All About Adaptogens

If it seems like there’s always a new buzzword in the health world, you wouldn’t be wrong — and adaptogens are the latest one to claim that title. But adaptogens…

If it seems like there’s always a new buzzword in the health world, you wouldn’t be wrong — and adaptogens are the latest one to claim that title. But adaptogens are more than just a trend, and far more than your traditional supplement: these powerful plants are true wellness superheroes.

What Is an Adaptogen?

Adaptogens are a wide category of plants and herbs that have been used to promote better health for thousands of years worldwide. To be labeled as an adaptogen, a plant must meet three criteria:

  • They’re safe to use
  • They balance hormones
  • They help balance stress levels

An adaptogen’s primary purpose is to recalibrate your hormonal levels, but each one serves one of many different purposes, most notably helping lower stress, and, in turn, reducing inflammation. Always exhausted? Adrenal fatigue? Low sex drive? High cholesterol? Frequent illness? More likely than not, a blend of adaptogens can be part of the solution to getting your body back on track.

How Do They Work?

Their name derives from the herbs’ ability to “adapt” to whatever function your body needs addressed by improving the health of your adrenal system, allowing you to maintain more stable, consistent energy levels and moods throughout the day.

What Adaptogens Should I Look Out for?

There are a lot of these guys out there, and we recommend further research and consultation with a naturopath or nutritionist before integrating them into your diet to make sure a specific adaptogen is right for your health goals. Keep in mind that these take between several weeks to several months to start delivering full benefits. Be patient if you don’t see immediate results.

While this is far from a comprehensive list, here are a few of our favourites (looking for more? These adaptogenic mushrooms also have incredible benefits:

  • Eleuthero: for when you need a little boost. Long a favourite in German and Ancient Chinese medicine, Eleuthero helps combat fatigue, sharpens focus, and aids in recovering from an illness. For additional benefits, consider pairing with ashwagandha or rhodiola for higher energy levels and a greater ability to thrive under pressure.
  • Rhodiola: for when you need a multi-tasker. One of Rhodiola’s main properties is to address stress by adjusting cortisol levels, raising or lowering them as needed. It can also help treat adrenal fatigue and fibromyalgia, and can ease anxiety and depression.
  • Ashwagandha: for when you need a little more stability. Ashwagandha, which has a long history in Ayurvedic medicine, specifically helps target thyroid function, resulting in increased energy and stamina, and decreased anxiety and mood swings.
  • Holy Basil (Tulsi): for when you need to be on your game. For more than 3,000 years, Tulsi has been considered one of India’s most powerful herbs, able to help boost memory and address depression. It can also be beneficial for treating stomach distress or bloating.
  • Maca: for when you need some extra energy. Grown in Peru, the root vegetable might be what you need when you’re looking to finally kick the coffee habit. But while naturally increasing energy levels, it doesn’t bring the anxiety accompanied with caffeine, instead helping you stay calm and strengthening your immune system. It’s also known to increase libido and stamina.

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Published: 15/03/18

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