Have you ever wondered what are adaptogens? They serve as natural bioregulators that help you cope with the negative impacts of stress on your physical and mental performance.
More and more people feel stressed out nowadays, with body aches and declining mental wellness becoming the norm to make things worse. With the standard 9 to 5 work, more people are getting little to no time for exercising and some rest and relaxation.
Fortunately, Adaptogens exist that may be one of the solutions to help improve your overall wellness routine.
What Are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens are substances derived from plants that contain properties that have effects on the body system that help regulate stress levels, allowing one to cope with stress and could even return the body to a stable condition.
Adaptogens mainly work by interacting with the brain’s HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis, which is responsible for stress response, by altering the stress chemicals produced by the HPA.
Adaptogens send the body system back to the state of homeostasis – the state of the body where everything is just fine, and you’d also feel the same way since everything inside you feels ok.
List Of Adaptogens + Potential Health Benefits
Adaptogens are generally acquired from herbs but can also be found in various mushrooms, roots, and even berries! Plants with adaptogens are also called Adaptogens and are also labeled and classified as Adaptogenic.
Adaptogens are herbs that contain natural properties that may help our bodies manage stress. It is also useful in balancing hormones. Here is a list of the best-known Adaptogens and their potential benefits:
Mushrooms with Adaptogenic properties are also called functional mushrooms. Aside from Adaptogenic properties, they also offer the shared benefits mushrooms possess.
It includes vitamins and nutrients such as vitamin D, fiber, and protein, helping promote bone and immune health, and are rich in beta-glucans and antioxidants, which may protect the cells against free radicals!
Best known for its energy-boosting and physical performance-enhancing properties, it is the Adaptogenic mushroom of choice by athletes. Cordyceps may also increase mental alertness and boost endurance and stamina, making it ideal during a game and training.
It is one of the most common adaptogens, but its effects may benefit its users well. It includes possibly protecting against physical stress due to training too much.
This shaggy-looking mushroom is best known for its brain-boosting benefits and potential effects on overall brain health. Lion’s Mane may improve the central nervous system. It incudes cognitive function, improved memory, and increased concentration due to its effects on the brain.
Its Adaptogenic effects go well with its brain benefits, especially against mental stress, which may lead to anxiety and depression.
Brain benefits aside, Lion’s Mane also has a lot of other potential benefits, such as helping regenerate the nerves and support gut and heart health.
There’s a study suggesting that adaptogens may be useful with congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) alongside standard treatments and complementary and integrative health care.
Reishi For the immune system
Reishi is best known for its immune defense-enhancing properties due to the effect of Reishi on white blood cells, which are the cells of the immune system that helps ward off contagious diseases. Reishi may also help prevent the irregular formation of blood vessels.
Reishi’s adaptogenic properties have a balancing effect on the body which may help it achieve homeostasis and may reduce stress-induced impairments.
As part of Traditional Chinese medicine, it was also believed in ancient times that it increases longevity and even has the title “mushroom of immortality,” but that could just be attributed to its immune defense-enhancing properties.
However, with recent studies conducted, this doesn’t seem that far-fetched due to their long chain of carbohydrates could potentially increase longevity.
Herbs with Adaptogenic properties could also include roots and berries. Some of these Adaptogenic herbs have also been part of traditional medicine with an extensive history of use spanning centuries in other parts of the world, from China to India.
Currently, there are around 70 kinds of Adaptogenic herbs. Here are some of the best-known and most accessible ones:
This herb has long been part of countries that practice the Ayurvedic healing system. While the berries and leaves are also used, it is the roots that are mainly utilized.
Adaptogenic properties aside, Ashwagandha may help promote a more robust immune defense, may enhance physical performance, promote healthy blood sugar levels, may ease discomfort and inflammation.
In addition, it may help boost brain function, may help improve the quality of sleep, and may even help boost testosterone levels and fertility in men.
You’ve probably seen Ginseng, which looks like tentacled aliens in a jar, but that is actually just the root, soaked in liquor with other herbs. Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) have long been part of traditional Eastern medicine for centuries in said countries; the root is mainly used, but also other parts, such as the leaf stem.
