Including healing adaptogens in your health regime is important for your longevity. Most simply put, they help push your body into recovery mode so that it’s able to restore itself before the next rush of fight or flight response. Adaptogens are extracted from non-toxic plants Turmeric, ashwagandha, rhodiola, cordyceps, and ginseng which help regulate the body’s stress response.
Over years of evolution, our bodies have learned to protect us from stressors by fighting or going into flight. The body does this to clear your mind, boost your energy and improve your focus. It’s a survival instinct to keep us intact when we try to escape the situation. Basically so you don’t die. However, we no longer have to face beasts, dangerous sabre-toothed tigers or cavemen. Back then humans only experienced these threatening situations now and then. Nowadays we’re faced with continuous, chronic stress from work, traffic, family, and finances. This is seriously bad for the body and keeps us in a fight or flight for longer than it’s meant to be.
Healing Adaptogens To Calm Your Stress
Sitting with prolonged chronic stress can seriously damage your health, mood, and quality of life over time. It ages you. Especially during COVID-19, when times are very unsettling. Fortunately, nature has a solution where healing adaptogens bring us the right kind of nutrition. These plant compounds can help us get out of the fight or flight state so that our bodies and minds can recover and restore themselves.
Chronic Stress Management and Adaptogens
It’s true that stress is a killer because it ages you. The more anxious our minds are the less we’re able to focus and perform. That’s why we need to ingest healing adaptogens regularly to stay younger for longer.
The word ‘adaptogen’ originates from the 1950s. They were first used as medicinal herbs all the way back in 3000 B.C., in Ancient Chinese and Ayurveda practices. Russian toxicologist Nikolay Lazarev defined healing adaptogens as plants that increase the ‘state of non-specific resistance’ when applied to stress. This means they can help protect the body against a range of stressors.
Moreover, healing adaptogens are herbs and plants with special properties that are naturally occurring in nature and can help the body resist emotional or physical stressors. They help heal stress, fatigue, and work by targeting the body’s three stages of stress:
Alarm, Resistance, And Exhaustion
Now you can imagine being in a prolonged state of stress will inevitably result in pure exhaustion or burnout. You might be familiar with some healing adaptogens including turmeric, goji berries, maca root, and various types of mushrooms. This is a very long list so there are loads to try!
What Are Healing Adaptogens?
Note that adaptogens are extracted from non-toxic plants which help regulate the body’s stress response. They can come from herbs, mushrooms, and roots. Most of which have been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Scientists believe that these plant compounds work by acting on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. This involves the interaction between the brain and adrenal glands. Otherwise called the Sympathoadrenal System. This is the part of the nervous system that helps control the body’s stress response.
Health researchers’ articles state that healing adaptogens might help boost focus and endurance during tiring situations. This is particularly important for those times when you would normally feel very fatigued and weak which might decrease performance. Healing adaptogens may also help the body resist stress-induced impairments of the neuroendocrine and immune systems.
Some research suggests that healing adaptogens might even benefit those with age-related disorders and cardiovascular problems. This means that elderly people may be able to maintain their health status on a normal level, improve their quality of life and even increase longevity. Doctors also believe that adaptogens could help support standard therapies used to aid patients fighting a range of health issues.
What Do We Use Healing Adaptogens For?
There are many reasons why we should all be using these plant compounds to live better, longer lives. Not only do they help fight daily stressors, but they also promote a more calm and stress-free mental state. If you are less stressed you will have a much stronger immune system which is what we all need during this pandemic. Healing adaptogens also come in a variety of forms like fermented adaptogen powders to help the body address the effects of stress in a natural way.
They’re said to improve cognitive function and mood, increase energy levels, assist with stress management, and help mental fatigue. We know they help with stress. However, they allow the body to maintain the resistance phase of general adaptation syndrome for longer. This means you will be able to avoid hitting the exhaustion phase. This means you’re bulletproof when facing stress or both mental and physical stress. Whenever your heart rate goes up and the adrenaline pumps, a lot of cortisol is released. You might feel more alert and energized so you’re able to protect yourself from whatever is threatening you.
But then the body needs to resist, you know, straight after a presentation, intense workout, or stressful exam. The body needs time to recover from the trauma of the event. More importantly, it has to restore your normal blood pressure and cortisol levels. You will be fine if the stress subsides because your body will return itself to its pre-stress state. However, if stress lingers long term and you remain on alert, your body will try to adapt to this condition.
Prevent Total Burnout
This is not good. Your body starts recognizing it as the new normal. Therefore you start learning to live with stress. This is acceptable, to a degree, but if your body continues at this level between alarm and resistance for a while, without time for proper recovery, stress will overtake the body and you’ll enter Stage 3 of GAS—exhaustion.
Yes, this is the part where you might feel like you just can’t continue. This is where you’ve hit exhaustion and start to feel extremely anxious and tired, moody, and maybe even sick. High-stress levels make you more likely to get sick, which means you need rest otherwise you’ll see a serious decline in health and performance.
Luckily, healing adaptogens help keep you in the resistance phase of GAS longer. This means your body has time to recharge itself before any major damage is done. Scientists believe that adaptogens have a stimulatory effect, revving up the recovery process that supports healthy stress hormone levels.
