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A growing number of consumers are turning to herbal and natural products for their stress relief needs as disillusionment in traditional Western medicine continues to escalate.
If you’re like many modern consumers, you share in the current discontent with pharmaceutical companies and the health care professionals who work in tandem with them.
You’ve probably heard some talk among friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintances about adaptogens but are unsure of what they are, who can use them, and what they may be able to do for you.
Here’s what you need to know about them.
What Is an Adaptogen?
Used in Chinese medicine to treat a variety of conditions for centuries, adaptogens are roots, herbs, and fungal organisms thought to have significant healing properties.
Each adaptogen has a slightly different function and is derived from a different source.
However, all adaptogens have the same primary purpose, which is to relieve stress.
What Does It Do for the Body?
Adaptogens are thought to promote homeostasis in the human body by decreasing overall sensitivity to external stressors.
They are also believed to stimulate the stress-protection responses of bodily tissues.
Ashwagandha, which comes from an evergreen shrub that is native to Africa and Asia, is one of the most commonly used adaptogens.
Evidence suggests that along with reducing stress, it may also lower blood pressure.
Some types of adaptogens, including Ashwagandha, are even reputed to help people lose weight, while others are said to help balance hormones.
Adaptogens help with weight loss by limiting the release of a common stress hormone called cortisol.
When you’re faced with challenges that cause anxiety or stress, your adrenal gland releases cortisol to give you a boost of energy to deal with the situation at hand.
However, cortisol is also the main culprit in weight gain, particularly around the belly area.
What Are the Best Adaptogens?
The best adaptogens will vary per individual user and depend on a wide range of variables.
Some types work better than others for different people.
Following are nine popular types of adaptogens in alphabetical order.
Sometimes called Indian Ginseng, Ashwagandha is an annual evergreen shrub in the Nightshade family. It’s commonly used to manage anxiety.
Astragalus is a perennial legume native to Mongolia. It’s used to fight fatigue, boost the immune system, and lower blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
Found primarily in the high mountains of China, Cordyceps is a fungal organism that grows on caterpillars. It’s commonly used to boost stamina and promote a sense of well-being.
Sometimes called Wolfberry, Goji berry is a bright orange berry that’s native to China. It promotes a sense of calm, helps with sleep, and provides a sense of well-being.
Also known as Siberian Ginseng, Eleuthero root is used in Chinese medicine for multiple purposes, including fighting off mental fatigue and improving the ability to focus.
Jiaogulan is a rambling vine that grows wild in eastern and southern Asia as well as New Guinea. It’s used in Chinese medicine to help manage diabetes, promote endurance, and reduce stress.
A cultivated herb that grows throughout Asia and Europe, Licorice root is typically used to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. It’s also said to relieve digestive distress and is sometimes used as a natural sweetener.
Tulsi basil is a highly aromatic herb that is widely cultivated throughout the tropical regions of Southeast Asia. It’s used to combat depression, anxiety, and mental fatigue.
Commonly used as a spice in Southeast Asian cuisine, Tumeric is a flowering perennial plant in the Ginger family with well-known anti-inflammatory properties. Along with promoting overall good health, Tumeric is used to relieve stress and depression.
What Are the Side Effects?
Side effects produced by using adaptogens are generally minor if they occur at all. Side effects are most likely to involve gastrointestinal discomfort, including loose stools and an upset stomach. Some users may experience drowsiness.
Adjusting dosages often works well to eliminate any side effects associated with taking adaptogens. Some users may experience fluctuations in blood sugar levels as a result of taking adaptogens, while others have reported mild headaches.
Those who are taking immunosuppressant drugs should check with a trusted health care provider before taking adaptogen products.
Some types of adaptogens, such as astragalus, should not be taken in conjunction with blood-thinning medications.
Using adaptogens in conjunction with over-the-counter or prescription medications that have sedative effects is also not recommended.
How Do I Take Adaptogens?
There are a variety of ways to take adaptogens. They are available in powders, capsules, teas, tinctures, and edibles such as chocolate bites.
They can be added to soups, stews, smoothies, and pretty much anything you eat or drink.
Some types, such as Tumeric, can be used as spices in meal preparation.
Our sprinkles provide a great way to begin your journey with adaptogens.
You can use sprinkle them over yogurt or cereal, add them to smoothies and other beverages, or use them to decorate the tops of cupcakes for those times when you really need to connect with your personal sweet spot.