I’d like to open this post with a disclaimer: please, please, please don’t run out and get herbal supplements solely based on this article. See your doctor & pharmacist to determine if one is right for you and if it may interfere with any natural or pharmaceutical medications you may be taking. Please do your research. While I don’t promote any specific brands of supplements in this article, there are good and bad just like everything.
Never heard the term adaptogen?
Adaptogens are known to have a range of health benefits and have been used effectively in both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. They are a type of herb (or herbal combination) that are often taken for their strong anti-oxidant like actions as well as their ability to protect our mitochondria (little dudes in our cells that are involved in energy production) from stress-induced damage because they stimulate the cell to produce proteins that help resist stress and enhance longevity. Due to this, they are often used in anti-aging formulations. Adaptogens also help regulate the immune and nervous systems and have antidepressant and amphoteric (can act as both an acid and a base) effect on the body.
Dr. David Winston – an expert on Adaptogens – says an Adaptogen must meet three criteria:
- It must be relatively non-toxic to the recipient;
- It must influence many organs or body systems (non-specific) and act by increasing resistance of the organism to a broad spectrum of adverse biological, chemical, and physical factors;
- It must help influence proper body system function and maintain homeostasis.
How can an adaptogen help you?
There is a stress activated hormone called c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase or JNK which is responsible for increasing inflammatory and oxidative compounds and decreasing ATP (energy) generation. ß That’s not good! Adaptogens have been found to mediate the stress response thus decreasing JNK. This is the reason so many “stress” formulations contain one or more herbal adaptogens. To make a long story short, adaptogens are known to help decrease stress, fatigue and have a protective and anti-aging quality for the human body.
According to Dr. Winston there are currently 13 known true adaptogens that meet this criterion: American Ginseng root, Ashwagandha root, Asian Ginseng root, Cordyceps, Dang Shen root,, Eleuthero root, Holy Basil herb, Jiaogulan herb , Licorice rhizome, Reishi fungus, Rhaponticum root, Rhodiola root, Wu Wei Zi berries/seeds (Schisandra). Some professionals also include Maca Root, and Astragalus on this list.
You can see as list of adaptogens and their functions by checking out Dr. Winston’s Overview of Adaptogens.
Shocking – skeleton in the closet authors note.
I’ll let you in on a little secret…I have OCD and anxiety and I do take Ashwagandha along with a low dose anti-anxiety med. I have personally noticed a huge difference once I started taking the Ashwagandha. I did check with my pharmacist to ensure there are no negative interactions before I started just in case!
So now that you know this, do your research and see if any of these amazing herbs could help benefit your health. Check out this Huffington Post article for more info.
Enjoy this day!