This year has proven to be a difficult year for me with various health issues and family-related problems that I have faced at home. Among the sources of my stress, I find myself having to adjust to a new living situation…my first in about 14 years. Once again, I am reaching out to botanical or herbal alternatives to help me cope with the depression and anxiety that has accompanied these massive changes in my life. I want to spend a few minutes discussing two particular herbs that have proven themselves invaluable throughout this process.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) remains one of the more potent adaptogenic herbs in botanical medicine. Adaptogenic herbs are those that help your body manage stress and Ashwagandha provides numerous benefits for your body and brain. For example, it can lower blood sugar levels, reduce cortisol, boost brain function and even help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression. I wrote more on this herb earlier in the year. That article may be found here.
Rhodiola rosea is another adaptogenic herb which has centuries of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine as an anti-fatigue agent and is likely the second most popular adaptogen (second only to Ashwagandha).
For fatigue, Rhodiola appears to be able to significantly reduce the effects of prolonged and minor physical exhaustion that results in fatigue. This is more related to stress and the 'burnout' effect, or prolonged but low intensity physical exercise.
Rhodiola also appears to be highly reliable in reducing fatigue symptoms and improving symptoms of stress (and secondary to that, well-being) in persons fatigued from non-exercise related stressors. It is also proven to enhance Serotonin circulation and can also greatly improve cognitive functioning.
Rhodiola rosea is most useful as:
· Nootropic – “Brain booster”
· Systemic Antibiotic
While you can notice the energy boosting effects of these herbs rather quickly (usually within 45-60 mins) their primary benefits are realized over time with a more noticeable improvement in mood, overall energy and mental alertness. Combined, these two herbs provide a nice clean energy boost, mood stabilization and an overall support for the Endocrine and Central Nervous System.
Although both herbs are very safe, please be aware of a few contraindications. Ashwagandha may suppress the effects of Cyclosporine or Corticosteriods as well as potentiate some Blood Pressure medication. If you suffer from MS, Lupus or RA, please consult with your Doctor before using.