Adaptogenic Herbs & Mushrooms
Modern herbal remedies ~ rooted in ancient traditions
What are these herbs all about?
Adaptogenic herbs and Mushrooms are a specific class of herbs that are gaining a lot of popularity and attention in the natural health movement. Adaptogenic herbs are known to provide our bodies and minds with many beneficial effects in our abilities to adapt to stresses, which are unfortunately more and more present in our hyper domesticated modern lifestyle’s. These herbs have been consumed in many herbal traditions around the world for thousand of years and are also very well studied in modern times. They are very safe to consume on a long term daily bases with very low cases of side effects from long term consumption.
How do they Work? Is it like energy from caffeine?
Adaptogenic herbs offer our bodies energy in supportive subtle ways, they are energizing but different from the instant jolt from caffeine. A sometimes over looked truth about our daily caffeine use, is that caffeine is a very powerful stimulant to our nervous system. That makes our bodies release a cascade of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, triggering a heightened state of awareness AKA “fight or flight” response.
“Caffeine is a drug, says Steven Meredith, a researcher in behavioral pharmacology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.”
“While low to moderate doses are generally safe, caffeine is addictive and users can become dependent on it and find it difficult to quit or even cut back, he says. (Caffeine dependence was even named as a new mental disorder this year.)”
“While increasing caffeine intake may be healthy in some respects, it may also reduce long-term dopamine levels and decrease the sensitivity of dopamine receptors in the brain.”
“Anyone who’s ever quit cold turkey knows it can trigger pounding headaches, mental fuzziness and fatigue for a couple of days until the body adjusts.” One may feel irritability and anxiety from the body adjusting into balance without caffeine. Herbal adaptogens can be amazing alias in this process to boost your energy and will.
“Other effects of excessive caffeine:
It increases anxiety and disrupts sleep patterns, leading to a vicious cycle of restless sleep, relying on caffeine to help with daytime fatigue” I personally can relate to this 100%. But I’m sensitive to the effects of caffeine, to be fair.
Up side of moderate usage:
“Caffeine aside, coffee can be considered a healthy drink, judging by the preponderance of research suggesting it may protect against a variety of diseases and help us live longer.” If we choose to continue enjoying our caffeinated drinks, A wise option is to layer in other immune boosting adaptogens and superfoods as well, to nourish the body and potentially buffer any side effects and burnouts.
A well known downside of daily caffeine consumption, is that it may lead to a depletion of our deep seeded energy reserves in some people. Caffeine has a single directional function “stimulant” response (and what goes up must come ?). Herbal adaptogens work on the body and mind in a non specific dual directional way, meaning they support our whole system to come into a balanced state “homeostasis” and offer support rejuvenation of our energy centers.
(*Note: some people’s constitution can handle and even benefit from caffeine much better than others, and with mindfulness of your limits, it may be perfect for you. Caffeine is a very valuable herbal medicine when used at the right moment and correct dosage.) Is Caffeine for you?
Why are these herbs so revered and treasured?
Known benefits from consuming adaptogenic herbs on a regular basis:
Adapts the body & mind to any stressors, Immunity building, boosting & support, sustainable energy, adrenal support, replenishment of all body and mind systems, rejuvenation, revitalizing, hormone balancing, fatigue & anxiety relief, enhance mental performance, physical stamina, fertility tonic, circulation, central nervous system tonic, nonspecific full body & mind tonic, all in all a full upgrade and balancing of our Immune system.
Traditional use and Modern discovery:
The concept of adaptogens was originally created in 1947 by the Soviet Union’s Ministry of Health to describe a substance that may increase resistance to stress.
There is an abundance of traditional herbal systems that live on into the modern world. These wise herbal traditions are very ancient and sophisticated. There are documentations recording thousands of years of using, discovering and experimenting. These rich texts have been passed down and the wisdom is still in use by most of the world’s population every day, as the number one healing modality is herbal medicine.
“Recently, the World Health Organization estimated that 80% of people worldwide rely on herbal medicines for some part of their primary health care.”
And only now science is confirming they were very accurate. Now more than ever new science inquiry is validating the wisdom of these intricate observations of many traditional herbal systems.
