Photo of Ashwagandha root powder by americanspice.com via flickr
I’m caught between a rock and a hard place as far as personal health goes. I try to do the all-natural, herbal, holistic things as often as possible, but I’ve also been dealt a lot of really severe illnesses and injuries that required medical intervention. Medicine has its place but while I was in college, I got MRSA and subsequently had to be on antibiotics for a year and a half. Suffice it to say my overall health suffered and I looked to my naturalist friends for some advice. Without veering dangerously into infomercial-miracle-cure-land, I thought I’d share my most useful finds.
Ashwagandha is a thing I’d never heard of before I went to a naturopath. Not surprisingly, being a struggling college student with a part-time job, a serious infectious disease and finals looming over my head, I was pretty stressed out. On top of that, I figured it was totally normal and didn’t think anything of it until my naturopath mentioned that stress severely impairs your immune system and that I wasn’t doing myself any favors by trying to beat an infection while I was anxious to the point of tears on a daily basis. Enter this little herb, which had been shown in one study to reduce the actual cortisol levels in the users. All I’m saying is, in my struggle for overall health, I found ashwagandha to give my immune system a big boost by reducing my experiential stress. Go figure, right?
At least in this case, my immune system was a big problem. In general, it helps to keep your systems healthy to begin with and if we were eating a Mother Nature-type diet we’d get all kinds of nutrients we don’t actually get in our everyday lives. Turns out oil of oregano is a powerful antioxidant and antibiotic when used as a tincture. I’m not gonna say it wasn’t really gross to take as a supplement, but it wasn’t as gross as real antibiotics. Trade off. It’s also really easy to get your hands on and if you’re looking for a little immune boost it can be added to your food.
Nothing beats back colds, flus, infections and general ailments like a good night’s sleep. There are a lot of suggestions for this, but I’ve found valerian root to be the best for me. You can get it at Trader Joe’s or some local health store and it’s a gentle herbal tea that helps you sleep better. For me, given the aforementioned stress, this is a big helping hand in recovering from an illness or injury with lots of restful sleep.
Kidding, I just really love wine.