Stress-Lowering Adaptogens:
Have You Reached Your Wits’ End?

Though your reasons may be different from mine, I’ll bet that many of you, for whatever reason, have simply reached your wits’ end! This is a deeper kind of stress that comes from losing both the patience and the mental capacity to let go of an ongoing problem. And I, for one, have been there, done that, and found a way to recover. If you’re in a similar situation, I’m hoping you’ll read on for some of my answers and recommendations below.

The kind of stress I’m referring to is not anxiety as usual. It’s the all-consuming feeling that you cannot control the situation you find yourself in or even see your distress ending. At some point, the physical manifestations will become apparent, and your symptoms will make things seem bleaker, to say the least. Nevertheless, I’m here to tell you how to put an end to put the devastating stress all of us will face at one time or another in our lives.

Physical Symptoms of Acute Stress

Let’s look at some of the major symptoms that can arise as your body chemistry changes with the release of adrenaline associated with acute stress. Depending on your own situation, you may experience a few of these symptoms or many of them. They may last for a few hours, a few days, or even longer. Some people even go through their entire lives in acute stress mode!

Getting back to normal before you develop PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is therefore crucial to the well-being of your nervous system. (Additionally, I would suggest that you read my blog post on parasympathetic and sympathetic overload.)

Now, here are some of the major physical symptoms of severe stress as compiled by the website Love to Know:

Heart Changes

  • Rapid increase in heart rate
  • Palpitations
  • Increased blood pressure

Breathing Changes

  • Rapid breathing
  • Hyperventilation
  • Shallower breathing

Gastrointestinal Changes

  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

Other Changes

  • Flushing of the skin (itching as well, I might add)
  • Sweating
  • Increased muscle tension
  • Gooseflesh or raised hair on the skin
  • Dilated pupils
  • Dry mouth
  • Trembling
  • Fainting
  • Heightened sensory activity

Two Paths to Recovery

We all know that stress is a serious life-shortening disorder. Since stress is a part of life, it affects all of us to some degree or another. However, many healthy and successful people simply do not allow the circumstances of their lives to push them into a state of acute stress. We are here for too short a time and must make the best of it.

Such people accomplish this via the First Path of living. They develop a philosophy that excludes worry. They have a built-in ability to laugh more. They take care of their bodies with nutrient dense foods. And last but not least, they refuse to let anything come between life and a good night’s sleep.

We should all make it a goal to accomplish these key practices: Don’t worry. Laugh more. Eat nutrient dense foods. Get a good night’s sleep. It may sound unachievable, but you can start with just one of these recommendations and eventually work toward mastering all four of them. Believe me, it’s worth the effort. Begin the journey and learn more by clicking on the links above.

The Second Path—which you can and should take while working on the First Path—is to make use of adaptogens. This is a special kind of herbal formulation that actually helps you adapt. They can help you handle life peacefully and adjust to sad, threatening, or worrisome circumstances that we all meet along our earthly journey. They are not like sedatives. Rather, they are long-term supplements that begin to work usually within a week or two. In order to maintain the sense of equilibrium they provide, they should be a daily part of your life. So let’s learn a little more about adaptogens.

What Are Adaptogens?

The website Food Revolution offers an easy-to-understand description of adaptogens. I quote some of the article below, but I recommend reading it in full for a deeper understanding of adaptogens.

To begin with, adaptogens are herbs and plants—each with its own unique properties and benefits—that are used to help the body adapt to a wide range of stressors. Adaptogens must meet the following three criteria:

To begin with, adaptogens “must be non-specific, meaning they help the body to defend against a wide variety of physical, chemical, and biological stressors. For instance, environmental pollution, radiation, infectious diseases, and interpersonal disharmony. In this way, they contradict the medical concept of the ‘silver bullet’: a drug that treats a single condition without any side effects or unintended consequences.”

Second, they “must support homeostasis, or equilibrium, in the human body. The underlying point here is that the human body contains great wisdom and can deal with most challenges with precision and elegance—if it has full access to its healing potential.”

And third, they “must not cause harm or damage normal human bodily functions. Again, unlike pharmaceuticals that often produce negative side effects and may create a plethora of new problems even as they manage existing ones, the adaptogens must fundamentally make the body stronger and better able to respond to a wide variety of threats, without weakening or compromising its core systems. They may still have some side effects, but their overall impact on the entire body is beneficial.”

My Favorite Premium-Quality Adaptogens from Medi-Herb

In closing, I encourage you to seek out a holistic Standard Process practitioner in your area who can test you for the adaptogens that would be most appropriate for your particular condition. I also recommend the best book on this subject that I have found, Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief, by David Winston with Steven Maimes.

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Afterthoughts from the Traditional Cook

Don’t Stress It

Don’t stress it,
when you think of a struggle
DON’T stress it.

Life is too long to stress
every decision you make.
Shout out to the single moms
who struggle with wanting
to give their child the world,
don’t stress it,
God will be there for you.

To the kids who got bullied,
don’t stress it
because one day
your bully could end up working for you.

To the neighborhood children,
keep doing you,
just make sure to be careful and make good decisions
and don’t stress it.

To the abused girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands, and wives, take the time to leave your abusive partner and don’t stress it, do what’s best for you. Also, to the minimum wage workers, play hide and seek with education so you don’t stress it when you don’t have enough money. At the end of the day, DON’T STRESS IT! If you stress it you won’t be the best you. So, let’s be a person who betters themselves for their own good and don’t stress it.
BigGuy22 at

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Disclaimer from Maria Atwood, CNHP: I am a Certified Natural Health Professional, CNHP, not a medical doctor. I do not diagnose, prescribe for, treat, or claim to prevent, mitigate, or cure any human diseases. Please see your medical doctor or health practitioner prior to following any recommendations I make in my blog posts or on my website.

Images from iStock/Drazen Zigic (main), Zolak (adapt image), shin hyun (fruit tree), Anthony Boulton (rope). 

Maria Atwood, CNHP

Maria Atwood is a semiretired Certified Natural Health Professional and Weston A. Price Chapter Leader in Colorado Springs, CO. Visit her website at Also check out Maria’s Cook Your Way to Wellness DVD (also available as an e-learning course) and be sure to follow her Tips from the Traditional Cook blog.
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