Adaptogens are a broad family of herbs and plant medicines that have been used for thousands of years throughout the world to promote health and wellbeing. They essentially work as regulators and help the body adapt to changing situations and stressors – hence why they are referred to as “adaptogens”. They are great for helping the body cope with stress, for balancing hormones, boosting immunity and enhancing mood, among many other functions. To be considered an adaptogen, a plant medicine must have at least three of these specific criteria:
- Generally safe for just about everyone
- Help the body to handle stress
- Work to balance your hormones
The body’s stress system and nervous system are responsible for inflammation which we know is linked to many health problems today. Adaptogens help with chronic inflammation by essentially giving the body a little hug.
Balancing hormones is so important in today’s world, for both men and women due to additives in our food, water, air, and self-care products. All of these pollutants cause imbalances in the body which can lead to stress and inflammation. Adaptogens have far-reaching health benefits such as:
- protecting the liver
- lowering cortisol levels
- helping with depression and anxiety
- balancing the immune system
- protecting heart health
- decreasing fatigue
Here are 8 of the more common Adaptogens and how they help the body:
Maca is packed with minerals, amino acids and plant sterols that help with symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, sleep disruptions, night sweats and depression. Maca can help regulate the menstrual cycle, balance hormones levels, reduce weight gain and bloating and increase fertility. Researchers are looking into how Maca helps males with low libidos.
Ashwagandha is the superstar when it comes to Thyroid health. It can help both men and women and both hyper and hypothyroid conditions. In India, ashwagandha is known as the “strength of the stallion” since it has traditionally been used to strengthen the immune system after an illness. Ashwagandha has also been referred to as Indian ginseng because of its ability to enhance stamina and has extraordinary stress relieving properties.
Holy Basil is used a natural remedy for adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism, unbalanced blood sugar, and a home remedy for acne. It helps protect organs and tissues against chemical stress from industrial pollutants and heavy metals and physical stress from prolonged physical exertion. Tulsi has a positive physical effect on the body and mental benefits as well. By drinking tulsi tea, or adding tulsi to your meals, you help calm your system and keep your body running smoothly.
Reishi mushrooms act as a normalizing substance, regulating various cellular functions and systems, including the endocrine (hormonal), immune, cardiovascular, central nervous and digestive systems. These mushrooms help with liver function, immunity, blood pressure, balance hormones, and improve energy levels. Red Reishi can help with viruses such as flu and frequent infections such as bronchitis, urinary tract and respiratory.
Known best for its stress calming by lowering cortisol, Rhodiola can also burn belly fat, increase energy, fight depression and improve brain function. Rhodiola can calm the body when it is in fight or flight mode.
One of the major claims to fame for eleuthero is its ability to boost energy levels. This is accomplished by its impact on the nervous system, boosting the metabolism, increasing circulation, and reducing cloudiness and fatigue.
The benefits of Mucuna Pruiens are supporting the body to handle stress, a healthy central nervous system, improves energy and endurance, promotes healthy motor skills and coordination. Packed with L-DOPA this adaptogen helps most with focus and calming.
Thanks to its high concentration of antioxidant compounds, Schisandra helps fight free radical damage, lowers inflammatory responses, protects skin from wind, sun exposure, allergic reactions, and dermatitis. This mighty adaptogen also helps with balancing hormones, improves mental performance, liver function, digestion, and circulation.
Adaptogens can be found in various forms, including powder, tinctures, capsules, and herbs. My favorite ways to enjoy them are as teas (from dried herbs), or in powder form that I can quickly add to my smoothies, oats or morning elixirs. One of my new favorite recipes for consuming a few of these adoptions is this one:
1/2 cup almond milk*
1/2 cup brewed coffee or herbal coffee such as roasted dandelion root*
1 tsp Ashwagandha powder*
1 tsp Maca powder*
1 tbsp Red Reishi Powder*
1 tbsp Cacao Powder*
I add all ingredients to my NutriBullet and blend the perfect latte. I prefer to drink this yummy elixir warm however you could enjoy cold as well! I make a loose leaf tea with Holy Basil , Eleuthero, and Rhodiola. Add the dry herbs to a tea basket pour over hot water and let steep for about 10 minutes.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding medical conditions. All information is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the FDA.