Have you ever been in a stressful situation at home or work and found yourself struggling to calm down long after? Adaptogens are plants, herbs, and mushrooms that manage the body’s response to stressful situations, working to resolve the body’s fight or flight reaction. They work to reduce the body’s stress response and return the body to a state of homeostasis, fighting the long term negative effects of stress. These powerful substances can be found naturally in many herbs and taken through capsules, adding powders to food or beverages, or using tinctures.
There are a few main qualities that are required for a substance to be considered an adaptogen: it aids your body in dealing with stress, it acts to help your body return to a balanced state, and it is not harmful when taken in normal doses.
Stress and Anxiety
When a stressful situation triggers your fight or flight response, your body enters a state of alarm and reacts by raising your heart rate and cortisol levels. Adaptogens work in the period afterward, when your body is attempting to regulate your hormones and return back to normal. The use of adaptogens shortens this recovery time and can result in better sleep and less fatigue.
Adaptogens are very useful in assisting the body in dealing with daily stress, but they also work to return the body to a state of homeostasis. For example, even outside of stressful situations adaptogens can increase or reduce hormones when needed to return the body to a state of balance.
Although they can have powerful benefits when used in combination with healthy habits, adaptogens are not a solution for long term stress and anxiety. At healf, we believe in a well-rounded approach to health by considering all aspects of your lifestyle and creating sustainable habits that work for you. The foods you eat and forms of exercise like yoga can help reduce stress and contribute to better overall health.
An Ayurvedic herb known for its ability to reduce physical and mental stress, ashwagandha is used to reduce inflammation, improve cognitive function, and improve sleep quality. A 2019 study found that taking ashwagandha supplements for 8 weeks resulted in significantly reduced levels of cortisol.
Recommended product: Wild Nutrition: KSM-66 Ashwagandha Plus
This adaptogenic mushroom has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years for overall health. Cordyceps helps support the body’s defence against stress as well as being a source of energy, preventing fatigue and improving the use of oxygen during exercise.
Recommended product: Hifas da Terra: Cordyceps Vital Powder Superfood
Ginseng is one of the most potent adaptogens, with many varieties giving slightly different benefits. Red ginseng is known for its anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties as well as benefits to blood pressure control. Studies have also shown that adults who take ginseng for at least 5 years have improved cognitive function later in life.
Recommended product: Fushi: Red Ginseng
Also known as wolfberries, these berries are full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in addition to their adaptogenic properties. They have been used in traditional medicine to enhance immunity, reduce inflammation, and promote eye health.
Recommended product: Vibrant Health: Spectrum Vibrance Superfood Powder
This spice, along with its active ingredient curcumin, has been used medicinally for centuries and science has begun to support the traditional claims of numerous health benefits. Some studies have shown that turmeric can increase the antioxidant capacity of the body, as well as improving heart health and symptoms of depression.
Recommended product: Bulletproof: Turmeric Gummies
It’s important to note that although adaptogens can provide you with support in dealing with stress and anxiety, it is possible that these supplements interact with any medications you may be taking as well as any allergies you may have. It’s always a good idea to discuss with a healthcare professional about adding supplements to your diet.
By April Greider for Healf Journal