November is here which means the holidays will quickly be upon us. But while the holidays can be one of the most wonderful and exciting times of the year, they can also bring along a lot of unwanted stress. That is why I love incorporating adaptogens into my daily wellness routine during this time of year to help give me a little extra support to help handle this busy season.
While adaptogens may seem like a hot new wellness topic, they have actually been used for thousands of years in Eastern and Ayurvedic medicine to help balance the body’s adrenal system, and support a healthy stress response. Most adaptogens do take time (usually a few months) to really start making an impact though so it is important that they are used consistently.
What Are Adaptogens
Adaptogens are a group of plants that work within a person's body to help them adapt to stress, hence the term ADAPT-ogen. By working with every person’s individual stress response they help to reduce the effects of external stress within the body naturally. While the exact process by which adaptogens are able to reduce stress is still being studied, most research points to the way in which adaptogens act on the HPA axis in the body, which regulates many of our stress and reproductive hormones.
How Our Bodies Cope With Stress
The HPA Axis (mentioned above) is an important part of our body's endocrine system, the system in our body that regulates hormone production. When our bodies experience stress, the HPA Axis is stimulated and cortisol (our primary stress hormone) is released from the adrenal glands. This helps to protect our bodies from the stressor(s) while also and regulating our hormone levels. While cortisol levels naturally rise and fall throughout the day, in today’s fast-paced world most folks are living in a state of chronic stress, which over time can negatively affect our body’s stress response. An overactive stress response due to too much daily stress can lead to symptoms like chronic fatigue, hormonal imbalance, and inflammation. This is where adaptogens can be incredibly helpful (along with lifestyle changes) to help coax the body back into balance.
My Favorite Way To Use Adaptogens
Adaptogens can be used in many forms, but in traditional eastern medicine, it is believed that the effectiveness of herbs is best achieved when our senses of taste and smell are involved. Keeping this in mind, I personally love adaptogens to herbal teas or tinctures for a calming and relaxing night time beverage, without entirely masking the taste of the herbs like in the recipe below.
Warm and Cozy Hormone Balancing Herbal Latte
- ½ cup Rooibos Chai Tea
- 1 tsp Raw Local Honey
- ½ tsp Vanilla
- ¼ tsp Cinnamon
- ½ cup Cashew Milk
- Pinch Himalayan Sea Salt
- ½ tsp Reishi Powder
- ½ tsp He Shou Wu Powder
- Bring water to boil and steep tea for two minutes.
- While tea is steeping, heat cashew milk in a small saucepan on the stove until it begins to steam.
- Next, add steeped tea, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, sea salt, reishi, and He Shou Wu powder.
- Whisk well until frothy bubbles begin to form.
- Pour into a mug and sit back and enjoy
Note: While adaptogens have generally been found to be very safe, the dose will vary for everyone, and it is important that you speak with your doctor before adding anything new to your personal health routine.
Megan Faletra (MS, MPH, RDN) is a global health dietitian, sustainability consultant, and the founder of The Well Essentials where she is devoted to helping others create a sustainable healthy life that supports a healthy body and planet. Megan is a self-proclaimed eternal optimist and believes in the power each and every person has to create incredible change in the world simply by choosing to believe that they can make a difference. Megan has a Master's of Public Health from Tufts University School of Medicine and a Master's of Science from Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition. She has been featured in Forbes, The Huffington Post, Rodales Organic Life, and many more online publications for her work in nutrition, global health, and sustainable living. When Megan is not working you will find her living in Vermont with her husband where she loves to cook seasonally from her garden and be outside in nature as much as possible enjoying a joyfully slow, sustainable way of living.