There are several reasons to love adaptogens. Adaptogens are considered Nature's medicine and have been used as such for thousands of years. Much like how cannabinoids work on the endocannabinoid system to help balance the body and mind, adaptogens are a unique class of healing plants and fungi that help the body and mind better adapt to stress. By supporting the adrenal glands and aiding in homeostasis, adaptogens can help to boost immunity, improve energy levels, decrease anxiety and promote better overall health.
Adaptogens Defined - What they really are.
Although adaptogens have been used for millennia, the scientific term was not defined and added to scientific literature until the 1900s. In 1957, a doctor named Nikolai Lazarev coined the term adaptogen and explained this class of plants and fungi as substances that increase the state of nonspecific resistance to stress. In 1968, his colleagues Dr. Isreal Brekhman and Dr. I. V. Dardymov expanded this definition, characterizing adaptogens as substances that:
- are non-toxic to the body's physiological functions
- produce a nonspecific state of resistance to various stressors, including physiological, chemical, and biological traumas
- must have an overall normalizing effect on the body
These natural medicines are especially well-known for their ability to increase the body and mind's resistance to physical, emotional, environmental, and chemical stressors. Basically, since they work in nonspecific ways, adaptogens affect a wide range of physiological, chemical, and biochemical factors that work to keep the body and mind healthy and balanced when faced with multiple stressors.
How do adaptogens work?
Adaptogens affect and correct the body for stable balance in the hypothalamic, pituitary, and adrenal glands on a molecular level. These are involved with the stress response, and adaptogens interfere with the body's stress response by "hacking" it. Typically, when our bodies are stressed, we go through three stages of stress:
- alarm phase
- phase of resistance
- phase of exhaustion
When a stressor comes along — like, say, while embarking on a laborious hike — our body responds by releasing hormones such as adrenaline that enhance both muscle power and concentration, which allows us to focus on the task at hand (like not falling over or losing our breath) in the phase of resistance. Because our bodies are literally fighting off this stressor (the difficult hike), we feel more energized and focused as a result of receiving a boost to fight it.
Then, as we fatigue, we enter the exhaustion phase. Adaptogens essentially "stretch out" that sweet spot in the middle — the resistance phase – allowing us to stay in the strong area for longer.
Adaptogens on both animals and isolated neuronal cells have been investigated thoroughly. They have a variety of effects on the body, including:
- neuroprotective components
- anti-fatigue properties
- anti-depressive effects
- stimulant action on the brain and CNS
Benefits of Adaptogens
The use of adaptogens is building in popularity due to their amazing and widespread benefits to the body and mind. These benefits have been well documented and include:
- boosting immunity
- promoting a healthy stress response
- supporting energy and stamina
- regulating hormones and metabolism
- supporting healing and regeneration
- promoting longevity and healthy aging
Did you know that adaptogens can also improve your mental work capacity, enhance attention, and prevent stress and tiredness? Too good to be true, right? Well, according to research on adaptogens, they may be just as effective as they sound.
There are many adaptogenic herbs to choose from, each with its own unique set of abilities and benefits. Here are 3 popular adaptogenic herbs we love and utilize in our slowly infused, Adios Anxiety™ herbal infusion.
1. Ashwagandha, Withania somnifera
Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb that has been used for centuries to help the body cope with stress. The name ashwagandha means "the smell of a horse" in Sanskrit, a description of wisdom as ashwagandha is known to boost vitality, stamina, and strength.
This herb is a powerful adaptogen that helps to both increase energy levels and promotes better sleep. Additionally, ashwagandha may also help to decrease anxiety and improve cognitive function, as it has a calming effect on the nervous system.
2. Holy Basil, Ocimum sanctum
Holy basil, or tulsi, is an Ayurvedic herb that has been used for centuries in India and Southeast Asia and is traditionally considered one of India's most powerful herbs. In fact, Holy basil is often referred to as "The Incomparable One," "The Queen of Herbs," and the "Mother Medicine of Nature."
This sacred herb is considered to be an "elixir of life" because it is spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically healing. Holy basil also improves energy levels, decreases anxiety, and promotes better sleep. Additionally, holy basil may also help to boost immunity and protect against oxidative stress. It is the most sacred herb in various cultures for good reason: it works.
3. Gotu kola, Centella asiatica
Gotu kola is an adaptogenic herb named after the Ayurveda god, Brahman for its properties in supporting vitality and well-being. Gotu kola has been used for centuries to support the central nervous system. This herb is a powerful adaptogen that helps to improve mental clarity, increase energy levels and promote better overall health. Additionally, Gotu kola may also help to decrease anxiety, improve sleep quality and boost immunity.
The beauty and awe-inspiring fact here is that adaptogens are non-toxic and, when consumed in proper therapeutic doses, are not associated with adverse side effects. This exemplifies the most important tenet of natural medicine– primum non nocere: "First, do no harm."
Adaptogens, both herbal and fungal, offer a wide variety of benefits that can help to improve overall health and well-being. These herbs can help to increase energy levels, decrease anxiety, improve sleep quality and boost immunity. Additionally, adaptogenic herbs may also help to protect against oxidative stress and promote better digestion. If you’re looking for an herbal supplement to help support your health and well-being, consider adding an adaptogen to your daily routine.
Have you had a positive experience using adaptogenic herbs? We’d love to hear about it on social media! Tag @onda.wellness with hashtag #ondahemp so we can say hello.