herbalism

ADAPTING BETTER: A CLINICAL HERBALIST'S TAKE ON THE ADAPTOGENIC TREND & CBD

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There is a direct correlation between my age and my appreciation of ziplock bags. What began as a love for cinnamon in my coffee, a mistrust of airport Starbucks’ stevia supplies, and a subscription to the goop newsletter has led me to my current state: a ziplock-touting woman of lypospheric vitamin C packs, mushroom coffee sachets, and ashwaganda drops. 

I know who I am. I don’t, however, know how these highly-buzzed-about adaptogens actually work in the body, or in conjunction with my CBD regime. 

I sat down with Holistic Health Practitioner, Clinical Herbalist, and Supernatural Cafefounder Rachelle Robinett to get answers. She’s dedicated 5+ years helping people release stress, ease anxiety, and optimize their digestion, energy, hormones, weight, and sleep. Here’s her take on the adaptogenic rush, and how CBD fits into it. 

Rachelle, we’re seeing adaptogens everywhere these days. What are they and what can they do for us?

Glad you asked! Adaptogens have become such a buzz-word recently – people are consuming them without understanding how they work and then feeling underwhelmed by the results, so it's so important to clarify. 

I teach entire courses on this topic - but here’s the quick and dirty. 

“Adaptogen” is a term that was coined in the 1960s during a study of some specific herbs; Siberian Ginseng (Eleuthero), Rhodiola, and Ashwaganda are the standouts. 

Adaptogens are just one classification of herbs. There are so many others, and the definition of an adaptogen is that it’s nonspecific, nontoxic at therapeutic doses, and normalizing. 

The nonspecific and normalizing points are important for people to understand, because it means adaptogens cannot be directed at a specific sort of result or symptom the way many people try to use them these days. 

Adaptogens balance the body in a more general way, helping to return our systems to a sort of homeostasis. Adaptogens are not necessarily going to push you beyond “normal.” Other herbs definitely can and do (caffeine, sedatives, antidepressants) but adaptogens are for returning to balance. If you’re looking for something with a more immediate or “punchy” effect - something that's going to calm you down or rev you up beyond your “normal,” you need an herb that is more specific than an adaptogen. Balancing the body is great, but I think people need to consider if that’s what they’re after, or if they’re trying to push beyond that

I also have to call this out: “adaptogens” is not a synonym for “herbs.” There are so many classifications of herbs beyond adaptogens. We just happen to have some very good marketing behind the adaptogens right now, which is why many folks think this category is the main medicine or miracle cure.  

Studies are showing that CBD balances the endocannabinoid system. Sounds similar to what you just described! Does this mean CBD is an adaptogen?

Even though CBD has similar benefits as adaptogens, I’m not going to be the one to classify it as such. I’d also like to point out that CBD is not an herb - it’s a specific molecule of the hemp or cannabis plant. A lot of CBD on the market today is CBD isolate. 

When it comes to CBD, I’m an advocate for full-spectrum extracts like Juna NUDE, which are going to contain the range of terpenes, phytocannabinoids, and flavonoids found in the whole hemp or cannabis plant that enhance the overall effectiveness of your CBD than if you took it in isolated form.

Can you give us some herb + CBD pairings for some of the conditions your treat most?

Anxiety: Lavender is my absolute favorite for anxiety. It's a nervine herb and contains the terpenes linalool and nerolidol, which play well with CBD in reducing pain (often a source of anxiety for clients), inflammation caused by chronic stress, and relaxing without being too sedative. Lavender lemonade with the botanical touch of Juna NUDE drops would be perfect. 

I love that lavender shares a lot of the terpenes with cannabis. This is a tangent, but it's a very cool conversation to explore the terpenes that are in other plants and that effect the endocannabinoid system as well. Terpenes are one of the most abundant compounds in nature, and as we see cannabis evolve, I think we will see more attention around terpenes for customizing therapies.

Energy: At a low dose, for some people, CBD can actually act as a stimulant. Some of my other favorite energy herbs are matcha, rhodiola, and medicinal mushrooms for endurance. Gingko, bacopa, and ginseng for brain health and mental clarity. The ginsengs often work best if you're a little later in life. 

Rosemary is also fabulous and contains BCP,  a terpene that can increase the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD. Rosemary + CBD to restore after intense exercise or hike can be a beautiful combination.

PMS: The plants that can work for PMS symptoms are pretty wide-ranging depending on what the PMS symptoms are. I definitely work a lot with diet and neurotransmitter balance (specifically serotonin), which can be affected prior to our cycles and cause a lot of cravings.

CBD + Phytoestrogens like red clover, milk thistle, and chaste can be so balancing. Add raspberry leaf and you have a powerhouse combination for cramps. Juna NUDE drops mixed with honey, then whisked into my Supernatural’s For Her tea is a favorite. 