Adaptogens a health fad? Our ancestral adaptogenic lifestyle:
Deeply rooted in our cells far beyond any written documentation about herbs and mushrooms being used. Let us remember before computers, books, cell phones and civilization. The tens or hundreds of thousands of years before when our ancestors thrived in diverse ecosystems hunting and gathering, moving with the seasons to more fertile gathering zones. Before the domestication of plants and animals, our ancestors would have eaten a very medicine rich adaptive diet. Consuming a huge diversity of plants (now called herbs), mushrooms (edible, medicinal, psychoactive), fish, animals, insects & resins etc. As well as drinking wild water (probiotics), breathing fresh clean air, connected walking barefoot (now called grounding), close to the elements of an uninsulated nature of their local ecosystems. Now for many of us in the fast pace matrix, the only glimpse of this freedom we see is camping or on vacation. Was a primitive minimalistic life way such a bad thing after all?
Walking towards a rewilding, adaptive lifestyle approach, while thriving in the modern matrix:
Seems to many “rewilders” (a new movement), that the most ideal adaptive life way practice, if we really want to adapt with our local ecosystems. Is to consume a lot of wild foods which are naturally adaptogenic to our local climate. Local wild food and herbs are great gateway substances to start integrating into a more resilient lifestyle practice. Which inspire and naturally lead us to go in the forests more, as a positive side effect. As well as wild gathering more of your own local adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms. In the process the act of bathing in our local ecology from where you are and who you are is an essential nutrient for our well being (commonly overlooked potent nutrient). So the most powerful substances to adapt to our modern life is in our local ecology, every local terroir provides the highest grade adaptogenic plants and mushrooms for you and me in abundance.
Adaptogens throughout the World:
Adaptogens have been used and celebrated in every culture to build and replenish deep energy reserves. They are nonspecific as they work on our whole system (body ~ mind ~ spirit), unlike medicinal herbs which are called upon to help relieve specific areas of dis-ease, for short cycles of use (or they can cause side effects and potential damage). Adaptogens and Tonic herbs are at the top of all herbal systems around the world, as they would help people adapt to diverse situations, to survive and thrive through the ages.
Adaptogens in ancient Ayurveda:
In ayurveda (The science of life) the rich traditional health care system of India has been documenting herbal medicine for up to 9 thousand years in writing. There the yogi’s would consume specific plant diets and meditate with them, Then there direct insights and knowledge would be documented and added to the Vedic library very methodically. (so it seems, but we’ll really never know! ;).
Ayurveda classifies medicinal plants into multiple different groups according to their specific action’s. Rasayana (Rejuvenative) herbs is a group that is known to strengthen or promote the health of all the tissues in the body. Helping to slow aging, revitalizing & restorative and helping prevent disease. They increase the resistance of the body & mind against stress. Rasayana herbs can be consumed safely over long periods of time without causing side effects.
Chinese superior tonic herbal tradition:
In Traditional Chinese medicine, herbs have been studied and classified in very intricate ways. The superior class of herbs are the tonic and adaptogens, that are well known substances to support longevity and a strong Immunity. Another category is called Inferior herbs which are more the medicinal herbs that are used for short periods for specific ailments.
Sourcing Quality herbs 101:
~The best source of high grade herbs would of course be wild gathered in your local ecosystems, where plants are adapting to the same climate and stresses we are! (Um Like use common sense:) NO gathering plants in cities or places with pollution!).
~Next best would be growing your own or sourcing locally grown organic herbs from local farms.
~Last would be sourcing organically grown and processed herbs from natural food stores or online.
Where not to source herbs:
Non organic which most likely is radiated, sprayed with herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, molds, bad vibes etc… (same for food right?)
Always remembering what we put in our body is the most intimate thing we do in life and we inevitably become what we eat. I think we can all agree on that by now, Right!?
How to use adaptogenic herbs in your daily flow:
~Loose single herb concoctions
~Herb mixes (concoctions or infusions)
*Flavor options: add sweetener, spices or milk if desired.
*Elixir option: to make it an elixir try adding a spoon of coconut oil or ghee and blending till frothy in the blender. (this adds a nourishing grounding element)
NO TIME , I’m TOO Busy! Other Forms available for life on the go go go:
Extracts, tinctures, instant drink mixes, complex formulas, and many other infused processed products on the market. (kombuchas, chocolates, coffee’s, teas, chai’s etc.)
Other ways to integrate herbs into your morning ritual:
Herb infusions, extracts, powder formulas can be be added into: smoothies, soups, broths, used as a base for coffee or chocolate drinks and in other food creations.
How to get the most out of your Herbs:
*Reuse your herbs 2-3 times before composting!
Quick Infusions: * 5-7 minutes
Infusions are for leafy material which is easily infused into the hot water. (example: green tea, camomile etc.)
