Class Dates: July 9, July 16, July 23, July 30
Week 1: ADAPTOGENS, HERBS FOR STRENGTH, STAMINA AND STRESS RELIEF
In our modern world, we live incredibly busy and stress-filled lives. Chronic stress and the resultant elevation of stress hormones such as cortisol have been shown to be an initiator and cofactor for much of our chronic degenerative disease. In addition to stress reduction techniques, healthy relationships, a good diet, and adequate sleep, another important method for reducing stress and enhancing health is the use of adaptogenic herbs. In this class, we discuss the definition of adaptogens, what is and is not an adaptogen, how these herbs work, the rational and effective clinical use of the different adaptogenic herbs, and the unique qualities of each herb. Adaptogens are not a one size fits all therapy. There are stimulating adaptogens, calming adaptogens, warming or cooling adaptogens, nourishing adaptogens, and moistening or drying adaptogens. Knowing their unique qualities allows the practitioner to more effectively utilize these herbs and get better clinical results. The appropriate use of these botanicals can improve endocrine, nervous system, immune, reproductive, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular function and promote increased mental and physical well-being.
Week 2: NERVINES, BUILDING A BETTER FOUNDATION FOR THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
We thought that our lives were stressful, but for many of us in this “new world” the level of daily stress, fear, anxiety, depression and insomnia has increased exponentially. The majority of Americans already did not get adequate or good quality sleep and experienced regular emotional and physical stressors. The world has changed and some of us are struggling to find our emotional balance amidst great uncertainty and turmoil. While sleep, good nutrition and stress reduction techniques are important for more effectively dealing with acute and chronic stress, so are an underutilized category of herbs, the nervines. Nervines are nervous system tonics, they are not sedatives. They help restore our emotional foundations, help resolve anxiety, improve sleep quality, decrease emotional lability, calm our minds and are essential along with adaptogens for relieving the negative effects of the emotional rollercoaster we all seem to be riding. In this class, we will explore the most effective nervine herbs and their specific uses and indications.
Week 3: RESTORATIVE AND NUTRITIVE TONICS
In every herbal tradition, there are herbs used to help prevent illness, restore overall health and tonify the body. In Ayurveda they are known rasayanas, in TCM kidney yang tonics, Qi tonics or blood (xue) tonics and in the west, they often get lumped into the category of adaptogens. The problem with calling them adaptogens, is that many of these herbs such as Amla fruit, Astragalus, Nettle Seed, Goji Berry, Sea Buckthorn or Processed Rehmannia do not fit the definition of an adaptogen, so what are they? I propose calling these profoundly useful herbs restorative tonics. In this class, we will discuss the difference between restorative tonics and adaptogens, the benefits of restorative tonics, the restorative tonic materia medica, as well as nutritive tonics which are mineral or nutrient-rich herbs (Nettle leaf, Alfalfa, Beets, Horsetail, Dandelion leaf, etc) that enhance bone density, improve the integrity of the skin, hair, nails and teeth, and provide easily absorbable magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, iodine, potassium and other essential nutrients.
Week 4: HERBAL NOOTROPICS: BOTANICALS FOR ENHANCING MEMORY, FOCUS AND CONCENTRATION
Having a senior moment? Word recall not quite what it was? Experiencing brain fog? Our minds, our memories, our thoughts and our creativity are inseparable from our brain function. Age, illness, stress, lack of sleep, medications and other issues can impair our thought processes, increase neuro-inflammation and decrease memory, focus, concentration and cerebral circulation. One answer to this worrisome problem is the use of Nootropics. These are substances that are neuroprotective, increase cerebral perfusion and improve memory, focus and concentration. There are nootropic drugs (many which have a short history of use and a dubious record of safety), nootropic nutritional supplements (which have an uneven record of efficacy) and herbal nootropics, which have a long history of both safety and efficacy. These herbs which are known in Ayurveda as Medhya Rasayana’s act as brain tonics, antidepressants, anxiolytics and cerebral anti-inflammatories, not only improving our memories today but possibly preventing age-related cognitive decline as we age.