Feeling run-down and stressed-out? Does it seem you always catch whatever is going around? You may want to consider taking a daily tonic. Also known as adaptogens, these nontoxic, plant-based substances help to bolster your body’s natural defenses and increase its ability to cope with normal daily stress. When taken long term, tonics may help support energy and maintain normal, healthy immunity. Popular tonics include:
- Ashwagandha. This traditional herb (Withania somnifera) from India is much used in ayurvedic medicine, where it is valued as a general tonic and adaptogen.
- Eleuthero. Formerly called Siberian ginseng, eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is a distant relative of true ginseng. It can be useful for alleviating exhaustion, fatigue from heavy workloads and lack of energy. Look for products that are standardized for eleutheroside content.
- Reishi. This distinctive, woody mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) is too bitter for culinary use, but can be taken in supplement form. Reishi is recommended in traditional Chinese medicine for increasing resistance and extending life, and has been studied for its ability to support normal immune health.
- Rhodiola. Also known as arctic root, rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) contains a group of distinctive compounds that are at least partially responsible for the plant’s remarkable properties – including anti-fatigue, anti-stress, antioxidant and immune-supporting effects. It is useful for acute stress, to support optimal mood and for memory health.
You should be able to find all these herbal products in health food stores – choose the one that best meets your needs, follow package directions, and give it about six to eight weeks to see how it helps. You can take tonics indefinitely, but some herbalists suggest taking a two-week-long break every three months to help maintain the tonic’s effectiveness. If you have hypertension or diabetes, talk with your physican before adding these herbs to your routine.
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