Adaptogen Herbs and the Mind-Body-Spirit Connection
In the West, we donít have a perfect word to describe the mind-body-spirit connection. We sometimes use the terms psychospiritual and psychophysiology to express the mind-body-spirit connection. There is also psychoneuroimmunology, the study of mind-body interactions and their effects on the immune system. Mind-body and/or spiritual energy are integrated with, not separate from, our physical body, and many believe that good health includes nourishing this connection.
Several adaptogen herbs have been used to aid meditation and deliver nutrients to the mind that are necessary for the experience of enlivened consciousness. They can be used as aids to elevate the mood and spirit and to calm the mind. The following adaptogens have been used to enhance the mind-body-spirit connection: Asian ginseng, holy basil, licorice, reishi and shatavari.
- Asian ginseng calms the spirit and helps one gain wisdom. It also could be said that ginseng calms the distressed mind while strengthening the body.
- Holy basil affects the bodyís “energy field” according to Ayurvedic physician and author Dr. Vasant Lad, Holy basil opens the heart and the mind, bestowing the energy of love and devotion (bhakti).
- Licorice commonly is used as a tea by Buddhist monks and called “the peacemaker” herb by the Chinese. Licorice root tea helps calm and prepare the mind for meditation.
- Reishi generates a sense of inner calm and harmony while also heightening mental perception, both logical and intuitive.
- Shatavari is thought to foster the energy of tolerance and compassion.
Adapted from Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief by David Winston and Steven Maimes (Healing Arts Press, 2007).