Vitality. It’s a feeling of stamina, strength, energy, and resilience that gives us an overall sense of well-being – and the inner reserves needed to meet life’s neverending challenges.
More than the spring in your step or the sparkle in your eyes, vitality is a reflection of our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. When we have high levels of vitality we experience greater focus, confidence, and creativity in our lives, and we’re generally able to get more accomplished.
Research has shown that vibrant, energetic individuals have a more robust immune system and are less prone to infections and chronic illnesses.1,2 Vitality plays a crucial role in immune resilience by providing our bodies with the energy and resources necessary to support optimal immune function.
So how can we cultivate this seemingly magical state, that is so, well, vital, to helping us reach our full potential? Adaptogenic herbs – along with lifestyle changes – can help you restore and maintain a greater sense of vitality, and add to your general enjoyment of life.
Adaptogens and Adaptogenic Herbs
Adaptogens, a class of botanicals and medicinal mushrooms, have been used for centuries in traditional healing systems such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). These medicinal plants possess properties that help the body adapt to physical, emotional, and environmental stressors – thus promoting balance and vitality.
Examples of some well-known adaptogens include ginseng, schisandra, reishi mushroom, astragalus, and eleuthero. Astragalus membranaceus (Huang Qi), for example, is an adaptogen known for its microbial balancing, antioxidant, and tonifying properties. Eleutherococcus senticosus (Ci Wu Jia), sometimes referred to as the “king of adaptogens,” is recognized for its potent antioxidant and immune balancing properties.
Modern science has begun to uncover the bioactive compounds present in adaptogens that are responsible for their health-promoting effects. Research has shown the potential of adaptogens to affect physical performance, relieve anxiety and depression, improve cognitive function, and assist in recovering from various ailments.3,4 The mechanisms of action involve modulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and sympathetic nervous system, helping to regulate cortisol levels and the stress response.
Like adaptogens, many Chinese herbs possess adaptogenic properties. They help restore balance in the body by nourishing and tonifying the vital organs, improving blood circulation, and supporting the immune system. These herbs are known for their ability to increase stamina, combat fatigue, improve sleep quality, and enhance cognitive function.Chinese herbs have been used for over 2,000 years to restore and maintain health. These herbs work synergistically, addressing the imbalances within the body's intricate systems to promote vitality and overall well-being.
Examples of Chinese herbs with adaptogenic qualities include Fo-Ti - Polygonum multiflorum (He Shou Wu), noted for its antioxidant and nervous system support; and Peony – Paeonia lactiflora (Bai Shao) – noted for its tonifying support for mood, cognition, and healthy inflammatory balance.
In addition to adaptogenic botanicals and Chinese herbs, some key strategies for cultivating vitality include:
- Exercise regularly - Regular exercise helps to improve circulation, boost energy levels, and increase stamina. Aim to incorporate at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise into your daily routine, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming.
- Follow a healthy diet - A balanced diet rich in whole foods, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats can provide the nutrients necessary for optimal health and vitality. Limit processed foods, sugar, and simple carbohydrates that can cause energy slumps.
- Get adequate sleep - Adequate sleep is essential for restoring energy levels and promoting healing. Aim to get 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.
- Manage stress - Chronic stress can deplete our energy reserves, leading to physical and mental fatigue. Engage in stress-reducing activities such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or spending time in nature.
- Practice gratitude - Gratitude is a powerful way to shift our focus away from negative thoughts and emotions that can ultimately deplete our energy. Take time each day to reflect on things in your life that bring you joy and gratitude.
- Connect with nature - Spending time in nature can provide numerous benefits, including lifting your mood, reducing stress, and promoting overall well-being.
- Cultivate positive relationships - Our relationships can have a profound impact on our energy and vitality. Connect with people who make you feel happy and supported.
Implementing these lifestyle strategies can be an empowering first step toward living life with greater vitality. Adaptogens – in the form of supplements, teas, and tinctures – can move you closer to your goal, helping you restore and maintain a sense of vitality so you can live your best life.