01.12.2015 •

Restore your inner balance: Defeat stress with nature’s best adaptogen

When it comes to the occasional stressor, we humans do just fine. We’re hard wired to respond quickly and easily because our hind and midbrains are the envy of the mammalian world. Not only can we fight or flee, we can huddle, nest, nurture, lay in wait like a spring-loaded cougar, and recall stressful events in order to sidestep danger over and over.

It’s the over and over part that’s the killer. Too much unrelieved stress accumulates in the body and has a devastating effect on our physiology and psychology. This wear and tear can result in headaches, poor concentration, fatigue, muscle tension, insomnia, heartburn, and malaise. Left unchecked, elevated chronic stress can aggravate seven chronic conditions (cancer, heart disease, hypertension, mental disorders, diabetes, pulmonary conditions, and stroke). Doctors now suspect that the majority of hospital admissions may be related to stressful mismanagement of poor lifestyle choices.

What’s the key to relieving chronic stress? Balance. Not just balancing your work life—after a decade of advice, nobody seems to be managing that. Instead, we need inner balance of our body’s physiology. All systems need to be quickly restored to balance whenever stress levels get out of hand. Balance is achieved through mediation of cortisol and epinephrine, the body’s stress hormones, triggered by the autonomic nervous system. And even though all of these hormones have important jobs to do, when there is an unrelenting stream of them, the body and mind can’t function optimally.

This is where nature’s adaptogenic herbs come in. You can slowly recover on your own, or you can use a little daily help in the form of an adaptogenic mushroom such as red reishi. As an adaptogen, red reishi modulates the body’s stress response, restoring homeodynamic balance and calm. Red reishi, like all adaptogens, restores balance to the stress hormones; but research reveals it can also smooth out the highs and lows of blood glucose, blood pressure, and blood lipids (triglyceride and LDL-cholesterol). Plus, red reishi can be safely taken every day. One less thing to worry about!


Dr. Meg Jordan, PhD, RN, CWP, is a medical anthropologist known as the Global Medicine Hunter®. She is an integrative health specialist, international health journalist, and a professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies.