The TOP HERBS to manage STRESS (and save your hair)


Stress is a killer. Deep down we all know it.


And for those of us it doesn’t kill right away, it will first take away our sanity and later our skin and hair health. It is one of the most frequent questions or complaints we see on our socials: how to mitigate or reverse hair loss due to stress. We’ve all heard the advice from the experts: try deep breathing, these yoga poses, that sound bath, get into nature. While have always been for these and other common sense strategies we need to also examine our diet closely and take a look at which supplements we are taking, if any. 


The more skeptical among us- and those of us who have heard on repeat for years through our doctors and mainstream media- many be inclined to think that at the end of the day there is really nothing effective that we can take alongside our diet that can help us deal with our stress.


Supplements are after all, just expensive urine.... right?




Food is information and once in the bloodstream profoundly impacts us in every way and right down to the cellular level. If only the public at large knew the truth: there are certain herbs, supplements and foods that when added in sufficient quantity can significantly buttress them against the stressors of everyday life.  These sometimes common and readily available additions to our diet can in many cases have immediate effect and greatly change our ability to deal with stress and anxiety and in doing so, greatly improve our quality of life (and save our hair).  


As a friend mentioned some time ago, ".... when I'm taking my herbs and supplements it's like the volume around me gets turned way down." Here we discuss what we consider to be the top life-changing herbs to take regularly for stress, how and why they work and why once you try them, you will never be without them. 



Otherwise known as Indian ginseng, this unassuming root has been revered in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years and it is no wonder why: it's benefits to human health are impressive.  Thyroid modulating, immune enhancing, anti-aging, neuro-protective, the list goes on and on.  But what we truly love most about Ashwagandha is it's ability to help us combat stress and anxiety. 

As a premier adaptogen, ashwagandha works by supporting exhausted adrenals and reducing the negative effects of elevated cortisol (which often spikes when adrenals are overworked) thereby reducing feelings of stress and irritability.  Significantly, it also works as a potent anti-depressant and mood stabilizer with several studies showing its effects are on par with well known pharmaceuticals such as Lorazepam and Imipramine. 

Take it in tea form, tincture or in pill form but do take it and do so daily for best results.  We love it blended at high speed with our favorite mushroom coffee or tea.  Please do note that if you are taking it and don't notice any benefit, up your dose.  Ashwagandha is after all a food and it is all too often the case that we expect results from one small dose. Take it without worry and remember that with most adaptogens, more is often more.



It's as David Wolfe once said, "the cosmic giggle" that yellow colored foods tend to also be the ones that make us happy. This is definitely the case with turmeric, maybe the most talked about but sadly still one of the most underused spices currently in your kitchen.  And what a shame, since turmeric is such a powerhouse of nutrition and surprisingly effective at doing so much, including alleviating anxiety and boosting mood. 

Researchers in multiple studies have found that the compounds in turmeric or curcumin work to stimulate the body to increase levels of dopamine and serotonin (those feel good chemicals that we all want more of) with some research showing that it is just as effective as Prozac in combating depression and even in treating some more serious psychiatric disorders such as PTSD.

What we should keep in mind however is not only how much turmeric you take, but how you take it.  We can take all the turmeric we want but the body typically has a tendency to want to excrete it meaning that it in effect does not stay in circulation for very long.  Why?  It has to do with something called 'hormesis'. Once in the blood turmeric triggers a kind of cellular detox via the release of an enzyme known as superoxide dismutase, a critically important anti-inflammatory, antioxidant that we all want and need more of. Even though this chain reaction is health enhancing and highly desirable, the body nonetheless sees it as a kind of stressor and seeks to get rid of it as soon as possible.

So before you reach for your run of the mill turmeric capsules, know that there are far better ways to take it so that it stays in your system, longer. Instead, do as the Indians do- use turmeric primarily in your cooking for increased bio-availability (and taste).  All that is required is some fat, some heat and some black pepper to increase absorption of this magical root by 2000% or more.  Add it to your morning eggs, your curries, as a rub on your steak and even in your popcorn butter.  And did we mention it tastes amazing?



Dubbed the king and queen respectively, the popularity of medicinal mushrooms has exploded in recent years and its not hard to see why. The simple fact is they do so much for us because they are so much like us. Mushroom DNA is thought to be up to 80% genetically identical to human DNA and even closer to us than the plants.  This may mean that we uptake the compounds in mushrooms more efficiently than those found in botanicals.  You may be skeptical but the growing body of research on mushrooms confirms their amazing ability to enhance the human immune system and greatly assist with the creation of all of its weaponry: t-fighter cells, helper t-cells and lymphocytes. They are immune system modulating meaning that when ingested they have the intelligence to know when to stimulate an immune response or calm down an over response- dual directional, as they say.

