Adaptogens are just one of the latest health trends, but what sets them apart from your activated charcoal pills and collagen capsules? For one, they’ve been around longer than most food trends and have been called other things than adaptogens centuries ago. They’re also all-natural superfoods or super-supplements. If that seems like any other herb remedy to you, think again. Adaptogens are indeed a broad group of plants, but they must meet at least three criteria: they are safe for just about everyone, they can help you deal with stress, and they work to balance your hormones.
Adaptogens have long been in use as medicinal cures by cultures like China’s and India’s. Because of their stress-relieving and hormone-balancing benefits, adaptogens can aid in sickness, fatigue, and so many other common health issues.
The theory behind the how adaptogens function is that it balances out the “stress stem” in our body or the hypothalamic-pituitary-endocrine axis. Adaptogens regulates communication between the brain and the adrenal glands, helping to relax hormone response to certain high-anxiety situations. When we’re feeling exhausted, inflamed, hungry or emotionally drained, this can be caused by an imbalance in our system which adaptogens can help to address.
Adaptogens claim other health benefits too. They’ve been found to lower cortisol levels, regenerate brain cells, alleviate depression and anxiety, improve heart health, protect the liver, prevent and fight cancer, lower cholesterol, protect against radiation, and balance the immune system.
For avid exercisers, adaptogens can even aid in your fitness performance. Exercise puts the body under stress, so adaptogens can be helpful. Since adaptogens can lower cortisol, this allows the body to recover more quickly. Endurance athletes also need help managing stress levels to avoid getting too hot. However, research has shown that the effects take time. You’ll need to build your adaptogen intake and may not notice a difference for six to 12 weeks, according to experts.
So, what adaptogens can you take and what specific benefits do they hold? Here are some of the most common adaptogens, some of which you can easily find at your supermarket. You should also keep an eye out for these when checking ingredients list.
Ginseng is a great alternative to caffeine for boosting your energy. Aside from improving fatigue, ginseng can also enhance the body’s immune function, normalise heart rhythm, and even treat chronic bronchitis and diabetes. Women undergoing menopause can also benefit from ginseng when they’re feeling physically drained.
You may find pearl as an ingredient in beauty products, particularly from Asian brands. This is because crushed pearl powder is rich in aminos and can nourish skin, hair and nails.
Similar to ginseng, eluethero can increase energy levels and improve stamina and immune function. It can also reduce bad cholesterol, maintain heart health, control blood sugar levels, prevent internal blood clots, and help you recover faster from a cold.
This fragrant root boosts strength, stamina, memory, and the cardiovascular system. Rhodiola can even be used to treat depression.
This berry is great for people coping with adrenal fatigue. It also has antioxidant properties and can help with digestive and respiratory ailments.
This herb is often called the “Indian ginseng” and has similar effects. It’s also effective in regulating mood swings and keeping your mind sharp.