Adaptogens: Are They Truly Miracle Herbs?
Adaptogens are a special class of herbs that have been used around the globe for centuries by many different cultures. These herbs support your body’s stress response, immune system, and can help pre- and post-workout for both endurance and exercise recovery.
Adaptogens For Stress and Anxiety
- Simply put, adaptogens are great. They are a particular Class of Herbs that have been linked with helping the body adapt to stress (psychological and environmental, this includes physical or endurance related stress as well).
- In general, they’re considered rejuvenators or tonics and have been assoc with helping cognitive performance as well
- Some examples: these herbs come from across the globe but they have similar effects on the body. You’ve likely heard of some of them:
…used for centuries by many different cultures around the globe. They are different herbs yet share some similar characteristics.
- One of the best researched is Rhodiola (I chat about this in another podcast so stay tuned)….literally hundreds of studies on it use and application for helping the body respond to physical and psychological stresses.
- Another adaptogen, Ashwagandha it is a much-revered herb in Indian, Ayurvedic medicine and has been used in that culture for conditions such as nervousness and anxiety, insomnia, to promote memory and improve GI (gut) health.
- Most of these adaptogens come in capsule, liquid, powder and herbal tea form and are typically very well-tolerated. There has been quite a bit of research on the various adaptogens and they are generally considered safe, non-toxic, and to have a normalizing effect on the body in terms of stress response and cortisol release.
- Ahhhhh. Cortisol..what is that? It’s one of our main stress response hormones. It kicks into gear during our “flight or fight” response and at times of stress whether it be a physically demanding race, a work project deadline, or a school exam. What matters, is that your cortisol level increases when your body demands require it but that it returns to baseline once that stressor, whatever it might be, is mitigated or gone. And that’s where adaptogens come in.
- Adaptogens support your HPA axis. That stands for Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis. What on earth is that? That is a subsystem in your body that forms a communication loop between two structures in your brain (the hypothalamus and your pituitary gland) and your adrenal glands (one those are located above each of your kidneys). Cortisol plays a big role in activating that system and your stress response.
- Adaptogens have been associated with supporting that HPA axis, maintaining a healthy stress response. But, the HPA axis is an important neuroendocrine system in the body because it also regulates other body processes like our immune system, digestion, mood, and energy storage.
- Remember, always check with your health provider before starting any herb and if you’re in the “all clear” then adaptogens can be a great addition to your health routine!
“Adaptogens are rejuvenators, a class of herbs that help you deal with stress, both psychological and physical.”
KEY TERMS & IDEAS:
- Adaptogens: support body’s stress response, cognitive health, endurance, and exercise recovery
- A few adaptogenic herbs: Ginseng, Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, and Holy Basil
- Growing body of research to support their use
- Cortisol and Adaptogens: Cortisol is one of our main stress response hormones and adaptogens help maintain a healthy range or level
- HPA Axis (Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Axis): cortisol activates this body system and your stress response
- Adaptogens support HPA Axis: helps regulate stress, immune system, energy, mood and more
- Adaptogens can help pre- and post- workout
LINKS & RESOURCES:
Follow Nada on LInkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/nada-milosavljevic-35b502b9/
Sage Tonic www.sagetonic.com
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“Evidence-based efficacy of adaptogens in fatigue, and molecular mechanisms related to their stress-protective activity” Curr Clin Pharmacol. 2009 Sep;4(3):198-219.
“Body Weight Management in Adults Under Chronic Stress Through Treatment With Ashwagandha Root Extract: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial” J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017 Jan;22(1):96-106.
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Writer and Host: Nada Milosavljevic MD, JD
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