Valerian

Valerian

As far back as I can remember when I started being interested in Botanicals (and other alternative healing practices as well) I was fascinated by how Hormones were central to our overall functioning: regulating moods, sleep cycles, temperature, even our appetite!

At first, being a woman, female hormones were the ones that interested me the most, actually, the only ones I thought existed!

Little did I know that there are many different hormones, all produced in our glands—such as our Adrenals, our Thyroid and Parathyroid glands, our Pituitary glands, as well as the female Ovaries and the male Gonads.

And the more I read/studied different writings on hormones, the more I wanted to learn what specific herbs help us overcome hormonal issues.

Hormones are grouped under the Human System known as the Endocrine System.
They are also directly connected to the Nervous System, and together they are often referred to as the Neuro-Endocrine System.

Both are controlled by the Hypothalamus in our brain.

Huge area, this Hypothalamus! And it has everything to do with long term, chronic conditions, as well as our everyday patterns like temperature, appetite, moods, and much more.

So what exactly are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are Herbs that help our bodies adapt to stress, by boosting up our Immune and Adrenal Systems.

The female Ovaries produce Estrogen and Progesterone Hormones.
The male Testes produce the Testosterone Hormone.

Other glands and organs release additional hormones such as Serotonin, insulin and Cortisol—powerful chemicals that “travel through our system to help regulate various functions and influence our mood, our energy levels, and our feelings of well being”.(Andrew Weil, MD, Medicinal Herbs)

Without going into the details of this incredible system, I must say that there is no doubt: if our Adrenals and all our other glands are off balance, everything else will be out of balance too, especially our moods, our emotions and our mental conditions!

Thankfully, there are wonderful Botanicals that can help bring our Adrenal System back to balance.

My most beloved Adrenal Support Herbs are:

  • Stimulants (help tonify the Adrenals): Licorice, Borage, Ginseng, Siberian Ginseng (known also as Eleuthero), Rosemary, Thyme, Vervain, Angelica, and Hops.

All of these botanicals can strongly influence the Adrenal System, strengthen it and improve it, as well as relax it/tone it down– if the Adrenals are over stimulated.

Within the general category of Adrenal Support Herbs, we can also include specific herbs for specific hormones belonging in this entire System.

There are, for instance, Hormones that work specifically for the Reproductive System, such as

  • Estrogen stimulants: Black Cohosh,, Wild Yam, Angelica
  • Estrogen inhibitors: Alfalfa, Red Clover, Hops flower

Or for Blood Sugar regulation:

  • Insulin Stimulants: Artichoke leaf, Fenugreek, Eleuthero root (SiberianGinseng), Nettles
  • Insulin Inhibitors: Angelica root, Devil’s Club, Blessed Thistle

Or for Stess, and Memory (often affected by Stress):

  • Passion Flower, Skullcap—two of my favorites when I can’t settle down and relax!
  • There is also Valeriana, but that is a bit of a heavier sedative, and I only take it when all else has failed.

What I usually do when needing to deal with my Adrenal system (which happens quite often!) is as follows:

I make a mixture of some of the above herbs—some to take during the day, and some at night before going to bed. I truly would not like to take strong herbs that will not only calm me down but put me to sleep when I have a lot of business to accomplish!!

As a general rule, I would take Passion Flower, mixed with some Skullcap and a good bit of Eleuthero, and also with some other herbs not mentioned as they are quite common, like Lemon Balm, or Lavender, or Chamomile, either as a tea, or as a tincture.

We will talk about making our own tinctures in a following blog, but for the time being there are a lot of herbalists who make such mixtures. If you have questions and need to find such a tincture, do send me an email and I will help you find it!

If you wish to take something before bed time, I would then add some Valeriana to Chamomile and Skullcap, as Valeriana is a definite “put me to sleep” botanical!

There is so much more to talk about regarding Adaptogens! But for now, let me know if you have any questions, I will be more than happy to answer you.

Charoula

If you have questions on any of the above herbs and their use, please contact me:

Ask Charoula about Herbs

All answers are posted on our website E-Wellness.com, on the following Friday.

Thanks for reading!

Charoula Dontopoulos
Certified Herbalist
Holistic Health Advisor
BC Polarity Therapy Practitioner


Questions and Answers

 

Q: Wow, so many herbs, so many different uses! I live with a lot of stress all the time, and these herbs might really help me. So, more specifically, I happen to have a wild growing vine at the edge of my property. It is a beautiful vine, and for a long time I wondered what it was, so I looked up at a lot of photos online and identified it as Hops. So can I go and collect a bunch of the flowers and make a tea of it?

A: How lucky you are!! Yes, you can collect Hops flowers, but I would allow a good period of a week or so to get them dried, because as the herb (any herb) dries, the strength of it gets more concentrated. So
you will get more of its power if it is dried, in a smaller amount. Then I would use a good spoonful and simmer it in a pot—a handful of flowers in a couple of cups of water. Let it simmer slowly for half an hour, then cool down a while, and drink it—but only very little during the day, and more of it right before going to sleep. Let me know how it works!

Q: It seems to me that too much stress –which we all live with all the time—is, as you indicated, harmful to our system. So why would I need “Stimulants” –- wouldn’t stimulants –any of them – aggravate a situation?

A: Not if we take herbs like Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng) for instance—a strong herb, yes– not as strong as true Ginseng, by the way– but one that replenishes the Adrenals without adding stress to the system. One only gets mild stimulation from Eleuthero, just enough to elevate our ability to function – I love that herb!!!

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Please do consult your Holistic Health Practitioner, and most importantly your Herbalist before you use any herb, whether as a tincture, a tea, or a standardized extract.  Herbs are powerful!!!

 

I would love to hear more of your questions on any of our blogs, and specifically on any Issues you are wondering about!  Thanks for sending in your questions!

Ask Charoula about Herbs

Charoula