Podcast Episode #56
[00:00:00] Crystal: Welcome to the Extraordinary Life Podcast from the creator of the Extraordinary Life Tribe, Crystal Obregon, the self-development podcast propelling you forward toward your goals, using science backed high performance habits. Reach the next level in your physical and mental health. See new heights in your relationships.
[00:00:18] Gain clarity on your purpose and live your extraordinary life. Welcome your host writer, speaker and coach, Crystal Obregon.
[00:00:29] Hi there. This is Crystal of Crystal Obregon Coaching with Episode Number 56 of the Extraordinary Life podcast. I'm back from my road trip and was ready to get my son off to his first day of school and get to work on my next podcast on motivation,
[00:00:50] when he tested positive for COVID. Not a great way to start out, but suddenly his previous [00:01:00] congestion couple days before made sense. And I thought that my all day headache and fatigue the day before also made sense. I, however, am still testing negative and still not overly energetic, certainly not energetic enough to record a podcast on motivation.
[00:01:21] So my go to, when I'm not feeling energetic is to focus on my health. Physical health is an important part of motivation. So I've been making sure to get plenty of sleep, drinking lots of water and eating an abundance of fresh local fruits and veggies. Another tool I use for increasing my energy is adaptogens.
[00:01:48] Adaptogens are plants and mushrooms that help your body respond to stress, anxiety, fatigue, and overall wellbeing. Not a bad tool to [00:02:00] have in your toolbox for anyone, but especially in my opinion, great for women. So this week, I thought I'd share an interview with herbalist, Paula Grainger that I did almost four years ago.
[00:02:15] I re-listened to it this morning and found it very relevant and useful to me. And I think that what we generally, as women are going through these days, Paula is very experienced and knowledgeable and entertaining. And I liked the reminders of how to approach working with adaptogens and herbal remedies to improve your health.
[00:02:43] Her book on adaptogens is still a go-to on my bookshelf and I'll include a link to it in the show notes, along with Paula's contact details. She does share great information on her Instagram and Facebook accounts on a regular basis. [00:03:00] So with that, please enjoy.
[00:03:04] Hi everyone. This is Crystal from Crystal Obregon Health and Wellness.
[00:03:08] And today I'm really excited to be talking with Paula Grainger about her new book, Adaptogens. So Paula has been practicing herbal medicine since 2004, when she graduated from the university of Westminster in London. So I will let her fill you in on more of the details. So tell us more about your background and how you decided to become an herbalist.
[00:03:41] Paula: I worked in the corporate world. I worked in marketing and publicity for a big publishing company. And I was enjoying. That was great, but I, I had a bit of a kind of epiphany in about, I guess, 1999 and just decided I wanted to be a hub list. I'm not quite sure where it came from. I'd [00:04:00] always enjoyed being around plants.
[00:04:02] And I grew up in a family that was very plant orientated. And I guess my mother and my grandmother, you know, made a lot of things with plants. So I was always around it, but it didn't really hit me until that moment in driving in, in a car through. So I looked into it found that the university of Westminster held a degree course.
[00:04:20] It's, it's different in the UK to how it is here in the UK. There is a, it's more formalized, how you learn herbal medicines. Mm-hmm, less of an apprenticeship and more of a going to university and doing a health science degree that is specialized into herbal medicine. I went off and did that for three years, kind of surprisingly at a point in my life, I wasn't really expecting to go to university.
[00:04:43] I had a fantastic time and just, it just, everything clicked. It was just, oh yeah, this is what I'm meant to do. So I left and I, I went to work in the clinic in west London, and that was great experience because as well as having my regular paid clinic, I had a free clinic for low income people, which was [00:05:00] awesome.
[00:05:00] Cause I saw lots and lots of people with lots and lots of different things. It was a really good kind. Way to go from that more EDU, the educational side of it into the actual full on practicing side. And after a few years of that, I was enjoying it so much that I decided to work at my own clinic in Camden, in north London.
[00:05:17] And it was called Lemon Balm. And I had an amazing team of people working there with me who were still good friends to this day. Mm-hmm fantastic time. Um, there with a. Not just myself, but a group of other herbalist work with me. We had probably the biggest open to the public herbal dispensary in, in London.
[00:05:36] It was a big dispensary. We had to kind of go to the counter service. It was, it was a lot of fun. Uh, I stayed there until the point in 2010, when my husband, my son and I were on vacation in California, stopped for two days in Santa Cruz, there was a volcano blowing up in Iceland and we got stuck for two weeks.
[00:05:57] And we fell madly in love with Santa Cruz and decided, okay, we're moving to [00:06:00] Santa Cruz. So I went back and closed up my clinic and, but I still work with a lot of people in the UK, which is great. I love that. But obviously I work here as well now.
