We human beings are intimately interconnected with our environment. Any change in the environment influences us both physically and psychically. How we handle such changes, how we adapt to the changes in our environment and to the stresses of life, will be the determining factor in our health and well-being. Conversely, as we change, the environment around us will be influenced and will reflect our changes. The greatness of Oriental natural philosophy lies, to a great degree, in its subtlety and breadth of vision with regard to the connection between the human being and their environment. The tonic herbalist recognizes such environmental influences as the change of seasons – the wind, heat, cold, dryness, moisture, and so on – as fundamental factors in one's health.
Adaptability requires energy. The greater the stresses of life and the more dynamic the changes in one's life, the greater the requirement for adaptive energy. The very purpose of using Chinese tonic herbs is to aid the body-mind in its adaptive needs. The greatness of the Chinese tonic herbs lies in their adaptogenic quality; that is, their ability to enhance the body-mind's capacity to adapt optimally, accurately and with endurance, to changes in the environment, and thus to overcome the stresses of life.
By replenishing the energy of the cells, tissues and systems that regulate our adaptability, we find ourselves capable of experiencing life at its fullest. We find ourselves with increased physical, mental and emotional endurance. We find ourselves easily handling stresses that would exhaust others. We find ourselves to be resilient on every level. This adaptability allows us to lead a rich, broad, adventurous life.
When the body is working very well, we automatically adapt accurately. This is part of the miraculous self-regulatory mechanismsbuilt into every cell of our bodies. This accurate adaptability is a key to radiant health. When you are radiantly healthy, nothing will bother you. If it’s very hot, your body adjusts and you feel just fine. If it’s cold, you adapt to that. People who adapt easily tend to be successful at life. But stress depletes this adaptive energy. Eventually, as we age or face life’s challenges, we may not have enough adaptive Qi, and we start to misadjust. In addition, as we become less capable of adapting, we become more and more aware of the stress and a vicious cycle occurs.
The Chinese tonic herbs are among the best tools on earth for combating stress. Obviously, it is better to avoid stress in the first place, or at least to submit ourselves to a minimum. Along with meditation, yoga and deep breathing techniques, Chinese tonic herbs are the perfect natural way to help deal with stress. The herbs should not be taken like drugs to overcome stress. Tonics aren’t meant to be used like that. Adaptogenic tonic herbs are true dietary supplements that help the body to maintain balance under stressful conditions. By taking the adaptogenic herbs continuously, even when stressful factors are not strong, we can handle stress more easily and overcome our problems with less agitation.
It takes energy to handle stressful events and forces. The tonic herbs provide that energy. If you are in a weakened condition and a stressful event occurs, of course you will feel more vulnerable and more stressed than if you had plenty of energy to deal with the problem. That is natural. The point, then, is to never run out of adaptive energy – always have reserve energy so that when stress peaks you can deal with it without exhausting yourself.
The Primary Adaptogenic Herbs that Help You Fight Stress of Life
All of the herbs used in Chinese tonic herbalism contribute to our adaptability. That is the very nature of a “superior herb.” But some herbs have special reputations for helping people adapt and to handle stress in a superior way. Here are the super-adaptogens, the tonic herbs that everybody should be taking to protect themselves from stress.
Some of THE best adaptogens on the planet include:
Reishi - The "Queen" of Medicinal Mushrooms
Reishi Mushroom is the perfect herb for these times. It is strengthening, protective and calming to the nerves. It is both a potent Qitonic and the ultimate Shen tonic. It is the perfect anti-stress herb. It helps to center you. When you’re taking Reishi you feel adaptive and you feel protected. Genuine “log-grown” Duanwood Reishi along with much more expensive wild reishi is the best reishi out there.
Gynostemma is a quintessential adaptogenic herb. Gynostemma contains over 100 saponins that contribute to the adaptability of any individual who consumes it. Gynostemma eases tension and builds energy. It has general, safe, inflammo-regulatory action throughout the body without causing any side-effects. It has no medical benefits for any medical conditions, but helps maintain and support immune balance.
Rhodiola is a remarkable herb that has a wide and varied history of uses. It is thought to strengthen the nervous system, fight depression, enhance immunity, elevate the capacity for exercise, enhance memory, aid weight reduction, increase sexual function and improve energy levels. Rhodiola has also been prized by the Chinese for over two thousand years ago. It is regarded as a life-prolonging, wisdom enhancing “superior herb.
Eleuthero is the equal of Ginseng in its adaptogenic capabilities. Some authorities think it is stronger. Eleuthero, which is also known as Siberian Ginseng, contains saponins which support the nervous system and endocrine system. It is an immune modulator (supports normal, balanced immune functions). It is an excellent mind tonic.
Astragalus Root is one of the most powerful natural agents in the world at regulating the functions of the body. It is a fundamental Qitonic and should be a part of any adaptogenic, anti-stress formula. In fact it is a quintessential double-directional herb, one that helps regulate the immune system. It is a superb adaptogen.
Goji provides the reserve energy necessary to handle just about any difficulty. It is said traditionally that constant consumption ofGoji will beget a cheerful attitude, and there’s nothing like good cheer to overcome stress. Goji, like the other super-tonicadaptogens, helps make you strong, relaxed and resilient.
Eucommia is a superb Jing tonic, used to strengthen the back (especially the lower back), skeleton, and joints (especially the knees and ankles). Eucommia is believed to confer strength and flexibility to the ligaments and tendons. It is often used by martial artists, yoga practitioners, Qigong practitioners, and other athletes to strengthen the back, knees, and the entire body. Eucommia is widely used in China as a safe and effective sex tonic for men and women. It provides powerful and safe fundamental adaptive energy to the body.
Schizandra is a major adaptogenic herb. Schizandra helps keep you relaxed and alert and supports the nervous system. Schizandra is considered to be one of the premium mind tonics of herbalism. It is used to support concentration, memory and alertness. Yet, unlike caffeine-like stimulants, Schizandra does not produce nervousness. In fact, Schizandra is mildly “calming” while producing wakefulness and mental focus.
Constant consumption of this famous "longevity herb," whose full Latin name is Polygonum multiflorum, is said in the Orient to help “return an aging person to youthfulness and to keep a young person young.” It is an unsurpassed Yin Jing tonic, as well as a major blood tonic. It is said to increase energy and to clean the blood. As an Jing tonic, it is believed to be a powerful sexual tonic when consumed regularly. He Shou Wu supports sperm production in men and supports fertility in women. It is used in almost all tonics that are believed in the Orient to nurture the hair and teeth. This herb has been consumed by almost every Taoist that has lived for the past five hundred years, and is fundamental to the practice of the Taoist inner arts.
White Atractylodes is an important and potent Qi tonic that is famous for regulating the digestive functions and as a powerful energy booster.
Steamed Rehmannia is said to be the “Kidney’s own food." It is a Kidney tonic found in many formulations for rejuvenation and longevity. It is also considered a premium blood tonic and is said to benefit sexual functions in men and women. SteamedRehmannia is said to be warm in nature.
Licorice Root is an important tonic herb that harmonizes all the ingredients in any formula. It detoxifies the body and is a powerfuladaptogenic herb.*