We live in a society that promotes excess stress. We can easily accentuate our jobs, our responsibilities, our errands and busyness in general without taking the time to nourish and support ourselves. We know the ill-effects of stress as health headlines commonly refer to stress as underlying factors in many chronic diseases.
We can reduce stress in our lives simply. Taking time each day to breathe deeply, sit and enjoy our favorite cup of tea, and taking walks to enjoy the changing weather can go a long ways in soothing our nerves and allaying stress.
We can also turn to herbs to support us through times of stress in a variety of ways. Herbs like stinging nettle can nourish us with vital nutrients, thus helping to keep our bodies strong. Relaxing nervines like chamomile can calm and soothe our nerves. Adaptogen herbs can help support our resiliency to stress and this is the classification of herbs we'll be working with today.
Adaptogen herbs are non-toxic substances that help the body to adapt to stressful situations while also normalizing physiological states.
Of course adaptogen herbs don’t take away the stress, but they can improve our response to stress. Most adaptogens are gentle and nourishing and can be taken long term for the best results.
Many herbalists use teas and tinctures as a way of taking herbs. The following recipe explores another traditional use of herbal medicine by mixing powdered herbs into a paste that can be eaten.
But first, let’s explore the herbs we’ll be using today.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): This herb comes to us from India and is often called Indian Ginseng. A wonderful restorative tonic especially suitable for people experiencing nervous exhaustion that manifests as insomnia. This herb is slightly warming and is considered a gentle yang tonic.
Shatavri (Asparagus racemosus): Another herb from India that helps to restore energy levels in people who are wrung out and fatigued. Often used in cases of female or male infertility, this adaptogen is also very nutritive and is considered an immune system tonic.
Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus): This herb was also recently called Siberian Ginseng. It is a gentle adaptogen that is appropriate for most people. David Winston reports that he uses it often for people who “work hard, play hard and hardly sleep.” Like other adaptogens, eleuthero, supports the immune system and can be taken for extended periods of time.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra): This sweet tasting root may be the most commonly used herb in China as it’s often added to formulas as a balancer. Licorice has a multitude of uses including soothing dry spasmodic coughs, aiding digestive ulcerations, and healing cold sores. As an adaptogen it helps to regulate the immune system, improve energy levels, and restore balance to the body. It should be not be used long term for people with hypertension.
All of these herbs are gentle and can be used for most people. However, this blend is most specifically for people experiencing a deficient state of being.
Herbalist Kiva Rose describes a deficient state as:
“Deficiency occurs when the vital force has been used up or drained by illness, inappropriate lifestyle practices, substance abuse or other misuse of the energetic stores of the body. Deficiency of vital force in the body can result in fragility, weakness, chronic disease, sensations of coldness and hypoimmunity, a lack of tongue coating, lack of desire to move or participate in normal activities, and a general sense of the life force receding from the person.”
Those people who are experiencing more of an excess-type state of being tend to run hot and have a lot of energy that resembles restlessness or agitation. For these people more cooling herbs like mallow, rose, and hawthorne would be helpful.
Now that you know a little more about the herbs we are going to use today, let’s make this tasty treat.
For this recipe you will need:
1 cup of tahini (sesame paste)
1/3 cup of almond butter
½ cup of honey
½ cup of chopped almonds
½ cup of ashwagandha powder
½ cup of shatavri powder
½ cup of eleuthero powder
¼ cup of licorice powder
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
½ teaspoon of nutmeg
½ teaspoon of cardamom
½ cup of cocoa nibs (can substitute chopped chocolate chips if necessary)
1 cup of shredded coconut
You can find all of the herbs listed above at Mountain Rose Herbs
Begin by mixing all the powdered herbs together. Set them aside once they are combined well.
Over low heat gently warm the nut butters and honey, stirring constantly. The goal of this isn’t to cook the mixture but rather to warm it just enough to help mix it together.
Once it has warmed enough to form a consistent mixture remove from heat. Immediately stir in the chopped almonds followed by the herbal powder mixture. The end result should be a soft and pliable dough mixture.
After the paste has cooled down add the cocoa nibs. If added too soon the heat from the mixture could melt them.
After everything is combined, form about a tablespoon of the dough into a ball. You can then roll this ball in a bed of coconut.
These balls can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. In our house we eat one to three a day.
This recipe can easily be changed to suit your individual tastes and needs. Have fun experimenting!
If you are allergic to nuts you can use only the tahini (sesame seed butter) and omit the nut butters and nuts.
This blogpost is part of the Mountain Rose Herbs Blog Contest