[00:06:08] Crystal: Yeah. I have a lot of readers from the UK. You do fantastic.
[00:06:12] Yes. Probably about half by UK people. Yes. So, can you tell us about adaptogens, which I want to show your book. I'll give details about how to get a copy. And so can you tell us about adaptogens and how they fit in with, with being an herbalist or
[00:06:37] Paula: Sure. So there's a number of, of different actions, very few herbs.
[00:06:42] Oh, herbs. As everybody says, here have only one action. Mm-hmm a lot of them have a number of different actions. A lot of them would be very familiar because in Western herbal medicine and the idea of the adaption does come from Western herbal medicine. I'm a Western medical herbalist. Mm-hmm rather than from the Chinese [00:07:00] tradition or, uh, the Ayurvedi Indian tradition or whatever.
[00:07:03] So a lot of those, those terms will be quite familiar, like anti-inflammatory mm-hmm or antioxidant or anodyne painkiller, um, or a, um, sedative, for example, but there are a couple which have this sort of words applied to them, which only herbalists list use mm-hmm and which until recently really weren't very well known outside of our professional world.
[00:07:27] And I guess the best name of those is adaptogens. So the, the term adaptogen itself was coined back in, uh, the 1940s in Russia, which presumably wasn't the word adaptogen. It was whatever that is in Russia. You're right. But the concept was, was coined back then for these particular herbs and herbs, which had a very long tradition of, of ancient use, which had this ability to help the body deal with stress.
[00:07:51] We know that when we're stressed, when we're having a fight or flight reaction, mm-hmm, . Things happen to our body. It's a physiological [00:08:00] process. Our pupils dilate our blood pressure goes up. We have our heartbeats faster. We start to sweat all those things that we all know happen when mm-hmm , when you are going through the fight off flight reaction.
[00:08:11] And that is awesome. If you are facing off a, a saber tooth tiger in a cave, then that's exactly what you want. But in our modern world, Stress comes and then it stays, it could be financial stress, family, stress, relationship, stress, whatever it is. And we get it day in, day out, day in, day out, and our bodies are not designed to be dealing with this level of physiological, um, stress reaction all the time.
[00:08:36] And so that's one of the reasons people get sick. Mm-hmm of course there are other reasons too, but that, that eventually does things like reduce your immune. The immune system works best when you're not in a state of stress, because if you're facing off that save tooth tiger, who cares if you get a cold, you know, that is not the, that is the least of your problems at that particular moment.
[00:08:57] Right? So the stress [00:09:00] reaction is designed to, to be used for a short period of time. Now what the adaptogenic tubs do is they help your body to deal with the effects of stress and in doing so, they increased your immunity. Uh, they also tend to help improve stamina. I've talked about 20 different adaptions here and there are herbalists who would say not sure there are 20 adaptions.
[00:09:22] So I've looked at some herbs which have adaptogenic qualities. Right. But some of the pure adaptions things like gin sing mm-hmm is probably the best known. Right. And has been used in China and throughout the far east, since who knows how long millennia probably for exactly these abilities to do this.
[00:09:41] Things like rodeola, which is a Siberian herb and was used by people in Siberia when they went on hunting expeditions because, okay, that's not the kind of stress we have, but it's physical stress and emotional stress. If you are off in a cold, inhospitable, dangerous environment. Right. And again, it would give them [00:10:00] greater stamina and later.
[00:10:02] Ability to resist disease and resist infection. Right. So it's a bit of a long answer that. Yeah. I think that gives you an idea. Yes. Her been about tions for Alex.
[00:10:12] Crystal: And what is, what is your personal experience with adaptogens?
[00:10:16] Paula: I've been using them professionally ever since I started practicing herbal medicine.
[00:10:21] And as I say, most herbs have more than one action. So often you're looking for herbs which have a number of actions that are appropriate to the person you're working with. My I, I practice polypharmacy mm-hmm so I almost never give someone just one herb, right. Someone comes to see me. We do a sort of hour long consultation.
[00:10:40] I try and get as much information as I can. And then I put together a mix of herbs for them. Mm-hmm usually between about five and eight different herbal tinctures. Although increasingly in particularly this book I'm using powders and other means of, of giving people herbs as well. Yeah, between five [00:11:00] and eight herbs, usually.
[00:11:00] So it may have one adaptogen. It may have two, particularly when I was working in London where, you know, stress levels are quite high and big city like that. You know, everybody who came to see me, would've just got off the tube or off a bus or whatever, be stressed, cuz they were gonna be late or trying to park in crazy parking situation in London.