It is very important to know what works best for your body. Everyone responds to healing adaptogens differently. Your friend might be using a particular compound, but it might not have the same effect on you. That’s why if you choose to experiment with adaptogens…Be sure to so try them one at a time to determine the exact effect each has on you.
Healing Adaptogens Come as Supplements
There are a range of benefits of taking a daily adaptogen supplement. Particularly if you want to regulate cortisol levels and improve athletic performance. You get capsules, tablets, tinctures, and powders which can be mixed with water or sprinkled on food.
Most healing adaptogens are considered safe, but if you’re unsure, it may be best to consult your doctor before adding them to your diet. Especially if you’re taking chronic medication. Certain herbal supplements can cause mild allergic reactions or some digestive discomfort.
Experts explain that adaptogens are great at regulating the stress response. However, they may not be for everyone. Just like anything else out there. It needs to be if you’ve got an autoimmune disorder or you’re taking an immunosuppressant. Moreover, adaptogens can cause the immune system to become more active. This is brilliant news for generally healthy people. However, it can cause complications for those whose immune systems already aren’t working properly.
Take These Adaptogens
Every adaptogen is unique in what it can do. They all have benefits but you need to know what each could help you with.
This herb is fantastic at managing due to its curcumin content. Studies state that curcumin aids in regulating inflammatory responses, which helps exercise recovery and muscle soreness. This is great for athletes who want to increase their performance. Better yet, turmeric may be an ideal supplement for just about anyone.
Note that curcumin alone is not very helpful, due to its poor bioavailability. To increase its absorption and effectiveness, always include black pepper, piperine. This increases bioavailability by 2000%. Why? Because pepper inhibits enzymes that break down curcumin in the body. Curcumin is also fat-soluble so combining it with lipids will help absorption even more.
This is a traditional herb that originates in India and could be one of the most powerful and diverse adaptogens. Healing adaptogens like this once can help enhance your health and performance. Studies have discovered that supplementing with ashwagandha can also improve your resistance to stress. This is powerful because your quality of life will be much higher. Moreover, people (about 30%) who were severely stressed also saw a significant reduction in cortisol levels when using ashwagandha.
Not only does this supplement get you out of flight or fight mode, but it also helps your aerobic endurance and strength performance. Amazingly, you might even notice an increase in the development of muscle mass. Researchers believe that healing adaptogens like this one could even help reaction time and performance on cognitive and psychomotor tasks.
If you’ve never heard of this one, don’t stress, neither have many others.
This adaptogen grows as a flowering plant found in the arctic regions. Apparently, it can help improve stress, fatigue, athletic performance, and energy levels. Researchers have learned that taking Rhodiola for only four weeks can help reduce the symptoms of stressful life situations.
Another study showed it helped boost participants’ time to exhaustion by 24 seconds during endurance exercise. Wowee!
Used traditionally in Chinese medicine, this is a hybrid fungus that can be used for many reasons. Researchers say that it’s mainly used today as a performance-boosting supplement. Cordyceps are rich in adenosine, which is a component of ATP. This is the energy source the body uses for all its movements. Therefore, experts believe that cordyceps can help ATP production, which might promote endurance performance.
Other alternative medical studies show that supplementing with cordyceps may help boost metabolic thresholds. This is a marker of aerobic performance in older people. In addition, studies found that cordyceps militaries, which is a synthetic form of Cordyceps. It is also part of a mushroom blend and can aid performance with respect to time to exhaustion during exercise, and VO2 max.
The secret is pairing these with other healing adaptogens like Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and Astragalus. This will help to promote daily energy and exercise performance. If you’re passionate about exercise, then you’ve got even more reason to take on more healing adaptogens, especially pre-workout. This will help support you from the beginning of the workout through to the recovery phase. You won’t feel as exhausted and will be able to recover a little more quickly, not only during the workout but also for the next session.
Another powerful plant that’s particularly famous in Chinese medicine. Healing adaptogens like this one are brilliant at fighting inflammatory responses and helping to boost immunity and cognitive function. This is mainly because of the compounds ginsenosides and gintonin.
Korean studies take ginseng or a placebo a week prior to exercise and four days afterward. Seventy-two hours after the workout, the ginseng users had significantly lowered markers of muscle damage. Other studies have demonstrated a boost in cellular health when women take ginseng for 12 weeks.
Researchers also state that Ginseng can help keep you feeling calm. You will also be able to concentrate and focus better on tasks within only eight days of usage.
So if you’re feeling particularly stressed or anxious right now during the pandemic, then you might want to give Ginseng and other healing adaptogens a try.
We need to learn to manage stress better. When this happens, it can cause a cascade of other problems–mentally, physically, and emotionally. Here’s what to do.
The Total Guide to Adaptogenic Supplements and Herbs. Omnit. https://www.onnit.com/academy/adaptogens/
Cordyceps Sinensis 101: Why Is This Supplement So Popular? Omnit. https://www.onnit.com/academy/cordyceps-sinensis/
Examining the effects of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial. NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26609282
Efficacy of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera [L.] Dunal) in improving cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy athletic adults. NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4687242/
What Are Adaptogens? Herbs and Plants That Help Reduce Stress and Anxiety. The Beet. https://thebeet.com/what-are-adaptogens-herbs-and-plants-that-can-help-reduce-stress-and-anxiety/