All species experience stress in some capacity. Humans have experienced the stressors of cold, famine, bereavement, infidelity, sickness, and many more, since the beginning of our time on this earth.
As our world and personal environments continue to evolve, so do the triggers from which we may experience stress. But surprising to many, stress is not always a bad thing. We'll look further into what stress is and how the wonderful world of adaptogens could benefit you.
So, what exactly is stress?
At the most basic level, stress is a system that mobilises other systems in the body to take action. When your stress response is triggered by a stressor, it'll signal to specific areas of your body the need to adjust in response.
It's important to note that stress is two-sided, and a little bit can be good and necessary. For example, it's been an essential purpose for human survival, especially if we think back to our ancestors who often faced real physical threats. However, problems arise when we experience acute (intense) or chronic (long-term) stress, which can be harmful to both our physical and mental health.
What is a stressor?
A stressor is any agent or event that threatens the body's normal homeostasis or balance. A stressor can be biological, chemical, environmental, physical, psychological, nutritional, or spiritual. Stressors vary hugely, and so too does the stress response triggered.
What are adaptogens, and how can they help with stress?
Adaptogens are remarkable plants that help the body adapt to stress and restore balance. They increase the body's resistance and provide a defence response to acute or chronic stress.
The knowledge and use of these herbs and mushrooms (we now know as adaptogens) date back thousands of years to India and China. Featured within many ancient texts, adaptogens have been used to help maintain and restore health, improve stamina and vigour.
Some Chinese herbs were considered so precious that they were reserved for use by the Emperor and his family alone. Russian research into adaptogens in the 1950s and 1960s concluded that they enhanced the body's ability to handle all types of stressors.
At The Herbtender, we like to use the cup analogy:
Imagine your stress and survival system as a cup and the liquid that flows into it as the stressors that are affecting you. When the cup and liquid are in balance, you feel good – energetic, centred and rolling with life. Add too many stressors into your cup and it spills over with nervous energy, manifesting in worry and anxiety. Many people try to deal with this imbalance by altering the flow of the liquid, or stressors, but this often doesn’t work as we ultimately have little control over our external environment. Adaptogens, on the other hand, help build resilience by increasing the size of your cup. When your cup is larger, stress triggers will seem smaller, helping you to become more resilient and to feel less stressed.
Adaptogenic plants are survivors
Many adaptogens have adapted to grow in harsh environments, such as high altitudes, desert-like conditions or extreme cold. The chemical compounds they carry to support them in those harsh conditions work in our bodies to help build resistance to stress and many other ailments.
According to David Winston RH(AHG), only 15 plants can be truly classified as adaptogens today. He lists a further six as 'possible adaptogens' because there has yet to be research to confirm their adaptogenic use. Some of our favourite adaptogens are ashwagandha, rhodiola, holy basil, ginseng, lion's mane, cordyceps, reishi, and chaga. We also use a herb that deserves the status of 'adaptogen' but has yet to have it: stinging nettle seed.
"For every human illness, somewhere in the world there exists a plant which is the cure" – Rudolf Steiner
Adaptogens are regaining their appropriate place in modern healthcare, and rightly so. All the ancient wisdom and knowledge now translate into contemporary products, enabling us to deal with modern-day stressors with the help of mother nature.
At The Herbtender, our expertly-crafted supplements help with sleep, anxiety, energy, focus, physical performance, fatigue and immunity. They're a simple and natural way to adapt to the stresses of modern living, enabling you to live a healthier, calmer and more focused life.
If you have any questions about the above or anything else The Herbtender related, we'd love to hear from you. Feel free to leave a comment below, pop us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or send us a DM at @theherbtender!