Adaptogenic herbs are a very potent means of naturally remedying imbalances within our bodies. They are able to do this because, as their collective name suggests, they adapt to our individual bodily needs. This means that they supplement our deficiencies and reduce bodily excesses.
More specifically, adaptogenic herbs work to counteract the effects of stress within the body.
Stress overworks our bodies, and exhausts vital resources, such as vitamins and minerals etc. It can cause very real physical changes within our bodies, which then go on to affect us emotionally and undermine our immunity. It adversely impacts our neurology, our endocrine system and our immune system.
Stress affects us on every level, and long-term stress is particularly damaging and depleting.
Adaptogens & The HPA Axis
Adaptogens work via the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis, or HPA Axis.
The HPA axis is made up of a cascade of endocrine pathways that respond to negative feedback loops for which the hypothalamus, anterior pituitary gland, and adrenal gland are responsible.
Our HPA Axis is one of the key ways in which our body regulates our stress levels. This is because it is responsible for the cortisol response within our endocrine system. Cortisol, like adrenalin, is a stress hormone.
The HPA Axis performs complex processes within our neuroendocrine system, ultimately mediating the effects of external stressors and internal imbalances, by regulating numerous physiological processes. These include our metabolism, immune response, and our autonomic nervous system (ANS).
This means that the performance of our HPA axis directly impacts our emotional health. And, because adaptogenic herbs improve the efficiency and efficacy of the HPA axis, this also means that emotional issues, such as anxiety, are reduced.
Men & Women Handle Stress Differently
Men and women are equally important. But, that does not mean that we are the same. We are certainly very different in terms of biological function.
This is especially true when it comes to endocrine function / hormonal function.
Women manage stress very differently to men. This is partly due to how women create the cortisol response in our bodies. Women use the critically important hormone progesterone to make cortisol. Thus, chronic stress leads to progesterone deficiency, which in turn leads to anxiety and depression amongst a whole slew of other problems.
It is vitally important for us to understand that female bodies use progesterone to make cortisol, whereas men produce it in a completely different way… Cortisol is a steroidal hormone, as is Testosterone, the main male sex hormone.
The progesterone loss in women when they make cortisol, explains why stress has a much greater, and potentially more devastating, impact on women than it does on men.
Men really don’t get so physically taxed by the male stress response. This is because they are designed to be hunter-gatherers and defenders of the tribe. Historically, this has meant that men have needed to mount the stress response on a much more regular basis than women and children. And, understandably, their biology has been created to do this with ease.
Consequently, men can activate and recover from the stress response a lot more easily than women and children.
However, in this modern age, women are facing just as many stressful challenges as men, despite being a lot less well-equipped for it. This is why modern living, with equivalent stresses and strains for women, is so much more damaging to women.
Stress for women is particularly devastating between day 14 and day 21 of our menstrual cycles, and, according to Dr. Patrick Flynn, a pre-eminent hormone expert, stress during this phase of our cycles is what predisposes women to life-threatening health conditions.
Mood disorders are sadly only the tip of the iceberg. Period problems, physical illnesses, including cancer are all attributable to excess stress on women, especially during this phase in their cycle.
When we have insufficient progesterone, we become oestrogen dominant. There has been a dramatic rise in oestrogenic cancers in recent years.
However, men are also struggling with insufficient progesterone these days, which means that they are also becoming oestrogen dominant. Men also need progesterone, to keep their oestrogen in check.
The main reason men, as well as women, are struggling with too much oestrogen is because we are living in a sea of fake oestrogen from plastics in our food chain, and fire retardants on our soft furnishings, chlorine in our water, and the slew of man-made chemicals within our environment that are xenoestrogenic.
Xenoestrogenic = synthetic oestrogen
Men with xenoestrogen problems tend to carry excess weight on their belly, making them appear pregnant. They also develop breasts.
Adaptogenic Herbs For Hormone Balance
Adaptogenic herbs can help maintain hormone health by reducing the stress response within our bodies. However, there is no evidence to suggest that they can reduce the negative impacts of xenoestrogens on the body.
However, essential oils, such as Thyme Red Essential Oil, are thought to help removexenoestrogens from hormone receptor sites. Plus, Thyme Red Essential Oil improves progesterone production and helps to balance progesterone levels in the body.
