Should you be using adaptogens?

Have you heard this fancy word get tossed around by wellness experts?  Adaptogens have been buzzy for years, but have never been more accessible than they are right now.

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Just in case you have no idea what I’m talking about: Adaptogens are herbs used to support balance and your bodies ability to manage chronic stress.  Many people use them to reduce cortisol levels, manage inflammation, and improve the aging process*.  Other benefits may include increased energy and improved sleep quality.

If you are someone who suffers from:

Anxiety

Adrenal Fatigue

Frequent colds

Severe allergies

Weight loss resistance

Thyroid disease

Hormone imbalance

Pre-mature aging

Or basically anything that makes you feel “meh”, then you might benefit from using adaptogens.

Side note: Adaptogens alone will not solve all of your problems.  If you are sedentary and eat garbage, adaptogens are a waste of your time and money.

Next question: Which ones should you be taking?

The most popular herbal adaptogens are:

  1. Ashwaganda

This herb is known to help regulate your immune system and ease anxiety.  It’s also known as Indian Ginseng.

2.   Holy Basil

Often in tea form, this is known as an anti-aging elixir.  It is suggested that this herb can help you fight fatigue and stress, boost your immune system, balance your hormone levels and regulate your blood sugar and blood pressure.  I have also used it in capsule form.

3.    Astragalus

Boosts immunity and buffers the affects of stress.  Whereas many adaptogens are shown to reduce cortisol, astragalus is shown to increase anti-stress compounds that help prevent and repair stress related damage.

4.  Rhodiola

This is the one I’ve taken for the longest amount of time.  Many athletes use it for increased endurance and energy.  It’s been shown to decrease mental and physical fatigue.  It contains a phytochemical called salisdroside.  This is used to relieve anxiety and reduce the affects of aging.  It is known for balancing appetite and improving sleep patterns.  It has been used to help the body tolerate extreme conditions and treatments like radiation.

5.   Licorice Root

This one is a front line of defense for your Thymus.  While this one has been shown to boost energy, endurance and immune response, it can also affect blood pressure, so, as with any supplement, check with your doctor before using this.

6.  Cordyceps

This is a family of mushrooms (reishi, shiitake and maitake).  They aren’t technically adaptogens, but they do have adaptogenic affects and are used in the same manner.  They are anti-oxidant rich fungi know for their anti-tumor and immune enhancing properties.

These are not the only adaptogenic herbs out there.  These are just a few that are fairly easy to find and have been well studied for safety and effectiveness.  Here are a few tips for successful supplementing:

  1. When taking herbal supplements, always check with your health care provider first, especially if you take other medications or supplements.
  2. Don’t take more than 3 adaptogens at once.  If you go hog wild using all the herbs they may cancel each other out.  Additionally, if you have an undesired reaction, it will be easier to determine which one you should eliminate.
  3. Taking one to get started is perfectly fine.  However, some of them play very nicely together, so you may prefer combining them for a more complete affect.  Knowing which ones to combine takes time and research.  Some that are commonly combined can purchased as a blend, for your convenience.
  4. You are a unique individual,  What works for someone else might not work for you.  Listen to your body and focus on your own process rather than someone else results.

Non-herbal adaptogenic benefits:

Yoga Is one of my favorite ways to achieve many of the benefits that you seek from adaptogens.  Yoga massages your organs and helps move blood to areas that need healing.  It supports your sympathetic nervous system which helps manage fatigue, stress and many of the issues listed above.  If taking herbs isn’t for you, then think about practicing yoga more consistently.  Try including this new 8 minute series into your week:

Feel free to slow this down to fit within your practice.  I was definitely trying to fit a specific amount of postures into 8 minutes.  After a few practice rounds, you’ll have a better idea of what pace you prefer.

This flow focuses on deep core engagement and conditioning of the low back, abs, chest and arms.

Related articles:

Everything you need to know about adaptogens, explained

Hack Your Stress and Sex with these 7 Adaptogens

http://goop.com/an-herbalist-on-the-healing-power-of-adaptogens/

 

*I hate saying “anti-aging”.  We can’t stop aging.  That would mean dying.  We want to maintain the healthiest appearance possible for our age/reduce/reverse the undesirable signs of aging,

3 thoughts on “Should you be using adaptogens?

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