Ayurvedic adaptogens are substances that help an individual’s body respond to the physiological effects of stress and aid in restoring balance. Stress is a major immune suppressor, so counteracting its harmful effects is necessary to help the body recover and maintain strength. Some of these have specific individual quirks that make them a bit special so I’ve singled out some of my favorite adaptogens to create my top ten list.
- Ashwagandha – Withania is a wonderful adaptogen with a particular focus on the nervous and endocrine systems. It calms the nervous system, improves mood, supports fertility, and helps to convert thyroid hormone to the more active form. I use this one a lot with my fertility clients, particularly those who have issues conceiving due to stress. If you want to know more about ashwagandha – read my blog on this wonderful adaptogen.
- Gotu Kola (aka as Brahmi) – is great for breaking down keloid scar tissue, and this is a great herb to use for weak and debilitated people suffering nervous exhaustion. It’s a great long-term adaptogen particularly with the elderly and helps to support and improve cognitive function. I find it extremely useful to add to a mix for women who are experiencing memory loss associated with menopause. Want to know more about Brahmi? – Click here Herbs that Heal: Brahmi – the Brain Herb.
- Tulsi – traditionally used in Ayurveda as a lung tonic to clear mucus, this herb is so much more! It’s a great brain herb, it’s a wonderful anti-depressant and anti-anxiety herb and it really lifts the spirits. If you’re into yoga it helps to balance the chakras so it’s a good daily tea to brew. I use it in my practice to balance cortisol and stress response in general. It’s a wonderful herb for people who complain of brain fog. Interestingly, Tulsi also contains triterpenoid ursolic acid (also found in rosemary) an incredible anti-cancer compound that is also wonderful for skin elasticity.
- Siberian Ginseng – great for blood sugar balancing and is an energy tonic. It can be used to enhance athletic performance as a safe stimulant, a great adrenal, and thyroid supportive herb, plus it tastes great. I find it very useful as a liver protective herb and as a cardioprotective herb. I’ve used it a lot in my practice with cancer patients to mitigate the harmful effects of radiation and chemotherapy. It does interfere with some medications so don’t self-dose.
- Rhodiola – the herb for stamina and increasing energy levels. It also supports you through stressful periods as it’s a great nootropic (supports brain function). It’s a wonderful herb for anxiety and depression and sexual dysfunction in both men and women. I have found that it helps to support and restore the immune system where there has been chronic fatigue and chronic illness for a prolonged period of time
- Amla (Amalaki) – this traditional Ayurvedic herb is a potent antioxidant, very high in vitamin C, and traditionally used as an immune protective herb to prevent disease and used as anti-aging support. It’s a great skin herb and a wonderful anti-histamine – I recommend it in my practice for people who might have some autoimmune issues and who struggle with high cholesterol as it’s a great cholesterol-lowering herb. Read my ‘Herbs That Heal’ Blog on Amla.
- Licorice – This is an amazing herb for adrenal fatigue and a great stomach healer. It helps to restore a frazzled nervous system. It is also a great anti-inflammatory herb that I am seeing being used in a number of different formulations, including hormone creams, cough mixtures, skin creams and it’s a great herb to use to counteract liver damage. Caution though using Licorice when there is high blood pressure as it can interact with several medications due to the steroidal saponins it contains so again, don’t self-dose. Be careful with licorice even with the teas!
- Reishi – one of my favorite medicinal mushrooms (although extremely bitter and unpalatable!), this is a great immune tonic and anti-inflammatory tonic. Great for balancing blood sugar and oxygenating the blood. I recommend these mushrooms with people who are recovering from chronic viral infections. They are great liver protectors and are amazing for restoring a depleted immune system.
- Schisandra – This is great for someone who is depleted and malnourished and who has an immune system that is not functioning properly. It’s a great immune tonic and it’s a great liver protector. I recommend it to encourage healthy liver detoxification which means it is also wonderful for your skin. It’s a supportive nervine so it calms the nervous system and encourages relaxation. It’s also great if there are night sweats.
- Shilajit – I love this one because it looks like tar and it’s an excellent herb that is often recommended for diabetes, ulcers, liver disease, epilepsy, and gallstones. It’s a traditional Himalayan medicine that I recommend to my clients to increase overall robust health and immune function. It’s a great adrenal restorative, a powerful blood sugar balancer, and a wonderful mood, and a cholesterol regulator. It also contains the all-important anti-inflammatory properties.
If you would like to find out more about adaptogens and how you can use them in your life or for a specific health concern. Then lets chat. Sign up below for a complimentary consultation so we can determine what would suit you best.