Last week I was invited to the beautiful Squirrel in High Street Kensington for an evening of Ayurveda and Adaptogen delights with Pukka Teas and Two Influence.
The evening started with a sweaty workout at F45 Fulham (hence me rocking up to the gorgeous dinner with sweaty hair- yummy) and we were then treated to refreshing turmeric mocktails on arrival at the heavenly plant paradise of Squirrel.
We were given a talk on all things herbs and adaptogens by Medical Herbalist and Senior Herbal Advisor at Pukka Herbs, Katie Pande before tucking into a Dosha specific salad from Squirrel.
Read below to get the low down on Adaptogens from Katie.
Photos by @georgie.cl
What are Adaptogens?
With stress becoming an increasingly important influence in modern life, there’s a wealth of information and advice out there designed to help us cope. Meditation and mindfulness are among the most widely researched and effective techniques – and come highly recommended.
But you may be happy to know that certain natural herbs can help too. These specific herbs are often called ‘adaptogens’, and all of them have a long history of use in traditional herbal medicines.
Adaptogens essentially help us adapt. They help the body to adapt to current emotional and physical stressors. 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’.
- Nourishing – bring nutritive strength.
- Normalising – raise what is low and lower what is high (eg energy, stress).
- Non-specific – act on multiple parts of the body at the same time.
- Non-toxic – be completely safe when used over extended periods of time
Adaptogens are the healthy, herbal solution to stress, fatigue and living a busy lifestyle.
What do Adaptogens do?
Adaptogens relieve stress by modulating the release of stress hormones from the adrenal glands. Technically they are known as biological response modifiers (BRMs) which means that they restore the body’s immune function and help the body adapt to different stressors. This gives them preventative and protective as well as curative activity. By replenishing our deeper immunity and regulating our response to stress, adaptogens are true rejuvenative tonics helping to improve overall wellbeing, increase energy and reduce the stress response.
The 4 adaptogens you think everyone needs to know about:
- Shatavari translates to mean ‘she who has 100 husbands’. In addition to being an adaptogen it is specific for nourishing women’s health. As a tonic for the reproductive system it can regulate hormonal and menstrual imbalances.
- Ashwagandha is one of the most widely used herbs in Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional herbal medicine of India. It’s known as a ‘tonic’ herb and is said to have an overall rejuvenating effect – helping to protect and support the nervous system and immune system as well as improving energy.
- Holy basil is known in Hindu mythology as an incarnation of the Goddess Tulsi, offering divine protection. Holy basil is a specific for emotional stressors and is excellent for a racing mind and anxious emotional tension that may be holding us back.
- Turmeric, the superspice, has over 6,000 clinical studies attesting to its ability to protect and nourish the body. It’s packed with antioxidants that protect us from the physical stressors of modern life. Turmeric is an excellent remedy for those leading an action-packed lifestyle.