gaia’s Ashwagandha capsules.

Tulsi (also known as Holy Basil): referred to as the “elixir of anti-aging,” Tulsi helps fight fatigue and stress and regulates blood sugar, blood pressure, and hormone levels. It calms the mind and spirit and is key in elevating mood. My favorite way to enjoy Holy Basil is in a warm cup of Tulsi Tea by Organic India or in Gaia’s capsules.

Reishi:  significantly reduces inflammation and lowers blood pressure. It’s very powerful when it comes to boosting your immune system and is a fantastic detoxifier. I love it for when I am fighting off a cold or an infection, or even if I am just generally feeling overwhelmed. Even though it is on my list of relaxing adaptogens, it also boosts mental energy. It has anti-aging properties and people who take Reishi have a reduced risk of getting cancer. I really love Sun Potion’s Reishi.

Maca:  I highly recommend Gaia’s gelatinized (or steam-cooked) Maca. It helps increase libido, improves fertility and evens out hormonal imbalances. The gelatinized form of the root is much easier to digest than the raw form, so it is less likely to upset your stomach. Anyone suffering from chronic fatigue or anemia would benefit from including Maca in their diet. It’s also a fantastic memory and stamina enhancer.

Before incorporating adaptogens into your life, determine if you are extremely run down. If so, you may want to nourish yourself more before taking adaptogens by getting enough sleep and eating plenty of whole foods. What I love so much about adaptogens is that they aren’t just putting a bandaid on an issue; they reach all the way to the root of the problem and can actually reverse the damage caused by burnout. In terms of finding adaptogens that work for you, I recommend using one at a time and seeing which feels best. It’s all about trial and error with your body. If you need a place to start, these are my absolute favorite brands for adaptogens:

Sun Potion

Nature’s Answer (the alcohol free tinctures)

Organic India

Gaia

Mountain Rose

Herb Pharm

Happy healing!

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