In today's society many folks are using sugar and caffeine to fight fatigue and stress. I'm here to tell you, there is a better and much healthier way!
Adaptogens support the body during times of fatigue and stress without the highs and lows that come with the consumption of caffeine and sugar. If you are not familiar with adaptogens, click here to read my blog post about what adaptogenic herbs are and how they work synergistically with your body.
There are many different adaptogens to choose from based on the needs of an individual. Read-on to learn about some rock star adaptogens and what they are best used for.
Ginseng has been around for thousands of years and there are a vast number of studies touting the benefits of the powerful plant. There are a number of individuals that utilize ginseng to increase energy levels, but there are many other powerful effects of this adaptogenic herb.
Ginseng has the ability to significantly reduce the effects of chronic stress by regulating the HPA axis, effectively improving feelings of depression and anxiety, and regulating other HPA axis disorders.
Studies have shown that ginseng directly influences the body's inflammatory response and has the potential to prevent and reverse a number of inflammatory conditions including heart disease, stroke, asthma, arthritis, osteoporosis, and diabetes.
It doesn't end there, ginseng has also demonstrated neuroprotective effects, which in turn can help stave off risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimers. And to top it off, this study shows that ginseng improves working and long-term memory.
The name ashwagandha translates to "horse smell" in Sanskrit. It has a very strong odor so many people prefer to take it in supplement form. But don't let the translation fool you, ashwagandha is one of the most popular adaptogens used today and rightly so, it is a complete powerhouse of an adaptogen.
It is most popularly known to increase energy and decrease the body's cortisol production which in some cases leads to decreased abdominal fat. Ashwagandha has anti-inflammatory properties with research showing that it has the ability to reduce pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis. It is also the only adaptogen to have research associated with enhancing thyroid function, specifically increasing the T4 and T3 hormones.
Unlike Ashwagandha, Maca has a good nutty flavor that can be taken in powder form or easily mixed into a smoothie. Not only is Maca an adaptogen but it is also considered a superfood. Maca contains high concentrations of Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Copper, and Zinc.
Maca has a wide range of benefits including increased energy and endurance. However, there are a number of studies showing that Maca is great for enhancing sexual health. Maca has been shown to increase libido and fertility, as well as reduce menopausal symptoms.
Holy Basil (Tulsi)
In Ayurvedic healing, Tulsi has been described as the "elixir of life" and is known to treat many common health conditions including diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and psychological stress.
There have been impressive results with the use of Tulsi especially relating to blood sugar regulation issues. It has shown to decrease fasting glucose levels, postprandial glucose levels (glucose levels after a meal), and HBA1c levels. Tulsi also significantly improved symptoms of type 2 diabetes such as excessive hunger and thirst.
A favorite way to enjoy Tulsi is in tea form.
There are many different types of rhodiola but rhodiola rosea is the only type to have proven beneficial health properties.
Rhodiola rosea helps to raise and lower cortisol levels in the body. Rhodiola has demonstrated the amazing ability to support cellular energy metabolism and increase stamina, making this a great adaptogen for those that are physically active and looking for an edge.
Licorice is interesting in the fact that it works in specific ways, rather than most other adaptogens which are non-specific in nature. Licorice has the ability to cause complications in some individuals with overuse. But don't let that scare you away because it can be extremely beneficial when used in the right scenarios.
Licorice has been found to enhance memory, decrease abdominal fat, and modulate bone disorders in menopausal women. Licorice extract has demonstrated efficacy against H. Pylori and treatment of the herpes simplex virus, which tends to be triggered by an increase in stress.
Schisandra is another great adaptogen for enhancing athletic performance and endurance when taken over time. Even if you aren't the athletic type, schisandra can help improve overall energy levels.
The schisandra berry also provides powerful antioxidant protection, particularly from environmental toxins that may cause cellular damage (i.e. free radicals).
Schisandra is heptoprotective, meaning liver protective. Researchers believe the heptoprotective effect may be related to its free radical scavenging effect, increasing antioxidant activity, and inhibition of lipid peroxidation.
Eleuthero is used in Chinese medicine for muscle spasms, joint pain, and fatigue. Eleuthero contains compounds that have a stimulatory effect, increasing the function of the nervous system. In fact, in Germany it has been approved for use as a treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome.
This gem of an adaptogen has a laundry list of other benefits, such as enhancing immune function, improving memory and concentration, reducing duration of respiratory ailments, repairing nerve damage, stabilizing blood sugar levels, improving lymphatic function, increasing low blood pressure, and reducing osteoporosis.
Reishi may be the adaptogen of choice if you tend to get sick a lot from stress, as it is great at boosting immune function. Reishi has been shown to increase a type of white blood cell called natural killer cells, which fight infection in the body.
Reishi also has potential cancer fighting properties. Reishi has been studied extensively in fighting and preventing breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers with promising results.
The adaptogens mentioned in this post are AMAZING but are not the only adaptogens out there. The adaptogens mentioned above are some of the more popular ones and ones that I've used personally and recommend to patients.
*Disclaimer: If you have any health conditions or concerns, please talk with your doctor before incorporating any of the above mentioned adaptogens into your daily routine.