Adaptogens are specific herbs, foods, and mushrooms that support the body’s natural ability to deal with both emotional and physical stress. The word adaptogen is quite apropos to its meaning, because these helpful plants “adapt” to the specific needs of your body — whether physically, chemically, biologically. What’s even more impressive is that certain adaptogenic herbs used in Ayurvedic healthcare are especially beneficial for coping with the stress of seasonal changes in concert with your particular dosha type.
We would have to go back into the misty past to find the origins of Ayurvedic practice, because the system is arguably the oldest surviving form of healthcare. Ayurveda is based on holism — that all things are interrelated. This reflects the ancient Indian philosophy that life is an inseparable and continuous movement of consciousness in that everything that appears to happen is interdependent and flowing. Nothing, including one’s state of health, is either this or that; instead, all exists in an ever-changing state. To be healthy, then, is to achieve balance, according to Ayurvedic principles. This balance translates to helping the body, mind, spirit, and emotions find resting places respective to their natural tendencies to be happily balanced (in a state of equilibrium). The dosha system represents these tendencies and their relationship to a balanced state, and adaptogenic herbs help maintain, support, and promote this balance.
When it comes to doshas, we are often left scratching our heads in wonder and amazement at the ingenuity of ancient Indian philosophy that wisely characterised life into three basic categories: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. These are known as the three doshas, or types of minds, bodies, emotions, and spirit relating not only to we human beings, but also to all of nature, foods, phenomena, and so-called inanimate objects. Everything that exists as the contents of consciousness tends toward one overriding dosha. So when the body is out of balance, and a particular dosha is in excess or a state of deficiency, Ayurvedic practitioners must aim to restore harmony in the context of the body and the environment.
Each expression of consciousness, whether human beings, animals, nature, or objects, comprises a particular dosha. We are all a composite of Vatta, Pitta, and Kapha, so when we are out of balance, one of these doshas is too great or insufficient.