Ashwaghanda root, Siberian golden root, schizandra berry, eleuthero root, wolfberry and velvet bean are harvested far and wide-from Russia, India and parts of Europe. What makes this a class of herbs so special is that they help to normalize all the body’s functions. If the body needs rest, adaptogens may have a calming effect. If the body needs a boost, they may support energy production. With the help of adaptogens , the body is better able to handle stress of all kinds, whether physical, mental or emotional.

Israel I. Berkham, MD., a Russian research pharmacologist and physiolist, discovered adaptogens in 1949, Brekham coined the term adaptogens to describe rare plants that had the ability to bring any body system that was not functioning optimally into balance. When Russian athletes’ began to dominate world athletic events in the 1970’s, many believed adaptogens were their secret weapon. The same adaptogenic herbs that helped promote their peak performance also helped give the country’s cosmonauts their exceptional physical and mental stamina.

One unique adaptogen is Nepali shiajiit. Several years ago, Formulator John Anderson from the USA, traveled to India to research the remarkable high-altitude ingredient. "Shilajiit comes from a place called Jumla, high in the Himalayas,” he says. "It’s a humus-like substance that oozes out of the rock face during summer months. It’s exceptionally rich in ancient nutrients, which became trapped when the mountain range was formed.”

During his visit to Nepal, Anderson recorded footage of the painstaking process used to gather shilajiit. He tells the story of how harvesters descend from the high cliffs on ropes, collecting the fossil-like substance in baskets, which are then lowered to the ground. Interestingly, shilajiit was discovered when Himalayan white-faced monkeys, that had migrated to the mountains during the summer, were found scaling these cliffs to lick the substance from rock crevices. Ayurvedic practitioners found these monkeys had better mental, digestive and sexual health than monkeys that did not migrate.

Although it’s not easy to harvest and is pricey, Anderson says the benefits of shilajiit are worth the extra effort and cost. "It’s a very porous molecule that includes lots of fulvic and humic acids,” he says. "Shilajiit provides valuable nutrients that assist the body, particularly with cleansing and weight-loss”. With the intake of adaptogens, there is a reduction of perceived mental and physical stress and the body is more likely to release unwanted fat and restore wellness once again.

Marlene Louch , Wellness & Cleanse Coach who lives in Courtenay.