Field Notes: Basic Adaptogenic Herbs for Fall

There’s nothing like the transition from warm summer days to chilly fall ones to throw all the systems in your body completely out of whack.

Plenty of people feel lethargic, and tons of others get sick – luckily, there are herbs to help your body fight off stress and adapt to changes called adaptogens.

What these plants do is help restore various imbalances caused by various mental and environmental stressors in the body and help bring it back to equilibrium.

While there are many more plants (and even mushrooms) with adaptogenic properties, this list contains some of my favorites herbs and a handful of the commonly known medicinal uses they have.

  1. Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus)
    Also called ‘siberian ginseng’, this powerful root is used in tinctures and teas for it’s ability to increased and fortify energy levels by keeping fatigue at bay. This herb has also been used to improve physical and mental endurance. Along with increased stamina, it helps to balance other body systems including the immune system, and cardiovascular system as well as the adrenal system. Along with a host of other benefits, this helps the body resist the effects of stress and other maladies.
  2. Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum)
    This herb, also referred to as “holy basil”, is a stress buster that is also praised for it’s ability to help regulate the immune system – one of the most important things you would want from an herb this time of year. It also helps to regulate other body systems, including hormone levels blood sugar, and even lower cholesterol. Like any good adaptogen, regular use of it will increase energy levels, keeping stress related fatigue at bay.
  3. Ashwaganda (Withania somnifera)
    Ashwaganda is a great herb for combating stress. It not only works to combat the effects of existing stress on the body, but works double duty to ease anxiety. It also actively works to reduce cortisol levels in chronically stressed people and may even help to combat depression in some cases. This medicinal plant can reduce triglycerides and blood pressure. It can also reduce high blood sugar – not only in healthy people, but people with diabetes as well.
  4. Astragaulus (Astragalus membranaceus)
    This herb is chock full of anti-stress compounds – and in addition to this, it reduces the efficacy of cortisol.  This herb is traditionally used in Chinese medicine for longevity and can actually extend the life of cells. The antioxidants in it also help to fortify the cardiovascular system as well. It reduces inflammation and can simultaneously give your immune system a strong boost. perfect for fighting off colds at the start of the season.
  5. Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis) – This herb may be a berry, but it’s still medicine! Sometimes called the “five flavor berry” it’s not very palatable to most, but is very potent medicine and adds a tart note to teas. Since ancient times this berry has been used to slow aging, increase energy, fight off fatigue, as well as boost libido. It helps to reduce mental and physical stress, like all other adaptogens, as well as reduces stress hormones in the blood. I like it because I don’t particularly mind the taste – I bring a few with me and chew them if I need a boost at some point during the day, no preparation needed.

So there you have it – a selection of various herbs to help you fight stress, maintain health and give your mind and body an energy boost.

Each one is different, but they share important benefits to get you through the transition of the seasons.

Personally I use adaptogens year round – but their benefits become much harder to ignore as the weather gets colder!

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