A diverse group of herbs that help us face and handle stress as it happens – although the classification is often complicated and the boundaries difficult to define. Adaptogen herbs have immune system enhancers which help the body adjust to change, regulate stress and restore natural immune resistance. Adaptogens recharge the adrenal glands, which are the body’s nominal mechanism for responding to stress and emotional changes. They provide valuable support to the human body in coping with the pressures placed on a wide range of its functions by both the internal and external environments and normalize the functions of the bodily systems.
Though this word is a relatively new concept to western medicine, China and Eastern medical theory has employed their use for centuries. The intent behind their use is the very basis of a preventative approach to health and well being. Basically their action is one that improves the body’s adaptability, enabling the body to avoid reaching a point of collapse or over-stress. Adaptogens can have an overall tonifying effect or provide benefit within specific organ such as the circulatory, respiratory, digestive, reproductive and nervous systems.
Modern herbalists say adaptogenic herbs are plants with properties that exert a normalizing influence on the body, neither over-stimulating nor inhibiting normal body function, but rather exerting a generalized tonifying effect.
Stress itself is not an illness but, the effects of stress include impatience, anxiety, and irritability and can be caused by lack of sleep, poor diet, chemical toxins in the environment or mental assaults. If stress is prolonged or chronic the body’s ability to maintain homeostasis can be compromised, and illness can result. Adaptogenic herbs have traditionally helped prevent the imbalances that can result from stress and have therefore prevented or minimized disease.
These herbs restore overall balance and strengthen the functioning of the body as a whole without impacting the balance of an individual organ or body system. Adaptogens facilitate these changes by a wide range of actions and energetics, rather than one specific action. Adaptogens can be stimulating and/or relaxing, many help improve focus, support immune system functioning, or provide some other broad-spectrum normalizing influence on unbalanced physiological processes.