Science of Nutrition

Your Complete Guide to Adaptogens

adaptogens for anxiety and stress

Adaptogens – herbal pharmaceuticals with stimulant properties – are still relatively new to the health and wellness scene, but they’re making waves, fast.

They work to help your body recover from stress more efficiently, helping to boost immunity and enhance wellbeing.

Whether you’re a coach or someone that’s curious about their health, it’s important you’re in the know when it comes to health trends. To help save you some time, we’ve curated and reviewed all the health benefits of adaptogens you need to know about.

WHAT ARE ADAPTOGENS?

Despite their recent popularity, adaptogens have been used as powerful tools in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. These particular herbs receive their adaptogen status because they meet the following criteria:

  • generally safe for everyone to take
  • help the body respond to internal and external stress
  • restore balance

But what makes them so unique? They are able to adapt their function based on your body’s personal needs.

HOW DO ADAPTOGENS WORK?

We’ve all experienced stress. Between deadlines at work, raising children, and yesterday’s HIIT workout, our bodies could probably benefit from a little support. And while we do have mechanisms that help us deal with these acute stressors, they’re not always able to keep up with the demand. Thankfully, adaptogens can help you with this!

When consumed, adaptogens work to restore balance by interacting with pathways that are involved in the body’s stress response. Depending on your needs, they may affect hormone production and physiological responses within your body. To understand this, let’s take a look at the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.

The HPA axis represents the interactions between your hypothalamus, pituitary glands, and adrenal glands. These areas of your brain work together to recognize and respond to stress by producing and releasing hormones. So, when you’re chronically stressed this pathway is constantly engaged, which can affect your mood, energy levels, immune system, and libido to name a few.

This is where adaptogens come in. By regulating stress hormone production and our sensitivity to stress hormones, they can restore balance and support a healthier response to stress.

Not sure which adaptogens you should use? Don’t worry, we’ve done the research for you.

adaptogens for stress and anxiety

ADAPTOGENS FOR STRESS & ANXIETY

Ashwagandha – research has found that taking ashwagandha can reduce anxiety by up to 44 percent!

Rhodiola – stop your stress and anxiety from turning into full-blown adrenal fatigue with rhodiola.

Schisandra – not only does schisandra make you more resistant to stress, but it also contains all five of the basic flavors of Chinese herbal medicine. What does this mean? It can benefit all five yin organs: the liver, lungs, heart, kidneys, and spleen.

Mucuna – sometimes when we’re anxious, all we need is an extra boost to lift our spirits. Also known as the “Dopamine bean,” Mucuna is rich in L-Dopa, the precursor to the feel-good chemical dopamine.

Reishi – also referred to as the “queen of the plants,” reishi has a calming effect that allows you to navigate everyday stressors of life

ADAPTOGENS FOR ENERGY & PERFORMANCE

Ginseng – want to combat fatigue without the jitters or afternoon crash? Ginseng has your back!

Tulsi (holy basil) – if brain fog is slowing you down at work, this is the adaptogen to try.

Maca – this root isn’t just an adaptogen, it’s also a superfood! Mix it into your morning smoothie and enjoy increased energy and endurance all day.

Lion’s Mane – many of us don’t get enough sleep which typically reflects in our mental performance. Support your concentration and mental clarity with Lion’s Mane.

ADAPTOGENS FOR HORMONE BALANCE

Ashwagandha – what can’t this adaptogen do? Because stress and hormone imbalances often go hand in hand, ashwagandha can help support hormone health.

Maca – if you’re over or under-producing hormones, maca helps bring your hormone production into balance. It’s also useful for women who suffer from hot flashes or night sweats.

Reishi – due to its anti-androgenic effect in the body, reishi can help those who are struggling with acne, unwanted hair growth, or other symptoms related to PCOS.

adaptogens for sleep

ADAPTOGENS FOR SLEEP

Ashwagandha – tired of sleepless nights? Relax and experience a deeper sleep with the help of ashwagandha.

Schisandra – many people who suffer from anxiety and find that their sleep is being interrupted by nightmares or dreams have found relief with shisandra.

Reishi – daily use of reishi has been shown to create a calming effect that helps you get a good night’s sleep.

ADAPTOGENS FOR IMMUNITY

Turkey tail – did you know that your gut houses 70% of your immune system? Turkey tail acts as a prebiotic helping to balance your gut microbiome which supports a strong and healthy immune system.

Astragalus – because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, astragalus can help support weakened immune systems and help prevent the common cold.

Reishi – often used to help strengthen the immune system in those undergoing cancer therapy, reishi is a great immune-boosting adaptogenic mushroom.

Chaga – if you’re prone to viral infections, a study has found that chaga has antiviral activity against common viral infections.

WHAT ADAPTOGEN PRODUCTS DO YOU TRUST?

Thanks to companies like Root and Bones, Anima Mundi, and Sun Potion, we can enjoy the benefits of these plants in our coffees, teas, smoothies, or even baked goods.

There are also ready-to-drink teas, kombuchas, coffees, and other elixirs containing adaptogens that come in a variety of flavors.

Some of our favorites include Four Sigmatic, Clevr Blends, GT’s kombucha, and REBBL.

To ensure you’re buying a product you can trust, double-check that it’s organic or consciously wildcrafted and harvested from a trusted source.

TAKEAWAY

With schedules these days, it’s very easy for stress to take the wheel. Adaptogens are a wonderful tool that can help to restore balance, but they’re not a magic pill.

The Transformational Nutrition Method is based on the principle that healing and long-term health is rooted in all three pillars: physical nutrition, mental nutrition, and spiritual nutrition.

While incorporating adaptogens may help your body adapt to the daily stresses in life, keep in mind that taking a holistic approach to wellness will lead to the greatest results and happiness.

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