Cacao, a central ingredient in everything from my breakfast to desserts, is awesome when you're craving chocolate or carbs, or maybe need some extra magnesium.

Maca powder works on the endocrine system that can help overall hormone balance, which includes sex hormones and stress hormones both. This, in turn, can be helpful for our mood, motivation, and raising our libido. 

Sleep: I find that CBD is really helpful for some folks’ sleep, and not for others. If it’s not helping with sleep, then we have lots of sedative herbs to do that job (chamomile, California poppy, hops, valerian - the list is long). If CBD is helpful, then a little nightcap of passionflower tea or tincture plus poppy or valerian and CBD drops could be a very reliable sleep-maker . 

We know that CBD can take about five days of consistent use to really feel the best results, is it the same for most of the combinations that you recommend? 

Super cool question. Some herbs are meant to be used long-term before you feel the effects and other herbs can be felt right away. I like to mix both of those into people's lives so that they have this sort of foundational support, and then they also have a “spot treatment” or go-tos when they need an immediate fix

For example, I may someone ashwagandha for long-term use (especially if their cortisol levels are really high and it’s causing over-reactivity). And, I'll also bring in some nervine herbs like skullcap or lavender to calm things down on the spot. My HRBLS are designed exactly that way: for long-term support and also immediate anxiety relief. 

Some of the herbs I have in my HRBL gummies are designed to work right on the spot, so you can quell the nerves and anxiety. But know that long term, you're also helping your system be better adapted to the stress. 

Above all, it’s important to realize that even with all of our stress-busting and sleep-inducing, energy supportive herbs, we are sensitive, variable human organisms. We are going to thrive by remedying unhealthy situations and addressing causes of illness or imbalance, rather than attempting to medicate every symptom. 

I hope that was helpful! Thank you so much for giving natural medicine a platform Let's keep it going. Thanks so much.

This article appears originally at juna, here.

Rachelle's Take on Happiness Boosting Supplements | for Well+Good

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… “These are all exciting products, but herbalist and certified holistic health coach Rachelle Robinett wants people to keep things in perspective. “If only we could stop looking for our magic bullet,” she says. “Something I always tell people is that if they are going to spend all their money on herbs or supplements, their diet and lifestyle need to be in a good place. You have to check those boxes first,” she says.

“There also many potential reasons why a person could be unhappy, Robinett says—undiagnosed health conditions like gut or hormonal imbalances, mental health issues, external stimuli, etc. Herbs can only help with some of those conditions, and certain underlying conditions require more help from a trusted practitioner. “This is why it’s important to work with a trained professional if you are truly hoping to change your mood using herbs,” she says. She adds that some herbs, like St. John’s wort, can also interfere with prescription meds, so it’s important to fill your doctor in, too.

“That’s not to say that Robinett thinks the above-mentioned products have no purpose—au contraire! But it’s about understanding that they can be one aspect of an overall healthy lifestyle, not a quick fix. And be patient about seeing results. For example, adaptogens can take up to eight to 10 weeks of daily dosage to truly take effect, she says. “If you do plan on using a product in this way, it’s especially important to look into the sourcing of their herbs, especially with supplements,” she says. With patience, you might see a little extra joy in your future, too.”

Read the full story, here.

VIDEO: Mood-Boosting Snack Delivers Happiness in Every Bite | Plant Based on YouTube

Snacking should make you feel good. (Take that, sugar crash!) But what if I told you that you could make your 3 p.m. snack break even better with a treat that can literally improve your mood in just one bite? Intrigued, right?

In the latest episode of Plant Based, herbalist, health coach, and Supernatural founder Rachelle Robinett shares her recipe for “Dopamine Bliss Balls,” (a.k.a. souped up energy balls) which she says are the perfect pick-me-up for any time you’re feeling a bit sluggish.

The main ingredient in these bliss balls is mucuna pruriens, a.k.a. the “dopamine bean,” which is a legume native to tropical Asia and Africa. They’re dark brown and covered with stiff hairs that contain serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes calmness and satisfaction, Robinett explains. The plant is a staple in Ayurvedic medicine, and has been touted as a possible way to help manage depression.

Once dried and ground, the bean produces a powder that contains L-dopa, a direct precursor to dopamine. This helps our bodies naturally produce dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter that the brain releases when you’re happy.

“It can raise your mood a little bit, it can give us a little bit of energy,” Robinett says of mucuna pruriens benefits. “But it feels quite different than caffeine—it’s not quite as high and, for some people, mucuna pruriens can actually help with sleep.” Translation: It can be as good for a bedtime snack as it is in the afternoon.

Thankfully, it’s not super hard to reap mucuna pruriens benefits. You can buy the powder online (SunPotion makes it, as does Banyan Botanicals) or at your favorite health food store. Then, use it to make Robinett’s Dopamine Bliss Balls—which you can get if you watch the full video above. You’re that much closer to a happy-making snack.