Thursday 13 December 2018

The thing is... your 30-second guide to everything: Adaptogens

Gwyneth Paltrow
Gwyneth Paltrow

Emily Hourican

What: There are many - ginseng, ashwaganda, holy basil, schisandra, maca, liquorice root - and they are nature's catch-alls, meaning they will do whatever it is that you need them to do. The 'science' bit is that the plants themselves adapt to difficult growing environments, and, when consumed by us, can transfer these properties of resilience and strength to wherever we need them to go, combating stress, tiredness, bad sleep, bad skin, bad moods - all of the modern ills.

Why: If you have to ask, you clearly have no need for them.

Why Now: Because it's that time of year when we look for something to kick-start us; because we can't remember what the sun looks like; because so many of us are beset by stress, exhaustion, poor sleep, grotty skin and generally feeling miserable, and we don't want drugs, so we try plants and herbs.

How: The real question is probably Which - as in, which of these to try? And this is the beauty of the adaptogen - pick whichever one you want, and let it do the work. Let it burrow into you and decide whether you need to be picked up, slowed down, energised, motivated, or a subtle combination of all of the above. The adaptogen, apparently, will do this. Like one of those perfumes that smells different on everyone because it reacts with your skin's pH. The adaptogen will diagnose, and treat, just like the world's most intuitive doctor.

Who: All our favourite folk, really: herbalists, naturopaths, Ayurvedics, Gywneth Paltrow, Donna Karan; the stressed and tired who feel they have been let down by modern life and modern medicine.

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