2020 is an extreme challenge - that’s something we can all agree on. So many intense things beyond our control happening at once have put us all in a near-constant state of worry and anxiety.
When I moved Swan Dive online (thanks, Covid) I decided to expand a little past vintage clothing and bring on some feel good stuff to help with the stress we’re all feeling. Now Swan Dive has little luxuries - perfume, body care, that kind of stuff. But we also carry natural remedies for health and protection, like blends of nourishing herbs for mind and body, as well as flower essences and homeopathics for chilling out.
As I sit here in my apartment surrounded by an epic, apocalyptic blanket of smoke from the wildfires consuming the West Coast I decided to do a little research on herbs for smoke inhalation and it turns out that the delish powdered herbal blend, Balance My Stress, from local maker Peak and Valley contain two of the most potent ones.
Reishi mushroom: I spent a lot of years as an herbalist and I have come away from that time with a very clear idea about mushrooms: they work. Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum), also known as the “mushroom of immortality” is one of the superstars of the fungal universe. It helps fight cancer, boosts the immune system, sharpens the mind, fights depression, soothes stress and for our purposes today: protects the lungs.
Ashwagandha: There are some herbs that have been used for a millenia and ashwagandha is one of them. It’s been prized by Ayurveda, India’s ancient system of healing, for at least 3,000 years and used to increase the body’s strength in times of weakness. In modern herbalism it’s used for stress relief, sleep disruption due to stress, blood sugar balancing, cholesterol reduction, lowering high cortisol levels and a host of other things that ail us these days. Take this herb when you feel the need for some gentle fortification against the world.
Reishi and ashwagandha are considered adaptogens, meaning an herb that nourishes and supports the systems of the body that respond to stress, like the nervous system and adrenal glands in charge of the fight or flight mechanism. They are also referred to as “tonic” herbs because they tonify or increase the available energy to the system that needs it most.
Adaptogens are not magic bullets, they work best over time, gently coaxing the body’s imbalance back into homeostasis. I find adding a blend that contains these herbs, like Balance My Stress from Peak and Valley, into my once or twice daily smoothie to be the best way to integrate them into my life. This blend also tastes great when mixed with the hot milk of your choice for a lovely mug of comfort.