What if the day-to-day demands in your life just seemed more bearable? What if instead of feeling overwhelmed and fed up, you remained calm and confident throughout the day? What if you just felt a little more resilient to whatever the day throws at you?
All of that is possible with the help of adaptogens.
Adaptogens are a group of herbs and mushrooms that support your body better “adapt” to challenges or stressors in your life. Think of them as an invisible shield protecting you from the barrage of life stressors you experience daily. They help your body counteract the impact of stress on the body, but also help the adrenal glands, which are responsible for our stress response, function better.
The unique thing about adaptogens is they work differently in your body depending on the current state of your body. Basically they “adapt” to what your body specifically needs at that moment. They bring you back into homeostasis, or to a normal level, despite where you currently are. For instance if cortisol, the stress response hormone, is too high, adaptogens will help to bring it down. Vise Versa, if cortisol levels are too low at a certain point, adaptogens will help bring them up to a normal range. Or if your energy is lacking or opposite, you are absolutely wired, adaptogens magically work to bring your energy into a more manageable range.
There are many adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms, however the ones found to best help manage stress include:
Ashwaganda - Reduces stress; Reduces anxiety; Reduce depression; Anti-inflammatory effects
Holy Basil/ Tulsi - Reduces physical and mental stress; Reduces stress-related depression; Calming
Rhodiola Rosea - Improves fatigue; Improves mental performance; Improves physical performance; Reduces depression; Reduces anxiety
Eleuthero Root/ Siberian Gingseng - Improves fatigue; Improves physical stamina; Improves focus
Schisandra Berry - Improves mental performance; Improves focus
These are just a few examples of adaptogens, there are many others you can try. All work in slightly different ways, so can have slightly different effects on the body.
Adaptogens come in many forms...teas, tinctures, powders, capsules, you name it. My advice is to pick a form that makes it easier to follow through with. For instance, I started to use a tincture thinking that it would be the most effective way of getting the adaptogens into my body, however the taste is quite repulsive and I needed to take it multiple times a day on an empty stomach. To this day, I still have not been able to take it the recommended three times a day on an empty stomach. For me, a tea or capsule might have been easier for me to take. Even if it is not as effectively absorbed as a tincture, I would be absorbing a lot more than I am when I am not taking it in its other form. What’s going to work will be different for everyone, so don’t be afraid to try different forms and types to see what works best for you.
Adaptogens can be taken at different types of the day, depending on their effect. Something more stimulating, like Rhodiola Rosea, should be taken earlier in the day and something more calming, like Holy Basil, may be more beneficial later in the day.
It is suggested that you cycle on and off adaptogens every few months, or instead you can cycle between different types of adaptogens every few months.
Often people do not notice the change from adaptogens right away, because the impact is gradual with consistent use. When I started to use them I did not notice a change at first. It wasn’t until I stopped taking them because I ran out that I noticed a big change. After a few days of no longer using them, I noticed my mood was much more up and down again and I felt more overwhelmed day-today.
Adaptogens do more than simply modify the stress response and adrenal glands, they can have beneficial effects on multiple body systems. They have shown to have positive effects on the endocrine system, neural system and the immune system.
Before starting to use any adaptogens, I advise you to talk to a medical professional to ensure adaptogen are not going to have a negative impact on any ongoing health conditions or medication. Given the impact adaptogens can have on your hormones, using them when you are pregnant or breastfeeding is not advised.
Want to learn more ?
Check out this blog on our body’s stress response.
Check out this blog on other ways to recover from stress.