The wellness industry is always abuzz with the latest practice or product. Yet most of these trending ideas that we consider revolutionary and cutting-edge are actually anything but new. For example, two such ‘magical elixir’ powders filling everyone’s wellness shelf right now—nootropics and adaptogens—have ingredients rooted in ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine.
TCM has existed for centuries upon the same healing practices–and a major cornerstone is Chinese herbs. In TCM, it’s believed that herbs are more potent in a blend than on their own—when combined they can target a variety of symptoms and help your body process and absorb elements more easily. The herbs usually come directly from Mother Earth, in the form of roots, barks, flowers, seeds, nuts, and more.
Harnessing the power of these traditional therapies, Western brands have started integrating the ancient herbs into some of their products. Cue Sun Potion’s Chaga Mushroom Powder (an ancient Chinese medicine staple) or Moon Juice’s cult-favorite Brain Dust (filled with potent adaptogens). One Western brand taking these revered ingredients and practices to the forefront of their products is WTHN, a colorful acupuncture practice that opened last year in New York’s Flatiron District. The clinic just released a collection of eight traditional Chinese formulas, each boasting high-performing adaptogens and zeroing in on one issue, from improving sleep to energy to stress.
Although these herbs have been successfully used for over 2,500 years, some farming practices have come into question as of late. An in-depth 2013 Greenpeace study tested 65 popular Chinese herbs and found that 48 tested positive for pesticide residues. One pesticide, in particular, was 500 times over the European Union maximum amount. That’s not to say all Chinese herbs are lacking in quality—and you shouldn’t be deterred from working with a Chinese herbalist from a high-quality place, like New York’s KAMWO, to find the right traditional blend for you.
In other words, Chinese herb blends are best left to the experts. It is a science, one with specific instructions on dosage, timing, and even the temperature of water to wash the herbs down with. With that in mind, WTHN’s collection of herb blends was created by co-founder Dr. Shari Auth, a certified acupuncturist, herbalist, and Chinese medicine practitioner, who wants to make herbal remedies accessible. WTHN’s ingredients also happen to be 100 percent organic, traceable, and easy to add to your routine (they can be taken without food, and alongside existing vitamins and medications). Think of it as ancient wisdom meets modern science.
Here are three blends we’re eyeing, all in the name of helping us sleep better, have more energy, and manage stress. Bottom’s up.
If sleep is more of a nightly fight than a dreamy escape, these herbs are for you. What makes them potent and stand out from the competitive sleep aid crowd is a super blend of ingredients, like Valerian root (a known sedative and sleep aid), partnered with Ashwagandha to tamper the stress that can creep up before bedtime. Additionally, jujube seed has a sedative effect, and hops flower and Griffonia seed bring on the calm. You purportedly fall asleep faster and longer, and wake up bright-eyed rather than groggy.
For All-Day Energy
This is nature’s Red Bull, but without the harsh, soon-to-follow crash. You can take the blend up to three times a day to get consistent, all-day-long, fatigue-fighting benefits–and lose your caffeine addiction in the process. The secret behind that sustained energy: Rhodiola root is paired with pseudostellaria and eleuthero for endurance, while ginger root is added as an aid for digestion and metabolism. Schisandra fruit and goji berry boost energy, and tangerine peel increase body circulation for the ultimate (natural) pick-you-up.
For Stress Management
Say ‘see ya’ to stress with this set of herbs and adaptogens that address anxiety in a more preventative, proactive way. Basically, it keeps your energy levels even-keeled. That might sound near impossible, but the blend of roots, fruits, and branches is focused on creating a soothing, calming energy. Powerhouses Rhodiola and Ashwagandha are there to ease feelings of anxiousness, while the relatively unknown ancient root Bupleurum and white peony root balance mood. Tulsi leaf (often referred to as “yoga in plant form”) is also in the mix, while “happy bark” mimosa tree bark and nut grass rhizome maintain stress and cortisol levels. Wow, we’ll take three of those ASAP, thanks.
While Chinese herbs are easy to incorporate into your routine, no matter if you get them from a trusted herbalist or from WTHN, check with your doctor to ensure the blends don’t affect or interfere with any of your current medications. Once you’ve got the okay, give ancient remedies a try, they just might change your world for the better.