[00:11:20] So I used a lot of adaptions there mm-hmm but here too, you. Adaptions are, are such an important part of my material, medica, as we say, you know, the hers that we use mm-hmm and also they have certain qualities that that may be appli applicable to certain people. So for example, right. If someone's got chronic fatigue syndrome, mm-hmm then something like aand is really nice because it's very nourishing.
[00:11:46] Right. Um, shatavari is a big favorite herb of mine and that that's one of my favorite. Isn't it? Fantastic. you know, it's, it's an adaption, which is actually from the ayarvedic tradition. It's um, it's Indian. Um, [00:12:00] me too. I mean, I think for a lot of women of our kind of mm-hmm generation, it's really, really helpful.
[00:12:04] It's got such a good ability to balance hormones. You know, it's nourishing and moistening in, in India, they say it really brings you down to earth. Really helps you connect with that kind of female energy. It's such female herb and there's something like Panex ginseng is quite, you know, masculine.
[00:12:22] It's very, it's quite punchy. It's quite, it's. Stimulant as well. You know, you wanna take it right before bed? Well, sometimes you might. Yeah. , not on a day to day basis. No. Um, I, I adore shatter and I use it a lot. I, with Ania, which is, I I've always got two words in my head. I was trained to work in the Latin or botanical name.
[00:12:42] So I write and do everything in my head botanically. And then I have to translate to. So ashwaganda, is for example, I see a lot of people with thyroid issues, right. And it helps to support an underactive thyroid mm-hmm . So obviously you don't use it if it's overactive, but for people who've got an underactive thyroid, it can be very, very helpful.
[00:12:59] I [00:13:00] use radiola a certain amount, but again, it's getting the right herb and what I've tried to do with the book, you know, if, if you've got a serious illness, you should always go consult professional her list because, or if you're taking medication or whatever, But the reality of the world is people want to try herbs for themselves.
[00:13:17] And sometimes that is a really good way of them getting into using herbs. And maybe they'll need to see a herbs. Maybe they won't, but in this book because people are excited. I think that the whole idea of adaptions has become quite popular recently. Yes. And people see all these products that have adaptions in and they think great.
[00:13:35] Take adaptogens. Right. And what I tried to do with this book was say, okay, here's 20 adaptions adapt, eh, adaptogens. And here's you. Here's information that you can use to help you choose which ones are right for you. So like rodeola for example, is, is quite heating and quite drying. So if you are someone who is a menopausal woman, who's getting a lot of hot sweats and is her [00:14:00] skin is getting very dry, probably not a great choice.
[00:14:04] Likewise Shizandra. Which is five flavor fr fruit sometimes as well as well. Shizandra is, is a fantastic herb, but it's quite heating and it's quite, quite stimulant actually. So for someone who's quite zippy it's probably not such a good herb. It's always, always about trying to match the people in the herb.
[00:14:26] Crystal: Do you have any other favorites that for general women's health. That are adaptogens or that are adaptogens, or
[00:14:35] Paula: It depends on the woman mm-hmm , you know, it really does. So I mentioned ashwaganda that's a really nice one for people when they're quite anxious and strung out, cuz it is nourishing and it's one of the few adaptogens that is actually quite calming.
[00:14:48] Mm-hmm I like Eleuthero. I use that quite a lot with people who need more energy. Right. Need more stamina. It's great for things like jet lag as [00:15:00] well. So there, there are some women who that really works well with. What else do I use? Hawthorn is a fantastic. Yeah. In terms of hormonal hurt mm-hmm in terms of sex hormones, it's all linked.
[00:15:14] So you can end getting very complicated about this because yes, when you're stressed, that's affecting the parts of the brain that actually control your sexual endocrine organ organs as well. Right. So, you know, it, it's all, it's all a feedback loop. It's okay. Thing mm-hmm right back and forth and round and round and upside down.
[00:15:30] Crystal: Yeah. and how about. Chronic inflammation. That's one of my main focuses. Do you have some favorites that tend to address that more than others?
[00:15:43] Paula: Yeah, for sure. I guess probably the best name would be turmeric. And I talk quite about, about turmeric in this book and it's not a herb. Some people would say, are you sure that's an adaptogen.
[00:15:54] I look at what it does. And I think, yeah, actually I can, I feel I can make a case for this. Right. It helps mitigate the effects of stress. [00:16:00] It's a really powerful anti-inflammatory and I use it a lot, but again, it's, it's about not just knowing that that's the right herb. It's how you take it. Right. So you probably know that turmeric is really hard for the body to take on board.
[00:16:14] It's not highly bio available, right? So if you look at how it's taken, traditionally India in India is normally taken with pepper, either black pepper or pepper longum, which is another pepper. Which is often combined together into a combination called tra Cari or trikatu. And also it's taken with fats, right?
