Recently, I wrote an article on all the wonderful benefits of tonic herbs.
This unique category of herbs holds an important place in many systems of medicine around the world. Tonic herbs have stood the test of time and have been used in a safe and effective manner for just about anyone who deals with the stressors of daily life.
Tonics are the perfect example of tradition and science coming together. In most cultures, the understanding of these special plants, their qualities, and sacred uses are passed down from generation to generation. It is this multigenerational sacred education that has led the path for us to understand what we know about tonic herbs and foods today.
In the article on tonic herbs, I discuss 3 reasons why I find these herbs to be so amazing:
- They can be taken indefinitely without any breaks. In fact the longer you take them the more profound the results.
- There are no side effects. The only thing that will exist are effects, so, therefore, if an effect happens, it was supposed to happen.
- The third reason is what makes tonic herbs so unique...
A true tonic herb has what’s known as “double direction” activity. In simple terms, tonic herbs help to regulate the various bodily and mental functions by adjusting one’s healing capability in either direction.
So, what are tonics and what exactly do they do?
Tonics are very much capable of supporting the body’s ability to re-establish youth and vigor. They have also been traditionally used to produce “life-giving effects”. Tonics support the entire body and will, therefore, have a more general effect with profound overall results. The same single tonic herb can support healthy sleep and healthy energy levels with the overall effect of maintaining balance and adaptability because it is giving the body what it needs to heal itself. Once the body has fixed the issue, balance is restored and tonics will now continue to help maintain that level of balance.
Are tonics right for you?
In general, because a tonic’s primary job is to support and maintain balance through nonspecific responses, just about anyone (unless you have a specific allergy) can use tonic foods and herbs.
Tonics provide a deep level of nourishment beyond what you would get from your general diet.
These work on a more “energetic” level. I recently wrote another article titled Gateway Herbs. The purpose was to help those who have never taken herbs have a positive first experience and see actual results. If you want to see the true nourishing benefits that come from tonics, then you need to be prepared to be in it for the long haul. The reason, re-establishing a sense of balance and wellness takes time. To be clear, tonics are not gateway herbs but they have one very important quality in common:
When using tonics correctly with consistency, you should have a very positive experience. This experience will open your mind to wanting to use other categories of herbs. This is also one of the primary purposes of a gateway herb.
What should you feel when taking tonic herbs?
Due to the overconsumption of coffee and other stimulants, I believe our society grossly misunderstands what a “healthy response” to tonic herbs should be.
We expect everything to work like a stimulant and if it doesn’t, we classify it as useless. What you should feel from taking tonic herbs (for an extended period of time) is a sense of calmness and well-being. When you wake up in the morning, you should feel refreshed and when you go to bed at night, you should feel calm and relaxed. As time goes on, there should be fewer highs and lows throughout your day.
What you will begin to feel is a calm body yet very focused state of mind. You should feel as if you don’t need to tap into your reserves. Most of all, you will be able to bounce back from those stressful moments in a much shorter period of time. If you follow the standard American lifestyle, by midday there is usually nothing left in the tank. That’s why it is so common to use stimulants to get you through the day. Building an internal and external environment to allow for a proper state of balance is a process that happens over an extended period of time. Remember, consistency wins the game.
Because you are being nourished on a much deeper level over a longer period of time. Your reserves are actually being reserved for a time when they are really needed. This is how we define being in a state of balance.
Here is a short list of some wonderful tonic herbs you should consider when beginning your program:
Get the most from your tonics
While you certainly can use tonics individually, you will get much more bang-for-your-buck using them in combination with adaptogens and functional foods. Here are a few examples:
For those who are high strung and anxious:
- Adaptogen- Ashwagandha (Calming)
- Tonic- Reishi (Nourishing and balancing)
- Functional food- Coconut (Quality fats to nourish the brain), Cacao (Great source of Magnesium), Maca (Highly nourishing tonic food)
For those getting over a tragedy or death:
- Adaptogen- Holy Basil (a carminative great for stress-induced anxiety)
- Tonics- Hawthorn berry (nourishing for the heart), Goji Berry and Reishi (nutritive and supportive)
- Functional Foods- coconut milk, maca, chia seed, and cashews- the Clean high-quality source of fats are a cornerstone of nourishment
Take home message
Tonics not only bring together science and tradition, they also express the understanding of how the complexity of a plant can bring simplicity and balance as the end result. If you respect and honor tradition and sacred education passed down from generation to generation, then tonics are going to be your first line of defense.
About Michael Stuchiner
Michael Stuchiner is an experienced Master Herbalist, the Head of Education for Z Natural Foods, a teacher, and an accomplished author. With an 18-year specialization in medicinal herbs, Mike also has a vast knowledge in tonic and adaptogenic herbalism. Mike has enjoyed a 25-year career as an elite-level competitive powerlifter where he learned to heal his ‘mind and body’ as an avid user of herbal remedies.
As an “in-the-trenches” herbalist, Mike has done more than 85 speaking engagements, consulted with clients ranging from young to elderly, worked with athletes in virtually all sports and with clients who have “dis-ease” states of a wide variety. Mike also mentors student Master Herbalists and will continue to teach the next generation to grow a deeper wisdom of the human body through appropriate herbal remedies.
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