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Food gifts us endurance in many forms. A single recipe, for example, can be the golden thread bonding your ancestors to the here and now. Nourishment can also serve as a soothing balm to keep you going in hard times (thank you, banana bread and sunshine stew). But when stress, fatigue, and burnout push our boundaries, there is a whole class of herbs to employ that intuitively modulate these stressors and inhibit our physical form from feeling stifled—whether it be digestive troubles, brain fog, irritability, insomnia, skin issues, missing periods, and beyond. To keep your body propelling forward in grace and with aplomb, it’s worth exploring the world of adaptogens.

These corrective, tonic herbs support the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, an important crossroads in the body that connects the endocrine system, detox pathways, and the brain. Here’s a snapshot of what these glands do:

Pituitary gland: Known as the “master gland” of the hormones, it sits in the brain just behind the base of your nose. It controls everything from the oxytocin boost a mama receives when she’s breastfeeding, growth hormones for muscle and bone development, thyroid vitality, and sex hormones for activating libido and stimulating fertility 

Hypothalamus: Neighbor to the pituitary gland, the hypothalamus is in charge of monitoring overall homeostasis in the body, including the critical water to electrolyte ratio in the cells, appetite, and sleep cycles

Adrenal gland: Sitting atop your kidneys, these triangular glands secrete adrenaline and are responsible for the famed “fight-or-flight” response: raising your heart rate and spiking blood sugar in order to trigger action.


This trio works synergistically to mitigate the effects of stress—emotional, physical, acute, or chronic—and alchemize the rush of cortisol and adrenaline efficiently. Adaptogens help to neutralize the inflammation that happens when our bodies, after being regularly overloaded by toxins—synthetic fragrances in the air, the pollutants in everyday products, herbicides and pesticides sprayed on conventionally-grown food, to name a few—are then bombarded with a constant flood of these stress hormones.

To cut down on your toxic load, choose the ultimate, grounding adaptogen: ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng. A daily dose generates a subtle vitality that will foster what we’re all really after: body intelligence, or the innate ability to listen to your body and know instinctively what it needs to be turned on, alive, and in sync.



GUIDES INTUITIVE EATING | The hypothalamus controls ghrelin and leptin, the hormones that rule hunger and satiation, respectively. When the body releases cortisol and spikes blood sugar at a chronic, mismanaged pace (from an ominous deadline or navigating a stir-crazy household, for example), the thyroid and this sensitive pair of hormones can unravel. This causes your body to crave simple carbohydrates, as it looks for a quick fix to help return to homeostasis. 

This vicious cycle of sugar rush/crash/repeat is hard on the system, and cause thyroid, leptin, and ghrelin to quickly get out of whack and tack on adipose tissue around the organs. This is where ashwagandha can serve as a potent ally, stabilizing the endocrine/nervous system connection points, and modulating the stress response. This way, the body avoids the blood sugar rollercoaster and you can stop worrying about the crumble of “willpower” and mindless snacking that follows. 

A daily dose generates a subtle vitality and what we're all really after: body intelligence.

SPARKS DESIRE | Though ashwagandha is known for its restorative qualities, it also packs a zsa-zsa-zsu punch when it comes to libido. Known as an energizer and divinely formulated for sexual stamina, this botanical has been studied to significantly increase testosterone levels in men and has even been experimented with as an alternative to Viagra

GROUNDS DOWN TO RISE UP | The beauty of ashwagandha is in the subtle ways it alleviates psychosomatic stress and stabilizes mood. Along with boosting sexual desire in men and women, this adaptogen shows promise in its anti-inflammatory properties. It helps increase stores of Super Oxide Dismutase, one of the most potent antioxidants on the planet, to fight oxidative stress, as well as activates the body’s GABA levels to soothe anxiety––similar to Xanax. When paired with other important mood-boosting vitamins and phytonutrients—B vitamins in particular—ashwagandha is able to sift through the body’s alarm systems and approach stress from a place of power, instead of reactivity. 

Where To Find It: The Adaptogenic B Complex in The Foundation and Energy Protein Super Bar

Superfood Ingredients to Electrify Your Diet

Blue Spirulina: Nature’s First Protein

The Super Powers of Cacao

L-Glutamine: The Gut Rebuilder

Filed Under: Well-being, Wellbeing

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