A good night's sleep, while fundamental to maintaining health, is not sufficient to prevent the ill effects of the sustained physical and psychological stress that many of our women patients face. The frequent activation of the body's stress response leads to a state of chronic hypervigilance, unleashing a cascade of stress hormones and other stress-mediating physiological agents that can lead to a host of health conditions — metabolic syndrome, reproductive disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, autoimmune disorders, and many others.
The adaptogens are an important therapeutic category of botanicals that can reduce not only stress-related symptoms, but prevent or mitigate the long-term effects of stress on the body, thus reducing our allostatic load. They are used to promote a sense of well-being, improve energy and stamina, reduce fatigue, improve immunity, and enhance mental concentration, and promote hormonal balance due to their regulating effects on the HPA axis. In so doing they aid the body's innate ability, when thrown off by stressors, to recover homeostatic balance or homeostasis.
Keywords: women's health – adaptogens, – stress
Aviva Romm, MD is a Board Certified Family Physician, midwife, and herbalist. An international authority on botanical and functional medicine for women and children, with 30 years of clinical experience, she is the author of 7 books on natural medicine, including Botanical Medicine for Women's Health, winner of the James A. Duke Award.
A graduate of Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Romm is a member of the Advisory Board of the Yale Integrative Medicine Program, Medical Director of the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia, and sits on the expert panel of the American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. She is an Adjunct Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Tufts School of Medicine. She can be found online at www.avivaromm.com.
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