Far too many of us are running around horribly out of sync. Creating space is the remedy we all need – to step away from the noise, reset – and reclaim our sense of rhythm.
The cortisol cadence of the body is measured by design with widespread benefit for immunity and our basic survival. The governor of our circadian rhythm, cortisol, runs high in the AM with active phases that motivate us to work – and low in the PM with declining phases that prep the body for repair and sleep.
Cortisol is a vital hormone, but in excess it creates a host of problems. The primary ‘alarm’ function of cortisol is to help the body respond to stress. It does this by breaking down stored protein into glucose energy. With increased blood glucose our brain can quickly make lifesaving decisions, and our muscles can supercharge the rate in which we run away from trouble. But chronic stress with consistently high levels of cortisol depletes our reserves and wreaks havoc on our health.
Unfortunately, our modern world is a sea of stressful stimuli. Wars, crime, economic uncertainty, social discord, flesh eating bacteria, climate change, viral threats, and news alerts flood our thoughts 24/7 – not to mention work, family, and the daily management that being human requires. Given all that we know and all that we have discovered, reducing stress remains a challenge for most to achieve.
Thankfully, a class of plants known as adaptogens are here to help. One of the reasons we love introducing others to adaptogenic herbs is for their profound healing power. In order for an herb to be classified as a true adaptogen it must clearly: (1) possess stress-protective effects like anti-fatigue, anti-infection and restorative actions; (2) present stimulating effects, in the short and long term, that improve working capacity and mental performance during times of fatigue and stress; and (3) be innocuous (create no harm) or disturb the normal level of body functions, while presenting an overall normalizing influence.
One of our favorite multi-performing adaptogens is the Schisandra berry. Revered for having all five flavors at once (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and pungent), with a unique affinity for offering a balancing, whole-body stress support, Schisandra has been an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 2,000 years. Historically given to armies, athletes, and royalty to aid in sleep, digestion, endurance, and as a tonic to improve vitality and beauty, this herbal ally is now scientifically validated and administered by practitioners the world over. Adaptogens, like Schisandra berry, offer an economically affordable, sustainable (native to many different cultures), and highly effective alternative therapeutic for stress.
In times of global strife, our cortisol response is activated continuously. The tensions caused from this are systemic and the ripple effects far reaching. Children feel it and respond, strangers sense it and react, and our cells get overworked, stop performing properly, and health suffers.
Everyday let’s invest in staying present and grounded; let’s mitigate our exposure to stressful stimuli; and let’s intentionally recalibrate. Let’s do the deep belly breathing, limit time on news and social media outlets, enjoy nature, surround ourselves with people who nourish us, eat slow meals that are homemade, move the body, curtail alcohol, sugar, and caffeine – take SchisandraLa, and sleeeeeeeeep – because this world desperately needs our syncopated calm, love, empathy, brain, and brawn energy to show up in numerous ways.