Have you noticed the increased number of coffee shops everywhere? It’s quite common these days for people to turn to caffeine and sugar, to pick up their energy and ignore their stress levels. The problem is sugar and caffeine do offer a quick lift, but the crash is never far behind – so for a lot of people it’s back to coffee, sweets or refined carbohydrates to get the next ‘pick-me-up’ again.
This produces a perpetual cycle of energy highs and lows, crashing blood sugar levels and frequent mood swings.
Fortunately, there are healthier and cheaper ways to get through the day and that is to start adding adaptogens into your daily life.
What exactly are adaptogens?
They are special herbs and are called adaptogens because of their unique ability to “adapt” their function according to your body’s specific needs. They will help to improve and support the health of your adrenal system, the system that’s in charge of managing your body’s hormonal response to stress.
When you’re feeling anxious, stressed or zapped of energy they will gently and slowly help your body adapt to these symptoms. Although the effects may initially be subtle and take time to make themselves felt, many people say that they’re real and indisputable.
The most common and easiest way to get more of these adaptogenic herbs into your diet is to brew them into a tea. There are many adaptogenic herbs, however the four most common ones are:
There are many different Ginseng species and ginseng tea has become quite popular all over the world. Throughout history it was originally used as a herbal medicine in China because it helped to increase stamina, combat body stress and build emotional, physical or biological resistance.
It also helps to support the body’s immune system, promote a sense of wellbeing and is naturally hypoglycaemic. It also contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
Ginseng tea has a bitter-sweet taste and you can buy herbal tea bags from your local health food store. Ginseng root can be added to foods or you can make a hot tea by chopping and steeping the root in hot water.
Ashwagandha is also known as Indian Ginseng. It’s a traditional herb that’s been used for its strengthening properties, as it helps to increase energy, vitality, stamina and endurance. It also helps to ease anxiety and stress, enhances immunity as well as containing antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Ashwagandha is available in both a root and in a powdered form. If you suffer from insomnia or sleep difficulties, you can add it to a warm mug of coconut milk with a little bit of honey, cinnamon and turmeric to taste. This can be drunk before you go to sleep to help to improve the quality of your sleep.
3. Liquorice root
Liquorice is one of the most universally consumed herbs as it has many rejuvenating and nutritive properties. It helps to increases energy, endurance, boosts immunity, is antiviral, anti-inflammatory and aids adrenal gland exhaustion by maintaining electrolyte balance and also helps to purify the liver and blood.
It also helps to support estrogen in the body, which is especially helpful for women experiencing menopausal discomforts. Liquorice is also used for various digestive complaints including stomach ulcers, heartburn and inflammation of the stomach lining.
Liquorice is quite sweet to taste and can make a beautiful tea, especially when combined with ginger.
4. Tulsi (holy basil)
Tulsi is also known as holy basil and is one of the most sacred herbs of India. It helps to stabilise blood sugars, regulates excessive immune responses, is an anti-depressant, antioxidant rich, antiviral, enhances concentration and memory and reduces feelings of stress. It also supports healthy thyroid and adrenal function, improves sleep and promotes a healthy metabolism.
Tulsi is most often brewed into a tea – you can get loose leaf tea or also available in tea bags.
There are many other ways you can manage your stress levels. Below are some suggestions you can incorporate into your daily life:
- Eating well
- Sleeping well
- Practice gratitude
- Breathe deeply
- Connect with nature
- Regular exercise
- Maintaining social connections
Adding adaptogenic herbs to your daily routine can make you even more resilient to the damaging effects that stress can have.
Have you ever had adaptogens before? Do you have a favourite way to add them into your daily life you would like to share with us?
Happy changing habits.
Changing Habits Nutritionist
Please note: if you are pregnant, or on prescription medication, consult your doctor before consuming any of these herbs.
Shipard. I. 2003. ‘How Can I Use Herbs In My Daily Life. Over 500 herbs, spices and edible plants. An Australian, practical guide to growing, with culinary and medicinal uses’.