Published On: Wed, Nov 12th, 2014

5 master herbs for stress relief and a balanced immune system

ashwagandhaHerbs can act as very powerful medicine, helping to balance, heal, repair, and restore health and vitality. With the right type of herbs, you can get countless benefits with nearly no downside or risk. These are called adaptogens.

Adaptogens are characterized by two criteria: first, their lack of negative side effects–they can be used by nearly any person daily with only positive effects.

Second, they help to bring bodily organs and systems into balance, normalizing functions as opposed to acting in one direction.

Adaptogens get their names from the adaptive properties the plants exhibit in nature, meaning the plants respond and adapt well to stressful environmental conditions, making them more resistant to stress, hardier, and stronger.

These properties are then transferred on when used as medicine or tea. Adaptogenic herbs benefit the body by helping it better cope with or resist stress, mitigating the negative effects of stress and bringing the body back into balance.

Because adaptogens regulate stress response, they reduce strain on the immune system, ensuring a healthy and properly functioning immune system.

Here are five adaptogens that will help you feel less stressed, stay healthy through the winter, and achieve better hormonal balance:

1. Ashwagandha

Important to the Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia, but also traditionally used throughout Africa, ashwagandha root is a calming adaptogen that enhances endocrine function, especially that of the thyroid and adrenals. It is commonly used for anxiety, fatigue, brain fog, arthritis, and balancing the immune system (both over- and under-active).

2. Holy Basil (Tulsi)

Holy Basil, or Tulsi in Ayurvedic terms, is commonly used to reduce the effects of stress, while improving memory, blood flow to the brain, and relieving certain forms of depression. It can ease symptoms of nasal allergies, improve digestive function, and help to balance blood sugar.

3. Gynostemma (Jiao Gu Lan)

Gynostemma is a calming adaptogen from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that is sought after for relieving anxiety, stress headaches, and anxiety-induced insomnia. Research into this herb suggests it is beneficial for the immune system.

4. Astragalus

Sometimes referred to as milk vetch or in TCM as huang qi, astragalus root is known for its immune-boosting properties–helping to prevent seasonal illness–and for its protection of the kidneys and liver. Astragalus is used in Chinese Medicine to strengthen Qi (energy and vitality) and to improve digestive function.

5. Rhodiola

Found in Siberia and traditionally used in Russia and Scandinavia, Rhodiola root is most well-known for its ability to enhance energy, endurance, alertness, and memory, while reducing fatigue. It is good for the nervous system and endocrine (hormone) gland function, thus is can improve reproductive function in both men and women.

Holy Basil and Gynostemma can be drunk as a nice relaxing, restorative herbal infusion. While the whole roots of the others can be boiled into a drinkable decoction, most people will find it easier to consume them as a tincture or capsule, available at your local health food store.

Keep these adaptogens handy to feel balanced, supported, relaxed and healthy..

Source: Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief. 

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