Adaptogens – what are they?

Adaptogens have been praised by many for being natures little helpers – but do you know exactly what they are and how they benefit our health? Put simply, adaptogens are natural substances that work closely with our body to help us adapt and re-calibrate depending on our emotional and physical surroundings. They are a type of herb that meet a specific set of criteria. These herbs offer a range of health benefits and have been used effectively in both traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Specifically, they support our adrenals, the glands that manage our hormonal response to stress and help us cope with anxiety and fatigue bringing the body back to equilibrium.

What are the different types called?

There are different types and we should consider taking the ones that are right for our needs and physical condition. Some adaptogens—like Asian Ginseng, Aleuthero, Rhodiola Rosea, and Maca stimulate the body, enhancing mental performance and physical stamina. Others, like Reishi, Ashwagandha and Holy Basil, help calm the body and soothe the adrenals when we are stressed. Astragalus is another one that’s become popular lately, thanks to its immune-boosting qualities.

What are the health benefits? Can they help any specific health conditions?

Adaptogens don’t necessarily treat a specific condition. Instead, they’re for anyone looking for an overall health boost. As previously mentioned, their main benefit is in helping the body deal with stress and fatigue. As we increasingly become more aware of the toxic impacts that our environment has on our health, stress is now considered one of the most worrying modern-day ‘illnesses’. Constant stress can wreak havoc on our body, especially on our digestive system and our energy levels. Adaptogens can help minimise this stress response by bringing our hormones back into balance. By minimizing stress, they are also helping in strengthening our immunity and giving the body a natural boost of energy. Some studies suggest their link in helping improve blood sugar levels (beneficial in diabetes treatment and control), reducing inflammation and improving cholesterol levels.

How can they best be consumed?

Adaptogens come in lots of different forms, including pill form, powders that can be mixed with water or added to smoothie and in a variety of teas. There’s no right way to consume them, it’s really a matter of personal taste. While some people chose to include them in their diet every day, it’s always good to give your body a break every now and then. Similarly to taking vitamins, be patient – you will not notice an instant difference. Focus on being consistent and more importantly, trying to lead a healthy lifestyle should always be priority.

If you are unsure about your diet or would like further advice on how to lead a healthier lifestyle, speak to one of our client managers today for a telephone consultation.

Should people be aware of anything? Over-consumption/ side-effects?

Adaptogens are considered generally safe, however, it’s always recommended to consult your doctor to know what’s right for you before taking any supplement. It wouldn’t be particularly recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

It’s best to investigate each herb individually since they all have their own effects. Although generally safe, if taken in large quantities on an empty stomach or without enough hydration, any herbal supplement can cause stomach irritation and pain.