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A holy basil or tulsi, plant, is shown in this image by Forest and Kim Starr sourced by Wikimedia.org.

My favorite class of herbs are called adaptogens. You might be wondering what makes these herbs so special to me. Adaptogens are considered “normalizing” herbs. These herbs are traditionally used to support the very overlooked adrenal glands. Our adrenal glands help keep our stress and energy levels in balance, among other things. And in the high stress world we live in, balance isn’t always easy.

There are quite a few adaptogenic herbs, but for the sake of this column, we will focus on a few that I consider the most important.

Holy Basil — Holy Basil, known as Tulsi in Ayurvedic medicine, is my favorite herb. So much so that I even named my store after it. I consider Holy Basil to be the most adaptive of the adaptogens. It is normalizing and balancing. If calming is needed, it tends to promote a calmful state. If energy is needed, it tends to promote healthy energy levels.

Ashwagandha — Ashwagandha is considered calming and focusing. It can work well for those that get anxious during stressful times. Studies have shown its cortisol-reducing ability. Many find Ashwagandha helpful if they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep due to a restless mind.

Rhodiola — Rhodiola rosea is considered to be energizing and focusing. It can work well for those that crash or get tired during stressful times. It is known as a cooling adaptogen. Studies show that supplementing with a combination of rhodiola and black cohosh may help with menopausal issues. It is popular with athletes as studies have show that rhodiola may improve exercise performance.

Bacopa — Also considered to be an energizing and focusing adaptogen. Studies have shown that bacopa may provide cognitive benefits. It may work well for those that lose focus during stressful times. Supports brain health and mental clarity. Studies have also suggested that bacopa may be beneficial for cardiovascular support.

Cordyceps — Supports healthy energy levels and stamina. Prized by endurance athletes for its energizing and lung-supporting properties. Promotes brain health and mental clarity. It may help those that lose energy during stressful times. Cordyceps mixes well with other energizing herbs and mushrooms and is found in many lung supporting formulas.

These adaptogenic herbs work well together. Even though it is fine to take one single adaptogen, I have found that combinations work best for most. Look for a supplement formula containing the adaptogens that sound most suited for your needs. Many adaptogenic formulas will be marketed towards adrenal support, stress or energy.

Hopefully, these herbs will help you to find some much needed balance to keep up with the demands of our high-stress world.

Travis Lemon is a certified herbalist and co-owner of Tulsi at The Market in Huntington. He has worked in the natural health and wellness industry for over 14 years. He can be contacted at travislemonmh@gmail.com.

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