The holidays are here and for many people it can be a time that brings emotional turmoil. Stress can come from awkward family gatherings, financial problems, or loneliness. For some these times bring a great deal of joy, but for others the holidays can bring about sadness, loneliness, anxiety, and other negative feelings. I will shed some light on some of the wonderful herbal allies that can help you through these stressful times.
The top herbalists and naturopaths recommend a group of herbs called "adaptogenics". These plants increase the body's ability to adapt to environmental and internal stress by strengthening the immune, nervous, and glandular system. Other factors that determine if the herb is adaptogenic include:
There exists over twenty different adaptogens that are all wonderful and also very unique, but in this article I will be talking about my favorite two. These are Ashwaghanda and Shisandra.
The most famous herb in Ayurveda is Ashwagandha (Withania Somniferia). This is an amazing herb which I have seen work in my private practice. According to Indian folklore it brings you the "strength of a stallion". I use it when there is weakness, debility, and the nervous system needs to be strengthened. It has been also used for male impotence, malnutrition, impaired cognitive function, insomnia, rheumatoid arthritis, anemia, and much more.
There are many forms that you can take Ashwagandha, but I recommend taking it in the powder form with organic milk or almond milk. If your iron levels are down you can ingest it with black strap molasses. The recommended dosage is 1 tbslp per day, but if you have extreme anxiety you can take up to 4 tbslp per day. Give it a couple of weeks before you start noticing the results.
My favorite herb from this group is called Schisandra (Schisandra Chinensis). It is a mild central nervous system stimulant that enhances reflexes, work performance, and mental activity. At the same time, it is calming and helps relieve anxiety, and stress induced asthma or palpitations. The Chinese name for Schisandra is wu wei zi, which means "five flavors fruit." It contains sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty flavors. According to Chinese medicine, because it has all of the tastes, it tonifies the liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, and spleen.
My favorite way to consume Schisandra is by chewing on the dried berries throughout the day. I feel immediate energy and my mind gets laser focused in whatever task I am performing. For a lot of people chewing the berries can have an overwhelming taste, so either use the tincture form, 40 to 60 drops, three times per day or make a tea with the berries.
Having the knowledge if these two wonderful adaptogens, pick one and use it on a regular basis or when you know times of stress are coming. Along with these adaptogens other herbs that I recommend for strengthening the nervous system are milky oats tincture, chamomile tea, lemon balm tea, linden flower tea, and passionflower. Take advantage of nature's medicine cabinet and restore your mind and nervous system.