ADAPTOGENS: HELPING YOUR BODY ADAPT TO STRESS

INTRODUCTION

With everything going on in the world today, we need help more than ever in managing all the stress in our lives — I know I do! And yes, there are plenty of apps out there promising to help you get rid of your stress and make it all better.

However, this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes an app isn’t enough to calm down your monkey mind. Maybe you should add another weapon to your arsenal in your battle against stress. Something to help your body better adapt to stress — like adaptogens!

WHAT ARE ADAPTOGENS?

what ?

 Adaptogens are plants that help our bodies respond better to stress. They’re effective for all kinds of stress — mental, emotional, environmental, and physiological alike. These plants have a normalizing effect, helping our bodies maintain homeostasis – that’s a fancy word for bringing it back into balance.

 The herbs we call adaptogens today have gone by many other names, such as rejuvenating herbs, qi tonics, rasayanas, and restoratives. They get the name “Adaptogen” because these plants figured out how to adapt to thrive – not just survive – in unfriendly environmental conditions. 

Sadly, many of the stressors we experience as modern people are similar to the environmental stressors these plants battled for centuries.

 Since many chronic illnesses are exacerbated by stress, adaptogens may help in their treatment overseen by your qualified practitioner. Let’s dive deeper into the world of adaptogens together. 

 

RISKS AND BENEFITS

ADAPTOGEN RISKS AND BENEFITS

RISKS

 A healthy person can comfortably consume moderate doses of quality adaptogens but they should connect with their practitioner to review the timing and type of adaptogen. Additionally, you don’t need to go on and stay on an adaptogen forever. In fact, once its work is done, it is better for you to move on … perhaps to another adaptogen. 

BENEFITS

 Adaptogens have played a primary role in medicine “bags” of healers all over the globe for centuries. Today, researchers have multiple studies on adaptogens whose findings validate the impact of adaptogens on human health. 

 Adaptogens work with the individual human body to adjust responses and to support the body to restore itself to optimal function. While adaptogens may provide one or several essential nutrients (such as fatty acids, essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals), their “adaptogenic” powers do not come from providing these nutrients but rather from delivering one or more plant nutrients that help the body adapt its current functioning to a healthier one, as needed. 

 Adaptogens help our circadian rhythm (sleep cycle) and HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis “adapt” to better self-regulate. A 12-week study using 350 mg beta-glucans from reishi found that beta-glucans increased both the innate and active immune cells in the peripheral blood cells which are critical in fighting off infections.

HOW SHOULD I TAKE ADAPTOGENS?

HOW SHOULD I TAKE ADAPTOGENS

 Today most adaptogens come in the form of teas or dietary supplements, You may also find them added to bars, drinks, smoothies, and even ice cream! For adaptogens to be effective, they need to give your body enough of a quality source. Most foods and drinks do not contain effective doses. Let’s discuss your choices!

In general, it is a good idea to look for products that disclose dosage. However, your practitioner may be familiar with a specific product for which dosage is not disclosed, and I recommend you always consider their advice. Some people forget to mention adaptogens when their doctor asks about supplements. Be careful not to make this mistake!

Herbal extracts can vary in strength so always purchase any supplements from a reputable company and follow your physicians’ or the manufacturer’s dosage instructions. If you’re taking powerful prescription drugs, you don’t want to start taking an herbal supplement without checking with your healthcare practitioner first.

TYPES OF ADAPTOGENS

types of adaptogens infographic

Finding which one is right for you will be more effective than just taking a bunch at 1 time. Some rev you up and others calm you down. So which adaptogen is right for you?

If your aim is to relax and chill down a bit, Ashwagandha, Tulsi/Holy Basil, and Reishi may help alleviate stress and promote calmness. If your goal is more energy and better focus during the day, then Ginseng, Bacopa, and Rhodiola are good choices. For immune support, Astragalus, Ginseng, and Rhodiola may help.

For example, Bacopa has been shown to improve brain health as you age as well as improve focus in hyperactive children. Research supports Ashwagandha’s ability to lower cortisol and stress, improve sleep quality, and ease anxiety.

There’s also evidence to support Rhodiola’s benefits in reducing fatigue and improving mood and the immune system. Studies support the use of Ginseng in the treatment of mild depression and fatigue in older adults.

SUPERFOOD COFFEE RECIPE

Give this Superfood Coffee Recipe a try to tap into the power of adaptogens.

SUPERFOOD COFFEE

Recipe by c/o The Better Nutrition ProgramDifficulty: Easy
Servings

1

servings
Prep time

5

minutes
Cooking time

3

minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk 

  • 1 tbsp cacao powder 

  • 1 tsp maca powder 

  • ½ tbsp coconut oil 

  • ¼ tsp turmeric 

  • Pinch cinnamon 

  • 1 tbsp maple syrup 

  • 1 shot espresso or very strong brewed coffee 

  • Heat soy milk in a saucepan over medium heat or microwave until hot.
  • Combine all ingredients in a blender.
  • Blend on high for 1 minute.
  • Serve hot. Enjoy!

Notes

  • You can substitute your milk of choice for soy milk.

CONCLUSION

Adaptogens are plants that help your body thrive — not just survive! Remember: you do need to personalize adaptogens to your situation i.e. do you need better sleep or do you need to improve your focus during the day at work? However, no matter which way you swing, adaptogens can help you get centered and adapt to whatever comes at you.

Adaptogens can be your superhero, however, no herb can undo or prevent all stress-related damage to your body. They can’t undo the effects of poor lifestyle habits or a crappy diet. You need to pay attention to these areas of your life too.

If you’re ready to get to the root cause of your problem, check out my 3 Month Signature Coaching Bundle to work with me to develop a personalized nutrition plan right for you! Not quite ready for 1:1 coaching? No worries, I’ve got you covered — a Group Program may be a better option for you right now. If this resonates with you, look over what I have to offer and sign up here.

I’d love to work with you to help you achieve your goals and get you where you want to be!

***Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice***

About the author

Susan Taylor, RDN LD is a registered dietitian / nutritionist with 20+ years experience in the nutrition field.  Susan has worked in a variety of clinical settings including hospitals, longterm care, rehab, and private practice. She currently enjoys life in the Charleston, SC area and is always looking for ways to fit in a little more beach time.