Adaptogens are all the rage these days. In the first post in this series, we talked about what adaptogens are and what they are used for. In this post, I'm going to describe some of the most commonly used adaptogenic herbs and how to determine if they are right for you.
- Eluthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) – Also known as Siberian Ginseng, Eleuthero is a mild, tonic adaptogen that can be used over long periods of time to help strenghten the immune system, increase endurance and stamina and improve the quality of sleep. Clinical studies have shown that it also can be of benefit in lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng) – One of the most studied herbs in the world, Asian Ginseng is an excellent tonic herb and one of the most stimulating adaptogens. It is appropriate for those in a weakened state, those who feel cold all the time, as well as people who have depleted adrenals. As an immuno-modulator, it has the ability to enhance a weakened immune state as well as sooth an overly stimulated immune response such as in auto-immune conditions and allergies.
- American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) – With a long history of traditional use in North America, recent studies have confirmed its usefulness as an adrenal adaptogen. This makes it an excellent choice for those who are chronically fatigued, catch colds frequently and suffer from allergies or allergic asthma.
- Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) – An adaptogen, nervous system tonic and anti-depressant, Rhodiola has been used in Russia, Sweden and Germany for many decades. In studies, it has also been shown to prevent stress induced heart damage and arrhythmias.
- Amla (Emblica officinalis) – Rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, Amla helps prevent and treat damage to connective tissues, blood vessels, bones and skin. It has a special affinity for the eyes, helping to improve night vision and prevent age related damage. Studies have also shown that it can protect against cellular radiation damage, carcinogens and toxicity.
- Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) – Astragalus can be beneficial in enhancing the immune system, making it useful for preventing colds, flus and other respiratory infections. It also has been shown to possess tumor-inhibiting properties and can help to prevent the immunosuppression caused by chemotherapy.
- Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) – As an immuno-modulator, Reishi is capable of improving immune response, as well as down regulating an over-stimulated immune system. It can help lower cholesterol, reduce arrhythmia, protect the liver and work as an anti-inflammatory for those with allergic asthma.
- Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) – Research has shown that Holy Basil is effective at reducing stress levels, is radioprotective, can lower blood sugar levels, help prevent gastric ulcers and reduce the symptoms of allergies.
- Schisandra (Schizandra chinensis) – This adaptogen is anti-asthmatic, anti-inflammatory and liver protective. As a nervous system tonic, it has the dual effect of being able to stimulate (enhance reflexes, work performance and mental activity) as well as relax (relieve anxiety, palpitations and stress induced asthma). It also has a normalizing effect on blood pressure and enhances the immune and endocrine system functions.
- Ashwaganda (Withania somnifera) – While many adaptogens are stimulating, Ashwaganda has the unique property of being a calming adaptogen. As a nervine, it can be exceptionally effective for fatigue, anxiety and stress-induced conditions such as insomnia and exhaustion. It has been successfully used for auto-immune illnesses including chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, and it can be helpful in re-regulating thyroid function.
- Lycium (Lycium chinensis) – Lycium, also known as Goji Berry, is a nutritive tonic with the ability to strengthen muscles, ligaments and cappillaries, especially in the eyes. It can also help regenerate the cells of the liver and protect against liver damage.
- Milky Oats (Avena sativa) – A nutritive, tonic herb, fresh milky oats is a nervous system trophorestorative that can relieve emotional instability, reduce withdrawal symptoms and ease hormonal anxiety.
- Hawthorn (Crataegus oxycanthoides) – A trophorestorative for the heart and circulatory system, Hawthorn is also a nervine herb. It is used extensively for conditions ranging from mild congestive heart failure, to high blood pressure to atherosclerosis.
Which adaptogen is your favorite? Do you use it alone or in combination with others? Let me know your experience in the comments.