In post one of this series, we talked about what an adaptogenic herb is and why a person might want to use it. In the second installment, we focused on individual herbs in the adaptogen category and what their unique properties and benefits are. In this last post of the series, I want to wrap it up with some recommendations and suggestions for how to make the best use of these powerful herbs.
Because adaptogens are well-known for helping the body cope with stress, those who use them are often people who are burning the candle at both ends, exhausted, overworked and overwhelmed.
They hope that this will be the magic bullet that will make all their problems go away. In reality, of course, that is not the case. In order to work with adaptogens effectively, to bring your body back to true health, it is critical to look at the root causes of stress in your life and address them one by one. Adaptogens can help the body cope and build endurance in the meantime, but if lifestyle changes are not implemented, burnout and illness will eventually occur just the same.
I love Herbalist, Jim McDonald's adaptogen/credit card analogy:
“If you're overspending (energy out is greater than energy in), you'll get yourself into debt (perhaps nervous anxiety/exhaustion). As a tool to help get you out of debt, you might get a credit card or loan (adaptogen) which gives you some extra cash (“energy”) to get you through your day and tasks.
If you use your new credit too aggressively (go back to your pattern of energy out is greater than energy in) that credit card (adaptogen) is only gonna make things harder down the road (more debt/bigger energy crash). But, if you spend your extra cash (energy) wisely, make strategic investments, and hold some back to start building up your savings (core energy) again, and say, “Sorry, no, I'd like to but can't do that” to the things that will burn up more money (energy) than you can afford, they can be exceptionally useful tools to get things back on track.
We should remember that one of the original uses of adaptogens was to get the working class able to handle bad working conditions with less rest and less burnout… they can help one endure an inhospitable situation or lifestyle with less negative impact. When using them, I like to encourage people to ask:
“Do I really need to endure this inhospitable situation?
Do I want to?”
In order to help adaptogenic herbs do their best, most impressive work, I suggest going back to what I call the 10 Steps to Wellness.
- Let Food be thy Medicine
- Drink Pure Water….and lots of it
- Be Present
- Use your Brain
- Use Natural Remedies
- Spend Time in Nature
- “Follow your Bliss”
Looking at each of these 10 steps individually and seeing how you can make positive shifts in each area, along with adaptogenic herbs, can help you overcome illness, deal with stress and anxiety effectively and create and maintain vibrant and radiant health for yourself and your family.