My 4 Go To Adaptogens + Why We Need Them
Lets agree on one thing, these last two years have been incredibly challenging and everyone, everywhere has been under an immense amount of stress juggling it all.
When our nervous system senses that we’re in a stressful situation, our adrenal glands receive signals to release hormones (adrenalin and cortisol) causing our body to enter fight or flight response. This process in the short term is natural, like a deer running from a predator. It's when we're in a prolonged state of this sense of flight or flight, that we can increase our risk of certain health problems like, diabetes, digestive issues, disturbed sleep, decreased sex drive and more.
While activities like yoga, meditation, walking or reading can be relaxing, herbalists also use adaptogenic herbs to help the body adapt to stressful situations and maintain balance. These herbs have been used for thousands of years but the term ‘adaptogen’ has been studied since 1947. Today’s definition describes adaptogens as: new class of metabolic regulators (of a natural origin) which increase the ability of an organism to adapt to environmental factors and to avoid damage from such factors” (Panossian et al., 1999). Meaning, adaptogens can help you cope with symptoms of stress, like fatigue and anxiety by improving your mood and focus and increasing overall energy. Studies on animals and isolated neuronal cells have revealed that adaptogens exhibit neuroprotective, anti-fatigue, antidepressive, anxiolytic, nootropic and CNS stimulating activity. (NCIB, 2010)
Adaptogens are full of hormone balancing properties, but they all have their own unique qualities. Here are 4 adaptogenic herbs I think are worth taking a look at if you’re feeling the burn out:
Highly regarded in Traditional Chinese Medicine as the herb of immortality, reishi mushroom is most commonly used for its abundance of polysaccharides which provide immunomodulating properties. Numerous studies have confirmed its antitumor and immunomodulatory effects. However, reishi is also a wonderful adaptogenic herb, helpful for nourishing and supporting the adrenals and the nervous system. We use organic dried, powdered reishi in our Queen of Green and Mighty Maca superfood powders to make it easy to enjoy its adaptogenic and immuno-supporting properties.
Cautions: Avoid with blood thinners and medications that lower blood pressure
Originally grown in India, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, ashwagandha is most commonly used in Ayurveda for its tonic, strengthening and relaxing properties. Its powerful medicinal properties include, easing stress and anxiety, aiding sleep and also fatigue. All of which are largely supported by clinical research. There have been studies done showing that those taking Ashwagandha had lower stress levels and an increased sense of well-being. Ashwagandha has also been proven to reduce anxiety and tension in 6 clinical trials. Not only that, it can be useful for treating chronic inflammation disease like arthritis. Ashwagandha also contains a high iron content and can be helpful for those suffering from anemia.
The leaves of the ashwagandha plant contain the most withanolides (constituents linked to inhibit cancer cell growth). The root is powdered or made into decoctions and taken as either a strengthening or calming tonic.
Unfortunately, this magical herb doesn’t taste all that great, but we've made it easy to consume with our Adapt powder. Simply blend into a warm drink, add into muffins or cereal.
Safety - due to lack of studies, please avoid if you are pregnant
Siberian Ginseng (Eleuthero)
Native to northeast Asia, Eleuthero is one of the most well researched adaptogens. Used as an herbal remedy in China for over 2,000 years, Eleuthero is now most commonly used to enhance concentration and performance, increasing energy and stamina, while reducing stress and fatigue. It is also used by herbalists to enhance immune function and resistance to infection, improve detoxification and support the nervous system.
You can find Eleuthero in our brand new Adapt powder. Simply add into a warm drink, or sprinkle onto snacks.
Safety - not recommended for those who have high blood pressure
Holy Basil (Tulsi)
A native to tropical Asia, this herb has been grown for more than 3,000 years and considered one of the most holy plants in India. Holy Basil or Tulsi, has been valued for centuries because of its benefits for the mind, body, and spirit. It is used in India for a wide variety of medicinal properties, relieving fevers, bronchitis, asthma, stress and mouth ulcers. Indian research studies have been done to show Holy Basil’s ability to help lower blood pressure, and its anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, and fever reducing properties. It is thought to have an affinity with the heart, protecting it from stress and lowering blood pressure and has an ability to help the body adapt to new demands and stressors.
Holy Basil isn’t that same sweet flavour you’d get from other varieties. It is slightly spicy with flavour that is more stable under high cooking temperatures. You can also purchase Holy Basil in capsule or liquid form from reputable brands like New Chapter and Botanica.
When stress takes over, it can leave us struggling with an array of health issues. If you're feeling like you need a little extra support to help manage, its definitely worth doing some research into adaptogenic herbs and speaking to your health care provider about which herbs are right for your body.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, please consult with your healthcare provider prior to taking any new herbs.