Herbal Concoctions: *15-20 minutes
~Concoctions are for more for roots, other woody herbs or mushrooms
~Tea concoctions is to simmer herbs in water for 10-20 mins or longer for stronger, then strain and drink.
~TIP for Saving Money & Time: To make the concoctions faster, stronger and to get the most medicine for your buck, Simply grind big pieces of herbs in a coffee grinder or blender till they’re ground into smaller pieces or even powder. This creates more surface space for a more efficient infusion)
Adding herbs to other herbal catalyst for boosted absorption:
A benefit to adding adaptogens to your morning coffee, hot chocolate or chai is that the caffeine and warming chai spices act as a vehicle for the herbs to be absorbed into the body very effectively. As the caffeine and spices are vasodilators (widen or open vessel), and boosts fast absorbtion. (*Caution for the wise: this works the other way around as well! For example: whatever is infused in caffeine, alcohols, nicotine will be absorbed into your blood rapidly. Sourcing high quality always #1)
Herbal flavors for a virgin pallet ~ Living learning curve:
Awaken your dormant herbal palet. Learn to love new herbal flavors and all there uniques nuances (bitters, earthy notes etc) , have fun, be curious, observe how you feel during the preparations and after consuming. If the flavors are to foreign for you, try adding in more familiar ingredients (chai spices, chocolate etc..), eventually you may learn to love the herbs strait up.
Compliance to actually using the herbs. do your best. Herbs only work if you use them, and ideally use a good amount every day. Make it a daily habit for your wellness and longevity. What’s more important than that?
There is some dispute in the herbal community regarding what herbs qualify as an adaptogen. However, the following may qualify:
Where To Start?
The most popular and accessible herbs to start with.
- Ashwagandha root Restorative Adaptogen, Nerve Tonic, Immune Support *not pregnant
- Astragalus root ~ Tonifies: Immunity, Adrenals, Qi, Blood
- Nettle leaf ~ Kidney Tonic, Supports Endocrine & Neurological System
- Holy basil leaf “tulsi” ~ Relieves Stress, Immunity Support, Calms Nerves
- Turmeric root ~ Circulation, Anti Inflammatory, Mood & Energy Booster, Supports Brain, Adrenal & Heart Health
- Gotu Kola leaf ~ Rejuvenates nervous system, anxiety relief, beauty tonic
- Gynostemma leaf ~ Longevity tonic, Anti Anxiety & Stress, Nervous System Tonic
- Goji berries ~ Heart tonic, Brain Cells & Liver protection, Blood Purifier
- Licorice Root ~ Immunity Booster, Liver & Stomach Tonic
- Chaga Mushroom ~ Adaptogen, High Anti Oxidant & Anti Inflammatory, Liver & Skin tonic
- Reishi Mushroom ~ Adaptogen, Calms Nerves, Liver & Kidney tonic
- Cat’s claw bark ~ Immunity Tonic, Intestinal Support, Pain Relief *not pregnant
- Masala Chai Spices: Ginger root, Cardamom pods, Cinnamon bark, Warming, Whole body & mind Tonic, Circulation, Clean Energy
1.) Morning nervous system tonic (*5 Minute infusion)
For a simple and fast infusion:
- 16 oz simmered water
- ¼ cup Holy Basil leaves
- ¼ cup Nettle leaves
- ¼ cup gotu kola
- 1 tbl. licorice root powder
~Pour hot water over the herbs and let infuse for 5-7 minutes before straining.
~Enjoy like this or add sweetener & milk of choice if desired.
2.) Longevity Green berry Tea (*5 Minutes infusion)
- 16 0z Water
- 3 tbl Gynostemma leaf
- 2 tbl Goji berries
~Pour hot water over the herbs and let infuse for 5-7 minutes
~ Strain & Serve
2.) Rich Rooted Spiced Tonic (*15 minutes concoction)
- 16 0z Water
- 2 tbl. Ashwaganda root (minced)
- 2 tbl. Astragalus root (minced)
- 1 tbl. Fresh ginger root (crushed)
- 1 tbl. Licorice root (minced)
- 1 tsp. Cinnamon bark (powder)
~ simmer all ingredients for 15 minutes (or longer for stronger)
~ Strain & Serve
3.) Calming mushroom Immune Tonic (*15 minutes concoction)
- 16 0z Water
- 3 tbl reishi mushroom (minced)
- 2 tbl Chaga Mushroom (minced)
- 1 tbl Licorice root (minced)
- 1 tsp nutmeg (powder)
- 1 tsp vanilla (liquid or powder)
~ simmer all ingredients for 20 minutes (or longer for stronger)
~ Strain & Serve
For all recipes:
*All Recipes are Caffeine free
*Enjoy like this or add sweetener & milk of choice if desired.
