Holy basil was originally only found in India, but today it can be found in West Africa, Australia, and in some countries in the Middle East. The Hindus consider holy basil to be a sacred plant. The Hindus gave it the name Tulsi, which translates to “the incomparable one.”
The seeds, stems, and leaves of the plant are used to make medicines. These medications provide a wealth of health benefits including:
Although the exact mechanism of action is not yet fully understood, research has shown that this herb decreases the amount of cortisol released during stress without the adverse side effects of synthetic prescription medicines.
It also appears to have the capacity to increase physical and emotional endurance which improves resilience to all stressors and decreases anxiety. Thus, it falls into the adaptogen category because of its traditional application in managing acute and chronic stress and fatigue.
Although a fever is not an illness in itself but rather a symptom, holy basil contains phytonutrients and essential oils that can fend off viral, fungal, and bacterial infections. When these ailments invade the body, holy basil helps to fight them off and keep fevers at bay
Holy basil contains within its essential oils compounds like eugenol, vitamin C, cineole, and camphene, which are all extremely effective at fighting off lung infections and clearing away congestion in the lungs. These compounds are also highly effective at fighting lung infections and clearing away congestion in the lungs. These compounds are also highly effective in healing lungs that have been damaged by smoking.
The vitamin C, eugenol, and other antioxidants found in holy basil are well-known for protecting the heart against damage from harmful free radicals. They are also effective in reducing cholesterol levels, which is also very beneficial to the heart.
There is evidence to indicate that holy basil may retard the growth of certain forms of cancer, such as oral cancer. The phytochemicals and the apoptotic properties of the ursolic acid contained in the herb work to effectively battle the disease.
Since holy basil is a mild diuretic and detoxifier it is effective in reducing the level of uric acid in the body. This acid is the main component in the formation of kidney stones. The acetic acid along with other compounds found in the herb work to help dissolve kidney stones. Holy basil has a mild painkilling effect that also helps relieve the pain and discomfort of kidney stones.
Holy basil contains carvacrol, camphene, methyl-chavicol, cineol, and eugenol, which all have strong anti-congestive, analgesic, disinfectant, and sedative properties which are helpful in alleviating headaches caused by sinus pressure, cough and cold, migraine, and high blood pressure.
Use with caution if you are using anti-coagulant drugs or on conventional sleep medications. For this reason, this herb is not recommended before or just after surgery as it may interfere with the wound healing process as it may slow blood clotting.
A preventative or maintenance dose is about 300 mg daily. Symptom oriented doses of 600 mg or more can be used. Divided doses up to 1800 mg can be tolerated. Higher amounts are for shorter duration’s.
Panax ginseng is also commonly known as Asian Ginseng or Chinese Red Ginseng. It is native to far eastern Siberia, Korea, and northeastern China. The herb contains a number of active substances, the most significant of which are panaxosides and ginsenosides.
Panax ginseng is considered to be an adaptogen which has impact for general well-being since it provides benefits to so many areas of the body.
Its benefits include:
It has been observed to promote metabolism and growth of normal cells. It also helps to increase muscle mass and resistance to biological, chemical and physical stress.
Scientists discovered in a series of 16 controlled, randomized studies that the herb greatly improves fasting blood glucose.
Testing has shown that after taking Panax ginseng for 8 weeks, men who suffer from erectile dysfunction showed marked improvement in their condition, and the improvement continued as long as the herb was used. In men, it can enhance fertility and especially low libido. For woman, it promotes an estrogenic effect.
Clinical trials have shown that the herb relieves mental fatigue and significantly improves memory, focus, and concentration.
Although no adverse effects are expected, it is best to avoid its use with other stimulants. Can cause insomnia and headaches.
Use with caution with acute infections and inflammatory diseases. Also, it is best to use no more than 6 weeks consecutively and then take 3-4 weeks off before resuming. Long-term use is not recommended unless in low doses.
The recommended dosage of Panax ginseng is 200 – 400 mg per day for general medicinal purposes and prevention. Studies have indicated that taking 400 mg daily delivers the greatest benefit to cognitive functioning.
Schisandra is a climbing vine plant native to Russia and China. It thrives in virtually any type of soil and its fruit is used for a wide variety of medical purposes.
The berry of the plant is referred to as the “five flavor berry“. This is because it contains all five flavors that are considered to be basic to Chinese herbal medicine.
A fruit that posses all of these flavors provides health benefits to all five of the body’s yin organs:
These health benefits include:
A 2009 study found that a number of Schisandra extracts reduced pressure in the cardiac blood vessels of lab rats lowering blood pressure and improving circulation.
Schisandra is most popular for its abilities to naturally increase energy levels and reduce both mental and physical fatigue. This is thanks to the plant’s ability to stimulate the adrenal gland to produce hormones that improve muscle strength, sugar metabolism, heart rate, and blood pressure.
These changes result in an increase in energy, stamina, mental sharpness, and feelings of inner peace and well-being.
The fruit extracts of Schisandra reduce levels of the enzyme glutamic-pyruvic transaminase (SGPT) in the blood of people with hepatitis. The enzyme SGPT indicates the level of liver damage in someone with hepatitis. Schisandra has been proven to decrease these levels which helps alleviate and prevent liver damage.
