Adaptogens have been getting a lot of attention recently, but what exactly are they, and why are they good for us?
What Are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens are herbs that ‘exhibit neuroprotective, anti-fatigue, antidepressive, anxiolytic [anxiety-reducing], nootropic [memory-enhancing] and central nervous system stimulating activity. In addition, a number of clinical trials demonstrate that adaptogens exert an anti-fatigue effect that increases mental work capacity against a background of stress and fatigue, particularly in tolerance to mental exhaustion and enhanced attention.’ (US National Library of Medicine)
Put simply, ‘adaptogens help your body handle stress’. They appear to do this by strengthening the body’s natural response to stress, and increasing the time that your body can resist the stressor.
Which Herbs Are Adaptogens?
There are many herbs that are thought to have adaptogenic benefits. The ones that have been most studied are:
- Siberian Ginseng: commonly used for immunity, stamina, sexual health, acute stress and anxiety;
- Arctic Root (Rhodiola): often used for improved memory, physical performance and energy, as well as acute stress and anxiety;
- Schisandra: often used for improved liver function and gastrointestinal health, and for acute stress and anxiety.
In addition to these, the following herbs are thought to be adaptogens, and are commonly taken for the benefits described:
- Ashwagandha: long-term stress
- Holy Basil (Tulsi): stress
- Asian Ginseng: long-term stress
- Reishi: immunity Ginseng: immunity
- Astragalus: combating fatigue
- Cordyceps: boosting stamina
- Goji Berry: boosting energy, mental and physical performance, calmness, sleep
- Eleuthero Root: improved focus; staving off fatigue
- Jiaogulan: reducing stress; boosting endurance
- Licorice Root: reducing stress
- Turmeric: boosting brain function, reducing depression.
How can I incorporate Adaptogens into my routine?
Most adaptogens are now available as supplements, either in capsule form or in powders that can be added to smoothies, soups or salads. As with any natural supplements, look out for the highest quality you can find and make sure you follow any guidelines given, including how long it’s recommended to take a single herb.
As with any supplements, it’s always advised to speak to your healthcare provider to ensure that any adaptogens you want to take won’t interact with any medication and are safe for you to use.
https://www.healthline.com/health/adaptogenic-herbs#herbs-list https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3991026/ https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-are-adaptogens-4685073