Your guide to adaptogens and their health benefits

In the wellness community, adaptogens have graduated from a buzzy trend word to a routine buzzword as they continue to grow in popularity and show no signs of slowing down. Whether you’ve noticed a coffee shop offering ashwagandha-infused cold brew or a new lotion on the market infused with red ginseng, adaptogens are popping up everywhere under the promise of a variety of physical and mental health benefits, primarily stress relief.

From powders added to food and drinks to new skincare products and supplements, it’s important to understand the basics of adaptogens before incorporating them into your wellness routine. Below we break down what adaptogens are, the different types and their benefits.

What are adaptogens?

Although adaptogens have only recently hit the mainstream, they have actually been used in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic practice for thousands of years to treat a variety of health problems, from reducing stress and fatigue to improving focus and memory, and more. However, their effectiveness is now beginning to be proven by westernized modern research.

“There’s been a lot of research done on different adaptogens over the years,” says Kerry Marshall MS, ND. ‚ÄúThat said, there are several patented ashwagandha extracts with several clinical studies showing that ashwagandha effectively reduces stress in adults and that when taken for 60 days improves depression, anxiety and overall stress scores as well as lowers serum cortisol. hormones.”

Adaptogens are herbs, roots and fungi that work to reduce the negative effects of stress on the body. They can improve or adapt the body’s resistance to stress and return the body to its normal physiological state. In other words, they are active ingredients in certain plants that occur naturally in nature and can help the body respond more efficiently to mental or physical stress.

“Adaptogens interact with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which modulates the body’s stress response,” says Dana Ellis Hance, PhD, MPH, and RD, clinical dietitian at UCLA Medical Center. “Research indicates that adaptogens may help the body regulate itself by improving mood, balancing hormones, combating fatigue, and possibly boosting the immune system.”

Although adaptogens are known to be relatively safe, you should always consult your doctor before introducing any type of supplement into your routine. “I usually tell my patients not to take any herbs or supplements you’ve heard of, because they can interact with your medications (especially if you’ve had an organ transplant),” Hunes says. “Sometimes, your body’s reaction to these ingredients can do more harm than good.”

Common adaptogens and their benefits

There are different types of adaptogenic herbs each with their own specific effects. “Adaptogens are especially beneficial for those looking to restore energy and stamina, as well as focus and concentration,” says Dr. Marshall. “In many cases, people who find themselves getting sick frequently may benefit from taking adaptogens to restore balance to the immune system.”

Here are just a few of the popular ones and their benefits:

  • Ashwagandha: Shown to help reduce anxiety and depression.
  • Ginseng: which refers to American or Asian ginseng and is used to combat fatigue.
  • Rishi: A type of mushroom is an adaptogen that is used to boost the immune system.
  • Rhodiola: Reduce fatigue, depression and pain.
  • Schisandra: For improved concentration, coordination and endurance.
  • Tulsi is also known as “holy basil”: Used to increase focus, reduce anxiety and boost immunity.

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