[00:16:34] When you take turmeric with fats, you absorb it much more effectively into the blood stream and into the body. Mm-hmm so things like golden milk are a great version of that. I actually import capsules from a, a colleague can mix them in the UK, which have got quite a lot of turmeric. And then they've got Frankencense and trikatu, and I find that to be really, really effective.
[00:16:57] What I've again, tried to do with the book, give people ideas of, [00:17:00] of ways to cook them. And we were talking, I put up on my Instagram yesterday, a recipe from the book, which I made, which is a turmeric cake bread, which has goji berries in it. And quite a lot of butter as well. Or you can use whatever fat you wanna use.
[00:17:17] Right. And obviously that makes it much more highly available when bio available, when you're eating. And if you look at traditional of cooking curries and so on.
[00:17:24] Crystal: Yeah. And even if there's coconut milk.
[00:17:27] Paula: Yeah. Coconut milk not well. Yeah, absolutely.
[00:17:31] Crystal: So in addition to getting a copy of your book and I'll have underneath this video, I will have information on how to get the book.
[00:17:41] What, what advice would you give someone wanting to start out using adaptogens?
[00:17:49] Paula: I would say a few things, uh, number one, either my book or there are other books out there, your dance doesn't have to be my book, but do find some information and books are a good way to get [00:18:00] information about herbs because there is so much on the internet mm-hmm and it horrifies me sometimes when I come across things as professional herbalist.
[00:18:06] And I just think geek don't do that. That's terrible. Um, right. So, so books are a good source or there are good kind of herbal websites out there as. Get some information about which herbs you think will be right for you. Make sure that you're getting them from a reputable supplier. You know, herbs are only as good as the purity of what you're getting and like any other plant, particularly for those that are, are grown in countries that have less stringent
[00:18:34] organic standards. Mm-hmm you need to be, make sure that things aren't adulterated or are as good quality as you can get. So find a good supplier. I've actually got a list of suppliers in the book that I like mm-hmm and that I feel a trustworthy. Good. So get a good quality product. Think about how you're gonna take it.
[00:18:51] You know, there's tincture, there's capsules. What I've tried to do in this book is some more fun ways, like incorporating them into foods. Because that's a, [00:19:00] a nice thing to do. It's also a great way of getting herbs into children. Mm-hmm and other people who, who won't take tincture, you can just put it in their lunch box and they like it and off again.
[00:19:09] Right. so, um, so yeah, get a good supplier. Think about how you're gonna take it and then start small mm-hmm you know, and some, they, adaptogenic herbs are quite powerful and you don't wanna be taking enormous quantities right off the bat. So take a small amount. Less can be more, there's all. We, we humans have this idea that, well, if this much is good, then this much must be this much.
[00:19:32] Right. And of course it doesn't work like that. You know, herbs are subtle, so starts small. And then probably one of the important, most important things, not just for adaptogens, but for all herbs is herbs tend to work more slowly. You know, if you're used to using prescription medication or even over the counter medication, it tends to work very quickly.
[00:19:56] And I would argue a lot of it. Okay. It works quickly, but it stops [00:20:00] working equally quickly and it's working so quickly because it's shutting down other things that you actually need to be fully functioning. Right. Herb's working with your body. They're not going in there and just shutting everything down.
[00:20:11] You know, they're working in a subtle and gentle way. So give it some time. They just think I've just dropped my mic. Don't just think it didn't work. I've taken it for three days. Didn't work and give up. Right. You know, give it a bit of time. So those probably would be my main pieces of advice.
[00:20:26] Crystal: All right. Great.
[00:20:29] Do you have anything else you'd like to add ?
[00:20:31] Paula: I guess I would urge everyone watching to give herbs a go, you know, herbal medicine is incredibly powerful. It's also incredibly safe. Sometimes you see things that imply that it's not, but actually there's an enormously long history of using herbs. And as long as you are doing it, in a sense for way educating yourself or working with a qualified herb list.
[00:20:54] Being mindful about what you're taking and I'm not suggesting for a moment. Okay. Just stop all your prescription medication. Take herbs [00:21:00] instead. There's a I'm I believe in integrative medicine. Mm-hmm I really believe in working alongside other things that are helping people's health. Uh, but yeah. Give it a go.
[00:21:09] Great. Well, thank you so much. Thank for taking time to talk to me and I will have information for the book. And also Paula has a website, Paula grainger.com and I'll include that as well.
[00:21:25] Thank you for listening to the Extraordinary Life Podcast with writer and coach, Crystal Obregon. We'd love to connect with you outside of the podcast, too.
[00:21:32] To find more helpful insights, show notes and more about Crystal. Go to Crystal Obregon.com, that's O B R E G O N, where you'll also find info for the Design Your Decade workshop. This workshop will help you to stop drifting and start creating. Until next time, be extraordinary.