What are adaptogens?
Adaptogens seem to be a buzzword when it comes to health and wellness, but what are they? Adaptogens are different types of plants and mushrooms that help your body in dealing with stress, fatigue, and general well-being. Their job is to bring your body back to a steady balance by managing your stressors. They are called adaptogens because they adapt their function according to the specific needs of the body.
The term adaptogen dates to around 1947 but the concept actually existed thousands of years ago in India. They even used them in World War 2 to combat the fatigue experienced by fighter pilots.
Adaptogens can be added to food or beverages or taken as tinctures and capsules. There are three boxes that need to be ticked for something to be considered an adaptogen:
- It must be non-toxic in normal doses
- It needs to help your body cope with stress
- It needs to have properties that help your body return to balance.
How do adaptogens work to relieve stress?
The theory around how adaptogens relieve stress is that they affect your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. This axis is responsible for regulating your stress response, your metabolism and your immune system responses and keeps your stress levels in a more neutral, relaxed state. It does this by calming your hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands (responsible for producing cortisol). Cortisol is the hormone that is released during stressful times and increases heart rate, blood pressure and glucose levels.
Different types of adaptogens and their health benefits
Unlike stimulants that can create undesirable side-effects such as insomnia, increased heart rate and energy crashes, adaptogens have been shown to enhance mental clarity and improve physical performance, without harmful side effects. In addition, they are great sources of antioxidants, boosting energy levels and promoting all-round good health.
There are many different types of adaptogens but there are a few that are most used, researched and talked about globally, let’s look at these:
- Ashwagandha – Also known as Indian ginseng and is the most talked about and most used. It has quite a strong odour and reputation for giving people high amounts of vitality. It is often blended into a seasoning called ‘Churna’ in India. This adaptogen has extremely positive effects on your endocrine, nervous, immune, and cardiovascular system. It does this by regulating your metabolism and helping you relax.
- Ginseng – Popular amongst tea drinkers. It comes in two popular types namely American and Asian. It refers to a variety of slow-growing plants with fleshy roots. Ginseng’s most renowned benefit is immune system support. It reduces inflammation, combats stress, and boosts your nervous system by providing relief from both mental and physical fatigue.
- Reishi mushroom – This mushroom has plant sterols which block cholesterol from being absorbed into your body. Although a mushroom, it is not nice to cook with and is commonly preferred when dried or in powder form. – Reishi is responsible for stimulating your immune system and giving you improved adrenal gland function.
- Eleuthero – Used to be known as Siberian ginseng but its name was changed to Eleuthero to avoid confusion. It is one of the most researched types of adaptogens and grows in China and Russia. Eleuthero relieves stress and fatigue and can also boost immune function.
- Rhodiola – Also known as golden root or arctic root, this herb commonly grows in the colder, mountainous areas in Europe and Asia. Only the root of Rhodiola herbs is an adaptogen. is most well-known for its ability to ease symptoms of fatigue, anxiety and depression and provides improved performance during stressful situations.
- Tulsi – Also known as holy basil, this is a fragrant herb from Asia that produces vibrant purple flowers. It has a spicier and more bitter, peppery taste compared to that of traditional sweet basil. It is also referred to as the ‘elixir of life’ because it is highly regarded for its health benefits. Tulsi helps with lowering your stress levels. It can also help with combating digestion. Adaptogens are a unique set of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants which can assist with neuroprotective agents that can help us to learn, feel and connect with what we are doing. Everyone needs support in what they want to accomplish in their day and the supportive adaptogen range we have developed aims to boost you in a safe and healthy manner.