What's Up with Adaptogens

So unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard buzz about the newest nutritional trend that is rocking the wellness world…

Adaptogens.

Now, if you’re like me, you’re initial thought was this has gotta be fake.  It sounds too much like something from outer space.  Nope!

Adaptogens have been around for ages - Traditional Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicines have been using these herbs for centuries.  Recently, several scientific studies have found evidence to support the use of adaptogens for wellness.  And guess what, these bad boys are safe for long term use.

So what are they?  Adaptogens are a group of herbal ingredients to help the health of your adrenal system. 

And what is your adrenal system, you ask?  You adrenals are the system in charge of managing your body’s hormonal response to stress.  These herbs help your body adapt to stress and resist fatigue.

I’m going to get real science-y on you for a second, so if this makes you fall asleep, feel free to skip a paragraph down.

Time to get out your old A&P book:  Adaptogens work on the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis and regulate the key mediators of the stress response.  Adaptogens point of action is through its up-regulating and stress-mimetic effects of a “stress-sensor” protein (Hsp70), increases cell survival rate, regulates cortisol levels, and increases availability of ATP.  In doing so, we find increased endurance, attention, memory and learning, increased recovery process and tolerance to both physical and emotional stress, and reduced depression and neuroprotective effects. 

In layman’s terms, adaptogens help us adapt to stress, gently cope with anxiety, and resist fatigue.

There are a TON of adaptogens out there on the market, so I will share just a few of my favorites with you:

Ashawagandha

This adaptogen is soothing.  It helps energize without being a stimulant and calm with being a sedative.  Studies show this is a key anti-stress adaptogen.  It helps increase energy and endurance, prevents adrenal gland changes in cortisol, and is anti-inflammatory.

Rhodiola Rosea

This is one of the most powerful herbs helping to improve cognitive function and attention span.  It is particularly impactful on cortisol normalization.  It’s also been found to decrease visceral fat.

Maca

Maca root works directly upon the hypothalamus and pituitary gland to lower cortisol and ACTH levels, as well as reduce cholesterol and triglycerides.  Like most adaptogenic herbs, it helps reduce stress, calms anxiety, and boosts mental focus.  Maca is also beneficial for improving libido.

You can also find adaptogens in some of your favorite teas – Green Tea, Tulsi, and Tumeric.

Check out your local health food stores for high quality adaptogens.  My personal preference is Gaia which can be purchased on Amazon.  But check out Moon Juice or Sun Potion as other options as well.