You have probably heard of adaptogens but what ARE they? Do you know why we need them and should have them in our diet every single day? I ‘sort of’ knew but wanted to understand them better so I could explain them better to my clients.
(in herbal medicine) a natural substance considered to help the body adapt to stress and to exert a normalizing effect upon bodily processes.
The basic, 101, explanation is that adaptogens help us….ADAPT and protect our bodies from the toxic effects of stress. The term adaptogen was coined by the Soviet Union’s Ministry of Health in 1947-referring to a class of herbs & mushrooms that offer heavy-duty support for the body.
Adaptogens have been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. To be an adaptogen, the herbs need to be non-toxic and specifically reduce stress & have broad uses to health.
Adaptogens should be taken every day (whether in pill or powder form) and some recommend taking a week off after using daily for six weeks to let the herbs really take effect in your system. They are slow acting and can take a few weeks to notice a difference.
Adaptogens do not treat a specific condition but are for anyone looking to boost overall well-being.
Here are the ones I consume every day:
- Native to the dry regions of India, northern Africa & the Middle East (also now grown in the US!)
- One of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic healing
- Referred to as “indian ginseng” due to rejuvenating properties
- Same family as the tomato!
- Protects immune system
- Combats effects of stress
- Improves memory & reaction time
- Reduces anxiety & depression
- Helps reduce brain-cell degeneration
- Stabilizes blood sugar
- Helps lower cholesterol
- Anti-inflammatory benefits
- Grown high in the mountains of South American, mainly in Peru
- Considered one of the world’s natural “super foods”
- Member of the cruciferous family, like broccoli & cabbage
- Consumed for medicinal benefits for thousands of years in Andes Mtns.
- Has more calcium than milk
- Increased sexual function, libido, and fertility in both men & women
- Immune system booster
- Increased energy, stamina, memory & focus
- Helps with hormone balance-improve symptoms of PMS & menopause
- Help decrease levels of anxiety & depression
- Supports endocrine system & aids regulation of healthy adrenal & thyroid hormone production
- Helps balance proper levels of cholesterol
*Caution for those with cancer related to the hormones-see professional before taking maca
- Native to northern & eastern parts of China, as well as Mongolia & Korea
- Used for centuries as traditional Chinese approach to protect from seasonal ailments like cold & flu
- Contains antioxidants, which protect cells against damage
- Supports normal liver activity & helps reduce the effects of toxic overload
- Offers protective effects against kidney disease
- May lower blood sugar
- Boosts the immune system
- Anti-inflammatory – reduces severity of conditions like arthritis & eczema, has anti-cancer effects, & offers asthma relief
- Helps reduce free radical damage to arterial walls & heart tissue
- Anti-aging effect – a component of the Astragalus, called the cycloastragenol, increases the telomerase. When the telomerase (end portions of DNA) are increased, they increase longevity!
- Promotes wound healing & reduces scarring (topical use
- Native to the mountains of northeastern Japan
- Means “Dancing mushroom” in Japanese
- Boosts immune system-increase resistance against sickness & disease, helps body removes cellular wastes and speeds up recovery from tissue damage
- Helps activate & produce white blood cells called macrophages, which work in the body to ingest & destroy tumor cells (aids chemotherapy & lessens side effects of anti-cancer drugs)
- Decreases blood glucose levels
- Helps decrease blood pressure level, lower total cholesterol levels and helps maintain weight which can all help to promote heart health
- Found altitudes over 14,000 feet in the Himalayas, on the Tibetan plateau, and at other high-altitude locations worldwide.
- Has been used in traditional Chinese & Tibetan medicine since at least the 15th century.
- A combination of a caterpillar & a fungus – known as “summer grass or winter worm”
- Discovered when local herders observed that yak, goat & sheep that ate the cordyceps became very strong & stout
- Helps manage blood sugar levels
- Approved for the treatment of arrhythmias in China
- Protects the kidneys (may play a protective told in kidney transplantation)
- Strengthens immune system & boosts total antioxidant capacity
- Eastern society has used to enhance libido
- Improves exercise performance
- Cancer fighter: has anti tumor activity in various cancers, including lymphoma, melanoma, prostate, breast, liver & colorectal cancers. Combined with other forms of chemo, the cordyceps was toxic to tumor cells but did not affect normal cells at all
- Has been used in Asian societies for thousands of years
- Known as “mushrooms of immortality” & are found growing on plum trees in the wild & original reserved for royalty
- Promotes longevity by boosting immune system function & preventing abnormal blood vessel formations that can lead to life-threatening cancerous growths
- Ability to stimulate brain neurons, search and destroy cancer cells & prevents the development of new fat cells in obese individuals
- Therapeutic effect on neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease, etc
- Offers protection against numerous diseases and illness, including: inflammation, liver disease, fatigue, frequent infections, diabetes, skin disorders, anxiety and depression, sleep disorders, food allergies, asthma, etc.
Holy basil (Tulsi):
- Native to Southeast Asia
- Has been worshipped in India as a miraculous medicine for thousands of years
- High nutritional value, containing vitamins A & C, calcium, zinc, iron & chlorophyll
- When combined with other ingredients, like lemon juice, or mustard oil, it can help treat most skin irritations including acne, eczema and even ringworm
- Healing properties from the leaves oil-antibiotic, germicidal, fungicidal & disinfectant
- Aids respiratory disorders, including bronchitis & asthma-relieves congestion
- Holy basil’s anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties are the key to its anti-carcinogenic qualities
- Effective in warding off periodontal pathogens
WOW! That is way more than I ever thought an adaptogen was! I had no idea how many health benefits each one had, and honestly, I only gave a brief overview so I didn’t bore anyone to tears! There is so much more I could have written about each one!
If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear them!
Thanks for reading!