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Adaptogens

Written by Sebastian Pole

What are adaptopgens? The clue is their name. They literally help the body to adapt, adjust and recalibrate itself depending on our emotional and physical surroundings.

None of us are immune to the pressures of modern life, whether it be work deadlines, the daily commute or just simply never having enough hours in the day. The Health & Safety Executive estimate that in 2014/15 stress accounted for 35% of all work related ill health cases and 43% of all working days lost due to ill health. Our bodies are also regularly exposed to physical and toxic stress too – from household chemicals, pesticides in our foods, pollutants in the air, intensively farmed meats and refined sugar to name but a few.

All this can overwhelm the body’s ability to cope leading to insomnia, tiredness, anxiety, depression and even physical illness.

Thankfully there are some incredible rejuvenating herbs that can help. These are the amazing adaptogens.

What are adaptogens?

So what are adaptopgens? Well, the clue is their name. They literally help the body to adapt, adjust and recalibrate itself depending on our emotional and physical surroundings. So, for example, they can help calm in times of stress. They can bring peace to a racing mind in the middle of the night. They can give clarity when everything around is in turmoil. They can give energy when we are tired.

The term adaptogen was introduced into scientific literature by Russian toxicologist Nikolay Lazarev in 1957 to refer to ‘substances that increase the state of non-specific resistance” in stress. Broadly, an adaptogen must have the four ‘Ns’.

  1. Nourishing: bring nutritive strength.
  2. Normalising: raise what is low and lower what is high (eg energy, stress).
  3. Non-specific: act on multiple parts of the body at the same time.
  4. Non-toxic: be completely safe when used over extended periods of time.

Sebastian is a registered member of the Ayurvedic Practitioners Association, Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine and the Unified Register of Herbal Practitioners. He qualified as a herbalist with the aim of using the principles of Ayurveda (the ancient art of living wisely) to help transform health. He holds a Licentiate in Herbal Medicine, a Diploma in Oriental Herbal Medicine and is an Ayurvedic Health Counsellor.

Sebastian Pole runs his own herbal practice in Bath and has been in clinical practice since 1998. He is also an organic herb expert and is passionate about supporting the sustainable supply of organic herbs. Fluent in Hindi, a registered Yoga therapist and passionate about running a business that brings benefit to everyone it connects with, Sebastian is on a mission to bring the incredible power of plants into people’s life.

Sebastian lives on an amazing two acre forest garden farm in Somerset with his family, where he grows over 100 species of medicinal plants and trees. His favourites are licorice, chamomile, echinacea, motherwort, valerian, tulsi and marigolds.

Author of Ayurvedic Medicine, The Principles of Traditional Practice (Elsevier 2006).

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