Adaptogen herbs are quite an amazing type of healing plant which can help our stress response by modulating cortisol and normalising our physiological function. Possibly one of the best known is ginseng of which there are several types. My first experience with Siberian ginseng was about 23 years ago when going through a period of fatigue post virally and was fortunate enough to live beside Scotland’s first qualified Medical Herbalist Brian Lamb. Brian started me on Siberian ginseng among other things which had me firing on all four pretty quickly. Since then, I have been a firm advocate and have been fascinated by the quite remarkable benefits of these herbs which I wouldn’t be without in my own life.
1. Siberian Ginseng or Eleutherococcus senticosus. My personal favourite and one I’ve used many times with success over the years. Research has shown that eluthero can significantly improve energy, mood, stamina and cognitive function. It has also been shown to modulate blood pressure. One example is a study of those with chronic fatigue which showed benefit especially for those with mild to moderate symptoms.
2. Ashwagandha has been shown to improve memory and learning and is also the most researched adaptogen for those with underactive thyroid. In Ayurvedic medicine it is seen as an all round tonic and used to promote fertility. Some studies have shown cognitive benefit for those with bipolar disorder and also an improvement in cholesterol and blood glucose in diabetes.
3. Rhodiola has been researched in relation to its impact on stress and depression. In a study of people with stress related burn out, it improved many associated measures including stress and depression. One study has suggested that Rhodiola showed favourable results versus Zoloft (sertraline) with less associated risks for mild to moderate depression. Because of the lack of side effects, some have suggested it be used in place of antidepressants which do come with side effects and also deplete certain nutrients.
4. Shatavari is an interesting adaptogen and has many uses. The word literally means ‘woman who has a thousand husbands’ and is traditionally given for fertility and improved libido, vaginal dryness and is useful in the prevention of osteoporosis. It is also widely used as a woman’s herb and has been shown to be an excellent galactagogue for low milk supply. For menopausal women, it has also been shown to improve libido.
5. Holy basil is lesser known but becoming more mainstream perhaps due to the availability of Pukka Tulsi tea which is becoming popular. Also known to boost energy and cognition, there are studies showing improvement in generalised anxiety. Tulsi has been shown to have broad spectrum antimicrobial activity in studies.
6. Astragalus is a fascinating herb with many effects and research has suggested it may have anti-tumour activity, blood sugar lowering effects and supports the immune system. It has been shown to prevent colds and flus and is particularly beneficial for upper respiratory infections. Some studies have looked at the cancer protective effects.
7. Cordyceps is an adaptogen which is lesser known among the public but is gaining recognition across many pathologies. It is actually a type of fungi or medicinal mushroom which, similar to the above also has immune modulating effects and supports the stress response. You may come across it in supplements to support stress or adrenal function. It also has anti-tumour effects and is indicated for respiratory infections and chronic fatigue. More and more research is coming out on the effects of mushrooms in cancer prevention and indeed mushrooms are widely used in mainstream medicine in Russia, China and Japan.
In clinical practice we use adaptogens for many different benefits as explained above and we sometimes use more than one where needed. I myself take an adaptogen year round and change it according to my needs. The question is not so much whether to take an adaptogen, it is more which one would help me most!
Drop us an email for advice on which might be most helpful for you at firstname.lastname@example.org
Heading off on holiday soon? We thought we would put together a list of the holiday essentials you don't want to leave without!
Looking for a sunscreen without the nasties? Look no further than The Green People. Their organic formula provides broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection without the use of sulphates and parabens. Their organic children cream (£18.50) contains a natural water repellent to keep kids safe in the pool. The Edelweiss sun lotion (£21) contains a natural tan accelerator to speed up tanning by 25% and reduce tan-fading by almost 50%. It also contains Aloe Vera, Green Tea, Marshmallow and Avocado to nourish skin and prevent peeling.
