What are Adaptogens?
As collective stress increases, it’s no surprise that adaptogens have come on the scene so strong. You may be asking, “What are adaptogens? How do they relate to stress?” Today, we’ll look at what adaptogens are and why you may consider adding them to your regimen.
What is an Adaptogen?
Adaptogens are non-toxic plant-based components of herbal medicine. These mushrooms and herbs are said to help our bodies fight the effects of stress. The stress they help with can be physical, emotional, and environmental. While these plant substances do not change how we experience stress, they are said to help us in the biological response we have to stress. Adaptogens are known to be:
- Nourishing - strengthening and providing sustenance to the body
- Normalizing - balancing the different bodily systems
- Non-specific - act on multiple parts of the body at the same time
- Non-toxic - safe to use for long term support in usual dosage.
Adaptogens and Ancient Medicine
Adaptogens have been used in ancient Indian (Ayurveda), traditional Chinese (TCM), and Tibetan (sowa rigpa) medicines for centuries. TCM tells us that adaptogens aid our natural healing and help our bodies achieve balance, allowing them to overcome the stressors that affect us. Little research has been done to document the efficacy claims of adaptogens, but that is changing. Patients continue to seek out ancient medicine due to failed pharmacological treatments and unbearable side effects. As patients seek these alternative treatments, researchers and practitioners are taking note.
Top Adaptogens and What They Help
- Ashwagandha- One of the better-studied adaptogens, ashwagandha is known to help with stress and reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels. The Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine study found that ashwagandha lowered cortisol levels and helped reduce stress-related damage.
- Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng)- This plant is said to boost mental and physical performance. Siberian ginseng may also be used to treat symptoms of depression such as appetite changes, sleep disturbances, and headaches, according to an article in Pharmaceuticals (Basel).
- Rhodiola rosea- A study in the Nordic Journal of Psychiatry details improvements in depression.
- Schisandra chinensis- A review in the Swiss medical journal Pharmaceuticals suggests S.chinensis seeds boost mental performance and reduce exhaustion and may help people with stress-induced depression regain normal sleep and reduce fatigue.
- Holy Basil (tulsi)- This popular adaptogen may work on anxiety or depression, in addition to stress management. A study published in the Nepal Medical College Journal shows that people with depression saw improvements in their symptoms when taking holy basil.
These studies all found little to no side-effects in using adaptogens. Still, as always, you should talk with your doctor if there is possible interference with pharmaceutical medications you might be taking.
Be sure to shop the store for quality adaptogenic supplements!