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If Mama Ain’t Happy…

How does the old saying go?  “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”  Most people can relate to this statement.  But, just because you can relate, doesn’t mean you necessarily know exactly how to make mama happy.  While both genders are subject to the blues and depression now and then, women are twice as likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than men. There are a number of explanations for this including biological reasons, psychological reasons and sociocultural explanations.

Let’s start with the biological reasons.  First of all, women may have a stronger genetic predisposition to developing depression and compared to men, women are much more subjected to fluctuating hormone levels. This is especially the case around the time of childbirth and during menopause, both of which are associated with an increased risk of developing depression.

 

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There are also some psychological reasons that women are more prone to moderate to severe depression.  Women are more ruminative than men, that is, they tend to think about things more—which, though a very good thing, may also predispose them to developing depression. In contrast, men are more likely to react to difficult times with stoicicism, anger or substance misuse.  In addition, women are generally more invested in relationships than men. Relationship problems are likely to affect them more, and so they are more likely to develop depression.

Finally, there are a couple of sociocultural reasons that may explain why women tend to battle with depression more than men.  Women live longer than men. Old age is often associated with bereavement, poor health, and loneliness.  All of these can lead to depression.

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Women are also more likely to receive and accept a diagnosis of depression. For starters, they are more likely to consult a physician and to discuss their feelings with the doctor. Conversely, physicians (whether male or female) may be more likely to diagnosis depression in a woman.

So ladies, those are the unfortunate facts.  You’re more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.  However, don’t despair, your friend  AdaptoGenie is here with some herbal wisdom.  Here is a list of  3 adaptogenic herbs that help balance female hormones and assist women in preventing or dealing with depression and anxiety.

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1. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Ashwagandha is a popular herb in the Indian system of medicine Ayurveda. Ashwagandha has a balancing effect on the adrenal glands and the thyroid. People with hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are both benefited by taking Ashwagandha extract.

Ashwagandha can reduce stress, improve blood circulation, and prevent premature aging. It is considered an aphrodisiac, and is used to treat erectile dysfunction in men, but its ability to relieve stress is thought to be behind this effect. A similar effect on women is attributed to increased blood flow to the reproductive organs.

As the species name ‘somnifera’ suggests, Ashwagandha improves sleep. It has a rejuvenating effect on older people, helping them to regain physical vigor and vitality. It also improves memory.

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2. Maca root (Lepidium meyenii)

The root of this turnip-like plant belonging to the cabbage family is called Peruvian ginseng after its native place, though it is actually no relative of true ginseng. The highly nutritious root is used as a vegetable, and is consumed in the Andean cuisine. But what made it popular is its energy boosting effect that is thought to have provided strength and stamina to the Inca warriors of old.

The hormone balancing effect of this root provides additional benefits like stress relief. Maca root has plant hormones that confer special benefits to women such as relieving premenstrual syndrome and menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats.

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2. Suma root (Pfaffia paniculata)

Suma is native to South America.  The root extract of this herb is known to normalize endocrine function, improve immunity, and increase strength and performance. In its native land, Suma is known as a ‘cure all,’ and it is used for treating a large number of ailments besides being used as a general tonic and calming agent.

Suma is also known as ‘Russian Secret’ because Russian athletes used an ergogenic compound ecdysterone extracted from the Suma plant to increase sports performance. It was found to be free of the side effects associated with many other anabolic steroids. Although it remained a well kept secret of the Russians for quite some time, this compound is now used by sportspersons everywhere. Other uses of this herb includes enhancing memory, stimulating appetite, and balancing blood sugar levels.

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Whether you currently suffer from depression or have a history of depression and anxiety in your family or are just looking to generally improve your mood, adding these 3 powerful adaptogens to your daily routine will do wonders.  Look, now mama is happy and everybody is happy about that!

 

Hanging With Huang Qi

In China, where it is a native plant, astragalus is known as Huang Qi which is translated to mean “Yellow Leader.”  This title seems somewhat oxymoronic since it would be difficult to be both yellow (or cowardly) and a leader, unless you were a very poor leader, but I digress, which genies should be allowed to do.

Anyway, astragalus is an adaptogen that is a leader among tonic herbs and is anything but poor or cowardice in terms of it’s potency and benefits.  Astragalus root has been used for centuries to expel pus and relieve pain.  Chinese herbalists recommended astragalus for night sweats, asthma, coughing and diseases with chills and fevers.

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Modern uses of astragalus include preventing liver and kidney damage due to long term use of medications.  It is a known immune booster that helps prevent colds, flus, bronchitis, mononucleosis, pneumonia and other common ailments.  Astragalus has been known to improve blood flow and increase stamina.

Other benefits attributed to astragalus include increasing appetite, improving recovery from chemotherapy and as a cure for hemorrhoids.

Recent research at the UCLA AIDS Institute focused on the function of cycloastragenol in the aging process of immune cells, and its effects on the cells’ response to viral infections. It appears to increase the production of telomerase, an enzyme that mediates the replacement of short bits of DNA known as telomeres, which play a key role in cell replication, including in cancer processes.

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With such a broad array of benefits, you can easily see how astragalus received its name.  It is a leader among herbs.  The yellow part simply refers to the color of its root, but then you probably figured that out.

