What are apaptogens and what are the amazing health benefits? Have you heard of the word adaptogens before? Just another new health craze? What exactly are they and what can they do for your health? Let me explain.

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What are adaptogens?

Adaptogens are specific, non toxic plants that have pharmaceutical qualities that have been found to resist stressors in the body that could relate to physical, chemical or biological stress.

These plants have been used for centuries by Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions, but are making a resurgence today as being an effective product to reduce the effect stress has on our bodies.

They were even used during World War II when scientists found that the pilots flew better, faster and for longer periods of time.

The Soviet Union also published studies where they found that berries and seeds eaten by Nanai hunters reduced their thirst, hunger, and exhaustion and their ability to see at night.

How do they work?

Adaptogens work to create a balance in the hypothalamic, pituitary, and adrenal glands. These glands are involved in the stress response in the body and work by “hacking” the stress response. Typically, when our bodies are stressed, we go through three stages of stress:

  • alarm phase
  • phase of resistance
  • phase of exhaustion.

Our bodies literally resist the stressor by releasing hormones from the hypothalamic, pituitary and adrenal glands, depending on what stress our bodies are going through.

After the body has experienced a stressful activity, adaptogens have shown in studies to exert an anti-fatigue effect that increases mental work capacity against a background of stress and fatigue, particularly in tolerance to mental exhaustion and enhanced attention.

Examples of when the body might experience these types of stressful situations include:

  • weight lifting (adrenaline)
  • regulating various involuntary functions of the body, including body temperature, hunger and thirst, urination, heartbeat or sleep (pituitary), or
  • keeping the body in a constant and stable condition (hypthalamic).

Adaptogens like ashwagandha* (Withania somnifera Dunal), for example, has been known to treat cancer, diabetes, reduce fatigue (feeling more tired or weak than usual), reduce joint pain, reduce stress and reduce anxiety (strong feelings of worry).

Left unchecked, undue stress can lead to many chronic illnesses. In conjunction with a healthy lifestyle, adaptogens taken over short periods of time, can assist in the management of stress in your life. Check out my podcast, Episode # 13 – The Easy Tools I’m Using to Up Level My Stress Reduction.

Where are adaptogens found?

You might be familiar with some of the herbs listed below and have had them in a drink or a herbal tea. There are 3 main adaptogenic herbs, which have been found to be both safe and non toxic. They are Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng), Rhodiola rosea (Arctic root), and Schisandra chinensis.

The following are 12 plants which have had various parts of the plant dried and can taken as a tea or in tablet form.

12 different adaptogenic plants infographic

The best ways to take adaptogens

As mentioned above, adaptogens shouldn’t be taken as the be all to end all cure for stress reduction. Used in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle and you may see improvement in overall stress management.

Adaptogens can be taken as follows:

  • herbal supplements in capsule form
  • added to smoothies as powders, or
  • made into teas or soups.

I personally use and recommend the range of adaptogen blend teas from Lake & Oak Tea Co. Check out my selection on my Product Recommendations page.

Conclusion

Adaptogens, although having been around for centuries, have been used and tested to be effective for the effective management of stress since the 1940s and are becoming more and more popular when used in addition to a healthy lifestyle.

They can be taken in capsule form, added to other recipes in a powdered form or drink as a flavourful tea or soup. You should see a reduction of stress in your life which will help you avoid chronic illnesses in the long term should stress be left unchecked.

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