Stress is a silent killer. It’s linked to virtually every non-communicable disease and can make our lives miserable. Whether at work, on the home front or all those places in between that usually require waiting in line, even the calmest among us have experienced stress. While practices like meditation, yoga and tai chi have all proven effective at reducing stress, we may find it hard to pretzel into lotus position during a traffic jam. We can, however, incorporate tonic herbs into our lives. Called ‘adaptogens’ these plants can be used regularly to increase vitality and help you to keep the hair-pulling-out tendencies for those oh-so very special times we like to call Family Visits.
While cheese is probably what comes to mind when you think of Wisconsin, the state is also one of the largest producers of the powerful tonic root, ginseng, amounting to about ten percent of the total world production. But since you don’t find ginseng on too many nachos, chances are that like most Americans, it’s off your radar. Too bad—because ginseng is a versatile healer and effective stress-reliever safe for daily use. American ginseng is just one type of this plant; others include Siberian and Asian. Studies have linked ginseng to boosting mood and cognitive function, balancing blood sugars, aiding in detox, boosting immunity and maintaining healthy body weight, as well as increasing ability to tolerate stress.
The mushroom kingdom continues to deliver us powerful healers, like the reishi, considered the King of Chinese Medicine and valued for its many purposes for thousands of years. It’s been called the elixir of immortality and scientific studies have supported its efficacy in many applications (though eternal life has not yet been verified). Mushroom expert and founder of Fungi Perfecti, Paul Stamets, says the reishi is an effective anti-tumor, anti-viral, blood pressure regulator, blood sugar moderator, cholesterol reducing, immune-enhancing, kidney, liver, lung and nerve tonic. Wow.
Rhodiola has been used throughout Eastern Europe and parts of Asia for thousands of years. It’s known for stimulating the nervous system and decreasing depression and anxiety. Like ginseng, it’s also shown an ability to improve cognitive function, reduce fatigue and increase resistance to a variety of stress factors. It’s been used to regulate sleep cycles, balance appetite, relieve headaches and reduce irritability.
While adaptogenic herbs are generally regarded as safe for daily use, you should always consult your physician before adding any herbs to your diet, especially if you currently take any medications.
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