What are adaptogens and do they really work?

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The use of adaptogenic herbs has become a global trend, now being served in everything from supplements to lattes. They are said to have powerful healing properties with benefits that reduce stress, improve mental clarity, boost the immune system and detoxes the body, but is this just an effective marketing gimmick, or do adaptogens really work?

Here’s everything you need to know about adaptogens: 

What are adaptogens?

Adaptogens are a group of herbs and mushrooms believed to help the body manage stress better. Think of them as little shapeshifters that alleviate the body of various stressors from chemical, to physical or emotional stress, creating an imbalance in the body. 

The term adaptogen was first known to be used in 1969 and is derived from the Russian word, adaptatsiya, meaning adaptation, which perfectly suits the function of herbs that are able to adapt their core benefits according to what the body needs. In other words, when you consume an adaptogen, it’s main objective will be to create balance in your body, whether you need to reduce inflammation or gain a boost of energy to stabilize your system.

Do adaptogens really work?

While adaptogens have recently become virally popular, these herbs are linked back to ancient Asian healing practices such as Ayurveda, a branch of Indian homeopathy. 

In addition to acclaim from natural medicine, studies by the US National Library of Medicine confirms that adaptogens not only have therapeutic effects in stress-induced and stress-related disorders but will impact patient’s quality of life. It can be used as an immune booster for those suffering from chronic diseases and pathological conditions such as post-surgery recovery, congestive heart failure and asthenia. “It may be suggested that adaptogens have potential use in age-related disorders, such as neurodegenerative diseases, and cardiovascular diseases. Thus, elderly people may be able to maintain their health status on a normal level, improve their quality of life and may increase longevity,” the study further explains. 

Types of adaptogens:

Tumeric

Tumeric is considered an adaptogen for its major anti-inflammatory benefits that help to reduce muscle soreness and even anxiety. However, studies suggest that turmeric’s active component, curcumin, has a low absorption rate so it’s best to consume turmeric in powder or paste form, and to consume it with good fats like coconut milk and coconut oil since turmeric is fat-soluble.

Maca root

If you’re deficient in vitamin B6, iron, calcium or potassium, maca root is the adaptogen for you. The plant belongs to the radish family and is largely used for its hormone-balancing benefits to treat acne, polycystic ovarian syndrome and improve libido, to name a few.

Liquorice root

Dubbed the sweetest adaptogen around, liquorice root has the ability to suppress toxic bacteria causing ulcers and heartburn. It’s super soothing for digestive concerns as it helps to restore and repair the stomach lining.

Holy Basil

Said to be a tonic for mind, body and soul, basil is by far one of the most underrated adaptogens with powerful benefits when consumed in different forms. According to Healthline, using Holy basil essential oil does wonders to relieve insect bites while the whole plant should be used when experiencing nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea.

Ginseng

China’s most loved natural remedy is used to improve blood circulation, is said to have anti-ageing and anti-diabetic benefits, and aids fertility. One study found that ginseng limits menopausal symptoms, while another study showed superior results on sexual arousal and depression, in comparison to placebo supplements.

Macha

Yes, matcha can be considered an adaptogen since its benefits are connected to the functions of other anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, gut-soothing adaptogens. Consuming matcha in powder form is great for removing bodily toxins and improving cognitive health.

Shiitake mushrooms

Packed with vitamin D and vitamin B essentials, shiitake mushrooms, which can be used in soups and stews, are great for reducing cholesterol levels and improving cardiovascular health. 

 

This certainly does not conclude the list of recommended adaptogens since researchers continue to discover the healing properties in natural ingredients. Which adaptogens are you using? Let us know via Facebook or Instagram

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