(Edited and updated from 2016)
After living in New York City for several years, I was chronically exhausted and overstimulated. That legendary NYC stress was running me into the ground.
In my recovery time at home – between spurts running around the city – I’d peruse the internet, scanning for nuggets of interest. In particular, I’d look for things was I missing in my health and wellness approach.
One evening in late December, on one of the very last nights of 2012, I clicked on a fateful tweet – one from Edible Goddess. A visionary Northern California girl at the time, she waxed eloquent about a lifestyle based on superfoods.
This got me excited right away. I saw where she was going with things! More energy? (Yes, I’d like that. Check!) More vitality, while also wiser and more grounded? (Sounds ideal.) Look younger longer, enhance fertility, beauty – enhance everything! (Yes, yes, yes!)
I sprinted to her website and devoured the content.
One of the most revolutionary things I found in her approach was the use of Chinese tonic herbs.
What are tonic herbs?
Tonic herbs are safe to use everyday. They help build your body and balance your system. Many of them help increase resiliency in the face of stress – including that infamous, next-level NYC stress we’re talking about.
And that’s so important for long-term quality of life. (Aka: longevity.)
Many tonic herbs are also thought to have subtle personality-influencing properties. Reishi mushroom opens the heart and imparts calmness and wisdom, for example. And Spirit Poria – a favorite of Taoists in China – stabilizes the emotions and paves the way for achieving enlightenment.
Herbalism is a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). And within TCM herbalism, tonic herbs are considered “Superior Herbs”. (Meanwhile, herbs temporarily used to treat an acute condition are considered “Inferior Drugs” or even “Poisons”. (1))
Tonic Herbs Usage and Starter Sources
Fast forward to 2016, today I use tonic herbs daily for NYC stress.
And I now know that choosing a reputable source for your herbs is critical. There can be issues with contamination and the age of herbs you buy from a random store in, say, Chinatown. (There are some good herbal pharmacies there too. Just do your research first.)
I’ve also used products from Edible Goddess (now taking a break from Etsy as of 2022) and her former partner company Longevity Power. (He Shou Wu, Black Maca, Pearl, and Goji extract powders – I’ve tried them all and can recommend.)
Dragon Herbs is another favorite source of mine. They have a ton of fascinating information on their site to boot.
Most of the products I take from Dragon Herbs I take as capsules, though I’ve tried a couple of tinctures and teas as well.
Tonic herbs are generally safe to combine. That said, you may want to consult a professional about putting them together for maximum effect. Besides adding tonic herbal extract powders into smoothies, another way I take them is by making an elixir.
My 2016 go-to elixir for NYC stress
This is a basic elixir I make several times a week, and the recipe is as follows:
- 1 tsp He Shou Wu powder (Longevity Power)
- ½ tsp ground tumeric with black pepper (the black pepper I add myself to enhance bioavailability of curcumin in tumeric)
- 1/8 tsp kelp powder (NOW foods)
- ½ tsp pearl powder (Longevity Power)
- 2 squirts Dragon-Herbs goji-schizandra tincture (I also use ½ tsp powdered goji from Longevity Power & an opened schizandra powder capsule when that tincture has run out)
I might also add, depending on the day – MSM, rosehip powder, squirts of homemade reishi tincture, rhodiola (with salidrosides), vitamin E oil, spirulina, chlorella, or Maca root. And I’m sure there will be other variations and new additions in the future.
I will also usually take my vitamin D and fish oil around this time, as I hope it helps me absorb calcium from the pearl. And then calcium and iodine from kelp are supposedly a fluoride detox.
And please note that Edible Goddess and others tend to feature a lot of stevia and aspirations to flavor in their elixirs — whereas I do not! I admit to being kind of earthy and hardcore. To me nutrition is the point of making an elixir. Taste is not. Ha!
Not to mention, I simply don’t like the taste of stevia. So the attempts to boost flavor don’t do it for me.
I prefer to take a bitter tonic, as it just FEELS healthy! It also allows me to believe that – I did one kind of semi-sacrificial thing that was good for myself… so I can probably have a treat of some kind later in the day….
From NYC stress to New Frontier
Again, I’m not an herbal or nutrition professional. I’m merely sharing how I personally take advantage of tonic herbs for NYC stress – to get you inspired!
There are too many benefits of taking tonic herbs to NOT look into them. I encourage you to do the research and figure out the right herbs and sources for you.
In addition to the resources already listed above, for more information Julia Corbett, author of Raw Cookies. She’s a a cutting-edge holistic food-creatrix who has based her career on the use of superfoods and tonic herbs.
HealthForce Nutritionals is another great company. They have very high product standards, including many superfoods.
So what about you? Are you also looking for solutions to NYC stress – or to the stress of modern life, in general? And what are your thoughts on tonic herbs today – are they new to you, something you’re currently exploring, or – ?
This is an important & joyful conversation – so let’s have it!
Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts!
Reference: (1) from “Introduction”, p.15 of Ron Teeguarden’s Chinese Tonic Herbs