Wellness 101: Five Healing Herbs to Know

by Kristin Henningsen

Day-to-day life responsibilities wearing you down? Work, school and home to-dos can take a toll on focus, creativity and general health and wellness. So before you throw in the towel and retreat to your Netflix safety zone (or, you know, a deserted island), call in the help of a few healing herbs to get your body and mind in the right space to crush those tasks. 

Integrating the following five adaptogenic herbs commonly found in vegan vitamins and supplements to your daily routine can help you face the day with the energy and vibrancy to take on any task.

1. Ashwagandha

The root of Withania somnifera, commonly known as Ashwagandha, has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to increase vitality. Not only does it strengthen and tone the nervous system, but it also does so without overstimulating. Perfect if you find yourself to be a bunt-out type A (or, let’s be real, type B or C) folk, and research has shown that it has potential benefits for adrenal and thyroid function.

2. Rhodiola

The rose-scented root of Rhodiola rosea has long been used as a tonic in Siberia to improve energy and focus. Studies have supported this traditional use, showing improved energy production at the cellular level. Students, athletes and night-shift workers all stand to benefit from its ability to decrease brain fog and increase physical performance.

3. Bacopa

If you’re in need of a good brain tonic, then Bacopa monnieri is for you. The leaves of Bacopa have been utilized in Ayurvedic medicine for over 3,000 years, and newer research has shown potential benefits for memory and brain health. Calming without sedating, Bacopa can be used long-term for anyone wishing to support their brain function and mental health.

4. Lion’s Mane

A wide range of mushrooms are finally getting their time in the spotlight and Hericium erinaceus has a leading role. Delicious in its own right, Lion’s Mane also has some impressive research showing it contains nerve growth factors that can support nerve regeneration and cognition. It’s become a favorite among those with damaged or frazzled nerves that need support (which, let’s be real, is most of us).

5. CBD

Last, but certainly not least, is CBD. Cannabidiol is a powerful compound found in cannabis, or hemp species, that has a wide range of benefits. Not only has research shown potential benefits for pain, but CBD also has an ability to regulate the nervous system, possibly leading to decreased anxiety and depression. Helping to engage the parasympathetic nervous system, CBD is especially helpful for those stuck in fight-or-flight mode. 

Better Yet?

Whether taken together in a supplement stack like the Day and Night formulas from FOCL, these five herbs have a wide range of physical and mental benefits. Not only can they help you complete that to-do list with more energy and vitality, but they also provide the long-term stress support we all need to navigate this world — and hopefully give us a few extra moments to enjoy it, too.

Kristin Henningsen MS, RH (AHG), RYT, is a clinical herbalist and educator who first fell in love with plants in the Southwestern desert.  She’s passionate about bringing plant medicine back to the people, integrating Western herbalism, TCM, and Ayurvedic practices to empower folks in their healthcare. Currently, she serves as faculty and clinician for the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism, and faculty for several university programs.