Our bodies are like a household full of different people. If the baby’s been up all night with colic, no one is going to function particularly well the next day. If Mom and Dad are having financial stresses, the effects of that will echo like a gong down to every level, stressing everyone, not just the kids when the latest trip to the mall doesn’t garner a new set of Pokemon cards. If the dog craps in the laundry and everyone trails it through the house, that house isn’t gonna smell like lavender. Everything is connected and everything affects everything else.
Adaptogens are herbal powerhouses. Ginseng, rhodiola, ashwagandha, holy basil, reishi – adaptogens have been used for several thousand years in both Chinese and Indian medicine systems. There is a big difference between adaptogens and conventional Western drugs. “Drugs are typically designed to block or replace something,” explains Catherine Guthrie in Experience Life. “For instance, Celebrex lessens arthritis pain by inhibiting COX-2, an enzyme that causes inflammation. But COX-2 also shields the body from heart disease and stroke. Obstructing it brings on a two- to three-fold increase in heart attacks and strokes, according to a Food and Drug Administration alert.”
Adaptogens are a different beast, and therefore we can assume that they’re not as powerful. Sure, they don’t work as fast – they don’t target your pain and beat it down in 11 seconds (not that there’s anything wrong with wanting to get rid of pain fast. “There was never yet philosopher that could endure the toothache patiently,” William Shakespeare said). But just because they don’t work fast doesn’t mean that adaptogens aren’t potent. Rather than blocking or replacing odious body reactions, adaptogens work gently on the entire body, nourishing it towards balance so that those reactions stop of their own accord. Pretty wise, eh? And not only that, they also work differently on the body depending on which way it’s out of balance, and different doses can affect the same person in different ways.
But how do they do it? How do adaptogens know how what our bodies need? Think of a thermostat. When a room is too hot or too cold, the thermostat is the brain behind the balancing. Adaptogens calm you down and boost you up. They counteract the adverse effects of stress by supporting adrenal function. They enable the body’s cells to access more energy and help cells eliminate toxic byproducts of the metabolic process helping the body utilize oxygen more efficiently.
Chinese Medicinal Herbal Formulas are chalk full of adaptogenics with our two favorites being: