Fight the effects of stress with Adaptogens

Article reprinted from: Mother Earth Living

stress.jpg

Stress
We all have it, we all complain about it, but we also all downplay the affect it has on our health and well-being. Small amounts of stress are motivating and propel us in a forward motion allowing us to be inspired and passionate. Large amounts of stress, such as family emergencies or financial burdens, are also a part of life and can’t always be avoided. Our body has an incredible ability to change how it functions under stress in order to protect us and then it quickly recovers from the event allowing us to rest and come back to a normal state of functioning. When stress goes on too long, and the body does not have a chance to recover, we begin to feel illness and dis-ease.

Adaptogens are an elite class of herbs that are superstars at helping the body to handle stress, recover from stress, and improve our stamina, focus, and vitality. These herbs are our “stress relief” herbs because of their ability to always bring the body back to a state of balance. If something

in the body is functioning in a hyper or hypo state, adaptogens bring these functions back in alignment.

For an herb to be classified as an adaptogen it needs to meet a few requirements:

  1. The herb must be non-toxic to the recipient.
  2. An adaptogen produces a non-specific response in the body- an increase in the power of resistance against multiple stressors including physical, chemical, or biological agents.
  3. An adaptogen has a normalizing influence on physiology, irrespective of the direction of change from physiological norms caused by the stressor.

Fresh-Dried-Herbs.jpg

Many herbs meet some of these requirements, and have adaptogenic properties, but only a few are truly considered adaptogenic herbs. Here are a few adaptogens that I regularly use in practice:

  • Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is a mild adaptogen that enhances stamina and speeds recovery; excellent for athletes. It also enhances immune function and rebuilds white blood counts which is helpful for individuals recovering from serious immune depletions. This also a great herb for the “wired and tired” individual normally referred to as Type A personality.
  • Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) is an herb I use with people who suffer depression and depletions of the immune system. Rhodiola supports various endocrine glands and is useful for men and women who experience conditions related to glandular function deficiencies.
  • Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) has a protective energy that helps prevent illness. This herb is useful for people who get sick often and it also prevents immunosupression caused by chemotherapy. Astragalus enhances the inner strength of individuals receiving cancer therapies allowing them to respond better and to recover more quickly. Astragalus is also very useful for sweating conditions such as night sweats during menopause.
  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is believed to give its users the stamina and strength of a stallion enhancing vigor and sexual prowess. Sign me up! Along with it’s use as an aphrodisiac it has endocrine system benefits specifically with the thyroid and adrenal glands. This herb is also useful for anxiety, fatigue, cloudy thinking and insomnia due to stress.
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) this herb is most useful for those with adrenal fatigue and insufficiency. I add this to formulas for people who wake up tired, feel exhausted throughout the day, and have elevated cortisol levels. This herb is also useful for inflammatory bowel conditions and ulcers. It is also a great synergistic herb, which means that it just makes other herbs work better when placed together in a formula. There is some concern about using this herb with those suffering from hypertension because of its ability to raise blood pressure.
  • Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis) Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) considers schisandra berries the “five flavors fruit” because each of the flavors are present in the berry (sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty). Because it has all of the flavors it has benefits for the five yin organs: liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, and spleen.

There are many more adaptogenic herbs, I have just chosen to highlight the ones I regularly use in practice. Most individuals today are suffering from some type of stress-related condition so it is no surprise that adaptogenic herbs most always make it into one of their recommended herbal formulas. Choosing an adaptogen that is just right for your unique needs is important, although you will experience positive benefits from choosing any one of them.

Please ask if you have questions or want to know is an adaptogen is right for you.

ARTICLE WRITTEN BY: KRIS VAUGHAN

References:
Winston, D., Maimes, S. “Adaptogens:Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief” Healing Arts Press 2007

Hershoff ND, A., Rotelli ND, A. “Herbal Remedies” 2001

7 WAYS TO PROTECT YOUR SKIN FROM SUN DAMAGE

1. Avoid tanning beds.  These UV lights are mainly UVA rays, which penetrate deep into the skin, are responsible for tanning and the DNA damage that can lead to skin cancer.
2.  Limit your time exposed to the direct sun rays between 10AM and 4 pm.  Find some shade to chill in.
2a. (It is important for the suns rays to penetrate the skin for some time – this is how we make Vitamin D; consider an app like dMinder; it will determine how long you can safely stay in the sun without UV protection based on you, your skin type, the time of day and where you are).
3. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going out. (it’s important to consider sunscreen or UV clothing everyday as the suns’ damage is cumulative, which means every little bit counts).
4. On days spent outside, reapply sunscreen every two hours.
5. Wear UV blocking hats, shades and clothes.
6. Examine your skin once a month and follow the ABCDE’s  of skin/moles: Asymmetry; Border changes; Color changes; Diameter changes; and Evolution (new symptoms / changing of any of the above).
7. See your doctor / dermatologist yearly to a thorough check up (skin cancer is the MOST common cancer and if caught early, one of the most TREATABLE.)