A 2017 study found that the herb contains an enzyme that blocks the creation of excessive amounts of amyloid peptides in the brain. Amyloid peptides are one of the principal components that cause the formation of amyloid plaque, which is found in the brains of individuals who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.
Pollen extracted from the Schisandra plant acts as a powerful antioxidant effect on the toxic properties that cause liver damage in individuals with hepatitis, both acute and chronic.
Dried Schisandra berries can be purchased at many health food stores and online and eaten as they are. Schisandra is also available in powder, tablets, capsules, and extracts that are taken orally.
The most commonly recommended dosage is 500 – 2,000mg daily. The powder, seeds, and dried berries can be brewed into tea.
Not suggested in the early stages of cough, or rash. Also, not recommended for pregnant women. However. it has been used during labor to speed up the birthing process. It also has been used successfully to induce labor in women with prolonged labor.
Ashwagandha is commonly known as Indian Ginseng, Winter Cherry, or Poison Gooseberry. It has been used in traditional Indian medicine for centuries.
Ashwagandha provides both physical and mental health benefits. It has a fairly wide range of benefits which include:
A controlled study showed that among a group of 64 adults suffering from depression who took 600mg of a high concentration of the herb over a 60-day period reported a nearly an 80% decrease in feelings of depression.
Studies have shown that ashwagandha increases insulin secretion and improves muscle cells’ sensitivity to insulin. These test indications, along with independent information provided by users of the herb indicate that it decreases blood sugar levels in healthy individuals as well as those who have diabetes.
Studies have proven that this plant helps to induce apoptosis, which destroys cancer cells.
Cortisol is called the “stress hormone” because the adrenal glands produce and release it as a natural response to stress. This also occurs when blood sugar levels are too low. When cortisol levels become dangerously high, which can often lead to increased blood sugar levels, Ashwagandha helps to reduce those elevated levels.
Ashwagandha benefits have been shown to be most effective in daily doses of 500 – 600mg taken for at least 30 days.
Ashwagandha may slow down the central nervous system. Since standard medications do this before and after surgery it is recommended that one stop taking ashwagandha at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Since ashwagandha might increase thyroid levels, it should be used cautiously or avoided if you have a thyroid condition or take thyroid hormone medications.
If you have a stomach ulcer, ashwagandha could serve as an irritant to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
Since ashwagandha lowers blood pressure, it could cause the blood pressure to go to lower in people with low blood pressure; or potentially interfere with medications used to treat high blood pressure.
Adaptogen’s can also be blended into combinations designed to provide support over longer periods of time because their lower amounts of specific adaptogens. One such blend is Gaia Herbs Adrenal Health Daily Support which is a blend of Rhodiola root extract, Holy Basil leaf extract and an extract blend of oats milky seed extract, holy basil leaf, schisandra berry and ashwagandha root.
All of these ingredients have been covered separately in the 7 adaptogenic herbs with the exception of oats milky seed extract.
Promotes adrenal health which relates to the flight or fight response through the excretion of the hormone Adrenalin.
Strong adrenals support optimal daily energy and emotional well being as well as a healthy response to stress because of the synergistic combination of these adaptogens.
Adaptogens are used primarily to help reducing conditions related to stress, anxiety, and depression. If one were to characterize their overall impact, they relieve any inflammatory conditions caused by stress which would include heart disease, obesity, cancer, arterial disease, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, and more.
While they are generally regarded as safe in most short-term situations, provided they are used in appropriate dosages, they can have powerful effects. Hence, they are not meant to be a long term solution except in small maintenance level amounts after the primary symptom has been relieved.
Nevertheless, these herbs are a powerful group with useful properties that offer far less dangerous risks to health than standard medications designed to relieve symptoms which they address.
When one is weighing the use of an adaptogen against an SSRI or some other standard psychotropic drug, it is certainly a much safer alternative with far less potential risk and side effects.
Recommended for relatively short term (3 to 6 months or less) in standard dosages, adaptogens like Maca can be used longer term provided they are used in lower amounts as in the combination adrenal health product above and one staggers their usage.
Keep in mind while these are herbs and if you select carefully for quality and use appropriately – they are non-toxic.
However, because they are in concentrated formats, the body can develop a level of tolerance as it does with synthetic drugs. This can lead to needing more to produce the same effect.
Thus, as noted above one should stagger their use once every 6 or 8 weeks. By staggering it is meant that you should take a brief interlude of use (a few days or a week may be sufficient) to allow the body to adjust to your regime while preventing the development of a tolerance requiring higher amounts to produce the same effect.
One can also reduce the amounts used over time, down to maintenance levels once you feel the benefits you are looking for. If your response to stress, for example, has improved to an acceptable and noticeable level try reducing the amount used and see if it persists.
This also means you may need to take more of the adaptogen or adaptogen blend selected initially to produce a return to normal functioning, then begin to taper to maintenance doses. Ultimately, only you will know what is right by paying attention, as you should.
Used sensibly, adaptogens are a powerful and effective way to generate a healthier, symptom free state of being at lower cost and risk to the individual.
Certainly, a useful alternative to the more dangerous solutions offered by standard medicine for reducing stress and anxiety. An alternative which is well worth a try if your symptoms fall within the range of the adaptogen realm.
Additionally, keep them in mind when considering remedies that contain mixtures of natural remedies.
Knowing how they work, what their targets and effects are and what amounts are recommended, will help you to become a better consumer of this group and natural remedies in general.
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