Adaptogens are certain plants that ‘adapt’ well to their environment, by responding well to stressors and other factors.
‘Well, that’s nice, but what does that have to do with health?’ You ask.
Many of these adaptogens have been made into herbs for human consumption. When consumed they pass their resilience and adaptive effects along.
Again, what does that mean?
Effects of Adaptogens
Functionally, that means that in humans, these adaptogens help
- reduce stress response, thus decreasing cortisol production,
- protect the HPA Axis (Hypothalamus, Pituitary, Adrenals) from stress breakdowns,
- increase longevity and decrease aging,
- support libido,
- quicken stress/fatigue/workout recovery
- induce relaxation, and
- relieve insomnia.
Yea, given all those things, I’m a fan of adaptogens. If for no other reason than the first two: you’ve read my post on the consequences of cortisol, including belly fat, and the one on the breakdown of the nuero-endocrine cascade.
There are adaptogenic herbs from nearly all indigenous healing traditions and all corners of the world. To list just a few of the more well-known ones that I’m familiar with:
- Ashwagandha, from Ayurveda
- Gynostemma (绞股蓝 – Jiao Gu Lan), from Traditional Chinese Medicine (image above)
- Russian Mumie (Moomiyo)
- Ginseng (questionable as to whether its a true adaptogen), grown in China, Korea, Japan, Russia, and the US
- Schisandra Berry (五味子 – Five Flavors Berry), Traditional Korean Medicine
Because they fall into the class of ‘adaptogen,’ they all have similar properties and effects; however that does not mean they are the same. Likewise, some are better as tea, some as dried, powdered, herbal medicines, and some as extracts.
‘So, how do I consume an adaptogenic plant? By picking a leaf and eating it?’
Generally, no. Usually, at the very minimum, the leaf, berry, stem, or other part used goes through a drying process. Alternatively, an extract is made.
Gynostemma, Ginseng, and Schisandra Berry all make very appealing teas, drunk just as dried herbs (or berries). In fact, Gynostemma and Ginseng are both available in individual tea bags at the local Asian grocery.
Our blend, BeBalanced Tea, contains a number of adaptogenic herbs, including Schisandra, Eleuthero, and Licorice, to help relieve stress and increase endurance.
Ashwagandha can be found in loose, bulk powder, as well as in capsules in health food stores. Ginseng is sometimes in capsules, as is Schizandra.
Russian Mumie is best as an extract; it is one of the ingredients in our own Orenda O-Tropin. Rhodiola also tends to be an extract or pressed juice.
Sometimes called the ‘herbal medicine for healthy people,’ adaptogens are a great way to shake off some stress, calm down, relieve anxiety, focus better, and sleep easier. I personally consume at least 1-2 adaptogens on a daily basis, and recommend you consider them as well for finding more calm in your life.