Updated: Mar 2
“True stability results when presumed order and presumed disorder are in balance. A truly stable system expects the unexpected, is prepared to be disrupted, waits to be transformed.” Tom Robbins (American Novelist, b. 1936)
What doesn’t seem to stress us out anymore? Staying balanced is a key factor in wellness. A few good folks I know are serious “meditators” who can calm their minds, find center, and carry with them this mindfulness. I don’t know if this ability is innately part of their makeup, or if it is a learned skill. Either way, I’m not particularly good at finding balance.
Hello adaptogens. We could turn to the old stand-by drugs, diazepam, aka Valium, and alprazolam, aka Xanax, to stable our nerves, but I’ve seen the negative effects on those who depend on them.
However, we can find balance naturally, turning to adaptogens, known to improve the body’s ability to function under stress. Adaptogens have been successfully used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine and the ancient Indian medical system known as Ayurveda. Changing our lifestyle is a great place to start, and adaptogens can give our efforts a boost by helping to regulate stress.
Homeostasis … the American Physiologist, Walter Cannon (1871–1945) coined the term homeostasis from the Greek words hómoios, similar, and stásis, standing still, taken together to mean “staying similar and not staying the same”, to describe the self-regulating processes by which a biological system maintains stability while adjusting to changing environmental conditions. As emphasized by Cannon, homeostasis is not static; it is, rather, a dynamic self-adjusting system that maintains viability in the face of changing environmental demands.
I'd like to add to this that I believe there is a physiological homeostasis as well as a psychological homeostasis. Physiological homeostasis where all our biological systems are in balance, ie, renal, cardiovascular, neurological, etc. Psychological homeostasis is when our mind is balanced. Easy to say. Not so easy to achieve.
While stress and our response to it is natural and normal, the nervous and adrenal systems of many folks are perpetually out of balance, stuck in the “fight or fight mode 24/7, even when not being chased by a Lion." This is no exaggeration. Hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, rage away even when we should be asleep. This causes a negative effect on the bodily processes that depend on hormones, resulting in poor metabolism, cardiovascular system damage, adrenal burnout. Being in this constant “fight or fight” mode results in self-destructive behavior, and in the end leaving us feeling totally frazzled, angry, and burned out. We lack both physiological and psychological homeostasis.
Before you reach for another steaming hot coffee, consider some stimulating adaptogens that can give you an energy boost without the caffeine.
I could write a dissertation on each of the adaptogens below, so this is just a brief educational overview. Here goes!
Ginseng and Rhodiola … some Stimulating root-based herbs
Ginseng, traditionally Panax ginseng, and Panax quinquefolius aka American Ginseng root are the go-to herb when you feel sluggish. Used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine, ginseng not only boosts energy but can also improve libido, regulate blood sugar levels, and protect the liver from toxins. Panax Ginseng effects can be strong for some people, so be advised. American Ginseng, with is less stimulating, can induce a depressive effect on brain function, which underlines its calming, sleeping, relaxing and anti-psychotic effects. As always, guidance from your trusted health care provider is recommended.
Panax quinquefolius aka American Ginseng root
Rhodiola, Rhodiola rosea, has demonstrated its ability to improve mood, energy level, and mental focus. Because of its rapid action, it is especially helpful for relieving mental and physical fatigue. This stimulating root-based herb, like ginseng, should be used early in the day, as it might cause insomnia or, perhaps, induce some epic vivid dreams.
Eleuthero, Schisandra, Holy Basil, Gotu Kola, and Ashwagandha … A subtle, relaxed response
Sometimes stress calls for a more subtle, relaxed response, like a hot cup of Tulsi tea. In contrast to stimulating root-based herbs, the stems and leaves of Eleuthero, Schisandra, Holy Basil, Gotu Kola, or Ashwagandha can provide more peaceful energy.
Eleuthero, Eleutherococcus senticosus, aka Siberian ginseng, is a close relative of ginseng and is used when Panax ginseng would be much too stimulating. This astringent tonic is traditionally known as a calmer of the body, with the added benefit in treating forgetfulness. What? Eleuthero has been traditionally been used to combat insomnia and stress, plus Eleuthero also supports lung and cardiovascular health.
Eleutherococcus senticosus aka Siberian-ginseng
Schisandra, Schisandra chinensis, offers a host of benefits, including a healthy response to insomnia and anxiety states. It acts as a mild stimulant for the nervous system, boosting mental activity and improving work performance. Schisandra is synergistic with Eleuthero as a calming agent helping to relieve symptoms of anxiety and stress.
Holy Basil, Ocimum sanctum, also known as Tulsi, promotes purity and lightness in the body, according to Ayurveda. "Tulsi has been deliciously called “liquid yoga” by some. Like yoga, Tulsi’s properties help nourish the body, mind, and spirit, while bestowing a peaceful sense of well-being. And, like yoga, Tulsi bestows clarity, awareness, and calm."
Bumblebee visiting Holy Basil
Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) has been called "a pharmacy in one herb". Known as a calm energy adaptogen, Gotu Kola is similar to Holy basil and the two work synergistically, but its calming properties are slower to take effect. Studies have shown that Gotu Kola can help relieve symptoms of anxiety, improve memory, boost circulation, and strengthen the adrenal glands.
Centella asiatica aka Gotu Kola
Ashwagandha, Withania somnifera, is a broad spectrum adaptogen and herbal remedy, that has become popular for its ability to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and stress. Don't stress out! Try Ashwagandha. It’s also considered an effective treatment for nervous exhaustion and stress-induced insomnia. It's anti-viral properties are being studied with some specific studies on the COVID-19 virus.
Stress can put a damper on immune function, making us more susceptible to viruses and infections. Adaptogens can strengthen our immune response and make it easier to fight pathogens.
Astragalus, Astragalus membranaceus, has antibacterial and immunity-enhancing properties. It contains polysaccharides that improve immune system function and help ward off viruses, including the common cold and influenza.
I can't close out this blog without mentioning Hemp based CBD. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is used to help with anxiety, sleep, pain control, and can be quite effective based on customer feedback. CBD doesn't work with everyone it seems, but the overall results are positive having many repeat customers. Is CBD an adaptogen? I think it's too new and too early to know, but I believe Hemp based CBD has it's place.
So, next time you visit A Moveable Feast, please stop by our Adaptogen Section and checkout our selection of the herbs adaptogens mentioned above. Most are available in both manufactured formulations, or in Bulk Herb form. Also check out our WebShop for our AMF Signature herbal tea blends.
Perhaps to help you begin your journey to find center, the following is the DEEP N BASS Mix Series Vol. 5 - Essence - Mixed By Gene Lee. Gene is a noted DJ in the Seattle area, and yes, I actually have some friends that are younger, but never cooler, than me! Enjoy this down-tempo-kinda-house mix by Gene!
Seriously ... if you are struggling with anxiety and stress, I hope you are working with an integrative professional you trust to help you on your journey. And to everyone, and their loved ones, who struggle with this beast 24/7, may the Creator strengthen you and bless you with peace.
And as always, Thanks for Supporting Small Business!
Blessing to all my readers!
Proprietor and Steward
A Moveable Feast