What Are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens can be defined as herbal medicines. They counteract the effects of stress on the body. Stress can cause genuine physical changes, including damage to the neurological, endocrine, and immune systems. Adaptogens have stimulant properties that help counteract these harmful effects.
Adaptogens were first developed during World War II. Scientists were looking for a “superhero” pill to allow pilots to fly better, faster, and longer. Instead, they thought they found adaptogens.
How do Adaptogens work?
Adaptogens regulate a steady balance in the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands at the molecular level. These play a role in the stress reaction. They work by “engineering” the body’s stress response. When our bodies are under stress, they normally go through three stages:
- Alert Phase
- Endurance Phase
- Exhaustion Phase
When we encounter a stressor, say we start lifting weights, our body responds by releasing hormones like adrenaline. The muscles strengthen performance and increase our ability to concentrate and pay attention in the endurance phase. Our body resists the stressor, and As a result of our body providing us a boost to combat the stressor, we feel more energized and aware. And then, when we get tired, we enter the exhaustion phase. Adaptogens essentially widen that “sweet spot” in the middle, the endurance phase, so we can spend more time on the performance part.
Animals and isolated neural cells have both been used to study adaptogens. Researchers have found that they have various effects on the body.
- neuroprotective elements
- Anti-fatigue properties
- Anti-depressant effects
- Central nervous system stimulants
Additionally, adaptogens increase mental performance, improve alertness and prevent stress and fatigue.
Sounds too good to be true, right? According to research on adaptogens, they may be as good as they say.
Types of Adaptogenic Herbs
There are three primary adaptogenic herbs. These have been studied and found safe and non-toxic: Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng), Rhodiola Rosea (Arctic Root), and Schisandra Chinensis.
Siberian Ginseng – This herb is not ginseng, but it works similarly. One study found that it can help prevent fatigue, depression, and stress.
Arctic Root – Sometimes referred to as “roseroot” and grows in cold climates in Asia and Europe. It’s a historical herb used in Russia and Scandinavia to treat minor health ailments like headaches and the flu.
Schisandra – This herb is beneficial in promoting liver health, stabilizing blood sugar, and being an adaptogen.
Additionally, you can learn more about the top 10 herbs that are beneficial to the human body and mind
How Adaptogenic Herbs Benefit Your health?
A review of studies found that adaptogens can promote health for general well-being and as an adjunct to other traditional medicines for specific health conditions and problems. For example, they’ve been shown to help people with cardiovascular health and certain neurological disorders, particularly those that may become more common with age.
These herbs are associated with increased mental clarity for people with many health conditions. In the same review of studies, the arctic root was found to help increase activity and productivity when used in conjunction with anti-depressants with no documented severe side effects. It also helps people recover faster and feel more energetic after illnesses like the flu.
Schisandra is most helpful when used on people with general fatigue and poor physical and mental performance. However, it is beneficial for certain neurological disorders, mental disorders such as schizophrenia, and improving lung function. Schisandra’s unique property is that, unlike other stimulants such as caffeine, the body does not become tolerant quickly of being used effectively at the same dose.
Available studies suggest that adaptogens are indeed helpful in reducing symptoms of tiredness and fatigue. However, it may be more effective for patients with chronic and acute problems when used in conjunction with other therapy.
While your doctor may not recommend taking an adaptogen every day for no apparent reason, it may help if you’re suffering from low energy due to a chronic condition. Although adaptogens have some health benefits, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not monitor the quality or purity of herbs and dietary supplements like over-the-counter products. So talk to your doctor before taking adaptogens.
Adaptogens are not a new concept. They have been analyzed throughout history to improve the body’s ability to react and respond to stress, increase energy and alertness, and fight fatigue. Newer research examines how adaptogens may help treat chronic conditions like respiratory and heart disease.