Reishi has for at least two thousand years been the most revered herbal mushroom in Asia. Called the 'supreme protector', Reishi is thought to offer protection on every level: physically, immunologically, mentally and even spiritually. It is considered one of the most potent adaptogens and as such is profoundly anti-stress and anti-anxiety, known to ease tension and promote peace of mind.  It is also an excellent natural counter balance to stimulants such as coffee, which is one of the reasons why we see so many coffee/reishi offerings on the market. 

Much the same benefits can be had with Chaga, with some key differences.  While wild Reishi often appears bone smooth and shiny red, wild Chaga is almost always a dark brown or blackish corky mushroom that is often found on dead or dying Birch trees.  Interestingly enough, chaga most typically appears on those parts of the tree where there is has been an injury- chaga grows in those very spots as a way to 'heal the wound'. 

As a black mushroom, Chaga is one of the most potent and bio-available forms of zinc on the planet.  This is important because zinc deficiencies are sadly some of the most common even today and can and do cause so much havoc, least of which is hair related.  Our mitochondria have a critical zinc component that if missing or deficient can cause lowered ATP production and so many other health issues.  Zinc deficiency has also been associated with lower GABA levels in the brain, a neurotransmitter that blocks signals to reduce fear, worry and stress. This is the reason why we do recommend keeping your zinc levels topped up (keeping in mind to balance with copper) and chaga is such a fabulous way to get it.  Take it in tincture form if you must but far and away the most satisfying way to get your Chaga and Reishi is in tea form.  Simply gently simmer some Reishi or Chaga pieces in water for an hour or so and enjoy the healthiest, most satisfying elixir ever.



Rhodiola and its many varieties are prized adaptogenetic herbs that survive in some of the harshest, high altitudes climates of Asia, Europe and various other parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Revered for its many benefits such as boosting immunity, cardiovascular health and cognitive function, Rhodiola is perhaps best known for its ability to defend against everyday stressors and fatigue.  This is thought to be due primarily to the presence of salidroside, one of its most important active compounds.  Salidroside appears to have an effect on the HPA axis (hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal) or system of glands that control many of our stress responses.  Among these is the release of cortisol, that pesky hormone that we need to in proper amounts to get us out of bed and start the day, but if stays elevated for too long, can cause us many issues. 

There is no doubt that Rhodiola has immense benefits in assisting to reduce 'stress related fatigue' and this is why we like Rhodiola best in extract form so that it can be taken on the go and at the precise moment it is needed.  Take it regularly for stress, fatigue, mental focus and even before the gym for a little boost of energy.



Not an herb but an essential mineral, magnesium is so often lauded as merely a sleeping aid that we tend to forget its many other critical functions in the human body.  Required for nearly infinite number of biological processes, it is the reason why the body fights so hard to keep our levels at a constant (and measureable) 1% in the bloodstream at all times.  That is why if you are tested for magnesium you will always be at 1%, because if you didn't you might find yourself in critical care. But not to worry, the body knows never to go below that magic number and will happily draw from your organs and tissues to keep things comfortable. 

Like zinc, magnesium is one of the most talked about supplements and yet deficiency is all too common. Why? Because the body uses it up at lightening speed and faster than we can get it in.  If you drink alcohol, eat sugar, use pharmaceuticals, exercise or experience stress your magnesium requirements go up dramatically.  Signs of deficiency are all too common: routine migraines, mental fog, chronic fatigue, inability to easily fall asleep and even chronic feelings of stress and anxiety. Yes, that's right... even a lack of magnesium can make us feel stress. 

This is why it comes as no surprise that supplementing with magnesium (in nearly all its forms) can greatly assist with stress management. Why?  Because when we are stressed or anxious the PH of our blood turns from relatively neutral to more acidic.  This upsets our homeostasis and the body responds by drawing minerals from tissues, organs and even teeth (sensitive teeth anyone?) as a buffer and to maintain equilibrium. 

The genius of magnesium is that as a alkaline mineral/electrolyte it works to immediately bring down the acidity of the blood and has an immediate calming effect.  We all know when we are excessively acidic... we can feel it and in some cases even taste it.  It is uncomfortable, unnerving and one of the best remedies is our old friend, magnesium. So up your magnesium intake and remember that it is just as important during the day (and in times of stress) as at night before bed.







Leave a comment