For stress reduction and hormonal balance, wellness warriors are turning to the next big thing in the health world. Meet adaptogens – a group of highly sophisticated herbs at the forefront of beauty and wellness innovation. Believed to help the body adapt to stress and fatigue, adaptogens in all their guises can balance hormones, boost energy and leave mind and body feeling calm and restored.
So, can adaptogens really help us achieve the ultimate mind/body balance? SL investigates...
Tell us more…
Adaptogens are a unique group of herbs used to improve the health of the adrenal system, which is responsible for managing the body’s hormonal response to stress. They help to strengthen the body’s response to stress and enhance its ability to cope with anxiety and fight fatigue. They’re called adaptogens because of their ability to ‘adapt’ their function according to the body’s specific needs.
And while they’re just starting to making waves in the Western wellness world, they’ve been used in Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to boost resilience and energy in the face of adversity. The best bit? Recent studies have shown adaptogens are beneficial to the body and safe for long-term use.
What kind of adaptogens are there?
Some adaptogens – like Asian ginseng, eleuthero (also known as Siberian ginseng), rhodiola rosea and maca – stimulate the body, boosting mental performance, libido and physical stamina. Others, like reishi (a type of mushroom), ashwagandha and holy basil help calm the body and soothe the adrenal system when your body is stressed. Adaptogens can come in pill form, as tinctures to be mixed with water or as a powder, which can be mixed into smoothies and drinks.
And how exactly do they work?
As Dr. Frank Lipman explains, “Adaptogens are a bit like a thermostat. When the thermostat senses that the room temperature is too high it brings it down and vice versa; similarly, adaptogens can calm you down and boost energy at the same time without overstimulating, and can also normalise body imbalances. By supporting adrenal function, they counteract the adverse effects of stress. They enable the body’s cells to access more energy; help cells eliminate toxic by-products of the metabolic process and help the body to utilise oxygen more effectively. In short, adaptogens are amazing.”
Who would benefit from taking them?
With stress and fatigue far-reaching issues, causing detrimental effects to both physical and mental health, most people would benefit from taking these super-herbs; according to holistic health pro Elissa Goodman, “Chronically elevated cortisol levels (as a result of excessive stress) can affect every system in the body, leading to adrenal burnout, an overstressed digestive tract, depression, insomnia, rapid ageing, anxiety, chronic fatigue, hormonal imbalances, IBS, thyroid conditions and weight loss resistance.”
So, how should you take them?
While there’s no right way to take adaptogens (whether you prefer a pill or superfood smoothie is your decision), nutritionists agree that they should be taken daily for maximum benefit. If you don’t notice a difference instantly, be patient, as adaptogens are powerful but slow-acting and can take a few weeks to take effect.
The bottom line?
Remember adaptogens don’t treat a specific condition – instead, they’re for anyone looking to boost overall wellbeing. In all their chameleonic brilliance, adaptogens are the new holistic offering linking nutrition with physical and mental wellbeing gaining traction in the wellness world thanks to their ability to help with a host of health issues.
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