As us folks in Wyoming wait for the weather to actually feel
like spring, I feel that the effects of this vibrant season have been in full
force for the last two months. Spring
and autumn are the two seasons in the year that are all about transition. While autumn represents a slowing down into
hibernation, spring represents a speeding up into awakening and the birth of
new life. Though this is a beautiful process, I feel a bit like a grumpy bear
being woken up from my peaceful winter slumber. As spring calls us into action and new
growth I think it is natural to feel a bit more stress than usual this time of
year. Especially when we are waiting
for the weather to catch up to our ambitions!
is always a factor any time of the year and something we all should care about
managing. Of course we hear this all the
time from multiple sources but why is it so important? Our
body’s natural response to stress is for our adrenal gland to produce cortisol,
the “fight or flight” hormone. In 1936 a
medical report called general adaptation
syndrome was created by Hans Selye, a Canadian biochemist. Selye defined two types of stress, one being
the helpful kind called eustress and the negative kind called distress. Eustress serves a helpful purpose in releasing
healthy levels of cortisol to provide increased energy and alertness when we need it only in certain situations and then is designed
to subside in the body once the stress or fear is gone. Distress (now significantly more common to modern
daily living) is when we don’t ever physically release our stress. Therefore cortisol builds up to unhealthy
levels in the body and becomes a negative opposing function to our health that
creates a feeling of constant general anxiety.
In addition, this overproduction of cortisol has a domino effect
that creates an imbalance of health on many levels including:
suppressed immune system
fluctuating blood sugar levels
and ability to learn
levels and risk of heart disease
depression and mental
lower life expectancy
So what can we do to combat this new modern response to a
very stressful world? You need to know
about Adaptogens. The term adaptogens
refers to pharmacological/herbal remedies that stabilize the body’s resistance
to biological stress and homeostasis of physiological systems. It makes sense
that this very term contains the root word “adapt”, as we must adapt to the
increasing demands of an ever changing world and evolve our responses to it. There are several herbs in Chinese and Ayurvedic
medicine that are classified as adaptogens.
However for the purposes of simplicity and my own personal experience, I
would like to share with you two remedies, under the adaptogens category, that I
have tried with great success in managing my own stress levels.
Ashwagandha is an Indian herb that has
incredible stress-relieving properties equivalent to many powerful pharmaceuticals
used in treating anxiety and depression. This amazing herb contains profound antioxidant
properties that destroy free radicals that lead to several states of disease
and aging. It has anti-cancer benefits
and a preventative/protective effect on the nervous system against further
imbalance as well as being used to alternatively treat
such degenerative diseases as Parkinson’s
Take Ashwaghanda on its own or try an anti-stress
herbal blend that contains this as one of its ingredients.
The blend I have been using is called
Stress Care by Himalaya Herbal Healthcare.
This blend contains Ashwaghanda in combination with many other adaptogen
herbs that collectively keep stress induced cortisol levels within a healthy
II. Maca Powder
specifically the root of the plant has long been revered by ancient Peruvian
societies as a superfood for healing and nourishment. It is native to the Andean Mountains of
Bolivia and Peru and is one of the only food plants in the world able to
survive at such high altitudes. In the Incan empire Maca was highly valued for
its adaptogenic qualities that enable it to soothe and balance the body's sensitive
endocrine system in order to cope with stress. It is also a natural energizer,
that is much more even than the nervousness and jitters of caffeine. Maca can also aid in reproductive functions
by helping to balance hormones and therefore increase fertility.
The easiest way to incorporate Maca into your
diet is through taking direct supplements of the root or adding the powder form
of the root into smoothies, yogurt or even baking with.
If you struggle with depression or the
constant anxiety of a nervous alley cat and you feel like you just can’t turn
off “the stress switch” there is a high likelihood that the cause is from elevated
cortisol levels in your body. Try
Ashwaghanda and Maca together as a new plan to support your adrenal glands and
you will be amazed and delighted at the results you see in only a week or two. Both these blessed plants can help us
navigate through an increasingly overwhelming world of constant stress factors
that damage our physical and mental health.
Don’t suffer, help yourself, be well and of course come get your regular
massages too as massage has the exact same positive effects in rebalancing the
body as these wonderful herbs.
Don’t let stress take away your joy in life,
be aware of unreleased stress in your body and take control back!