Adaptogens Are the Latest Health Craze: What is behind the Hype?
Heard about the health benefits of adaptogenic herbs and felt completely out of the loop? You’re not alone.
“Something that once and still is a healing tradition for certain cultures has now somewhat been turned into another product and fad by the wellness industry.”
There’s a new kind of herbs popping up in supplements and health foods: Adaptogens – the new buzzword in the lifestyle and wellness world! It is popping up everywhere from the blogger-sphere to the juice bar around the corner. But what are adaptogens exactly? Here’s what you need to know about adaptogenic herbs.
Why do you think we’re hearing the word “adaptogen” everywhere all of a sudden? It’s definitely a really timely topic. There has been a big shift in the health community over the past decade. About 10 years ago, back then there was a lot of trying to substitute herbs for western, allopathic health care. People have become more interested in self-care. And adaptogens are such a useful class of herbs because they support your overall wellness, and because they do best if you use them on a daily basis. Adaptogens are one of the best places for people to start with herbalism, because they’re everyday herbs you can incorporate into your routine.
What exactly are Adaptogens??
The name adaptogen derives from the belief that each will adapt its response to balance whatever stress levels are afflicting you. The name was first coined by a Russian scientist who was investigating the impact of ancient herbs on the body in the 1940s. Today as well as being marketed as supplements and being added to smoothies they are even cropping up in trendy cafes selling adaptogenic lattes.
As the name implies, adaptogens are a category of herbs that help the body “adapt” to stress, increase energy and attention, and fight off fatigue. As an herbalist and holistic health practitioner I have incredible respect for the body’s innate intelligence, which helps us adapt to our environment and maintain balance. These herbs fit seamlessly into this framework as facilitators of the body’s adaptation processes.
Looking at our chronically stressed society, it surprises no one that they are making a comeback. Did we finally find a healthy all-natural alternative to popular antidotes for stress such as energy drinks, caffeine, and sugar?
Each plant claims to do something a little different, but on the whole, they help your body adapt to stress and resist fatigue. New research is even looking at how they may be helpful in treating chronic diseases.
Adaptogens, one of three introductory classes of the plants or fungi (mushrooms!), they help us adapt to our environment by supporting our immune system, energy and focus levels, and stress response. (The other two are nervines, which support the nervous system, and nutritives, which can be eaten as food.) You may have heard the words ashwaganda, cordyceps mushrooms, he shou wu, maca, hodiola, and schisandra flying around recently, —they’re all adaptogens. Now-familiar superfoods like goji berries are too. So are herbal standbys like ginseng, turmeric, holy basil (tulsi), licorice, and nettle. But there are plenty you may not have heard of…yet. Some of these are a bit difficult to get. Others, Maca, Holy Basil, Shatavari, Turmeric and Rosemary are super common! The ultimate way to bridge the gap between medicine cabinet and kitchen.
With adaptogens currently occupying such a high trend factor, it would be easy to believe these herbal wonders are new to the health and wellness scene.
Much like chia seeds, quinoa, and green tea, adaptogens have been in use for centuries. Eastern medicine and Ayurvedic tradition, especially, have a rich history of incorporating adaptogenic herbs in their healing customs.
It sounds incredible—a food that knows what your body needs—but it is true!
How do adaptogens work?
Adaptogens work a bit like your home thermostat. When the thermostat senses that the room temperature is too high it brings it down and when the temperature is too low it brings it up. It does the same to your body.
They have a nonspecific response in the body, supporting all major systems including the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. But that’s not all. They can also regulate bodily functions like blood sugar and help balance hormones! I’m looking at you, PCOS!
In endeavoring not to take the internet’s word at face value let’s get a little nerdy. Because, as it so happens, there’s increasing scientific evidence that adaptogens do exactly as they’re touted to.
Research around adaptogens and their potential uses has increased in recent years, but we know these herbs, roots, and mushrooms work at the molecular level to the hypothalamus (a small region in your brain), your pituitary gland (located at the base of your brain), and your adrenal glands (found at the top of your kidneys; they produce the hormone cortisol) which comprise human stress response systems. In this way, studies have demonstrated the potential for adaptogens to aid humans against things like fatigue, stress, and depression while increasing mental capacities and attention spans.
Unlike popular pharmaceuticals that treat each symptom separately (insomnia, low-immune function, or digestive issues to name a few stress-induced illnesses), adaptogens treat the root of the problem.
While adaptogens can be used individually, combining adaptogenic herbs in formulas has a synergistic effect, enhancing their individual benefits and harmonizing their overall effect on the body.
Now that you’ve been sufficiently overwhelmed with how great adaptogens are, you may be wondering how to begin using them into your everyday life. Simply try Avalife adaptogenic Product range!