Adaptogens are good for stress, right? Tell us about them and which one is the best?
Adaptogens are plants and nutrients that support the body during times of stress and help us to be more resilient. There are different types of adaptogens, some are more stimulating, and some are more calming. The best one really depends on your stress response. For example, one person might get tired and feel really fatigued under high stress. Another might feel jittery or anxious, so different adaptogens will work in different ways. Adaptogens such as Ashwagandha and Schisandra are more calming for that jittery type of stress. For people that get more exhausted and tired, the more stimulating adaptogens like Rhodiola and Ginseng would be more appropriate.
How would you explain the difference between feeling anxious and feeling stressed?
They can look the same, so it can be confusing. Stress is something that is caused by an external trigger. Stress can have overlapping symptoms of anxiety such as being jittery. Anxiety on the other hand, continues after the external trigger is gone, in fact it can last long after.
A lot of the things that will help with stress will also help with anxiety and vice versa. This is where Adaptogens come into such good play here.
Are there any adaptogens that work in synergy?
It depends. If you are someone who has a ‘wired and tired’ type of stress response, you might want to combine the stimulating and calming adaptogens.
How should I take my Adaptogen? tincture, powder or pill?
Typical rule of thumb is tinctures are more quick acting so can be a popular choice if you are in the thick of it and need more immediate relief.
Powders have the extra benefit of offering a little more bulk or plant material which contains prebiotics. Prebiotics can help feed the gut microbiome and a happy gut = happy mind!
Pills are convenient and easy.
Ultimately it comes down to what you are going to take regularly. And consistency matters, it takes time to retrain your body, and over time you are balancing and building.
Can you tell us about “Nervines”?
Nervines are typically plants that have a calming effect on the nervous system. Some of my favorites are Passionflower, Skull cap and particularly Tulsi (holy basil) which has this way of relaxing without putting you to sleep. Great for that wired jitteriness during the day.
What should I take in the short term to chill me out right now? What about long term?
For instant relief I like essential oils. Anything that we smell and breathe in has a more immediate effect. The olfactory nerve brings scent information quickly to the brain, it passes by the amygdala and hippocampus, the part of the brain that processes emotional information, and in particular emotional memories.
Long term would be drinking nervine botanical teas is a great option.
If I’m feeling a little blue, should I uplift my mood or balance my mood?
Generally, I’m more of a fan of balance. If you might take something too highly uplifting or stimulating, you can have a bit of a crash. Balancing is a gentler approach.
What then is a good mood balancer? In this case I like to go to nutrients such as B vitamins particularly B6. We need the B vitamins for healthy brain function. Also, Omega 3s are important for brain health and development. And of course, we can’t forget probiotics. We make so much serotonin in our gut, and there are lots of studies now on the brain gut connection.
Are there any foods or other things I should be doing on a regular basis to manage my mental well-being?
As a rule, keeping your blood sugar balanced is beneficial for your adrenals which affects your stress response and mood. When our blood sugar spikes it puts a stress on our organs. Get healthy fiber, fats and proteins with every meal. These are staples to help stabilize our blood sugar.
The importance of a daily of mind body practice can’t be over emphasized. That will look different for every person. Have a daily consistent practice where you make time for your mental health, things that give you joy, make you feel calm. This is the glue that brings it all together.
*Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice. Please make an appointment to consult with a licensed doctor, or other healthcare provider, before starting or trying any new herbs, products or supplements.
ABOUT Dr. Anjali Kasunich
Dr. Anjali Kasunich is a California-licensed Naturopathic Doctor, founder of Mantra Natural Medicine, and in-house health practitioner at Erewhon. She is passionate about helping people understand and heal what’s causing their symptoms, and getting them what they need to truly heal. When she’s not treating patients in her private practice, or supporting the wonderful team and customers at Erewhon, Dr. Anjali enjoys spending time with her husband and dog, dancing, and being in her garden. You can learn more about Dr. Anjali and her favorite healthy tips by visiting her website (DrAnjaliND.com), or Instagram (@DrAnjali_ND).