*Repeat 2 or 3 times before composting herbs.
*Can be refrigerated for upto 10 days or frozen in cubes for later use in tea or recipes.
*Extra Recipe Idea’s: cool down tea and add Ice, add as a base for smoothies or miso soups!
Full List Of Herbs:
Ayurvedic rasayana herbs:
- Ashwagandha root (Withania somnifera)
- Holy basil leaf “tulsi” (Ocimum sanctum, O. gratissimum)
- Turmeric root (Curcuma longa)
- Gotu Kola leaf (Centella asiatica)
- Shilajit Resin (Asphaltum bitumen)
- Shatavari “asparagus root” (asparagus racemosus)
- Guduchi root/stem (Tinospora cordifolia)
- Amla “indian gooseberry” ( emblica officinalis)
- Masala Chai Spices: Ginger root, Cardamom pods, Cinnamon bark
- Triphala Formula three dried fruits: amalaki, haritaki and bibhitaki
- Tribulus (Tribulus terrestris)
- Bacopa “brahmi” (Bacopa monnieri)
- Mucuna (Mucuna pruriens)
Chinese superior tonic herbs:
- American Ginseng root (Panax quinquefolium) Xi Yang Shen
- Asian Ginseng root (Panax ginseng)
- Asparagus Root (Astragalus membranaceus) Tian Men Dong
- Astragalus root (Astragalus membranaceus) Huang Chi (Qi)
- Cistanche root (Cistanche Tubulosa) Rou Cong Rong
- Chinese Cinnamon bark (Cinnamomum cassia) Guizhi and Rougi
- Codonopsis root (Codonopsis pilosula, C. tangshen) Dang Shen
- Cordyceps mushroom/mycelium (Cordyceps sinensis) Dong Chong Xia Cao
- Coriolus Mushroom (Trametes versicolor) Yun Zhi
- Dong Quai root (Angelica sinensis) Dang Gui, Tang Kuei
- Eleuthero root “siberian ginseng” (Eleutherococcus senticosus)
- Eucommia bark (Eucommia ulmoides) Du Zhong
- Fo-ti root (Polygonum multiflorum) He Shou Wu
- Green Chirayta leaf (Andrographis paniculata)
- Gynostemma leaf (Gynostemma pentaphyllum) Jiaogulan
- Jujube Dates (Ziziphus jujuba) Ta Tsao
- Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra, G. uralensis) Kan Tsao
- Lycium fruit (Goji berries) Gou Qi Zi
- Morinda whole plant (Morinda officinalis) Ba Ji Tian
- Rhaponticum root (Rhaponticum carthamoides)
- Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) Ling Zhi
- Rehmannia root (Rehmannia glutinosa) Ti Huang
- Rhodiola root (Rhodiola rosea) Hong Jing Tian
- Schizandra Berry (Schisandra chinensis) Wu Wei Zi
Medicinal mushroom adaptogens:
- Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)
- Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
- Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis)
- Coriolus (Trametes versicolor)
- Agaricus blazei (Agaricus subrufescens)
- Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)
- Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)
- Birch Polypore (Piptoporus betulinus)
Local boreal forest adaptogens:
- Dandelion leaf & root (Taraxacum officinale)
- Stinging Nettle Leaf (Urtica dioica)
- Medicinal Mushrooms
Amazonian adaptogenic herbs:
- Cat’s claw bark (Uncaria tomentosa)
- Pau d arco bark (Tabebuia Serratifolia)
- ChancaPiedra plant (Phyllanthus niruri)
- Chuchuhuasi bark & root (Maytenus Macrocarpa)
- Clavo Huasca plant (Tynanthus Panurensis)
- Graviola/ Soursop bark, leaves, roots, fruit, and fruit seeds (Annona Muricata)
Most all Adaptogenic and tonic herbs/ mushrooms are safe to use on a regular basis, but each may come with there own set of mild side-effects when used inappropriately or not balanced with other herbs in personalized formulations. Avoid taking Chinese herbs when sick or undertaking a cleansing diet or fasting protocol.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Health Canada or FDA. This is not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent disease. These are opinions and writing of the author not of Blond Story staff.
David Winston’s Book ~ Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief
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