What are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens are certain Herbs or Mushrooms thought to help the body adapt to physical and emotional stress, restoring balance and building resilience.
Adaptogen essential oils such as Lavender and Geranium help the body adapt to stress by supporting the adrenal glands, which release the stress hormone cortisol (thought of as the ‘fight or flight’ hormone). They stimulate or calm, as required, to restore homeostasis.
High cortisol levels brought on by stress over an extended period of time may contribute to accelerated signs of ageing, poorer cognitive performance, decreased memory function, lowered immunity, weight gain, and exhaustion.
They may also help cells to produce more neuropeptide Y, which plays a big role in regulating mood and appetite, helping the body adapt to physical stressors like exercise.
Adaptogens are rooted in traditional ayurvedic and Chinese medicine and were used in Europe as early as World War II.
More recently, several adaptogens have gone through scientifically rigorous studies and have come out with the equivalent of a scientific thumbs-up. Specifically, clinical trials have found several herbal preparations with adaptogens to reduce stress-induced endocrine and immune impairments, while also boosting attention, endurance and fatigue.
Adaptogens are generally known for stress relief, but each herb has its own unique properties that make it useful for specific ailments.
At least 70 plants are considered adaptogens.
One of the most important herbs in Ayurveda. It has been used for over 3,000 years to relieve stress, increase energy levels, and improve concentration. It does this by lowering cortisol levels and mimicking the feel-good neurotransmitter GABA.
- Holy Basil
Known to promote focus and alleviate anxiety. One clinical trial found it significantly diminished generalized anxiety disorder in patients, as well as their associated stress and depression.
Also known as golden root, it is a medicinal plant from Siberia. A recent study by British researchers found that taking Rhodiola reduced feelings of stress after just three days, with benefits continuing during the four-week study.
- Siberian Ginseng
A tonic herb, which boosts stamina, alertness and energy (avoid with acute infections)
- Reishi mushrooms
Helps to boost immunity by increasing the antioxidant level in the body. Studies have shown that it can stimulate white blood cells, which are critical parts of the immune system. In one study, the fungus improved lymphocyte function, which helps fight infections in athletes exposed to stressful conditions help to fight fatigue, regulate mood and promote general wellness.
Helps to reduce stress and promote energy and vitality. A number of studies have shown that certain compounds in Astragalus root have measurable telomerase-stimulating and enhancing effects, which have been linked to increased longevity, anti-ageing, and DNA repair. Astragalus has also become notable over the years for its powerful immune-boosting properties – studies have shown that regular use of Astragalus root leads to an increase in disease-fighting immune antibodies, stimulation of T-cells (which are powerful immune-regulating white blood cells), and an increase in levels of the antiviral compound interferon.
- Acai berry
Found only in the Amazon rainforests of Central and South America, these berries contain a wide array of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants. These berries can supply valuable nutrients to support energy levels, the immune system, and nutrient intake during periods of reduced calories and increased physical activity.