Adaptogens – what’s all the fuss?
Think of adaptogens as your personal stress management team! This select group of healing herbs (and some mushrooms) help balance, restore and protect the body against stress. They are called adaptogens because they adapt their function according to the specific needs of the body. Intelligent herbs! We know, right?!
Adaptogens are often found growing in some of the world’s harshest climates! They produce special substances that help them adapt to environmental stress in their own habitats. It’s no wonder these clever little plants can help the human body respond to stress better.
Adaptogens regulate the body’s stress response the way a thermostat regulates temperature. They can increase energy when it’s required, and calm the system when it’s over stimulated. They do this by balancing and stabilising the body’s systems – rock on adaptogens.
How do they work?
Ready for the science part of this article? Ok, good! So, the stress protective activity of adaptogens is associated with the regulation of homeostasis. Homeostasis refers to the body’s ability to maintain a stable internal environment despite changes in external conditions. They regulate homeostasis via the immune-neuro-endocrine system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-endocrine system – that was a mouthful!
Adaptogens work to fine-tune hormone production and physiological responses to stress. They do this by regulating certain key stress mediators and biochemical markers such as cortisol, cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose. In this way they ensure that the body functions optimally.
We all feel stress, right? And, since it’s not possible to eliminate all stress its important to find ways to cope with. That’s why adaptogens should be considered as part of a stress management plan, along with healthy diet, regular exercise and adequate sleep.
Adaptogens vs. Stimulants
Today, people frequently turn to prescription stimulants to cope with stress. In 2012 nearly 360 000 people received treatment for stimulant addiction. That’s a lot of people! Stimulants increase activity in the central nervous system and prompt the body into a fight-or-flight response. This creates all kinds of problems, including appetite loss, insomnia, and increased heart rate.
Other stimulants include coffee, and high sugar energy products. These are stressed our people’s go-to! And, they might momentarily boost energy levels, but they tend to end with an energy crash.
Adaptogens on the other hand have been shown to enhance mental clarity and attention, improve physical performance, and reduce fatigue without harmful side effects. Seriously guys, these plants sell themselves! Moreover, adaptogens are great sources of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. They boost energy levels, fight stress and promote health. Need we say more?
The Top 10 Adaptogenic Herbs
is an adaptogen that helps our bodies adapt to stressful environmental conditions. A potent adaptogenic herb, it is one of the most famous and valued herbs used by humankind. This herb has been shown to both stimulate and regulate the central nervous system and endocrine system. Ginseng is known throughout the world for its amazing energy restoring and strength building properties. This makes it a favourite amongst many athletes.
is the highest altitude food-herb grown in the world. Some of macas most celebrated properties include; immune system and stress support, hormonal support, athletic support, improved brain function and longevity. Maca increases blood oxygenation. This quality supports fertility and healthy libido, as well as increases stamina and elevates mood. Incan warriors were said to eat maca before battle as they believed it gave them invincible strength and stamina.
improves immune function by increasing the production of immune cells, and is known for its antiviral properties. It is one of the most potent immune tonics used to improve the lungs, strengthen muscles, increase metabolism, reduce stress, and strengthen genetics.
has been the most revered herbal mushroom in Asia for almost two thousand years. The Taoists consider it the ‘elixir of immortality’. This mushroom possesses anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties. It’s an excellent anti stress herb known to ease tension, elevate the spirit, and promote peace of mind. It does this by transforming negative energy in the body. Furthermore, reishi has been shown to be effective in the treatment of arthritis.
is the king of the medicinal mushrooms! It is found growing wild in old forests throughout the colder regions of Northern Asia and Northern Europe. It contains the highest amount of anti-tumour, cancer-fighting compounds of any herb. Chaga is also extremely high in nourishing phytochemicals, nutrients and free-radical-scavenging antioxidants. Chaga is a highly prized tonic mushroom, long used in traditional Siberian, Korean, Chinese, Northern European and Scandinavian herbalism.
Tulsi (Holy Basil):
is the Queen of Herbs! Holy Basil has been revered in India for over five thousand years for its amazing number of health benefits. From the leaves to the seeds, this plant is considered a tonic for the body and mind. Traditionally, tulsi is used to promote immunity, support strength and stamina, and to enhance clarity. Furthermore, tulsi has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety.
is a powerful adaptogen that supports adrenal health and soothes the nervous system. This herb acts as a rejuvenating tonic. It supports the energy systems of the body and encourages deep sleep. In addition, certain studies show that ashwagandha has stress and anxiety alleviating qualities.
is one of the most nutrient dense plants on earth! Organic moringa powder contains a wealth of essential, disease-preventative nutrients, including antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, vitamins, minerals, omega oils, and even all 9 essential amino acids. Some interesting moringa facts include: 1) Did you know that moringa has 17x the calcium in milk making it excellent for strengthening teeth and bones. 2) Also, moringa has 15x the potassium of bananas making it incredible for heart support. 3) Lastly, moringa has 4x the chlorophyll of wheatgrass making it highly alkalising and cleansing to the human body.
has long been known as an adaptogen. This herb grows in cold mountainous regions of Europe and Asia. Rhodiola has been shown to eliminate fatigue, reduce symptoms of depression, and improve brain function and athletic performance.
can help to boost the immune system. This root has been used for centuries for its medicinal benefits. In human volunteers, supplementation with licorice helped to regulate hormone levels associated with stress, namely cortisol.
Are Adaptogens Safe?
Studies have found adaptogens to be both safe and non-toxic. Some adaptogens are not recommended for people with certain conditions because they could interfere with prescription medications. Therefore, research the contra-indications of any herbs before considering supplementing with them. Lastly, due to the lack of scrutiny in the supplement industry it’s important to choose a brand you trust.
How To Take Adaptogens…
There are a number of ways to get your daily dose of adaptogens. This includes a growing list of adaptogen rich products. Many drinks, teas, tinctures and salves are abundant in adaptogens! They are also in capsule or pill form… Alternatively, sprinkle adaptogen rich powders over the tops of smoothies, soups, and salads! We recommend journaling about any positive effects that you notice when you start supplementing. Look out for stress relief, increased energy and mental clarity. Give them a try… You only have something to gain.