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What Are Adaptogens and What Do They Do?

It seems like every day we hear of some hot new health trend.

Although adaptogens have just recently started gaining ground throughout the westernized world, they actually have a long history in other parts of the world.

What are adaptogens? Can they help you reduce stress?

We’ll break down what adaptogens do so you can decide for yourself if these herbs are a viable solution or just another health fad.

What are adaptogens?

Different cultures around the world have studied and utilized adaptogens for decades or even centuries in some cases.

Ayurvedic medicine

Ayurveda is an ancient system of medicine indigenous to modern-day India. Modernized applications of ayurvedic medicine focus on comprehensive health through digestive health, immune balance, reducing stress, and forming health routines.

Adaptogenic herbs are commonly found throughout this ancient medical system where they have been used for centuries to treat a number of ailments ranging from digestive stress to sexual dysfunction.

Soviet Union

The current concept of adaptogens as we know it was first coined in 1947. Shortly later, the Soviet Union launched a series of studies documenting the implications and effects of these herbs.

Soviet researchers from the Siberian Department of the Academy of Sciences determined that these herbs known as adaptogens actually increased nonspecific resistance to stress. The Defense Ministry also considered using adaptogens to increase soldiers’ resistance to cold weather in frigid climates.

China and Korea both produced similar studies prior to the 1980’s as well.

Conventional medicine

Adaptogens have made a bit of a comeback recently as more people throughout the west abandon conventional medicine in favor of natural solutions.

What adaptogens do

An adaptogen is a substance – usually an herb – that stabilizes the body’s physiological process. They support the immune system, ward off illness, and make the body more resilient to stress.

It’s difficult to explain what adaptogens do exactly in one small article because their effects are so far reaching throughout the entire body.

  • Immune support
  • Lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone)
  • Increased energy, physical performance, and stamina
  • Greater resilience to disease
  • Encourages balanced mood
  • Supports brain health, focus, and cognitive function
  • Balanced digestive health
  • Weight management
  • Overall sense of wellbeing

Adaptogen supplements and sources

Chances are, you already have a few adaptogens in your kitchen right now.

It’s easy to incorporate adaptogen supplements into your diet in a number of ways through several sources. Test out a few different methods and see what works best for you.

As always, make sure you meet with a doctor before beginning a new supplement routine. Many herbs can interfere with other medications or preexisting conditions.

Holy basil

Also known as Tulsi, holy basil has been used in India for thousands of years. It has been used traditionally to strengthen the respiratory system to prevent cough and colds. It also normalizes blood pressure while nourishing the cardiovascular system. Holy basil has several powerful antioxidants which boost the immune system, reduce stress, and regulate proper hormone levels. This herb has been known to elevate mood in times of stress. It promotes cheerfulness by helping to process grief more effectively. Plus, it tastes delicious.

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is considered one of the best herbs in Ayurveda. Its consider a rasayana, meaning life tonic, helping nourish the body to perfect health and promoting longevity. It has been used for a wide range of conditions like joint pain, stress management, sleep aid, respiratory disorders, nervous disorders and reproductive health. It’s a premier herb thats used for many negative conditions associated with aging. Its a well balanced herb that’s suited for all people and is best used in combination with other adaptogens for optimal energy.

Rhodiola

Rhodiola is a powerful adaptogen famous for lowering stress while simultaneously increasing energy. Soviet athletes used rhodiola to increase endurance and improve physical performance. It has beneficial effects on the heart, helps normalize heart rate after intense exercise and helps protect the heart against stress. It improves mental function by increasing blood supply to the muscles and brain. Rhodiola contains rosavin and salidrosides which are the active constituents. These active compounds work on the nervous system to increase concentration along with physical and mental strength.

Ginseng

Ginseng is probably the most widely accepted adaptogen throughout the western world. In Chinese, the word ginseng translates to “man essence.” It’s utilized for its many potent effects including reducing blood sugar, lowering stress, and improving mental performance. It has been used to fight fatigue, recovery from respiratory illnesses, chronic stress and immune disorders.

Milk thistle

Milk thistle is an important herb for healing the liver, improving metabolism, and managing stress hormones. It helps to protect the liver from toxins such as tylenol, alcohol, and heavy metals. Milk thistle contains a flavonoid called silymarin which helps the liver repair itself by growing new cells.

Rosemary

Rosemary is known as the “herb of remembrance.” When taken internally, rosemary can support brain, heart, and digestive health. Through aromatherapy, studies show that this herb can improve concentration and mental clarity. It increases blood flow to the head and stimulates the brain to increase concentration. It has been used traditionally to increase vitality, improve circulation and mental outlook. Rosemary has some of the most powerful antioxidants of any agent studied.

Aloe vera

A common effect of chronic stress is adrenal fatigue which can lead to body aches, digestive issues, sleep disturbances, heart conditions, hormonal imbalance, and mental health issues.It becomes important to support adrenal health. Aloe vera has several compounds that support the immune system and adrenal glands.

Astragalus

Astragalus has been used in Chinese medicine for hundreds of years to reduce stress and improve overall health. This herb’s active compound – TAT2 – wards off aging, encourages detoxification, and supports the kidneys.

Shop natural herbs and adaptogen supplements in our online store

All of our products at Raydian Herbs are designed by a physician and pharmacist with the goal of enhancing lives. Our Calm Focus contains a combination of ashwagandha, rhodiola, and lemon balm to help with cognitive performance* and decrease fatigue*. You can shop Calm Focus now in our online store!

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