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Tonify: A Master Herbalist’s secret to having a body that better responds to stress and illness

4 min read time Sep 17, 2020


-- And the 7 best Tonifying herbs

Tonify: Some call it “balance” while others call it “homeostasis”.

The Oxford Dictionary defines tonify as the ability to “increase the available energy”.

Either way, we are looking for the same results.

The objective is to get your body to a place where it will respond to outside influences in a healthy manner.

In essence, the idea behind tonifying is to make a stronger balance.

So let’s explore “tonify”:

Q: What does it mean to tonify?

A: To tonify means to make a stronger, more sustainable level of balance in a system that needs support and nourishment.

The goal through this stronger level of balance is to achieve a more consistent healing response. Note, a healthy tonic response may not be what you consider ideal based on what may happen. I strongly suggest you allow that response to take its course.

Your body’s first objective in the healing process is to rid itself of what is bringing harm.

For example, the immune system response to a cold or flu virus is fever, cough, vomiting, etc. While not pleasant, it is how our body responds to foreign invaders attempting to harm us and get it out of the system. 

Another example is food poisoning. Your body responds to being poisoned by riddin that poison asap before more damage is done. Therefore, again, while very unpleasant, vomiting and  diarrhea are common responses in this process.

Tonifying is about supporting those responses and keeping you in that balanced state so the body’s systems can respond correctly.   

Q: Why is the concept of tonifying so important?

A: The easiest way to explain tonification is to understand where it sits in the pecking order of the healing response. Tonifying is about producing a stronger and more sustainable state of balance. It is supporting and maintaining vs. bringing you into the state itself. 

For example, if you were to lose 20 lbs and that weight loss resulted in a large reduction of body fat (congrats, you did it correctly), you have reached your goal. Now, the plan must change in order to sustain those results. The changes that you make in order to maintain the results, are considered tonifying by placing you in in a stronger, more stable balance or homeostasis.

Q: What is the relationship between tonifying and our elimination channels?

A:  Understanding the importance of supporting and maintaining the health of your elimination channels will determine how well your response systems work in a time of crisis. Therefore, it is not just a matter of getting your elimination channels to a point of being more efficient, it is about maintaining that state of efficiency.

Q: What is the difference between tonifying and adapting?

A: This goes back to the pecking order. In order to optimize one’s response to stressors every duck in the row plays an important role in the overall process. Adapting to the external stressor is the first line of defense. This is what will protect the body and support a healthy initial response. Once the body is in a more balanced state and responding in a healthy manner, this is when using foods and herbs that support a state of balance play an important role in maintaining that state.

Q: When I am going through a healing crisis, how do I know if what I am experiencing is effects or side-effects?

A: The definition of a side-effect is a response that is not supposed to happen based on the pattern of a treatment. I believe this is incorrect and here’s why:

I believe everything that happens is an effect and that side-effects don’t even exist. Let’s use antibiotics as an example.  Because this class of drugs is aimed at destroying bacteria it does not know the difference between the good and the bad. Unless you have been living under a rock, we all know the importance of keeping a healthy microbiome. If the microbiome is thrown off balance (which is quite common when using antibiotics), it will affect gut health in a variety of ways. For example, nausea, upset stomach, diarrhea, loss of appetite, bloating. Does this all sound familiar? You may relate this series of events to the term side-effect.

Here is something to think about. If all of these events happen when your microbiome is thrown off balance and one of the effects of antibiotics is throwing your microbiome off balance, then it would be reasonable to say that these are effects of the antibiotics and not side-effects.

Q:What are some of the top tonifying foods that I can buy from ZNF?

A: Because tonifying foods are supportive, there are a variety of Z Natural Foods for this type of support. This can vary from superfoods to herbs. Some of my top picks would be:

All of these foods are highly nourishing, supportive and tonifying. 

Like the expression goes “Life is a balancing act” because too little can be just as disturbing to one’s system as too much. Everything has a middle ground and the trick is to sustain that place.

It really is a game of balancing nourishment and elimination.

Yours in good health,


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 a 16-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.


For Bulk inquiries and custom formulations click here: https://www.znaturalfoods.com/pages/bulk

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