Adaptogens and nervines
Plants and herbs have many healing properties: Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, immune boosting etc. Some herbs, known as adaptogenic and nervine herbs, have the power to alter our body’s stress response and relieve the symptoms of stress. Especially when used in combination, they offer an important support to people dealing with stress and burnout.
Adaptogens are a category of herbs, plants, and fungi that help the body adapt to and resist various stressors, both physical and mental. These stressors can range from environmental factors like pollution and toxins to emotional and psychological stress. Adaptogens work by supporting and balancing the body’s stress response system, particularly the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The disfunction of this axis is the reason why burnout occurs.
Adaptogens bring the body back into a state of balance.
The key characteristics of adaptogens include:
Non-Specific Action: Adaptogens have a broad range of effects and help the body adapt to different stressors rather than targeting specific symptoms or conditions.
Normalizing and Balancing: Adaptogens bring the body back into a state of balance or homeostasis. They help regulate various physiological functions, including hormonal balance, immune function, and energy levels.
Enhancing Resilience: Adaptogens improve the body’s resilience to stress by increasing its capacity to cope with stressors, reducing the negative impact of stress, and promoting overall well-being.
There are ten known primary adaptogens. I am listing some of my favourite below.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): Ashwagandha is one of the most well-known adaptogenic herbs. It is traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to help the body cope with stress, promote mental clarity, and enhance vitality. It also supports immune function and overall well-being.
Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea): Rhodiola is commonly used to increase energy, reduce fatigue, and enhance mental and physical performance. It is believed to support the body’s stress response and help with anxiety and depression.
Ginseng: Ginseng is a popular adaptogenic herb available in different forms, such as American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng). It is known for its potential to boost energy, enhance cognitive function, and improve resilience to stress.
Holy Basil (Tulsi): Holy basil, also known as Tulsi, is an adaptogenic herb used in Ayurvedic medicine. It is believed to help reduce stress, promote mental clarity, and support overall wellness. Holy basil is also known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Nervine herbs are traditionally used to support and promote a healthy nervous system.
Nervine herbs are a category of herbs that specifically target the nervous system, aiming to support its health and function. These herbs are known for their calming, soothing, and relaxing properties. Nervine herbs are traditionally used to promote relaxation, reduce anxiety and nervousness, and support sleep quality.
Here are some common nervine herbs:
Chamomile: Chamomile is known for its gentle sedative properties and is often used to promote relaxation, calmness, and improved sleep. It can also help soothe digestive issues associated with nervousness.
Lemon Balm: Lemon balm has a calming effect on the nervous system and is used to relieve anxiety, promote relaxation, and improve mood. It is also known for its mild antidepressant properties.
Passionflower: Passionflower is commonly used to alleviate anxiety, nervousness, and insomnia. It may help increase levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation.
Valerian: Valerian root has been used for centuries as a natural sleep aid and mild sedative. It can help improve sleep quality and reduce nervous tension.
Skullcap: Skullcap is often used to calm the mind, reduce anxiety, and promote relaxation. It is particularly beneficial for individuals who experience restlessness or have difficulty sleeping due to mental chatter.
Lavender: Lavender is well-known for its calming aroma and has been used to reduce anxiety, promote relaxation, and improve sleep quality. It can be used in the form of essential oil, tea, or applied topically.
Nervine herbs can be consumed in various forms, such as herbal teas, tinctures, capsules, or as ingredients in herbal preparations.
The goal of the Burnout therapy is to regulate the central nervous system. This is not an easy process and it surely takes a lot of time and stamina to achieve the goal. Adaptogenic and nervine herbs can gently support us on the way to healing.