Ask any health or wellness Guru, sleep is VITAL for a healthy, vibrant life. I have received a lot of feedback and questions from a previous post about How To Navigate Stress. Many people are currently looking for more holistic and natural ways to help navigate stress and find a healthier solution for deeper sleep, and believe it or not, adaptogens can help. It’s important to remember not ALL adaptogens are the same. And it’s equally important to note that not all people metabolize and digest these herbs the same. These intelligent plants, herbs and roots have been around for hundreds of years and have been used for medicinal healing.
What Are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens are a class of plants and herbs that are thought to fight stress and bring balance and harmony to the body. Sounds amazing right? The concept of “adaptogens” comes from a Hungarian-Canadian endocrinologist named Hans Selye. In his early work, Hans Selye broke down the human stress response into three phases: Alarm, Resistance, and Exhaustion.
Imagine this: Many of us work and hustle and grind until we hit a wall of bricks and we call that exhaustion or burn out. At this point, we may be experiencing acute insomnia, having issues getting a deep, restful sleep, or even consistently waking up at the same time in the middle of the night. Based upon Hans Selye’s 3 levels of stress responses, it’s safe to say once our body/mind hits “resistance”, that’s our cue to look inwardly and figure out how to fix that. There’s NO reason for us to reach burn-out mode to finally start giving our bodies and soul the love and care it’s been screaming out for.
Can Adaptogens Make You Tired?
Adaptogens won’t necessarily give you a drowsy affect to sleep – but many will have immediate responses to lowering your stress levels, targeting areas of your body where there might be some over compensation or over-working, and helps bring that stress down. This in turn allows for your body to get into a deeper and more restful sleep. Equally, adaptogens are also able to simultaneously elevate your energy if that is lacking.
Eleuthero is also referred to as Siberian Ginseng. Eleuthero is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for muscle spasms, lowering blood pressure, cognitive function, joint pain, insomnia, and fatigue. In Germany, its use is approved for chronic fatigue syndrome, impaired concentration, and convalescing after illness.
Dose: 2-3 grams per day of the dried root.
Caution: As with Asian ginseng, Eleuthero is generally safe. But occasionally it has been associated with agitation, palpitations or insomnia in patients with cardiovascular disorders. If you have high blood pressure, your blood pressure should be monitored when taking it.
Holy Basil is also referred to as, Tulsi. Holy Basil has been used for hundreds of years in Ayurvedic Medicine. In regards to sleep, it’s helpful to know that holy basil is overall very calming and gives the body and overall sense of relaxation and wellbeing.
Dose: The appropriate dose of holy basil depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. The easiest way to incorporate Holy Basil into your routine is to enjoy some tea and follow the instructions on the package.
Caution: Holy basil might lower blood sugar levels. This might interfere with controlling blood sugar levels. People with type 2 diabetes may need to adjust dosing for insulin or antidiabetes drugs. Holy basil might slow blood clotting, so there is a concern that it could increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using holy basil at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Cordyceps are a fungal spore (mushroom) that grows native to China and is all around the Tibetan area. Cordyceps have been described in ancient Chinese and Traditional Tibetan medicine books for hundreds of years. This potent mushroom has been said to improve people’s energy, sleep habits, digestion, stamina, libido and endurance. Be VERY CAREFUL to read the ingredients of any supplement that promotes or advertises cordyceps. Wild, Natural sources of cordyceps come with a heavy price tag (about $20,000 USD / Kilo). If a Cordyceps supplement is claiming to be Cordyceps sinensis and it is made in China, it is almost certainly Cordyceps Cs-4.
Dose: Dosing supported by quality data is unavailable and there is not enough scientific studies to promote a specific dosage. Many herbal supplements on the market contain varying undefined levels of this product.
Caution: Cordyceps is generally considered safe. However, mild GI discomfort, including diarrhea, dry mouth, and nausea, has been reported in clinical studies.
Although I am speaking about my own personal experience, I am not a licensed therapist, doctor, or nutritionist. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your mental or physical health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.
- Koh JH, Kim JM, Chang UJ, Suh HJ. Hypocholesterolemic effect of hot-water extract from mycelia of Cordyceps sinensis. Biol Pharm Bull. 2003;26(1):84-87. 12520179
- Ji DB, Ye J, Li CL, Wang YH, Zhao J, Cai SQ. Antiaging effect of Cordyceps sinensis extract. Phytother Res. 2009;23(1):116-122.18803231