April 15, 2011 - 8:52am
Stress can come from a variety of sources including personal, work, environmental and even food. The pollutants in the air and water can be a stress upon our bodies. Food that contains additives and preservatives along with a diet high in refined foods and saturated fats are an additional source of stress in our lives.
Stress affects the major organs of our endocrine system by what is known as the HPAT Axis (Hypothalamus, Pituitary, Adrenal and Thyroid Axis). The adrenal gland responds to stress by producing cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that is important in carbohydrate (sugar), bone, muscle, central nervous system, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and hematological metabolism. It also has anti-inflammatory and catabolic (breaking down) properties.
The inability of the body to react or adapt to chronic stress can lead to adrenal fatigue. Not only is the quantity of cortisol reduced, but so is the quality. Along with chronic fatigue a person may experience medical problems such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, fibromyalgia and osteoporosis.
There has been research in Russia since the 1950’s on a class of herbs call adaptogens. Adaptogens help us to have a healthy response (adapt) to stress. Adaptogens are defined as being non-toxic, normalizing and nonspecific. They are safe to take, even for long periods of time. They help our bodies maintain a healthy balance of all our organ systems. Adaptogens are nonspecific meaning they are helpful whether you have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or diabetes. Finally, herbs must have scientific support to be classified as an adaptogen.
There are three different types of adaptogens: primary, secondary and companion. Primary adaptogens effectiveness is supported by extensive scientific studies. Examples of a primary adaptogen include Eleuthro root, Ginseng, Rhodiola and Schisandra. Secondary adaptogens have been studied scientifically but not as extensively as primary adaptogens. Examples of secondary adaptogens are Reishi mushroom, Cordyceps and Licorice. Finally companion adaptogens have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Examples of a companion adaptogen are Green Tea, Turmeric and Ginger.
Adaptogens should be used as the foundation of your herbal supplements. Among the many benefits of adaptogens, they help in improving your energy and balance all of your organ systems. Adaptogens support your immune system and help in the ability to think more clearly. Adaptogens help you to achieve a long life that is full of vitality.