This week we’re talking about adaptogens, which are herbal pharmaceuticals. They work to counteract the effects of stress in the body. Stress takes a toll on the body, especially over extended periods. It can harm neurological, endocrine, and immune systems. Adaptogens “adapt” their function to mitigate the body’s stress response.
Before starting an adaptogen, the initial focus should be on safety. Start slow, don’t exceed the recommended dosage, and be in touch with a dietitian or other medical provider to consider your specific medical and medication history.
Adaptogens have been around for 3000 years to relieve stress, increase energy levels, and improve concentration.
Here are five common ones. There are many more, but I chose the following since they’re common to supplements and products:
- Holy Basil (or tulsi) – a plant known for its calming and anti-inflammatory properties, and its ability to lower insulin levels.
- Ashwagandha – a plant used to reduce anxiety, promote sleep, and enhance adrenal function.
- Siberian Ginseng – a plant used for providing energy, reducing inflammation, and boosting the immune system.
- Maca – a plant that acts as a natural aphrodisiac, stimulant, antioxidant, and mood lifter.
- Reishi – a mushroom with anti-inflammatory and immune system building properties.
Where are adaptogens found? They are usually in supplement form: capsules, powders, and oils that you can add (or have already been added) to foods, smoothies, coffees, teas, and beauty products.
A few mentions of cannabis and caffeine:
While cannabis is not officially classified as an adaptogen, it meets all the criteria of being a nontoxic, natural plant with a stress-reducing effect on the body. Because CBD and adaptogens work similarly, there is potential that one boosts or enhances the effects of the other when taken in combination.
Caffeine will speed up nerve cells and some flight or fight endocrine system hormones, which act to wake you up and improve focus. Adaptogens work in a completely different way than stimulants to improve physical and mental performance. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, an adaptogen stimulant may be better tolerated.
Dp you have a specific question about an adaptogen? Hit reply and let me know. I also dive more into this topic in my Facebook community group, Food Sanctuary.