Chronic stress is a major problem in today’s world. More and more people are finding it difficult to manage the stream of everyday stressors without prescription medication, which can be extremely expensive and bad for your body. Another method of stress relief, though, has found its shining moment in recent years.
This method is the consumption of natural herbs called adaptogens. Although considered part of a “trend” for wellness, adaptogens have actually been around for a long time, dating back centuries in Chinese medicine. But what exactly are they and do they really live up to the hype?
Nature’s non-toxic stress relief
Adaptogens are herbs that help your body adapt to stress and other ailments. There are many adaptogens in the world and all of them are non-toxic, adapt their function to your body’s needs and help your body maintain homeostasis, or balance.
Stress hormones are produced in the body to help protect us from danger, a trait that is linked to our ancestral “fight or flight” responses. Maintaining high levels of stress have the capacity to throw your whole body out of whack, including your sleep, digestive system, immune system and more.
Adaptogens work by reducing the presence of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body and by interacting with your adrenal glands, which produce the hormones, to bring hormone production back to normal levels.
The benefits of adaptogens don’t just stop with stress relief, though. Certain adaptogens are also good for maintaining focus and clearing brain fog, improving immunity, reducing anxiety, improving physical endurance, increasing libido and bolstering thyroid health. Overall, the goal of adaptogens are to bring your body back to its natural state of balance and to get everything working the way it should be.
Adaptogens are usually sourced from their indigenous locations and can be made into numerous forms for consumption. You might take adaptogens as supplements in pill form or add them to drinks like tea and smoothies or as spices for meals.
Each apoptogenic herb is supposed to have its own unique mix of benefits, but the overarching benefit is stress reduction—whether physical or chemical. It’s important to understand the particular benefits of each herb to get the right effect for your day. Some adaptogens are calming, while others promote energy, so it’s necessary to know what the supplements you’re taking are truly doing.
These herbs are not one-size-fits-all, though, so don’t just go out and buy every adaptogen available on the market! You’ll want to try one or two at a time to see what works for your body. Here are some of the major benefits of just a handful of popular adaptogens:
- Asian Ginseng: Asian ginseng, also known as Asian Panax, is most well-known for its ability to provide mental clarity and boost your energy. It can help sustain physical endurance and also contain antioxidant properties.
- Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha is one of the best adaptogens to take for stress relief, whether preventatively or for restorative purposes. It helps regulate cortisol in your body, reducing stress, as well as providing greater mental focus. It’s also good for thyroid support.
- Milk Thistle: Milk thistle has been said to provide stress relief benefits, as well as a boost to your metabolism and liver health.
- Holy Basil: Holy basil contains soothing properties helpful in reducing stress and clearing brain fog. It is also an antioxidant, which is good for heart health.
- Maca: Packed with vitamin C, maca is useful for boosting the immune system, as well as providing an extra jolt of energy. It’s also used to promote fertility and libido.
- Rhodiola: Rhodiola helps to regulate cortisol levels to reduce stress. Additionally, it can regulate energy levels, promote positive moods and support cognitive function for ultimate mental balance.
Adding adaptogens to your everyday diet may help provide the balance you need to be more productive, feel less stressed and maintain a healthier body, without taking prescription medications.
As with almost every supplement on the market, speak with your doctor before adding apoptogenic herbs and supplements into your diet, as some studies have found them to interact with certain medications.
Also, remember that adaptogens are not intended to be a long-term solution for chronic stress. If you have trouble maintaining a healthy level of stress, you should seek other stress-relief help in the form of therapy, yoga, meditation and other practices.