URTEKRAM® Aloe Vera Gel with hyaluronic acid and hexapeptide to help boost collagen and elastin formation is pure organic moisture and nourishment for dry skin, with soothing and healing properties for dehydrated or damaged skin cells. It is a fantastic after sun gel and excellent for sunburn as it helps promote the healing of sores and wounds. Just apply it directly on your skin and rub it gently. You can use it as often as you like and need. £6.35
Heading somewhere exotic? Optibac for travelling abroad (£10.99 for 40) is a must have if you want to prevent tummy upsets while you're away. This supplement contains 4 high quality strains of live cultures, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus Rosell-52, all proven to survive to reach the gut alive, and to survive in warmer, more humid climates. Safe to take from 1 year onwards making this an ideal product for all the family including pregnant and nursing mums!
Constipation can also be a big problem for some people while travelling. Go prepared with these travel size lepicol sachets. Lepicol is a multi-fibre source product containing inulin and gentle psyllium husk, which contributes to maintaining normal bowel transit. The third key ingredient of Lepicol is 5 strains of live bacteria that are naturally present in a healthy person’s digestive system.
Other top tips for avoiding constipation while away include:
Staying hydrated - it's all too easy to get dehydrated while away, especially if you are having more alcohol than ususal.
Don't over indulge - as tempting as it is to get your moneys worth at the all you can eat buffet, don't! You will pay for it later.
Leave the chips, have the salad - Vegetables are full of fibre that our gut bugs love. Chips...not so much! Happy bugs, happy tummy, happy you. :)
Avoid bread - in the same way that it soaks up soup in a bowl it absorbs liquid in your gut, drying out your stool and often leading to constipation.
Move a little- much as we like to sit and watch the world go by on holiday or indulge in a good book, try and have a walk in the cooler parts of the day as this supports good bowel function too.
We're big fans of herbal teas and this gorgeous herbal collection (£2.79) is just the thing to pop in your suitcase. It contains: Night Time to help you wind down after a day's travelling. Elderberry & Echinacea to give your immune system a boost if your feeling croaky after a flight or constant air-con. Lemon, ginger and manuka honey can help reduce nausea if you suffer from travel sickness. Three Mint is just the thing to sip after indulging at the all you can eat buffet! Detox is a clean sweet tea perfect to pep you up after one too many holiday indulgences.
Harriette recently took this collection on holiday with her and was so glad she did. "It was wonderful to have a few of my favourites with me instead of having to buy boxes of each when I got there. Just enough for my trip away and I didn't end up with 2 or 3 half used boxes in my case coming home."
Fake tan anyone? If you're looking for a fake tan before you head away and frighten everyone with your whiter than white legs, you might like to try this award winning fake tan from Eco by Sonya. NO streaks with this one and NO chemicals either! Unsurprisingly it won the 2016 International Beauty awards and is a beautiful blend of aloe vera, rose geranium oil, avocado oil and chamomile. Harriette tried it recently to spruce up for a wedding and was delighted with the results. It's not something we'd normally entertain but this one is entirely natural and gets the job done very effectively. You can buy here on our website or pop into the shop to try out our testers.
Real sunshine- Don't forget to have some full sun exposure without suncream in order to top up on that all important vitamin D. When you wear sun creams vitamin D is blocked so try and find what works for you in terms of minutes of exposure and time of day. Skin type will very much influence this so just have to be realistic about your own sensitivities and avoid burning. Sometimes early or late in the day can be an ideal time to get some vitamin D even if you only manage a few minutes. If you are particularly sensitive make sure to supplement as vitamin D is a much needed nutrient for many benefits including immune, mood and bone health and not something you want to be deficient in.
Time for a good book! -If you'd like to get lost in a good book and fancy inspiring yourself with something super healthy on holiday, take a look at some of our favourites on all things health to get you in the mood for making some changes when you get home and even on holiday!
Our final must haves are an eye mask and ear plugs. Sleep is so important and you never know if you will end up with noisy neighbours or thin curtains! If you fancy a holiday treat why not upgrade to a spacemask and let the warmth and light jasmine scent carry you away to another planet!
If you would like more information about any of the products mentioned pop in and see us at 44 St Andrew Street, Aberdeen, AB25 1JA. Live further away? We are always happy to post things out just call Harriette on 01224 969637 and we can put together a box of goodies for you.
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