Our first “Fake Spring” took us out of the chill of single-digit temperatures and we welcomed the warmth of 70 degree Fahrenheit in a three day timeframe. The windows were open and my skin was able to embrace the warmth of the sun as I took off the many layers and enjoyed short-sleeves again. However, this change in temperatures also tends to bring on illness and from speaking with friends, that is exactly what is happening. Why do so many of us seem to get sick during these abrupt weather changes?
Sudden shifts in temperature, whether from warm to cold or vice versa, can place stress on the body. This stress has the potential to temporarily weaken the immune system, creating an environment where pathogens like viruses or bacteria find it easier to invade. It's a phenomenon that many of us have experienced, but the question remains: How can we fortify our immune systems during these transitions?
This is where the power of adaptogens comes into play. Adaptogens, a diverse group of herbs and mushrooms, play a crucial role in fortifying the body's inherent capacity to cope with both emotional and physical stress. The term "adaptogen" aptly captures the essence of these beneficial elements, showcasing their unique ability to adjust to the specific requirements of our bodies—be it on a physical, chemical, or biological level.
Here are a few of my favorite adaptogen herbs, each with its own set of unique benefits:
- Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): Ashwagandha is a stress combatant, promoting relaxation and supporting overall vitality. Its potential in balancing hormones adds an extra layer of benefit.
- Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea): Rhodiola enhances physical and mental performance, reduces fatigue, and alleviates stress—making it a go-to during demanding periods.
- Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum): Also known as Tulsi, holy basil is revered in Ayurveda for its adaptogenic and immune-modulating properties. It's a stress reducer that also promotes mental clarity.
- Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis): With a rich history in traditional Chinese medicine, schisandra berries are believed to improve endurance, mental performance, and liver function.
And we cannot forget about Adaptogenic Mushrooms: The adaptogenic power extends to mushrooms, offering a variety of benefits:
- Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum): Known as the "mushroom of immortality," reishi promotes relaxation, reduces stress, and supports overall well-being.
- Chaga (Inonotus obliquus): With adaptogenic and antioxidant properties, chaga helps the body adapt to stressors, boosts the immune system, and promotes vitality.
- Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis): Recognized for enhancing physical performance, increasing energy levels, and supporting the body's response to stress.
- Lion's Mane (Hericium erinaceus): Prized for cognitive benefits, lion's mane supports brain health, enhances memory and focus, and potentially reduces symptoms of stress.
- Maitake (Grifola frondosa): Rich in beta-glucans, maitake mushrooms are known for immune-modulating effects, helping the body adapt to various stressors.
- Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor): Recognized for immune-boosting properties, turkey tail contains compounds that help the body respond to stress and maintain a healthy immune system.
As we navigate the unpredictable weather transitions, incorporating adaptogens into our routines can be a proactive approach to support our immune systems. Along with incorporating medicinal herbs, it is also important to eat a well balanced diet of fresh foods, daily exercise, practicing breathing techniques, sharing gratitude, and to not forget to be kind to yourself during the winter months. Remember, spring will come and this is our season of rest!