Health & Fitness

Adaptogenic Herbs for Anxiety, Stress-Relief, and Relaxation

November 11, 2017

One of the questions I get asked most often is if I’ll share my supplement routine. Many of you know that I have quite the supplement regimen, but I don’t like to share all of the details because my supplement routine is very specific to my body and my personal health status. I think it’s really unwise to blindly copy someone else’s supplement routine without understanding why they take the things they take. Every person’s situation is very unique, and the supplements they use should be tailored to that. Taking a supplement that doesn’t address your body’s unique needs can sometimes do more harm than good, so it’s important to focus on what’s best for you, specifically, instead of taking supplements just to take them or just because you heard someone else is taking them and has seen good results.

Stress is something many of us struggle with, so I wanted to share more about a few of the herbs I’ve used in the past few years to manage it. Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of different holistic remedies to help reduce my cortisol, ease my anxiety, and lower my stress, and they really have helped me feel much better overall. I’m still a Type A individual, but I’m actually much calmer and more relaxed nowadays than I ever have been in my whole life.

Adaptogens and different anxiety-reducing herbs are mentioned a lot in the media and are getting stuffed into every food product nowadays, and it seems like many people just take them to be “trendy,” without even knowing what the herbs actually do. Adaptogens are really powerful, though, and they work to bring the body back to its level of homeostasis. They “adapt” to what your body needs, which is why the same adaptogens can work very differently for different people. They might make one person more energetic if that’s what that body needs, and they might make someone else much calmer and relaxed if that’s what that person needs. In today’s stressful society, most people tend to need the calming effect.

Over the years, I’ve built up an arsenal of adaptogens, amino acids, herbs, and other supplements based on products recommended to me by different practitioners. I’ve tried many things out, seen how my body and mood has responded, and discovered what works best for me. Not everything given to me by doctors over the years has worked. There are a lot of supplements I’ve tried that I really noticed no difference with. There are a few, though, that I’ve kept in my rotation because I love the effect they have on helping to reduce my stress levels.

  1. Ashwagandha is by far my favorite adaptogen, and I’ve been using it religiously in different forms for about two years. Compared to everything else I’ve tried, this adaptogen has made the biggest difference in my stress levels.  It’s popular in Ayurvedic medicine and is used to support the body’s natural energy levels and moderate the effects of stress. It can also strengthen the immune system, increase mental focus and memory, reduce fatigue, and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Since taking this constantly in the morning and evening, I’ve noticed a huge reduction in my anxiety levels. Ashwagandha is a nightshade, though, so be aware if you have an autoimmune disease and react to nightshades.
  2. Rhodiola is another adaptogen, and it’s known to to help boost energy, mood, and brain power. Rhodiola is linked to a reduction in cortisol and depression, and it supports the body’s ability to resist different stressors. This paired with Ashwagandha are my adaptogen dream team when it comes to natural remedies for anxiety and depression.
  3. L-Theanine is a relaxing amino acid that has helped me a lot with winding down after a long day. It helps to support the body’s ability to relax, and I definitely notice the difference.
  4. Reishi – Reishi mushroom is known to help calm you down, relieve feelings of stress, and also support sleep. I like to drink a mug of Four Sigmatic Reishi elixir every night to help me wind down, and it makes a huge difference in my evening routine. (My code “CRW” will get you 15% off Four Sigmatic products!)
  5. GABA – If you’ve ever taken a Psych class, you’ve probably heard of GABA. It’s an inhibitory neurotransmitter with relaxant effects, helping the body to maintain balance. GABA is often out of balance in people who struggle with anxiety. I first started supplementing with GABA about five years ago, at the recommendation of my psychologist since I didn’t want to go on medication, and I found it made a huge difference in the way I reacted to stressors in my life.
  6. Kava Kava is an extract / plant / root that helps the body manage stress. It can help with anxiety, restlessness, and sleeping. It can also help with muscle tension and pain. However, there are some medications and supplements that Kava Kava should not be taken in conjunction with, which is another reminder why it’s so important to get supplement recommendations from a practitioner who knows everything you’re taking! My practitioner put me on this about a year ago, and I noticed much better sleep and even energy levels throughout the day.
  7. Holy Basil is another adaptogen that is popular in Ayurvedic medicine. The compounds in holy basil have been shown in clinical trials to support the pancreas and help generate healthy new beta cells. It’s been shown to reduce stress, help with sleep problems, reduce exhaustion, and have antidepressant properties. I have taken this on and off for about two years, and I do notice that I feel more “even” overall whenever I take it consistently.

Adaptogenic Herbs for Anxiety, Stress Relief, and Relaxation

These are just a few of the natural remedies I’ve used in my battle against stress and anxiety. Remember, adaptogens work differently for everyone, so sometimes it can be a guessing game to figure out what works best with your body. For example, ashwagandha might help me wind down, but it might make you more energetic. Listen to your body to find what works for you!

Do you have a favorite adaptogen? I’d love to hear!

What do you think?

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