The Magic of Adaptogens
It seems like adaptogens are all the rage these days, but the truth is they’ve been used in Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Any health “trend” that helps individuals reduce stress and feel better naturally, I am on board with!
WHAT ARE ADAPTOGENS?
Adaptogens are a unique class of healing plants: They are natural substances that work with a person’s body and help them adapt; most notably, to stress. Adaptogens are a natural ally in dealing with persistent stress and fatigue because they work with regulating important hormones. To be an adaptogen, herbs have to be non-toxic to the body’s physiological functions, offer widespread support, and help bring the body back to equilibrium (balance).
HOW ADAPTOGENS WORK
Adaptogenic herbs modulate stress responses, enhancing energy production and sleep quality and improving immune function.
They work to bring the hormones of your adrenal system back into balance and overcome adrenal fatigue, a common condition of chronic stress. Some adaptogens do this by lowering cortisol, the stress hormone.
Elevated cortisol levels and chronic stress can affect every physiological system in your body. It can make you anxious and irritable, lead to weight gain, bone loss, and completely depletes your energy levels. Stress also often disturbs sleep patterns, lowers immunity and affects normal digestive functioning. Needless to say, adaptogens naturally help you respond to stress better!
HOW ADAPTOGENS CAN HELP
Regulate the production of stress hormones like cortisol
Maintain healthy organ function during periods of stress
Increase your resistance to stress
Boost immune health
Decrease adrenal fatigue
Increased physical endurance and mental focus
SOME OF MY FAVOURITE ADAPTOGENS
Ashwagandha: Also called Indian Ginseng, studies from India shows that those who take this herb enjoy dramatic improvements in how they handle – and feel – stress. It’s also taken to keep the mind sharp, and for energy
Holy Basil: Holy Basil enhances the body's natural response to physical and emotional stress. It also reduces bloating and gas, for those struggling with gut issues.
Rhidiola: Rhodiola rosea is remarkable plant with a wide history of uses. Rhodiola rosea strengthens the nervous system, enhances immunity, elevates the capacity for exercise, enhances memory, increases sexual function and improves energy levels. This herb can help reduce stress and is great for people with adrenal fatigue. However, if you are extra sensitive, be careful because it could be over stimulating and potentially keep you up at night.
Reishi Mushroom: This herb can be taken when you have a cold to help boost immunity. It is considered to be very calming for the nervous system and can help with sleep, nervousness and anxiety. The properties of the mushroom are considered particularly beneficial for the liver.
HOW TO TAKE ADAPTOGENS
Powders: These are usually dried herbs that have been finely ground. However, medicinal mushrooms like Reishi, have been extracted and then dried to create an herbal extract powder. These powders are great to add to smoothies, soups, hot drinks or oatmeal.
Tinctures: are liquid extracts made from herbs that you take orally. They are usually extracted in alcohol , but they can also be extracted in vegetable glycerine (non-alcohol). Tinctures are easy and convenient to use.
Tea: You can consume any herbal tea with adaptogens such as Holy Basil/Tulsi tea. Loose herbs and teas are less processed then powders and can be consumed in place of coffee or soft drinks. Drink it hot or cold depending on the season.
DOSAGE AND SAFTY
Read the label: When taking capsules or tinctures, do not exceed the recommended dose that is suggested on the label, unless advised by a doctor or herbalist.
Take a Break: Herbs such as adaptogens are most effective when changed or stopped every now and again. I suggest taking an herb for no longer than 6 weeks continuously, then changing to a different herb or stoping altogether for 2 weeks.
*I would never recommend using adaptogens for children under the age of 12. If you are pregnant or breast feeding always consult an herbalist or doctor before taking herbs.