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Adaptogens and Stress

In the health and wellness world, the word “adaptogen” is something that you’ve probably encountered plenty of times, whether it be in health food stores, online forums, or even in articles in magazines. You might find this word in recipe books or pretty much anywhere else that focuses on health, fitness, and wellness. But the question that is still on the mind of many is “what exactly are adaptogens?”

What Are Adaptogens?

An adaptogen is an herb, or a plant, that is thought to help the body fight off some kind of stressor. They help fight off physical, chemical, and psychological stressors, keeping your body and mind in great working shape. They have been used for centuries, and can be added to food or drinks like tea, or even consumed on their own. Yu can also buy them at health food stores as tinctures in different combinations to meet your needs. While each adaptogen is meant to do something different in terms of fighting off stress, in simpler terms, each one does essentially the same thing – they are meant to help ground you and keep you healthy.

How Do Adaptogens Help?

Adaptogens are thought of as being as helpful for stress management in a similar way that we use exercise to tone, condition, and strengthen our muscular system. It might be helpful to think of it quite like that, actually: when we exercise we feel better, our bodies feel better, and stress is lessened, and we feel more upbeat and happy. The same can be applied to the general idea of adaptogens, only in the form of herbs that can be eaten or brewed into drinks like tea. Adaptogens are commonly recommended to those who are looking to reduce the amount of stress in their life and reduce their body’s stress response. Since it is common knowledge that when you eat healthy, you feel better, the same general concept it thought to apply to adaptogens, as well.

What Are Some Examples of Adaptogens?

There are many adaptogens – some are simple and easy to use and understand, while others, particularly if they are not really from your culture or part of the world, might need some research to be understood and used properly. Most adaptogens are different from each other, each with their own application. Some of the most common adaptogens include the following.

1. Ashwagandha

This adaptogen has been found to assist with anxiety and bad dreams. It can also help with symptoms of mild forms of OCD and insomnia, and is one of the most popular adaptogens out there. This adaptogen is also often used to treat arthritis and restless legs syndrome, as well as improve thyroid function.

2. Holy Basil

Holy basil is also known as Tulsi. This adaptogen is used to assist with depression, as an expectorant, and has antiviral and antibacterial properties, and in many cultures it is often given as a way to help individuals feel better when they are suffering from a cold or virus.

3. Schizandra

This adaptogen, which comes from China, is well known as a tool to increase heart health. It is also known to improve liver function and keep the liver healthy and thriving.

4. Eleuthero

This Chinese adaptogen is great for helping combat muscle spasms. Due to this, many use it for restless leg syndrome and insomnia. It is also very well know for its fatigue fighting capabilities, as well as its ability to help improve memory and fight depression.

5. Rhodiola rosea

Rhodiola rosea is known for its ability to regulate hormones, which is great for those suffering from various hormone imbalances. It works by regulating the amount of cortisol in your body, and will regulate it as your body needs it, whether that be more or less. As cortisol is your body’s stress hormone, this is particularly effective for those who are highly stressed!

A Note About Adaptogens

While adaptogens can really improve your health and well being by reducing the effects that stressors have on your body and mind, it is important to keep in mind that some of these can interact with prescription medications, and some should not be taken if you have certain ailments or illnesses. Check with your doctor or a nutritionist before starting to take any adaptogens.

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Dr. Candice Seti


California-licensed Clinical Psychologist, Certified Nutrition Coach, and Certified Personal Trainer

Dr. Candice Seti

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