What Are They?
Now that you have a little understanding of what adaptogens are, we can look at the answer to the question “what are they?” Here we will look at the most common adaptogens and just how they help the body:
American ginseng helps to boost memory, facilitates calmness, improves reaction time and boosts the immune system.
Ashwagandha is best known for lessening stress and reducing anxiety. It has been called the “herb of the ages” as it boosts energy and supports immunity. This is one adaptogen that has been studied for many years.
Gojo berries help in boosting energy, improve both physical and mental performance, aids in getting good sleep, and facilitates calmness.
Licorice root is best known for reducing stress. It is also known to improve energy and endurance. Furthermore, it can also boost the immune system!
Rhodiola rosea helps ward off the effects of both mental and physical fatigue. It can also improve the ability to concentrate.
Turmeric is most commonly known for decreased risk of depression and boosting brain function.
Some other, less common but equally effective adaptogens include Schisandra berry/Magnolia berry, Tulsi/Holy basil, Eluethero root, Jiaogulan, Cordyceps, Atric root, and Astragalus. These all exhibit many of the same benefits as those listed above in aiding the body to respond to stress in a positive way. Holy basil is known as an “anti-aging” supplement in India. Astragalus is known for boosted immunity and improved antioxidant levels. Cordyceps are mushrooms that contain antioxidant properties. You might recall that antioxidants inhibit oxidation which is a chemical process that produces free radicals. These free radicals can be harmful and cause damage to the cells in the body. Antioxidants help protect and defend the cells from this kind of damage. From this, you can see how adaptogens with antioxidant properties can be helpful to the body!
How Do They Work?
Most of us experience stress, right? Actually, we would be willing to bet nearly everyone has stressful occurrences regularly. There are so many variable factors in life that it’s nearly impossible for anyone to predict stress let alone how to manage it. Between work and family, self-care and responsibilities, finances and leisure, the amount of stress can be incredibly hard to manage.
How do you respond when faced with stress? Do you pay attention to the signals from your body in response to the stressor? Are you able to calm the body and mind without moving into panic mode? Do you respond to stress quickly and without much thought? Sometimes stressful situations cause people to respond harshly or overreact. An interesting thing about adaptogens is that you cannot give them one specific title… they have many jobs! The biggest thing to remember is how they work to help the body manage stress from outside influences. They help create balance by bringing physiological functions back to “normal.”
We looked at the GAS phases earlier. Using that information, it is important to note how adaptogens regulate and balance the adrenal, pituitary and hypothalamic glands. Each of these glands plays a role in the body’s response to stress. This work, done by adaptogens, happens at a molecular level. In looking one step further, chronic stress can create a plethora of problems both physically and mentally. Adrenal fatigue can happen when the body is in a state of constant stress. As noted, the adrenal glands are connected to the stress response of the body. If the adrenal glands are essentially “tired” they cannot function how they are meant to. Adaptogens are being studied for how effective they can be for those with long-term stress. The research on adaptogens gives supporting evidence of all that they can do for the body. They really do live up to all of the hype!
There are not any Food and Drug Administration regulations for adaptogens. As always, with anything that you put into your body, we recommend that you research your supplements. Quality and sourcing are very important to make sure you are actually getting the benefits of adding adaptogens to your life. Taking a supplement that has artificial ingredients or poor quality in sourcing can negate everything that you are trying to do. You’re taking adaptogens to try to reduce and manage stress and high-quality ingredients will promote that. Anything else can hinder your efforts. We also suggest that you talk with your primary care physician if you have any medical conditions if you are comparing products or you are concerned with specific ingredients.
We listed some of the ways that each adaptogen can help the body above but think of this from a whole body perspective, they can do many things! There has been a ton of research on the topic of adaptogens. They are not something “new” to today’s world. Most of those on our list above have a lot of history and have shown to be incredibly effective tools for many, many, many years! Recall, their introduction into the world was over 70 years ago, as of today. The idea of adaptogens started with just a few herbs. As research continues, the list has grown as more herbs with qualities of adaptogens have been discovered.
Combatting fatigue, easing symptoms of depression, enhancing brain function and mental performance, and reducing symptoms of anxiety are the most profound health benefits that have a lot of scientific research behind them. They can also help with attention and focus due to the improved neurological function. Do these things all sound really good to you? Are you nodding along, thinking “yes, I need that in my life” in response to these advantages to your health? We are willing to bet that nearly everyone on the planet, if not all people, will experience improvements if they add adaptogens to their lifestyle. They will help the body perform better overall which helps you feel like you’re thriving instead of just pushing your way through each day.
Because it is so important, we always mention that supplements are just that… a supplement. Will adaptogens help your body regardless of your diet, exercise, etc.? Yes, most likely. With that being said, you will receive better results overall if you are promoting a healthy lifestyle. If you are mindful of fueling your body with nutrient dense, whole, clean foods you will have more success with any supplement… adaptogens included. Eating foods filled with artificial ingredients and fillers only exacerbate the stress levels on the body and make it harder for adaptogens to do their job. Long story short, it will be easier for adaptogens to help your body thrive if you are supporting your body by making good choices when it comes to food, physical activity and getting proper rest.
This whole idea goes one step further with respect to the responsibilities in your life. We’ve already mentioned the never-ending “to-do” lists that most people must deal with. Take note that adaptogens will provide more benefit to your body if you are also making time to take care of yourself and unwind. The sheer number of tasks on most people’s plates is overwhelming. We definitely suggest that you remember to take some time (regularly) to deal with this stress. This can be done in various ways depending on how your body responds. It works best to schedule this into your day, so you don’t wait until it’s too late and you’re stressed to the max. Breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, journaling, grounding/earthing, and walking in nature are a few examples. In doing so, adaptogens will become your partner in reducing the effects of stress on your body.
Adaptogens, In Summary
Now that we’ve addressed adaptogens 101: what are they and what do they do?, let’s do a quick review of why you might consider them. Adaptogens reduce many symptoms in the body that are stress induced. Any time you are under stress there are many physical responses that can be reduced by consuming adaptogens. Adding adaptogens to your routine can have positive effects on not only sleep and mood but also stress. Your body can become more resilient to stress when you add adaptogens you’re your life!
Remember that many products on the market include adaptogens in their ingredients as they provide so many advantages to your health and wellbeing. For example, Top Notch Nutrition’s Burn has ashwagandha in it. This was done specifically because it’s scientifically shown to reduce cortisol levels. Reduced cortisol can help you lose weight among providing many other positive benefits to the body. We believe that if you add an adaptogen supplement to your life that you will definitely notice a difference!