Adaptogens or adaptogenic herbs are substances that stabilize physiological processes and help in resisting and recovering from all kinds of stress our body experiences.
Stressors like illness, fatigue, a busy schedule, exhaustion, stressful life – can all be managed easily with the help of adaptogens which work by normalizing our physiological functions.
Adaptogenic herbs are non-toxic herbs that that help restores the human body’s balance and help combat stress. They act slowly on the body. You will not see a difference overnight so be patient. It can take a few weeks to notice any difference.
Adaptogens have long been used in ancient medicine systems like Ayurveda, Chinese medicine and many others. But in modern times the concept of adaptogens was created in 1947 in the Soviet Union.
Even though modern research and studies have proven many of the benefits of adaptogens, they have not been accepted in mainstream medicine and have not been recognized by the FDA.
Adaptogens are available in the markets in powder, pill, extract, tincture and tea form.
Can everyone take adaptogens?
Although adaptogens appear to be safe for most people, you must be careful in certain cases. You should avoid taking adaptogenic herbs without a doctor’s consultation. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or are on any prescription/medication, then you should avoid adaptogens or consult your doctor. You could also be allergic to some herbs/adaptogens so always check in with modern science first before you decide to take the plunge with traditional medicine.
There are many adaptogenic herbs but here we talk about 17 adaptogens that we feel can be of great help to you:
It is also known as Indian ginseng. Ashwagandha is best known to stabilize cortisol levels and help manage stress. Cortisol is known as a ‘stress hormone.’ It can lower blood sugar levels.
It can also boost brain function which can help improve concentration and cognitive memory. It can also help manage depression and anxiety. Studies have shown that it can even increase fertility in men.
It can also help increase bodily strength. Studies have shown that ashwagandha can help reduce inflammation. No wonder it the most popular adaptogen supplement.
It is also known as Asian ginseng, Korean ginseng or Chinese ginseng. It can help manage stress by blocking ACTH (this hormone stimulates cortisol production) action in the adrenal gland.
It has antioxidant properties and can even help improve cognitive performance. There is, however, only anecdotal evidence for Panax ginseng’s benefits and more research is yet to be done.
This adaptogen has been recommended for regulating hormone levels associated with stress. It is quite useful in dealing with the leaky gut syndrome.
Licorice root can increase endurance and energy while boosting the immune the system. This adaptogen has proven to be useful in decreasing androgen and testosterone in women.
However, it might affect blood pressure in some cases and you must consult a doctor before consuming it. Also, licorice root should be avoided while you are on any kind of prescription medicines.
Holy Basil is called Tulsi in India, the country of its origin. This adaptogen has long been revered in ancient Ayurveda for its health benefits. It has been used to treat immune, nervous and circulatory systems in ancient medicine for thousands of years. It has even been used in cancer treatments.
It is helpful in managing stress in the body by stabilizing cortisol. It is also a potent anti-aging supplement.
Holy Basil has also proven to improve cognitive function in the brain.
It is anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial in nature.
Cordyceps mushrooms are basically fungi which have antioxidant properties which protect the body from oxidative stress. They can help in stabilizing cortisol levels thereby managing stress.
It is also an anti-aging adaptogen.
It is also known as golden root. This adaptogen helps the body defend against stress by a process technically termed as ‘hormesis.’ What it does is that when you ingest Rhodiola, it acts as a mild stressor which helps the body boost its stress defense mechanism.
It is also helpful in combating depression and improves fatigue.
Research has proven that Rhodiola is a safe supplement which seldom reacts with medications or causes any side effects.
Milk thistle like many adaptogens helps in managing stress hormones. It also supports the metabolism.
It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. This adaptogen is also helpful in promoting healthy digestive function.
It is helpful in detoxifying the liver. Milk thistle also supports the health of your liver which basically acts as your body’s detoxifier.
It has anti-oxidant properties which help prevent free radical damage. Due to this, we can also call this an anti-aging adaptogen.
Gotu Kola or Bacopa
It is also known as Brahmi or water hyssop. Bacopa or Gotu Kola has proven in studies that it can improve cognitive function. It has been used in ancient Ayurveda for this purpose for centuries. It is a safer alternative to today’s psychotropic drugs.
It is also helpful in regulating levels during stress.
Also known as Peruvian ginseng, Maca is available in different varieties – yellow, black and red.
This adaptogenic herb works as a great energy booster. It also helps balance hormone levels.
Maca is full of antioxidants which help counteract harmful free radical damage in the body.
This adaptogen is rich in antioxidants and an excellent source of minerals (iron, magnesium) and vitamins (B6, B2, C, A).
Moringa also contains Quercetin (an antioxidant which may help lower blood pressure) and Chlorogenic Acid (which may help balance blood sugar levels after meals).
It is also anti-inflammatory in nature. Sustained inflammation can lead to chronic health problems such as heart diseases and cancer. Isothiocyanates are the main anti-inflammatory compound present in Moringa.
you should never eat the root of Moringa. It is toxic and can be fatal.
Astragalus root helps the body respond to stress by temporarily increasing cortisol levels, like in the case of Rhodiola which works the same way. It helps the body defend against stress by a process technically termed as ‘hormesis.’ What it does is that when you ingest Rhodiola, it acts as a mild stressor which helps the body boost its stress defense mechanism.
Dang Shen is also called the poor man’s ginseng. Used in traditional Chinese herbal medicine, it treats anemia, weakness and fatigue. It is said to reduce chronic fatigue syndrome.
It is also helpful with cases of excessive stomach acid. It promotes digestion and boosts the immune system.
This adaptogen is also anti-inflammatory in nature so it is used in treating arthritis and other muscle and joint conditions.
Also formerly known as Siberian Ginseng, Eleuthero helps in boosting the immune system and increases endurance. It reduces fatigue.
It helps in reducing the body’s stress response.
Apparently, it can also improve cognitive function and help with neurological disorders.
He Shou Wu
Used in traditional Chinese medicine, He Shou Wu can improve energy levels and even help with treating and supporting organs like liver and kidney to function properly.
It has anti-aging properties and supposedly can even reverse gray hair.
It also acts as a hormone-balancing adaptogen.
This adaptogen protects the liver from toxins. It basically detoxes the liver.
It can also improve memory and also protects against neurological disorders.
It has anti-inflammatory properties which help fight free radical damage in the body.
It is also helpful in nurturing the adrenal gland which lowers the overproduction of cortisol (the stress hormone).
We now know that adaptogens provide a range of benefits. They work on the entire human physiology as a whole and not just on one problem. They adapt their function according to your body’s needs.
You can incorporate adaptogens in your food in various ways. You can add them to your coffee, smoothie, snacks, tea, soup and other foods. It depends on how you prefer to take your adaptogen.
And which adaptogen to choose will always depend upon the problem or ailment you are trying to find a solution for.
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