A certain degree of stress can be a motivator that results in high/higher achievements. A driving force that pushes individuals to maximise their potential, push sales, pass exams, sail through an interview or presentation and close a deal. That allows one to surpass their own expectations of the physical demands of a marathon, a training session or even a workout.
Stress can be a friend that gives one that much needed kick in the proverbial buttocks. That gives one the edge over their fellow competitor(s) or peers. Yet in excess it can wreak havoc with your health!
Elevated cortisol levels and chronic stress can affect every physiological system in your body including your thyroid and adrenal glands. The latter can start to deplete which raises prolactin levels, increasing the body’s sensitivity to pain.
Excessive cortisol can:
- Exacerbate anxiety and irritability
- Lead to weight gain particularly around the midriff
- Contribute to diabetes and heart disease risk
- Diminish energy levels
- Hypersensitize the brain to pain which lends itself to headaches
- Cause sleep deprivation and fatigue
- Weaken your immune system
- Disturb your gastrointestinal system which may lead to heartburn, nausea, abdominal cramps etc.
Besides it is widely known as the ageing hormone and there is no fountain of youth big enough to reverse or combat those effects!
Now let me introduce you to a friend of ours – Ashwagandha – in Sanskrit it means “the smell of a horse” to imply the vigour and strength of a stallion that the herb imparts. Charming! Would that catch on as a new cologne? I digress…..
Nonetheless, this is one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic healing and has been in existence for centuries in Eastern medicine. Traditionally prescribed to strengthen immune systems post illnesses.
A shrub, with the roots being the part most often ingested this powerhouse was originally native to the dry regions of India, North Africa and the Middle East. Nowadays, it has been acclimatised to be grown in milder climates such as the USA.
A member of the illustrious Adaptogons family – a class of herbs which help to protect the body against the effects of toxic stress due to their chemical composition of amino acids, fatty acids, choline, alkaloids and withanolides – some studies reveal a modification in cortisol levels and a balancing effect on glutamate – neurological system.
In tincture or powder form Ashwagandha can be slightly bitter hence many mix it in a smoothie – we have a few you could experiment with or with almond milk and honey. It is powerful but slow-acting so do not expect overnight results. After all Rome was not built in a day!