Adaptogenic Herbal Medicine

Stress: The Linchpin in Wellness (Part One – Herbal Medicine)

According to traditional western medicine, the body is separate from the mind and emotional stress has no impact over the body. In Chinese Herbal Medicine, however, your emotional health is equally as important as your physical health. In many cases, the emotions you carry are the linchpin which determines how far your herbal medicine treatment at a holistic health clinic will carry you.

Anxiety and stress are common and can be caused by many different things. It can be difficult to navigate all of the feelings associated with anxiety and stress, but one all-natural way to relieve symptoms may be Herbal Medicine.

A Holistic Approach to Stress

You see, acupuncturists can work on restoring balance in your shoulder when we’re together, but if you go back to the office and allow workplace stress to bring your shoulders right back up to your ears, these efforts have little staying power.

As women, stress has the ability to clear or exacerbate a whole host of menstrual issues as well. Fundamentally, pain at any point in your menstrual cycle is related to the liver. Guess what organ stress affects first? You guessed it, the liver.

Learn how to manage your stress through movement, breathwork, journaling, and you could single handedly clear those PMS symptoms. Add additional stress to that existing PMS and even the best integrative health practitioners in the world are going to struggle getting you pain free as quickly as it would be otherwise.

Herbal Medicine as a Stress Management Tool

Struggle with finding the best stress management tool for you? You’re not alone. These tools stick like personality traits, and while conceptually they can all help any human who’s devoted to developing a practice, the right fits feels like it was made just for you.

So while you’re working your way through the host of stress management tools out there to find the one that’s most suited to you, here is a suggestion: try plants!

You’re probably super surprised that an herbalist would suggest plants as a remedy to your stress induced PMS. I know, but close that jaw and grab a pen and get ready for a download on adaptogenic herbs. They’re incredibly powerful and they can begin working quite quickly!

Adaptogenic Herbs

Adaptogenic herbs are a class of herbs which serve to disrupt the signaling of the HPA Axis. In plain English, that means it tells your brain to stop pressing the big red button that reads, “freak out” on it. And while this class of herbs has a variety of individual berries, leaves and roots in it, I’m going to keep it simple and distill this down to my 3 favorites and the ones my family and I use most often: Ashwagandha, Rhodiola Rosea, and Schisandra.


Considered an Ayurvedic herb, Ashwagandha is arguably the most widely known and most commonly used adaptogenic herb in America. Subtle in nature and gently calming, I dose Ashwagandha by capsule in the morning and afternoon around lunch. Most patients begin to notice a subtle calm in what was the most stressful part of the day about one week following regular dosing.

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea, or Hong Jing Tian, is a Chinese Medicine herb. It is slightly energizing and an observed favorite among males and / or athletes. Dosed by capsule in the AM only (unless you’re particularly losing your mind on a given project at work) this herb has the potential ability to interfere with sleep. Providing a gentle calm like the Ashwagandha, but with a subtle boost which helps those experiencing stress that may be affecting work performance, I typically dose this herb for a shorter time horizon to help mitigate the acute effects of the most depleting forms of stress.


Schisandra, or Wu Wei Zi, is a Chinese Medicine herb. It is the go-to for patients who need stress mitigation but also a source of nourishment because of their prolonged exposure to stress. Subtle like Ashwagandha but not a nightshade like Ashwagandha is, Schisandra is safe to take for people who are working with autoimmune diseases and who may need a more long term boost to their constitution. Dosed by capsule in the AM and before bed, this herb is a personal favorite because it acts like a little blanket for your heart so you can get some much needed sleep (anyone need that?).

Power Packed Herbs

So there you are – Ashwagandha as the easy go-to; Rhodiola for a stress buster accompanied with a subtle boost of energy; and Schisandra nightshade free stress mitigation and subtle nourishment for stress that just won’t quit.

Here’s to three power packed herbs that help keep stress in check while you implement (or continue searching for) that stress mitigation practice that fits you best!

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