Let it be known that adaptogens are coming to the UK big time. Their popularity is going to be bigger than spirulina… bigger than kale even, because ancient herbal wisdom is back in business baby!
Why we stopped paying attention to thousands of years of plant-based medicine I’ll never know, but the good news is that we’re finally starting to look for old ways to solve our new health issues.
So what are adaptogens you ask? Well, they are a group of healing herbs that have a strong effect on the adrenal system, helping to protect the body and restore it to a more balanced state. If you’re worked up, they can calm you down and if you’re down they can bring your mood up. And it’s not just age old theories that tell us this; science is actually confirming what people have been telling us for centuries. These plants do have a very profound effect.
In today’s society where stress is all around us, having something to buffer the effects and help us respond to the situation is absolutely vital… so let me introduce you to 11 of my favourites.
Reishi has been used for at least 2 thousand years and it is considered to be an “elixir of immortality”. It is thought to protect us from viruses, bacteria, pollution, parasites, mould and toxicity. It has also been found to be anti-inflammatory and has anti-stress properties, counteracting stimulants like coffee and chocolate. Amazingly reishi has been said to fight candida and alleviate nausea too.
Ashwagandha is a popular herb in Ayurvedic medicine. It’s referred to as “strength of the stallion” as it was traditionally used to strengthen the immune system. It was also thought that ashwaghanda had a positive, calming effect as well as sharpening the mind and boosting endurance.
A root native to the Andes Mountains, Maca was historically eaten by Inca warriors for endurance and strength. Whilst it’s a member of the cruciferous family, it was thought of as a natural superfood, a powerful aphrodisiac and a fertility secret of people living in the Andes
Chaga is a mushroom that grows in colder climates across the Northern Hemisphere on birch trees. It is thought to play a role in immune health, helping the skin to look vibrant.
Ho Shou Wu
Ho Shou Wu is one of the most popular and well known ingredients in Asian herbalism. It is tuberous root of the plant Polygonum multiflorum, which grows in the mountains of central and southern China. Translated it means ‘(Mr) Ho’s black hair’ (Shou = head, Wu = black), stemming from an ancient story about a 58 year old man who reversed his grey hair after taking the herb!
Cordyceps is a mushroom traditionally grown in China on the bodies of caterpillars (Although now it’s cultured in a lab and is suitable for vegans). In herbalism is it said to be a life reinforcing mushroom, building sexual and physical power, as well as mental energy.
Siberian Ginseng is a small shrub, native to Asia, which has been said to increase mental and physical endurance, as well as improving mental alertness.
Schizandra is known as Wu Wei Zi in Chinese, which translates to “Five Flavours Fruit” and was first written about between the 1st and 2nd Century A.D. for it’s superior healing properties. Not only was it known for it’s effects on the skin but it was also thought to increase sensitivity and circulation in the female genitals…
Lions Mane is an ancient mushroom, which was traditionally recognised as having a hugely positive effect on the brain and digestive system. Whilst we can’t share all the secrets here, we strongly urge you to research just how amazing this mushroom is!
Ginkgo biloba comes from the leaf of the Chinese ginkgo tree, which has been praised for its brain- boosting effects. Ginkgo was used in ancient Chinese herbal medicine to treat many medical conditions, including circulatory problems and issues related to declining memory.
Goji Berries have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years. It was even reported that they were eaten by monks in the Himalayan Mountains to help aid meditation and obtain greater vitality, health, energy, stamina and longevity.