Today many people are making quality decisions to improve their overall health and well-being. One part of this is adding supplements to your plan, and boy can this get overwhelming! There are so many supplements and products on the market which range in quality and effectiveness. How does anyone know what to take, how much to take, what is the best form, and why should we take any supplements anyway? One type of supplemental herb is the class of adaptogens. So lets talk a little bit about them.
Adaptogen is a category of herbal supplements that can bolster our natural ability to deal with stress and re-balance anything that may have gone out of whack in our bodies, regardless of the trigger source. That certainly sounds like a powerful type of herb doesn’t it?
According to Dr. David Winston who is considered an expert on Adaptogens and who has written what can only be described as a textbook* on the subject says
Adaptogens must meet the following three criteria:
- The substance is relatively non-toxic to the person.
- An adaptogen influences many organs or body systems (non-specific) and acts by increasing resistance of the organism to a broad spectrum of adverse biological, chemical, and physical factors.
- These substances help modulate systems functions and maintain homeostasis.
So how do these herbs work? They work similar to a thermostat in their ability to make adjustments in the body like a thermostat adjusts the room temperature. They can calm you down and boost your energy at the same time without overstimulating. Adaptogens can normalize body balances. They enable the body’s cells to access more energy, help cells eliminate toxic byproducts of the metabolic process, and help the body to utilize oxygen more efficiently. These are some pretty awesome results, aren’t they?
Here are three adaptogens that are available. I have shared their key properties, means of taking the herb, and most importantly, the cautions to review when using adaptogens.
Ashwagandha root is often referred to as Indian ginseng even though the plant is a member of the pepper family. This is because it contains many attributes and compounds that make it similar to panax ginseng. The herb is used as a tonic for stress and general well-being. It is popular in Ayurvedic medicine because it reportedly works synergistically with other herbs.
Key properties: Anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, antioxidant, immune balancing, and rejuvenating.
Caution: Avoid during pregnancy or if taking sedatives, have severe gastric irritation or ulcers. People sensitive to nightshades should be careful with use.
Available forms: Typically, the root of the ashwagandha plant is taken in capsule or tea form. The tea is made by simmering 3/4 to 1 tsp. of the ground root in boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes, according to the University of Michigan. The tea can be taken up to three times a day. The root can also be taken as a tincture using the same measurements and frequency.
Asian Ginseng has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 2,000 years. Its diverse uses include increasing appetite and strength, enhancing memory and physical performance, reducing fatigue and stress, and improving overall quality of life.
Key properties: Performance-enhancing, antidiabetic, anticancer, memory enhancing, and immune stimulating.
Caution: Ginseng is generally safe. Occasionally it may cause agitation, palpitations, or insomnia. It is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, those who have diabetes, or high blood pressure.
Available forms: Tea or supplements are available.
Rhodiola rosea grows at high altitudes in the arctic areas of Europe and Asia, and its root has been used in traditional medicine in Russia and the Scandinavian countries for centuries.
Key properties: Performance-enhancing, both mentally and physically, antidepressant, and anti-anxiety.
Caution: Avoid if have manic depression or are bipolar. It is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women. High dose may cause insomnia.
Available forms: Tea, extract, or supplements are available.
As you can see Adaptogens can be powerful herbs. This is why it is highly recommended to consult with a health practitioner before taking any adaptogen. There can be many interactions with other herbs and medications.
I hope this post has provided you some tools that may be helpful for your health journey. Have you used adaptogens? Which ones? Did you find a benefit?
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
*Adaptogens: Herbs For Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief ©David Winston, RH (AHG), 2004; Revised 2011
Lipman, Frank. (2012, November 13). Adaptogens: nature’s miracle anti-stress and fatigue fighters. Retrieved from https://www.bewell.com/blog/adaptogens-natures-miracle-anti-stress-and-fatigue-fighters/.
Tweed, Vera. (October 2016). Herbal adaptogens for immune health & energy. Better Nutrition.