Anxiety is probably the biggest social epidemic of our time and the statistics on this alone are enough to cause a spike in our stress hormones! Ultimately, most of us have become addicted to these same stress hormones, and fast-paced modern lifestyle keeps the dopamine tank fueled as we navigate the fine line between excitement and stress. Did you know that the average duration of a movie clip has reduced from twelve seconds to two and a half seconds in almost one-hundred years of filmmaking? Compared to our ancestors who spent most of the time staring at nature and running from occasional predators, it is not surprising that our nervous systems are feeling overwhelmed and frazzled. Everything that we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch is processed by our nervous systems. As described in The Vedas, this energy is known as prana, and yes, this is what makes us feel alive! This stimulation, just like that third cup of coffee or that social media scrolling, can very easily push us towards anxiety. Put simply, we have become enslaved to our insatiable minds, and the constant movement of thoughts within it, especially if they invoke fear and worry.
The Pandemic catapulted and spotlighted anxiety, and since we are social beings, it moved through us like a tsunami as if the fear itself was contagious. Experts on The Polyvagal Theory will tell you that fear is indeed contagious because humans have the capacity to either co-regulate or dysregulate the nervous systems of the people we are around. Ayurveda likens anxiety to the wind and ether (Vata Dosha) in that it is inherently fast, dry, cold, mobile, light, erratic, and subtle in both its nature, and similarly, in our bodies. It is a very destructive force within our physiology and biochemistry and is experienced in every single cell and literally robs our life force as it disrupts our natural prana. The nature of wind is calmed by adding in practices which bring stability and the grounding quality of the earth element just like a stand of trees can shelter us from the wind. This includes herbs which are warming, lubricating, and nurture the microbiome of the enteric nervous system within our gut to create a resilient biochemistry from feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters and short-chain fatty acids. It is our natural state.
Our herbal allies can assist us in our journey to return to this state of homeostasis by multiple ways. Some herbs directly feed, and increase, the helpful friendly bacteria which create a shift in our biochemistry. These belong to a new category of herbs called Phyto-biotics and to date these include Turmeric, Ashwagandha, Schisandra, Reishi, Lion’s Mane, and Ginkgo polyphenols.*
Other herbs have been used for hundreds of years for their “nervine” activity – especially those which have a relaxant effect upon the nervous system.* Examples include Ashwagandha, Valerian, Lemon Balm, California Poppy, Kava, Hops, Chamomile, Lavender, and Passionflower. Some even nourish or tone the tissue of the nervous system including Milky Oats and Skullcap.*
In recent years adaptogens have become the leading stars of herbal supplements and do their magic within the interface of the endocrine, immune and the nervous systems. These herbal multi-taskers help our bodies own ability to return to homeostasis after stress, and include Ashwagandha, Reishi, Cordyceps, and Eleuthero.* Interestingly, many of the herbs in this category are polysaccharide-rich roots, which literally teaches us that if we withdraw our senses and stay grounded, we can cultivate the sweetness and harmony of life.
In-house Ayurvedic Health Coach & Herbalist
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.