May was Skin Cancer Awareness Month – I put many posts on my blog about things you can do and some of my favorite ways to protect and love the skin you’re in!

Mineral-based sunscreen protection to love the skin you’re in

Not sure what kind of sunscreen you should consider?
TIZO is one of my favorite brands!  It is  mineral-based (zinc and titanium oxides) versus chemical based, so it blocks or reflects UV versus absorbing into your skin (and blood stream!) and absorbing the rays.  It is 100% free of dye, fragrance, gluten, phthalates, parabens and other preservatives.  It is reef friendly and never tested on animals.  I use the Primer Sunscreen everyday on my face, neck and hands – the slight tint (from iron oxides) helps it to blend with all skin tones. For a fuller coverage, I like the foam.  And they are both water resistant!
TIZO3 Facial Primer, 1.75oz (the 3 oz bottle is pictured) – $41
TIZO Sheerfoam, 3.5 oz – -$38


Be Flexible in all things

Phew!  Our nervous systems have been taking a hit this year!  With the ongoing stress the acronyms COVID-19 – B.1.1.7  / B.1.351 / P.1 and WFH cause, we need some R and R.
The number one thing you can do for yourself is be kind to yourself and others, but especially to yourself.  It’s true!  We need to recognize we are doing our best in a horrible, awful, no-good situation.  And that feeling not-OK is okay. And honestly, emotional stress takes a very similar toll on the body as physical stress, so feeling more aches and pain is normal. And then remember that there are things you CAN do to help yourself.

Take that R and R to tell stress to take that!

BE FLEXIBLE
Our brains and bodies need to stay flexible in order to function optimally.  Include daily sessions of yoga/stretching, walking and meditation all help our nervous systems switch to a more relaxed states.  I like to think 10/10/10 every day: 10 minutes of movement, 10 minutes of stretching and 10 minutes of mindfulness/meditation.  (And remember 30 minutes is only about 2% of your day, you can do it!)  Not sure what kind of stretches to do?  Here are some suggestions that will help your body move through the three primary planes of motion:
Spinal rolls: I like to think of this as flossing your spine.  Breathe in and hands reach overhead until your fingers touch, breathe out and while keeping a straight spine, swan dive forward while keeping a softness to your knees.  (You may want to have a chair in front of you that you can rest your hands on if you are just beginning your flexibility journey.) At the bottom of your exhale, bend your knees and as you breathe in, roll up through your spine, vertebra by vertebra until you reach the top and hands meet overhead.  And repeat the breath cycle 5 to 10 times.
Spinal twists: this can be done lying on the ground or bed for a more passive stretch or stand in a wide legged squat (sumo pose or horse stance).  If lying down, allow your bent legs to fall to one side and hold for 2 min, then repeat on the other side.  If standing, push your hand against your thigh and your thigh against your hand (this is called an isometric contraction – the joints aren’t moving but the muscles are working) and from that leverage, twist over the opposite shoulders.  You can follow your breath and change sides with each exhale or hold the stretch on each side to help build strength in the legs as well.
Spinal side bends: while standing, interlace your hands above your head if comfortable for your shoulders (otherwise you can just leave your arms at your sides), turn your palms to face the sky.  As you inhale reach your hands up while at the same time keeping your shoulder blades firmly engaged on your back (this will help keep your shoulders away from your ears).  On an exhale, side bend to the right.  Feel free to stay in the side bend for a couple of breaths of switch sides with each exhale.  Do 5-10 breath cycles or hold each side up to 2 minutes.


If you are wanting further guidance, I offer private, in person yoga sessions (in-office) and some insurance companies cover therapeutic exercise sessions.  If your insurance doesn’t cover, most HSA/FSA cover “medically necessary exercise training”.  And if your insurance doesn’t cover any of it, know that you are worth it if you need help to set up a program.  Self-care is not selfish!

National Best Friend Day

FRIENDSHIP IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

No matter if you’re female or male, having friends is a good thing. People with a wide network of friends have less tension, suffered from less stress, had stronger defenses and lived longer.

Friends encourage good habits, chase away depression, help you overcome diseases and cause satisfaction, pleasure and happiness.

“Not having a social support network can be a higher death risk than obesity or leading a sedentary life without exercise,” explains Julianne Holt-Lunstad, professor of psychology and head of a study at Brigham Young University, on the relationship between friendship and longevity.

“The studies have shown a 50% increased odds of survival if you have a solid social network.”

