The Easiest Way to Melt Away Stress

Dr. Janet Zand

November 12, 2021

Did you know that there’s a way to reduce stress that doesn't involve diet, exercise, or meditation?

It’s true. In fact, it’s as easy as taking a few herbs!

So what are these herbs?

They’re called adaptogens. Adaptogens are herbs that help your body adapt to both physical or mental stress. Some adaptogens can also boost your immunity and overall well-being.

And research shows adaptogens can actually do more than help you survive during stressful times.  They can actually help you thrive. They’ve been shown to boost energy levels, mental performance, mood, and more.

How they work

During stressful moments, your body pumps out the stress hormone cortisol, and your body goes into fight or flight mode. When the stressful event is over, cortisol levels normalize.

Unfortunately, when a stressor is chronic — like from finances or work or relationships — the stress response also becomes chronic. Cortisol levels stay high, and over time your risk goes up for obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, cancer, osteoporosis, and fibromyalgia.

But when you take an adaptogen, it can help normalize cortisol levels, which also reduces the stress response and protects your health.

How to get started with adaptogens

When you’re getting started with adaptogens, make sure you follow the instructions on the product. It’s best to see a naturopathic physician to get their recommendations for specific adaptogens and reputable formulas.

You can take adaptogens just to get through a rough week or a particularly stressful month. If you’re taking them for longer, consider rotating adaptogens. Switching every 6 weeks to a different adaptogen can help your body benefit from the differences among different herbs.

So... what kind of adaptogens help with stress?

Well, one of my favorites is rhodiola rosea. Rhodiola helps lower stress levels, but it also has other exciting health benefits.

For instance, in one study, researchers gave rhodiola to medical students cramming for exams. The students had more energy and scored higher on tests.

Rhodiola also stimulates your neurotransmitters—like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. This can improve your mood and energy. In one study, rhodiola even helped people sleep longer and more soundly.

However, rhodiola isn’t the only adaptogen for stress that has additional bonus health benefits. There’s also:

• Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): Also can reduce anxiety, help fight depression, and even boost brain function.

• Jiaogulan (Gynostemma Pentaphyllum): Also helps with increasing stamina and memory.

• Tulsi/Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum): Also helps protect against infection, lower blood sugar, lower cholesterol, and ease joint pain.

• Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra): Also can help ease upper respiratory infections, treat ulcers, and aid in digestion.

• Goji berry (Lycium barbarum): Also supports immune function and healthy vision, and goji berries are loaded with nutrients and antioxidants.

So... if you’re dealing with a high-stress week or chronic, ongoing stress, adaptogens are an easy way to protect your health and lower stress naturally. 

You can find adaptogens at health food stores and online retailers. If you try them out, let me know how it goes!

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