Updated: Sep 25, 2021
Adaptogens have become very popular and even "trendy" supplements, but adaptogenic herbs aren't just a fad but have been used for thousands of years for their many benefits. Their significance is increasing due to the soar in stress levels over the past year!
How Adaptogens Work:
A simple google search will define adaptogens as "a natural substance considered to help the body adapt to stress and to exert a normalizing effect upon bodily processes." simply put, adaptogenic herbs aid our bodies in reacting to or recovering from both short- and long-term physical or mental stress and also repairs, protects, and balances the body from damage caused by stress hormones such as cortisol.
Adaptogens also have the ability to indirectly improve other health issues such as immune function, digestive health, and hormone balance, as all are affected by stress.
How to Take Adaptogens:
Talk to your healthcare provider about which adaptogens will work best for you as certain adaptogens can interact with some medications and other supplements.
Find a creative way to add it to your routine, most adaptogens can be sipped as a tea, added to smoothies, oatmeal and more.
Rotate your type of adaptogen every six weeks.
Always follow product instructions on dosage!
Timing your adaptogens is also important. When taking more stimulating adaptogens such as ginseng, it's best to take them early in the day (before 4pm), and more calming adaptogens such as holy basil, is better to take in the evening. Getting this timing right will give you the most benefit from these supplements!
Popular adaptogens and their uses:
Holy Basil/Tulsi- Holy basil or tulsi has been used for over 2,000 years and has been studied extensively in recent years and has been found to have many benefits! One of the most popular uses is its ability to lower cortisol levels and help improve the stress response. Holy basil can be taken in a supplement or enjoyed as a tea. Look for an organic tulsi tea for a delicious adaptogenic drink that can be enjoyed in the evening to aid in relaxation.
Ashwagandha- Like holy basil, ashwagandha has been studied for decades and has been found to possess many benefits! A few of them include improved thyroid function, stress reduction, reduced anxiety and depression, better adrenal function, boosted fertility, increased stamina, and endurance, just to name a few! *When to take ashwagandha depends on why you are taking it, it can both lower or raise cortisol depending on what your body needs. This is something you can discuss with your practitioner or other health care provider.
Rhodiola- As with other adaptogens, rhodiola provides a biological defense against stress and also staves off mental and physical fatigue. According to research conducted in 2010, rhodiola rarely interacts with medications or causes serious side effects, making it an attractive candidate as a safe supplement. *That being said, always confirm supplements with your doctor.
Ginseng-Many studies have proven that ginseng improves mood and reduces stress levels by supporting the adrenals. Ginseng also contains anti-inflammatory properties which is beneficial to many women with hormonal imbalances or those experiencing stress related inflammation.
Maca-Maca is classified as both a "superfood" and an adaptogen. This sweet-tasting root is native to South America and comes in yellow, red and black varieties. It has been shown to improve sexual health (in both men and women), balance hormone levels, and boost energy, mood and memory. Making this a fantastic adaptogen to add if stress has taken a toll on your hormone health and mood!
This is just a small list of adaptogens that can improve your hormones and stress levels by supporting your bodies response to stressors. This is information on individual adaptogens and not combinations of them marketed as stress-releivers or cortisol blockers.
Adaptogens aren't a cure-all:
While adaptogens are fantastic at supporting us during stressful times and supporting our overall wellbeing, they are not a magic pill or substitute for a healthy lifestyle! Adding in adpatogens should be researched and tailored to your specific needs and health concerns, talking to a doctor, herbalist, or certified health coach about your options is a good place to start.