Adaptogens & Nirvana | When a Headache is not just a Headache

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Adaptogens & Nirvana | When a Headache is not just a Headache

Adaptogen plants developed their unique properties from growing in inhospitable conditions and adapting to survive and thrive. How can you make use of their power for your own healing?

By Mark Zuleger-Thyss



Traditional Medicine & Indigenous Medicine

 Ayurveda is one of the world's most ancient forms of medical science. It deals with every aspect of life and aims to promote health and cure diseases that plague mankind.




Now & Forever - Wellness & Healing Shaped by the Evolution of Civilizations

Ayurveda, though, is only one of many systems. Others include traditional medicine used today in China, India, and Africa. There is Traditional Korean and ancient Iranian medicine, too.

In many African and Asian countries, up to 80% of the population trusts traditional medicine for their primary healthcare needs. When these practices are used outside its traditional culture, they are often seen as an alternative.

Traditional medicine is the collection of knowledge, skills, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences of peoples indigenous to various cultures. This know-how is applied to maintaining health and preventing, diagnosing, improving, or treating physical and mental illness.

The ancient pioneers of these traditional medicine systems recorded their concepts and practices in large bodies of literature. This knowledge is passed down from generation to generation through verbal teaching.


Rasayana is the most influential branch of Ayurveda, having been practiced for many centuries, extending beyond the reach of memory and record.

It is a systematic and scientific medical discipline of Ayurveda, wherein Rasayana medicines nurture the health of the human body, some of which are adaptogen herbs, super plants, and functional mushrooms.




What Unifies All of Us - Stress

Sadly, too many people understand so little about what a bowl of sugary cereal in the morning does to them for the rest of the day. It sets the stage for multiple rises and then crashes, one after the other.

So, when you feel the energy crash coming on, you reach for coffee or another sugar-laden snack. And the cycle continues until you try to get some sleep, but this is often dicey, too. 


Healthy, Active, Vibrant, and full of Life

The world of adaptogens offers you the exact opposite. Adaptogens are nutrient-dense, calorie-sparse, and clinically proven to support your body in many ways.

Adaptogens are nontoxic, nonspecific, and normalizing.

Nonspecific means adaptogens build adaptive energy rather than exerting a specific effect.

Normalizing means adaptogens have a bidirectional balancing effect on physiological function.

If you can imagine your body having a “vital reserve,” imagine encountering a stressor and how you could pull from this reservoir when needed to get the energy flowing again. Adaptogens help replenish your vital reserve so that when stressors arise, there is a pool of resources to draw from. This enables your body to meet and respond to the stressors efficiently and return to balance.

Adaptogens support the whole individual body rather than a specific condition. This whole-body approach aligns with the philosophies of Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese medicine.




The Science of Adaptogens

Adaptogens are a group of super plants and functional mushrooms with health benefits that help you to adapt to all kinds of stressors and situations.

Super plants are medicinal plants that have a wide range of uses, phytochemicals, and benefits. They help with energy, stress, mental function, immunity, etc.

Functional mushrooms are a subset of all that is found in the mushroom kingdom. This subset consists of approximately 700 species of mushrooms out of a domain of millions of species. Functional mushrooms have medicinal benefits, are the most complex and medicinally potent natural medicines on the planet and are also the safest.

Both super plants and functional mushrooms have been used around the world in traditional systems of medicine for thousands of years.

Adaptogens help your body’s energy to move effortlessly like a flowing river.




Defend, Perform & Restore

Adaptogens, in the form of mushrooms and herbs, are our allies. They help build our adaptive responses and our resistance to stressors, be they environmental or internal.

Many adaptogen herbs and mushrooms are used in both Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Ayurvedic medicine. Gotu Kola is a mild adaptogen herb used medicinally for thousands of years in India.

Gotu Kola is a very useful plant in the prevention of aging, and it is one of the 21 Essential Adaptogens. Further still, Gotu Kola is categorized as “Perform,” a group of adaptogens that helps your body adapt when faced with acute stressors.


Is a Headache just a Headache?

Adaptogens align more with Traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda than with Western medicine. What sets these “Eastern” forms of treatment in opposition to the Western system is two-fold.

The first central difference is in how the body is viewed. For example, are you a machine consisting of isolated parts, or are you an interconnected ecosystem? The latter is how TCM and Ayurveda view the human body.

The second difference is in the treatment approach. In Western medicine, symptoms are treated. In TCM and Ayurveda, symptoms are temporary. They express an underlying imbalance; therefore, the whole body is treated. So, the individual is treated and not the ailment.




In Western medicine, individuality is irrelevant. Your body type, and any unique characteristic, like temperament, dosha, or constitution, are irrelevant. You are a machine, and you have parts that are viewed separately from you, the human being who lives a varied and exciting lifestyle.

Your headache is just a headache, just like Bob’s and Cindy’s headaches. It does not matter what body is experiencing the headache; in Western medicine, it is simply that. You are all the same, even though you clearly are not.

As you can see, Eastern medicine disciplines view you as an individual, a fluid, whole-body, and interconnected ecosystem. An Ayurvedic doctor would look at your entire life in choosing how to treat your headache.




But it's Not about a Headache!

A Multitude of Plants, Herbs, and Mushrooms are available to heal Your Body

There are 21 Essential Adaptogens used for whole-body health. These adaptogens are further broken down into three categories: Defend, Perform, and finally, Restore.

Gotu Kola is a member of the “Perform” category. These adaptogens have much to do with the Circulatory (Cardiovascular) and Respiratory systems:


Lion’s Mane


Gotu Kola



These circulatory and respiratory adaptogens are there for when you need to perform against any acute stressors you face. 


Not about Gotu Kola, either!

Gotu Kola, also known as Indian Pennywort, has a Hindi name, Brahmi, which translates to “creative forces of the earth.” In Ayurveda, Brahmi is a general tonic or a Rasayana medicine known as a nootropic, an authentic brain herb.

The Gotu Kola leaf, shaped like a brain, balances the right and left hemispheres of the brain. It nourishes it by improving concentration, alertness, and helping our body deal with stress. 



Have a Headache? Choose Holy Basil!

In Ayurveda, holy basil is called “the incomparable one,” “mother medicine of nature,” and “the queen of herbs.”

Holy basil is an antioxidant-rich adaptogen herb providing many benefits, such as improving insomnia, easing indigestion—and relieving headaches! The active compound in holy basil is eugenol, which has been proven to improve dental health and skin conditions like acne, thanks to its antimicrobial nature.

Holy basil is also known by the name Tulsi and is a member of the “Restore” category of adaptogen herbs. These are important for stress and mood.




Summing Up Adaptogens & Eastern vs. Western Medicine

You might not appreciate being compared to Bob or Cindy or even Ted or Alice, and if you get a headache from all these comparisions, asking Bob for a Tylenol is probably the opposite of what you need.

Remember, you are vastly different from all of them!

Ayurvedic medicine and Traditional Chinese medicine are gaining popularity in the United States. This includes Acupuncture, a part of TCM. If Bob and Cindy are giving you a headache—it’s not “all in your head”—start with Acupuncture and then move on to Holy Basil, if tiny needles are not to your liking.



The use of alternative medicines and therapies has grown considerably around the world. The search for effective and safe solutions is on everybody’s mind. Now is the time to explore all these ancient and exciting options.







© 2005 – 2023, Mark Zuleger-Thyss, Garden of Healing, LLC.

The web property Garden of Healing dot com is owned and operated by Garden of Healing, LLC, all rights reserved.

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