Adaptogens are herbs and roots that are believed to help the body handle and adapt to stress. Used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, these power players can still play an important role in our modern day cycles. With the power to balance hormones and ease our bodies through the month, we wanted to share a helpful how-to guide for each phase of your cycle so you can achieve optimal balance.
Phase 1: Menstruation
Chaga: Thanks to Chaga’s antioxidant property of Superoxide Dismutase (SOD), this adaptogen helps to detox the liver by neutralizing free radicals and reducing inflammation. When your liver is not detoxing correctly, hormones such as estrogen can build up and cause PMS symptoms to worsen. Chaga also activates blood cells that destroy foreign substances and fight infection, boosting your immune system in the process.
Reishi: If your nervous system is overworked during menstruation you may experience sleeplessness, irritability, anxiety, and heightened emotions. Reishi is an immune system tonic that improves the endocrine system by assisting the function of our parasympathetic nervous system. Regulating the parasympathetic nervous system is paramount to our ability to relax and sleep.
Phase 2: Follicular Stage
Holy Basil: Our bodies are preparing for pregnancy in this phase, which means estrogen is up and your body is bursting with feelings of vitality. Holy basil supports this phase by balancing the body and supporting overall health and energy. It is an adaptogen that boosts immunity and regulates blood sugar, while fostering a sense of well-being.
Phase 3: Ovulation
Cordyceps: Many think of ovulation as a high energy phase, which is true but really that’s mainly internal. With the release of an egg, your melatonin and cortisol levels drop which can have a negative impact on your sleep. Cordyceps can help to alleviate fatigue and restore energy during this phase.
Phase 4: Luteal Phase
He Shou Wu: The iron and zinc components of He Shou Wu make it a go-to for strengthening nerve function, enhancing memory function, and improving circulation. He Shou Wu strengthens the membranes of red blood cells and has been shown to prevent excessive blood clumping during menstruation. He Shou Wu is ideal as a post-menstruation adaptogen because it improves blood flow and helps rebuild blood levels.
The key to adding adaptogens to your routine is to understand that, like most things, they work a bit differently for everyone. Trial periods, patience, and note-taking on what works and what doesn’t will help you eventually find the best adaptogens for you and your cycle.
Written by Kirsten Judson