What are Adaptogens and why they are so important…
Adaptogens are non-toxic plants that traditionally help the body to resist stressors of all kinds; emotional, physical or chemical. They have a normalizing influence on physiological norms caused by stressors; whether environmental or physiological. A foundational component of any herbal approach. These herbs and roots have been used for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions, but they’re having major come back in the last twenty years. Some, like holy basil, can be eaten as part of a meal or added to your daily smoothie; while others are consumed as supplements or brewed into delicious teas.
The adaptogenic herbs all do something a little different, but on the whole, these herbs help your body with stress, stamina and strength, simple as that😊 They also traditionally help with exhaustion, reproductive issues, altered immunity, sleep disturbance, mental health, stress related symptoms such as exams, divorce and death. It is difficult to escape stress in modern life and our adrenal glands are often hard at work helping us to meet those stressors. They are our fight and flight.
Stress in the 21st Century
- 75-90% of all physician’s office visits are for stress-related conditions and/or complaints.
- Lifetime prevalence of emotional disorder over 50%
- 43% of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress
- Stress contributes to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, asthmas, irritable bowel disease, infertility, headaches, muscle tension and premature aging.
Annually I feed and nourish my Adrenal System and recommend my students and clients do the same. A few of the most commonly used: Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Ginseng (Panax ginsend, P. quinquefolius), Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), Bacopa (Bacopa monnierri) and Andrographis (Andrographis paniculate)
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
My personal favourite! I add to my smoothies and make an awesome Ashwagandha latte, simply delish!
In Ayurveda medicine this herb has been used for anemia, muscle weakness, sleep disorders, bad dreams, high stress, overwork, fatigue and memory changes. Preclinical data shows anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-stress, anti-depressant, neuroprotective, cardioprotective, immunomodulatory, anti-diabetic activities. Stress wants sugar, therefore helps with food cravings. When you think of Ashwagandha, think – stamina of a horse.
In a nut shell it is calming for anxious, wired, tired, and stressed out individuals. Got anyone in mind? 😊
Ginseng (Panax ginseng, P. quinquefolius)
King of all tonics! This nourishing root is recommended for the 40 – 60 year old crowd. Ginseng is wonderful for men as a sexual tonic and aphrodisiac. Widely used in Japan and China to invigorate the qu/chi, meaning general energy and vitality. Traditional uses emphasize Eleuthero for fatigue, poor stamina and stress intolerance. Also used for nervous and mood disorders such as depression mental fatigue and poor concentration. Eleuthero treats chronic and acute infections, improves immune function, protects against hepatotoxins, neurotoxins, and cerebral vascular inflammation. It may improve cardiovascular inflammation, hypertension and hepatitis. Supportive effects on mood and fatigue.
Studies have found increased exercise tolerance in trained athletes, improving endurance and stamina. Improved cancer related fatigue and boosting one’s immunity.
There have been no known herb drug interactions.
Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)
This stimulating adaptogen is used in traditional medicine systems of Eastern Europe and Asia for more than 3,000 years to increase energy, decrease depression, eliminate fatigue, and prevent high altitude sickness. Native to Russia where it has been used for fatigue, stress and mood disorders. Rhodiola possesses antioxidant, apoptogenic, anti-stress, antimicrobial, immunomodulatory, angiomodulatory, and antitumoral effects. Also, beneficial effects on depression, fatigue, and cognitive dysfunction. Ideal for physical performance, burn out, mood and night shifts. If one finds themselves with a decline in work performance, sleep difficulties, poor appetite, irritability, hypertension, headaches and fatigue. Aids menopausal women with fatigue, anxiety, depression, cognitive dysfunction, memory decline, head trauma, reduced executive functions, and stress intolerance. Improves cardiovascular and respiratory efficiency in situations of extreme physical exertion. Improves concentration, cognition and mood. May improve attention, cognitive function and mental performance in fatigue and in chronic fatigue syndrome. Rhodiola does not interfere with either warfarin or theophylline.
Natives of Alaska/northern Canada prepared tea from flowers and ate young succulent leaves and shoots raw or cooked.
Bacopa (Bacopa monnierri)
Significantly improved memory spans aw well as verbal and visual memory in children and adolescents. Improvements in hyperactivity and attention in children diagnosed with ADHD.
Andrographis (Andrographis paniculate)
Andrographis has anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective anti-fibrotic, and anti-fatigue effects in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Remember, that which adapts thrives!