11925880_1470736039922697_980867767_n.jpg

Adapted from the Huffington Post

Chiropractic Care and Degenerative Disc Disease

A recent case report from Germany published in 2021, the researchers followed a 45-year old male with disc degeneration of the lower lumbar spine between L5 and S1 and pain during exercise was treated with a series (twice a week for 15 weeks, total of 30) of full spine chiropractic adjustments in order to correct biomechanics and improve nutrient absorption of the intervertebral discs.

Their theory was that all living tissue, including intervertebral disc cells, should be able to absorb and metabolize nutrients and replicate, thereby enabling regeneration. By this logic, disc regeneration should be possible by improving nutrient absorption, which is dependent on correct biomechanics (this is one of the main things chiropractic adjustments do).

The history of chiropractic treatment has shown that many diseases, physical and mental, can be influenced by high velocity low amplitude manual adjustments, but yet these techniques remain a part of alternative medicine, not offered to the broad spectrum of the population.

Cit: Degenerative Disc Disease Reversal: Rethinking Human Physiology

This case report is, to the author´s knowledge, the first publication showing a clinical and holistic approach capable of reversing degenerative disc disease.

Note, this was a single case study of a young and healthy man without other chronic ailments, taking no medication and able of physical exercise. Further study is needed to evaluate if this finding is replicable in older people with a variety of chronic health issues and in other areas of the spine. It is valuable and worth further research as this study shows that growth of intervertebral disc tissue is possible without the use of medication, surgery or cell transplantation and should be the beginning of rethinking functional physiology and the importance of translational medicine.

Yay, Chiropractic!

Practices to Recognize and Help you Feel Safe(r) after COVID, 3 of 3

Adapted From Mindful.org

This past year has taken a toll on all of us – physically and emotionally. It can be easier to recognize and honor our physical ailments and then get help, but it is just as important to recognize and honor our emotions.

The best propaganda I’ve seen recently

When this started, there was SO much uncertainty (not to mention no information, let alone false information!) and that can lead to fear, anxiety and other stress-based emotions. We’ve learned much over the last year but there is still so much uncertainty and all of those emotions are still present. Uncertainty and constant change can leave us feeling so vulnerable, making it even easier for those fearful feeling to dig in deeper.

I admit, I’ve found it difficult to think about returning to something like “normal life”.

The first thing I try to do when feeling vulnerable is to educate myself so things aren’t so scary.

Here are some resources you may want to check out to help your state of mind:

Dr. Heather Zwickey,PhD Immunologist, NUNM Professor and Principal Investigator at the Helfgott Research was interviewed about the mRNA vaccines. Here’s a link to her podcast.

Things to Know about the COVID-19 Pandemic from the CDC (Updated March 17, 2021).

Key things to know about the COVID-19 vaccines, from the CDC.

What You CAN Do When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated, from the CDC, updated April 27, 2021.

Over the next month, I will present 3 ways we can adapt to our new normal: 

#3: Strengthen your connection to your community. Despite the fact that we are all going through a pandemic, it’s easy to feel isolated and alone. Psychologist and mindfulness teacher at Mindful.org Elaine Smookler writes, “Letting go of our expectation of how community is supposed to be there for us allows us to rest more easily in the ocean of love and support that might come from unexpected directions: the pharmacist, colleagues, people who haven’t been in touch for years, a fellow traveler on the street.” Smookler offers this nurturing practice to reimagine a challenging relationship with someone, opening the flow of connection between yourself and others.    

Create a Humor Habit

Strategic humor has the power to build relationships, relieve stress, and boost creativity, along with many other outcomes beneficial to the workplace, and every other place!

Hi! How are you? I’m feline fine.

Strategic humor? Humor by chance—those happenstance laughter-inducing occurrences—is entertaining, but when you take these occurrences and consciously add them to your daily routine, you then create humor by choice.

According to : Karyn Buxman, Neurohumorist:
“Humor doesn’t just work while it’s happening; it can also work before it happens! How? Thanks to a little something called the anticipatory response. 

When people anticipate something, they psychologically, emotionally, and physically “prepare” for it. Whether that “something” is good, bad, sad, or even painful, this phenomenon happens just the same, and it can be used to your advantage when developing your sense of humor. When you know something funny is about happen, you shift into a mindset that’s open to laughter. You’re ready to receive and react to the impending hilarity. This state of anticipation has some of the mental and physical benefits of a good laugh, such as stress reduction and an immunity boost, before the humorous event has even occurred!  “

Well, laughter is the (one of the) best medicines, and a daily dose may be just what the doctor should order. How does one strengthen a funny bone? With practice, of course. Build your humor habit by: looking on the quirky side; notice the absurd; laugh with yourself; maybe tell some corny jokes or puns. What tickles you may tickle others! Even if it doesn’t, laughter can be contagious, and this is one infectious condition we should feel free to spread about. (Bad pun(s) intended). 🙂

Keep Portland Weird people!