Traditional Chinese Medicine can aptly be understood as the art of radiant health – a state of optimal well-being and vitality founded upon balance in the physical, emotional, and mental bodies. Thus, the cultivation of radiant health goes far beyond the absence of illness; indeed, a primary pillar of radiant health is adaptability as a crucial part of preventive medicine. When we nurture our inherent power to adapt to change, we are able to weather the storms, to evolve through stress, and to maintain balance in the face of external factors. According to master herbalist and TCM expert Ron Teeguarden, one of the greatest ways to support radiant health is the Chinese tonic herbs, also referred to as the superior herbs, a category rich with adaptogens to support our most robust sense of vitality.
As we begin to transition from spring to summer, we can incorporate tonic herbs that support the body's adaptation to the building warmth, rising Yang energy, and expansiveness characteristic of the summer season. Here are our recommended allies to nourish through the wheel of the year’s turning:
- Astragalus is often used as a preventive herb during seasonal transitions to support well-being and is a renowned tonic herb in TCM for enhancing immune function, tonifying Qi, and promoting overall vitality. It is an adaptogen that specifically supports the body's ability to adapt to environmental changes and promotes robust energy levels, which is beneficial as the pace continues to quicken.
- Reishi, also widely known as the mushroom of immortality, is a potent nervine tonic that tonifies Qi and nourishes Shen (spirit). With an affinity for both the Liver (spring) and the Heart (summer), Reishi is beneficial during this seasonal transition as it regulates and promotes balance in two of the organs of highest importance / susceptibility in this time. When the body is adjusting to seasonal changes, environmental factors, and potential allergens, Reishi can help enhance resilience through its immunomodulating properties, while also improving stress response as an adaptogenic mushroom.
- Schizandra is especially supportive during seasonal transitions as it’s an adaptogen that enhances the body’s capacity to cope with stress / change and is a perfectly balanced Yin and Yang tonic. Considered nourishing to Yin and generative of fluids, Schizandra helps us flow into the season associated with Fire in a prepared and well-resourced way. As the organs associated with summer are the Heart and Small Intestine, it is a perfect ally in its capacity to support both the cardiovascular and digestive systems.
- Shen refers to our Spirit / higher consciousness, and is a proprietary blend of Reishi extract, Jujube seed, White Peony root, Asparagus root, Polygala root, and Albizia Bark, and was formulated to help calm the mind, lift the spirit, and promote tranquility. It can be a great source of support moving into summer, which corresponds to the Heart, ruler of all organs and captain of mental and emotional processes like joy, consciousness, and sleep. As the days get longer, it’s extremely beneficial to support our quality of sleep, and cultivating calmness does a lot to help balance the Fire of summer.
May you be so nourished by these tonic and food herbs rich in bionutrients that support well-being and adaptability for radiant health!