By: Alixandra Laub The practice of alternative medicine involves a combination of natural methods for balancing the mind, body, and spirit to support health and well being. In reality, therapy hardly ever consists of just one method, therefore herbalists use plant medicine, supplements, dietary adjustments, bodywork, and lifestyle changes to enhance healing. During a […]
By: Alixandra Laub
The practice of alternative medicine involves a combination of natural methods for balancing the mind, body, and spirit to support health and well being. In reality, therapy hardly ever consists of just one method, therefore herbalists use plant medicine, supplements, dietary adjustments, bodywork, and lifestyle changes to enhance healing. During a stressful event, the brain triggers a series of reactions to different regions of the body. The body then responds by initiating the commonly known fight-or-flight response, where we experience some of the unpleasant effects of stress. Long-term stress can affect the central nervous system by draining vital energy leading to premature aging, exhaustion, deficiencies, and/or poor health. To combat these effects, it is so very important to integrate healthy coping strategies to maintain a balanced physical and mental state. The belief that all healing is inherently found in nature is at the foundation of herbal medicine. Taking that belief system and applying it to modern-day science, researchers are able to identify naturally occurring plant compounds and observe the physiological reactions on the body, similar to the research on the terpenes found in cannabis. Speaking of, although cannabis is the goddess of all plant medicines, it is just one of the thousands of plants that are part of the nature cure.
The belief that all healing is inherently found in nature is at the foundation of herbal medicine. When emotional, mental, physical, or environmental stress disrupts the human biological system, herbalists rely on adaptogenic herbs to bring the body back to homeostasis. Adaptogens are a group of herbs dedicated to supporting the immune system and regulating stress hormones within the endocrine system. Adaptogens increase the body’s resistance to the damaging effects of stress during the alarm phase of the stress response. Basically, adaptogens are the herbal professionals of stress management. Some personal favorite adaptogens to integrate daily are reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum), ashwagandha root (Withania somnifera), Rhodiola root (Rhodiola rosea) and Schisandra berry (Schisandra chinensis). The effects of adaptogens can be compared to the uplifting sativa strains minus the psychoactive effects. From personal experimentation, sativa combined with adaptogens definitely seems to maximize the feel-goods.
The nervous system also comes into play when stress, fear, and worry are present. From an herbalist’s perspective, nervine relaxants are the most useful here. If adaptogens are comparable to sativa strains, then nervines are the indica strains of herbal medicine. Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca), as the Latin name suggests, has an affinity with the heart with its tension and palpitations calming effects. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a well known herbal relaxant and antiviral that can be great as a tea or as an essential oil. Lastly, St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is one of the most popular herbs for relaxing the nervous system, though it has known interactions when taken with certain medications that should be investigated and considered before use.
The simplest and most cost-effective method of adding more medicinal herbs in your life is to purchase bulk loose leaf herbs and prepare them in a hot tea, sip, enjoy, and repeat throughout the day. Though simple and easy, this method often requires regular, long-term use for maximum results. In some cases, beneficial herbs can be added into food to either mask or enhance flavor. Supplements are a great choice for ease of delivery and standardization, though they can be processed much further away from its natural state. Tinctures and extracts are a more potent and concentrated form of herbal remedies and should always be mixed with water. Yes, we have tinctures and extracts in herbal medicine too. Chicken or the egg? No idea, but I do know that herbal medicine had its roots in tinctures long before cannabis did.
While many of us are aware of the tools and changes we need to improve our health, we often overlook our wellbeing. To evaluate wellness, we must assess the quality of our behaviors, attitudes, and emotional status. Here are some life-enhancing and proactive ways to stay open, calm, and balanced.
Strengthen the mind
- Stabilize negative thoughts using gratitude exercises or simply journaling to write about the things you appreciate as well as your goals and dreams for the future.
- Feel empowered by taking action on one of those ideas by attending a webinar, learning via online class, or watching a YouTube channel.
- The nature cure includes physically being outside with plants, this includes working on your garden, planting spring seeds, or going for an unpopulated hike or bike ride.
- Listen to life-enhancing or thoughtful podcasts as you cook a healthy plant-heavy meal loaded with fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, seeds, and nuts.
- Move your body through yoga, stretching, at-home workouts, or any activity you have been wanting to try to get that energy flowing.
Relax the body
- If you still have not tried to meditate yet, this is a great opportunity to learn how to clear your mind and find some peace, even for a moment.
- Learn some breathing exercises and practice them when you are feeling overwhelmed. I recommend Wim Hoff, he is the guy.
- Diffuse some relaxing essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, etc., light some candles, curl up in your cozies and read an imaginative book.
- Draw a hot bath, add a CBD bath soak or 5 drops of your favorite essential oil, light a joint or eat edibles, drink some tea, turn on some relaxing music or an inspiring podcast, and enjoy some hydrotherapy.
- Get some damn sleep and/or at least try to create a solid bedtime routine.
During difficult times, herbs and supplements should only be viewed as assistance. No matter what method you decide to integrate, make sure you put in a call to your doctor prior to starting any new health regimen. To reinstate, therapy hardly ever consists of just one drug or procedure. To get the most out of any therapy, try a variety of approaches for at least a month, then figure out what works for you and your situation. Also, this information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Stay healthy and stay strong Nevada.
Herbs and supplements should only be viewed as assistance. No matter what method you decide to integrate, make sure you put in a call to your doctor before starting any new health regimen. Therapy hardly ever consists of just one drug or procedure. To get the most out of any therapy, try a variety of approaches for at least a month then figure out what works for you and your situation. Also, this information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Alixandra Laub M.S. is on a mission to connect people to plant medicine as an herbalist, wellness coach, essential oil distiller, and a manufacturer of topical herbal remedies. If you are interested in learning more about healing hacks, natural wellness, or plants and cannabis, stop by www.TahoePetrichor.com or TahoePetrichor on FB & IG.
Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: the science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
Yance, D. (2013). Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.