Adaptogenic Herbs for managing mental health during Covid-19
Corona Virus pandemic has become the biggest disaster in 2020. The virus has not only claimed lives of many in countries like China, Italy, Spain and USA but, it also has serious implications on global economic slowdown. With many countries closing down its border to a nationwide lockdown, all the countries have understood that a complete shutdown is the only solution of this crisis as of now.
Many corporate organisations have also adjusted itself with the culture of work-from-home. However, staying at home for a long duration isn’t going to be easy for anyone. With all news channels debating about economic crisis and job loss, such discussion often takes a toll at our mental health. At times, we all wish to go back in times when every moment of life was worth enjoyable. However, we cannot ignore what’s happening at the present.
In Ayurveda, there are a class of herbs that are known to be extremely useful in managing stress in our day-to-day lives. These herbs are known as Adaptogens. As the name suggests, these herbs help the body adapt to stress. Let’s have a look at this ;
The term adaptogen was coined by Russian scientists in mid-1960s. According to them, the term adaptogen implies an herb that helps the body to modify its reactions to environmental and internal stress. These herbs are able to do this by boosting immune and nervous system. Some studies suggest that since these herbs thrives in extreme conditions; hence they have developed a unique mechanism for survival. The same mechanism is transferred to us when we consume them.
In his book “Medical Herbalism: The Science & Practice of Herbal Medicine”, David Hoffmann writes about the mode of action of adaptogens on body. He states that these herbs work on supporting adrenal glands, by regulation of stress hormones including cortisol. Another important aspect of adaptogens is that they help the body to maintain the balance by helping the brain to function properly.
There are many herbs that can be used to tackle stress, but let’s talk about the six best adaptogens at the moment:
- Ashwagandha (botanical name, Withania Somnifera) - The term, Ashwagandha in Sanskrit implies Smell of Horses. The compound, withanolides found in Ashwagandha helps to regulate secretion of cotisol, a stress hormone. Thus, this herb is used in treatment of depression and anxiety. Apart from this, Ashwagandha also helps to improve sperm quality and fertility in men.
- Brahmi (botanical name, Bacopa Monnieri) – This herb is also known as Water Hyssop or Herb of Grace in English. The bioactive compound, bacosides found in this herb is used to treat several neurodegenerative disorders like epilepsy, Alzeimher’s and Parkinson’s disease. Apart from this, this herb also helps to improve learning and information retention power of the brain.
- Moringa (botanical name, Moringa Oleifera) – This is a draught-resistant plant and rich in Vitamin C. It has other bioactives like Quercetin and Chlorogenic Acid. These antioxidants help in controlling blood sugar levels. It also helps in getting sound sleep. It also helps to reduce the effects of free radicals on the body.
- Shatavari (botanical name, Asparagus Racemosus) – The term Shatavari, in Sanskrit implies hundred roots. Racemofuran, an antioxidant found in Shatavari has multiple benefits on body. It not only helps in treatment of depression and reducing anxiety, but it is also administered to lactating mothers to improve lactation. This herb also helps to boost immunity and digestion system.
- Amlaki (botanical name, Phyllanthus Emblica) – This herb is enriched in Vitamin C and fibers. Apart from this, it has other bio-actives like Anthocynanins. These phytonutrients are responsible to imparting color to the plant and also has antidepressant properties. Amla is a powerful antioxidant that protects body from oxidative stress and manages age-related disease of the brain by reducing risk of stroke.
- Holy Basil (botanical name, OcimumTenuiflorum) – Tulsi is endowed with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Phosphorus. It has antidepressant properties which makes in useful in chronic stress. Apart from this, Tulsi is also helpful in reducing loss of memory due to ageing and stress. This herb is used in recovery from stroke. Moreover, it also has anti-inflammatory properties.