Adaptogens Provide Broad Mind/Body Benefits – Dr. Alison Caldwell-Andrews

You may be one of the millions of people who are looking to feel better. Perhaps you want to improve your immune system or simply get over bronchitis. Maybe you are hoping to avoid coming down with a cold this year or possibly you want to take steps now to avoid future health problems. Or, perhaps you wish you had more endurance and stamina. If you’re a runner or a biker or are hoping to schedule your next triathalon, you probably would love to find a way to increase your ability to train and get better results.

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Another category of people who are looking for help are those who would like to be less anxious, more emotionally stable or less depressed. Better quality sleep, lower blood sugar, improved liver functioning….this list of what we wish for can go on and on. The sum-up here is that most people want better health.

We know that you can’t get healthy by taking a pill.  It’s just common sense, isn’t it?  However, there are some plants that are almost as good as free health in a pill: Adaptogens.

adaptogen-pill  Adaptogens are plants that have been shown to have “non-specific” beneficial effects. What this means is that the effects are not limited to one area; multiple areas of the body will benefit from one plant. You can think if this effect somewhat like nutrition: if your cell mitochondria are fed by nutrients, your whole body will benefit. Adaptogenic plants will not only help you feel more energetic, they will usually help lift your mood, boost your immune system and provide a variety of other benefits including (and not limited to) protecting the liver and improving liver functioning, protecting the heart and improving cardiac function, protecting the brain from beta-amyloid plaques that are associated with degenerative brain disorders like Parkinson’s disease, soothing and strengthening gut tissues and functioning, and much more.

Look forward to future posts that will discuss specific adaptogens, current research, and other adaptogen-related health concepts and concerns.

 

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Dr. Alison Caldwell-Andrews is an expert contributor to the AdaptoGenie blog.  Dr. Caldwell-Andrews received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Kentucky and completed a post-doc in Mind-Body Medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine.  As a faculty member at Yale, she served as Director of Research for the Yale Perioperative Research Group, conducting clinical research and publishing 30 articles in peer-reviewed journals.

Her interest in mind-body healing began in the early 1990’s and she is a Certified Nutritional Herbalist.  She’s an active public speaker, author, conducts workshops, and consults in the areas of creating success behaviors, herbs and the mind-body connection, and science-based holistic treatment for psychiatric disorders.

Adaptogens – Centuries Old Secrets Revealed

For too long, the secret of adaptogenic herbs has been” bottled up,” so to speak.  But the time has come for a new look and a new appreciation of the power of ancient healing.  So I, the great AdaptoGenie, have emerged from centuries of concealment carrying with me secrets from the past and timely advice for the future. (No, I’m not just blowing smoke.)

So, why now?

Because I believe adaptogens may very well hold the key to restoring health and vitality to a world that presently seems destined toward disease or fated to feel bad.  But before I tell you more about the secrets I bring, permit me to start with a little history lesson.  (When you have lived as long as I have, history is kind of your thing.)

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For millennia, man (and woman) has relied on the power of plants to heal from and ward off illness.  Traditional herbal philosophies such as ayurveda from India, traditional Chinese medicine, Tibetan medicine, Greco-Arabic medicine, kampo from Japan and Native American medicine were all based on the amazing healing effects of plants.  Many of the herbs held in highest esteem within these cultures were those with the broadest benefits.  In fact, all of these traditions speak of seemingly miraculous plants with the ability to restore physical and emotional balance and harmony.  Each of these cultures shared stories about the existence of certain plants with the astonishing ability to adjust their effects based on the individual needs of the person consuming them.

In Ayurveda, there is a class of herbs called “rasayana.”   These herbs were believed to strengthen tissues and organs throughout the body.  These herbs were said to revitalize and regenerate.  They were plants that would slow down the aging process and build up one’s resistance to disease.

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Chinese herbal medicine, has for centuries, studied plants and recorded their effects on health and wellness.  The most cherished class of plants according to the Chinese philosophy is a group they labeled the Superior class.  These are herbs that can be taken in large quantities, over an extended period of time, with no risk of ill effects.  These superior plants are believed to enhance normal physiological functions rather than force a specific physical or emotional effect.

With the rise of allopathic medicine at or about the turn of the 20th century, the use of plant based remedies steadily declined and more and more health practitioners turned to synthetic drugs and surgical procedures to treat illness.  So, for more than a century now, the remarkable benefits of adaptogens have gone underutilized and unappreciated.  Well, I AdaptoGenie intend to change all of that.

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If you, or someone you know, may be interested in;

  • Increased energy
  • Stronger immunity
  • Improved performance (both athletic and sexual)
  • A more balanced mood
  • Stress management
  • Greater stamina
  • Improved digestion
  • Better sleep

then I encourage you to follow this blog and like my page @adaptogenie on Twitter or Facebook.  In the weeks to come I, and a prestigious list of guest contributors including renowned herbalists, acclaimed research scientists and knowledgeable health experts, will be sharing life changing information about adaptogens and mind body wellness. So, if you’ve been wishing for better health and vitality, I can grant that wish by giving you the power and knowledge you need to take control of your own health.

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