My top 3 mind healing herbs
Wouldn’t it be great if nature made some plants that could calm our nerves without making us feel like we were on drugs? Something to help regulate our stress while we learn how to meditate? Or just something to make it not so bad that your two-year-old broke another glass bowl again?
The truth is that we are able to self-regulate our feelings or responses to those feelings. It takes a lot of practice and it can be hard for some people, especially those who have never been introduced to mindfulness practice before. But don’t give up hope! Nature did indeed make some herbs that can help us get through the tough times and perhaps give us the opportunity to learn and practice mindfulness.
Adaptogens are herbs that help the body adapt to stress. It is important to regulate and control stress because it is the chronic low-grade chronic stress that can lead to hormone imbalance and inflammation. Stress is a risk factor for a number of diseases, including Alzheimer’s Disease (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25178904). So, yes, reducing your stress can heal not only your mind but also your entire body! I’ve outlined my top 3 adaptogens and why I like them.
- Ashwagandha (Indian Ginseng). Ashwagandha is one of my all-time favorites. It is calming and relaxing and if you have troubles going to sleep it could be something to consider taking at bed time. Not only does this, nature’s valium, help you relax and reduce the stress response, it also has a bunch of other great health benefits. A recent study suggested that it has anti-tumor effect in colon cancer (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29966656). Another recent study suggested that an extract from the leaves of ashwagandha can not only reduce brain inflammation but also reduce some of the behavioral problems that can occur as a result of that brain inflammation (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29846872). This is part of the beauty of using natural alternatives; there can tend to be a number of other health benefits that come along with these things as a side effect.
- Rhodiola (Rhodiola Rosea). Rhodiola is another favorite. This herb has been used for a number of different things including anxiety, fatigue, and depression. Some people take it for increased energy and strength. I find that Rhodiola could be more uplifting as compared to ashwagandha. There are certain companies that actually make a blend of several different adaptogens so you get the benefit of a several different things. These can also be taken separately. Since Rhodiola can be a little more energy boosting, I sometimes suggest taking it in the morning. One study suggested that those who took rhodiola had reduced levels of self-reported anxiety, stress, anger, confusion, and depression just after two weeks (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26502953). That’s pretty impressive if you ask me!
- Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus). Siberian ginseng has been used for ages as an adaptogen. It has been felt to help increase resistance to stress. It could be helpful in those experiencing fatigue or decreased energy, particularly from chronic disease. It has been demonstrated to have anti-oxidant capabilities as well and perhaps this is why it is a good choice in those with chronic illness (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19051347). Not only does Siberian ginseng have immune stimulant properties, it is also felt that it might potentially have anti-tumor activity as well (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26107240). One of the important things to remember with this one is that there are a lot of different kinds of ginseng. Others, like Panax ginseng, may also be considered adaptogens. Just be careful to read the labels and get a pure version of what you are intending to get.
There you have it! My top 3 adaptogens. These are great tools to carry in your toolbox. Herbs can carry a lot of power within them. We need to also remember that herbs are drugs too. Be sure to check on potential side effects as they may pertain to you and ensure that there are no drug-drug or herb-drug side effects that might affect you before you take anything new, just as you would with any other medication. If used properly, these can be great adjuncts to your stress-reducing regimen!
The information contained in this article and on www.thehealthygutmd.com is informational and not meant to be medical advice or replace the advice of a physician. Please consult your doctor with regards to your medical conditions and management.