According to Dr. Josh Axe:
Both men and a lot of women are low in progesterone, and low progesterone levels have been linked with infertility, PCOS and depression, as well as other imbalanced hormones within the body. Research discussed in the Proceedings of the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine noted that of 150 herbs tested for progesterone production that inhibit the growth of human breast cancer cells, thyme oil is one of the top six to have the highest estradiol and progesterone binding. For this reason, using thyme oil is a great way to naturally balance hormones in the body; plus, it’s far better than turning to synthetic treatments, such as hormone replacement therapy, which can make you dependent on prescription drugs, mask symptoms while developing diseases in other parts of the body and often cause serious side effects. By stimulating hormones, thyme oil is also known to delay menopause; it also serves as a natural remedy for menopause relief because it balances hormone levels and relieves menopausal symptoms, including mood swings, hot flashes and insomnia.Thyme Oil Kills Infections, Increases Circulation & Balances Hormones
List Of Adaptogens
- Fo-ti or He Shou Wu
- Nigella Sativa (also known as Black Seed)
- Gotu Kola
- Holy Basil
- Rhodiola Rosea
- Siberian Ginseng
- Ginko Biloba
- Chaga Mushrooms
- Reishi Mushrooms
- Lions Mane Mushrooms
- Maitake Mushrooms
- Cordyceps Mushrooms
- Turkey Tale Mushrooms
- Agaricus Mushrooms
- Pine Pollen
- Goji Berries (nightshade)
- Jujubee Dates
Adaptogen Herbs & Immunity
Adaptogen herbs are effectively a unique class of healing herbs and foods that do the following:
- Promote hormone balance
- Mitigate stress
- Protect us from contracting a wide variety of diseases, particularly those caused by excess stress.
Stress levels are always a contributory factor in the development of illnesses, so reducing stress levels protects us from all forms of illness.
Adaptogen Herbs Support Systemic Health
In addition to boosting our immune function and reducing our stress levels, research shows that adapotogens can do the following:
- Improve thyroid function
- Calm the root causes of anxiety and depression
- Support adrenal gland function
- Reduce brain cell degeneration
- Stabilise blood sugar & insulin levels
- Lower cholesterol
Adaptogenic Are Not The Whole Answer
Adaptogenic herbs are incredibly potent and deeply helpful, but they cannot cure us of the root causes of the issues we are dealing with.
Our lifestyle choices are the root cause of the problem.
Adaptogenic herbs can be used to help restore physical and emotional health whilst we implement the changes to our diet and lifestyle we need to eradicate the root causes of our problems.
A lifestyle review will hopefully identify the different forms of toxic stress we are subjecting ourselves to. Eliminating these sources of toxicity will mean that our health can be restored in the long-term.
Reducing Toxic Inputs
To eradicate the root causes of our problems we need to detox our lives… This means cutting out toxic inputs, which include psychological as well as physical inputs…
- Toxic relationships
- Toxic foods
- Foods we are allergic to
- Toxic prescription drugs, (the third leading cause of death)
- Non-prescription drugs. (Cannabis has Arsenic in it, for example)
- Toxic TV
- Toxic technologies
- Toxic lifestyles, including toxic jobs
- Toxic relationships that cause a lot of hurt, heartache and stress
- Internal toxic dialogues… (negative self-speak)
- Toxic chemicals
All About Balance
Adaptogens are all about balance.
A healthy life is also all about balance…
However, a bit of fun never hurt anybody… so have a drink to celebrate… but not every day! Eat something that isn’t great for you every now and again… although, choose your naughty treats well…
Fast food is not only unhealthy… it’s also responsible for a lot of environmental destruction and a lot of animal suffering… so choose your poison well, and avoid fast foods if you care about your future on planet earth, and the welfare of animals…
There’s a reason why Ashwagandha is featured first in the list of adaptogenic herbs above. It is possibly the most important adaptogenic herb for female hormonal health. It is likely the best adaptogenic herb to help restore emotional health after traumatic experiences and periods of chronic stress.
Ashwagandha is extremely effective at balancing hormones and reducing stress within our bodies. More specifically, it does the following:
- Promotes free radical scavenging which causes cellular damage, making Ashwagandha deeply anti-ageing
- Supports over-taxed adrenals
- Improves thyroid function, regardless of whether you are hypo, or hyper, Graves or Hashimoto’s
- Reduces anxiety & depression
- Supports brain health Increases stamina and endurance
Ashwagandha can be used to support a sluggish or overactive thyroid because it is an adaptogen.this means it adopts to your body’s individual needs.
It can also help to overcome adrenal fatigue.
Out of all of the adaptogenic herbs in the list above, the two I personally consider most beneficial are Ashwagandha and Nigella Sativa.
Nigella Sativa Oil delivers a plethora of benefits to our overall health. It helps to protect us by boosting immunity and resilience, and it also directly affects many bodily functions to improve outcomes.
Also known asBlack Seed Oil, Nigella Sativa Oil has earned itself a pretty impressive nickname: “The cure for everything but death”.
To learn more aboutBlack Seed Oil / Nigella Sativa Oil and the benefits you can expect from taking it, please follow the links provided.
I personally take Ashwagandha and Organic Food Grade Nigella Sativa Oil every day.