There are lots of ginseng out there – some are Eleutherococcus Senticosus (Siberian ginseng), and Rhodiola Rosea (Arctic root), to name a few.
Ginseng is rich in antioxidants and offers a lot of other potential benefits, such as benefiting brain health and function, helping restore erectile dysfunction, assisting in boosting the immune systems, and helping control blood sugar levels.
Ginseng can also increase energy levels and, combined with its Adaptogenic properties, assist in easing fatigue, and may relieve stress.
A relative of culinary Basil, you could differentiate the two via the flat, toothed leaves with notches along the margin of Holy Basil. The holy powers of this Adaptogenic herb may help boost immune defense, lower cholesterol, and blood sugar levels, improve gut health, and help ease aches.
Also known as Magnolia berry and Five-Flavor-Fruit, this Adaptogenic berry offers some charming potential health benefits, such as increasing energy levels, helping enhance endurance and improving coordination, and supporting liver health.
How May Adaptogens Work In The Body?
Adaptogens mainly work by interacting with the HPA in the brain, resulting in chemical reactions ranging from activating hormone production to altering stress chemicals. In turn, these chemical reactions affect the other systems in the body.
Adaptogens & Stress Response
When they say Adaptogens deal with stress, it doesn’t mean fixing or preventing the stressful events that happened or may happen in your life; what it means explicitly by helping deal with stress is the way your body would respond physically to stress.
Stress could be considered a part of the body’s fight-or-flight response, where stress hormones are released due to stressful factors (which could be either psychological or physical or both).
So while short-term stress hormone release is natural and helps you cope with stressful situations, it becomes harmful if activated too often or lingers for a long time, leading to chronic stress, which results in a variety of physical and even mental ailments.
Since Adaptogens help regulates the release of stress hormones, it helps lead to a state of homeostasis.
How Effective Might Adaptogens Be?
While the effectiveness of Adaptogens is still subjective and debated (because big pharma wouldn’t also be too happy with their full approval), Adaptogens are far from pseudo-science and actually showcase a lot of potential based on available scientific studies and clinical trials conducted.
It has natural properties that may help in increasing the resistance of the body against different external stimuli, increase energy due to efficient utilization of oxygen, proteins, lipids, and glucose in the body, and show decreased symptoms of exhaustion and fatigue due to monotonous work.
It is also essential to maintain a healthy diet and do regular exercises to make adaptogens more effective. It may be a traditional alternative medicine, but you also need to do your part to boost your body’s ability to absorb the positive effect of taking adaptogens.
How To Take Adaptogens?
The way Adaptogens could be taken is via consuming them for the body to absorb them, which could be done in the following manner:
Herbal supplements from adaptogenic plants and fungi are converted into a powdered or liquid extract and then turned into various forms convenient for consumption, such as capsules, powders, tinctures, and even edibles such as gummies and tea.
Supplements offer more than just convenience, as being in concentrated form, they have higher concentrations of beneficial compounds compared to eating them as is. Thus, it makes supplements are the most optimal way to gain their benefits.
Eat Foods Containing Adaptogens
It works best for the likes of berries and those also classified as culinary mushrooms and herbs, as you are sure they are natural, and you also get to enjoy their delicious taste as nature intended them to be.
It would also be great if you grow them in your own garden or could regularly buy from a reliable source where you are confident they are clean and free from harmful chemicals and such.
Can Adaptogens Cause Negative Side Effects?
Adaptogenic herbs and mushroom supplements are generally safe. But to stay on the safer side, consult your healthcare provider first if you are currently taking any regular medications due to their potential interactions with each other.
You need to be careful, especially if you have existing health conditions or for women who are pregnant and lactating. Also, always stick to the normal doses the manufacturer has provided.
Final Thoughts – What Are Adaptogens?
Adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms could be considered a gift from mother nature to help us deal with stress. Now that you have a better understanding of what are adaptogens, you may want to incorporate them into your daily diet to help fight stress!