It’s the middle of a rough winter, and you may be feeling rundown and stressed. A succession of severe storms, colds, and the flu have taken their toll physically and emotionally. You may benefit from a group of medicinal herbs known as adaptogens–remedies that help the body recover from physical and mental stress. These herbs are not stimulants, but appear to boost immune function, restore adrenal health, and improve concentration. Here are some examples:
Astragalus (Astragalus spp.)–For centuries, astragalus root has been a respected tonic herb in China. It has gained popularity in the west as an immune tonic. Studies suggest that it increases the activity of natural killer cells and T-cells.
Gotu kola–A valuable remedy for anxiety or nervousness, this adaptogen helps the body cope with stressful situations. Researchers have found that this herb has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus)–Not a true ginseng, this herb is recommended for adrenal fatigue, depression, and weakness. It shares many of the medicinal properties of Asian (Panax) ginseng, without the troublesome side effects, such as hypertension.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), Shiitake (Lentinus edodes), and Maitake (Grifola frondosa) Mushrooms–These mushrooms are believed to have immune-boosting, adaptogenic properties. Shiitake and maitake mushrooms are particularly recommended for general immune strength, while reishi is valued as a remedy for respiratory problems.
These remedies are available online or at health food stores. A good online source is Mountain Rose Herbs.
CAUTION: If your symptoms–such as depression or exhaustion–are severe, seek medical attention. Before trying any natural remedy, talk to your doctor–especially if you take prescription medications, or are pregnant or nursing. Ask your doctor about using these herbal tonics for your health.