Every once in a while a wellness trend will come along that sweeps everyone from lifestyle bloggers to functional medicine doctors off of their healthy little feet. Although it may seem hot and new, more times than not these trends surface from century old traditions like Chinese Medicine and Aryuveda.
The latest trend: Adaptogens! If you're like "adapto-whats??"... You have come to the right place.
Adaptogens main superpower is their ability to.... you guessed it.... adapt!
Adaptogens are plants, herbs and mushrooms that help the body resist stressors of all kinds, whether physical, chemical or biological. They do this by interacting with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathoadrenal system, both of which are involved in the body’s response to stress. Adaptogens influence hormone production and physiological responses to stress to ensure that your body functions as it should. Interestingly, adaptogens are mostly plants that have adapted to growing in very stressful conditions, which is what makes them so powerful. They give their strength and adaptability to us. Sounds pretty amazing, amirite?.
So how do you know if adaptogens are right for you?... I am so glad you asked!
To be an adaptogen, herbs have to be non-toxic to the body’s physiological functions, offer widespread support, and help bring the body back to equilibrium. Each adaptogen has a slightly different function, so the best one for you depends on the specific ailment you’re experiencing.
Here is are some of my fave adaptogens and what they help to tackle:
In India, ashwagandha is known as the “strength of the stallion” because it has traditionally been used to strengthen the immune system after illness. It has also been referred to as “Indian ginseng” because of its ability to enhance your stamina and work as a natural stress reliever.
Maca root acts as a natural antioxidant which help to neutralize harmful free radicals, fighting off chronic disease and preventing damage to cells. Native to Peru, this root has countless benefits from enhancing energy, mood and memory to improved female sexual health and estrogen levels. Maca even helps to boost male fertility! Check out how I like to incorporate Maca into my white choco truffle bliss balls!
Cordyceps, reishi, shiitake and maitake mushrooms are fungi with antioxidant properties. Medicinal mushrooms work wonders when it comes to combating symptoms of PMS, stress and insomnia while boosting the immune system and its responses. My favorite way to sneak mushrooms into my routine is with a little Foursigmatic Mushroom Elixir (use code ECWSHROOMER at checkout for 10% off your purchase)
Moringa is known by over 100 names in different languages around the world. Native to the Himalayan mountains and parts of India and Africa, comes packed with over 90 protective compounds. Moringa is the becoming more and more widespread because of its incredibly diverse benefits and easy to grow capabilities. Moringa provides antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, balances hormones and slows the effects of aging, helps improve digestive health, balances blood sugar levels, protects and nourishes the skin, helps stabilize your mood and protects brain health.
Also called tulsi, holy basil is known in India as the a powerful anti-aging supplement. Holy basil has been an integral part of Ayurvedic medicine to treat a large number of conditions, such as “infections, skin diseases, hepatic disorders, common cold and cough, malarial fever and as an antidote for snake bite and scorpion sting. (source)
Adaptogens come in many forms, including pills that resemble vitamins; tinctures that can be mixed with water; powders, which you can throw into a smoothie; and teas. There is no "right way" to consume these powerful plants, because it really comes down to personal preference.
I like to buy my herbs in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs and make my own tincture. MRH provides detailed information on how to go about this process! If that is too much effort for you, they also have tinctures, extracts and supplements ready-to-go on their website.
Adaptogens have gained serious popularity in the wellness scene, but don't jump on the bandwagon just because I say so! Per usual consult with your doctor if you have any concerns regarding whether or not these are right for you and your needs!