Navigating the wellness world can be confusing. New buzzwords appear all the time – supplements, ketogenic, CBD, to name a few. Adaptogens, or adaptogenic herbs, seem to be cropping up more and more often, from everywhere to lifestyle magazines to your favorite influencer’s Instagram. So what do they do, and most importantly, what are they?
What Are Adaptogens and Why Are They Important
What Are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens are plants used in herbal medicine. Many claim they help manage physiological processes and have the ability to enhance health and cure woes. “Adaptogens help your body handle stress,” Dr. Brenda Powell, co-medical director of the Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute, said to Time. “They’re meant to bring us back to the middle.”
The notion that plants contain regenerative qualities that can improve health and fight disease has existed for thousands of years. Many of these herbs were used in Ayurveda, a mind-body health medicine system with historical roots in India, as well as in Chinese healing traditions.
“Adaptogen” is a modern term, only coming about in the 1940s, but the philosophy remains the same. Plants can cleverly interact with all kinds of bodily processes to deliver far-reaching health benefits.
What Exactly Can Adaptogens Help With?
Anti-Ageing: Amla is said to extend youth, keeping the skin hydrated, glowing, and looking young. It also is great for hair care, helping to reduce dandruff and prevent hair loss. Turmeric slows the effects of ageing and also improves circulation, protects the liver and bowels, and reduces inflammation. Taka Turmeric makes organic, vegan, sugar-free turmeric drinks, like this Golden Turmeric and Coconut Instant Latte.
Anxiety: Fight-or-flight responses, associated with anxiety, could be better managed with rhodiola or schisandra, according to research. Holy basil, also called tulsi, is helpful for issues related to the nervous system, too.
Energy Levels: Research indicates that eleuthero can increase energy and reduce fatigue. Some people consume yerba mate to alleviate mental and physical fatigue as well as symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. It can also help to improve mood for those with depression. You can drink it as a tea and even purchase cans of yerba mate to drink on the go.
Fertility: Ashwagandha, rhodiola, and cordyceps are known as fertility tonics. Maca, a root vegetable grown in Peru, is said to increase sperm count. Vegan superfood brand Terrasoul Superfoods sells it as a powder that can be added to coffee, smoothies, and desserts.
Immune Health: Also called Indian gooseberry, amla is an anti-inflammatory, immunity-boosting plant that helps fight infections more easily. According to Dr. Shalini Minglani, a nutritionist based in Bangalore, amla powder is the “purest form” of vitamin C and “enriches you from within” by strengthening the blood vessels.
Stress: Moon Juice, that makes plant-based adaptogenic products like powders and teas, sells Organic Spirit Dust (or “edible joy”) that promotes a calm state of mind and helps increase resistance to stress and tension. Ashwagandha and ginseng are both said to relieve symptoms of long-term stress, including the hormonal imbalances triggered by it. Tulsi, considered one of India’s most powerful herbs, may also lower stress levels, as does eleuthero – used at least 2,000 years ago in China as a herbal remedy. Eleuthero can be consumed in capsule form or as a powder – even your dog or cat can enjoy its benefits with these chlorella and eleuthero wafer sticks.
Image Credit: Moon Juice