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Healing with Herbs

by Kathi Langelier

The physical and emotional effect of stress on our bodies is real, and it is one of the leading causes of visits to the doctor’s office. While we can’t avoid stress completely, there are things we can do to support and nourish our bodies through the use of herbs, healthy foods, exercise, hydration and relaxation techniques such as yoga, qigong and breathwork.

When it comes to self-care and nourishment, I turn to the plants that are used both for food and for medicine, including nettles, kelp, dandelion, oats and mushrooms. These plants are often referred to as nourishing herbs, food herbs or tonic herbs. This is one of my favorite ways to work with plants. We all need to eat and drink, so working with plants within our daily routines of eating and drinking is a perfect way to access them.

Many of my recipes are food recipes; some may even seem basic to you, and that’s because they are. The goal isn’t to overcomplicate or create recipes that require a lot of ingredients and time. The goal is to create easy, accessible and deeply nourishing recipes that you can fall back on.

Using adaptogens for stress

Adaptogenic herbs can have powerful effects when it comes to addressing stress within the body. I often roll my eyes at some of the trends I see in the health and wellness industry, but the use of adaptogens is one that I can get behind.

Adaptogens are a classification of herbs that have been proven to effectively strengthen our ability to deal with acute and chronic stress. To quote one of my teachers, David Winston, author of Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief, “They help create a state of nonspecific resistance to stress (SNSR), they have little or no toxicity and have a normalizing effect on the body. They work by re-regulating the interconnected endocrine, immune and nervous system, as well as reproductive function, the enteric brain and our GI tract and cardiovascular function.”

Adaptogens can help relieve symptoms of stress while also addressing the actual causes of the symptoms. Adaptogens are often referred to as tonic or nourishing herbs, which means they’re herbs that can be used safely on a regular, daily basis. Some of my favorite adaptogens are ashwagandha, shatavari, reishi mushroom and tulsi, which you will learn more about in the following recipe.

Reprinted with permission from Herbal Revolution by Kathi Langelier, Page Street Publishing Co. 2020.

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