Chronic stress, known as the disease of the 21st century, attributed by experts to today’s frenetic lifestyle, is known to have serious long-term effects on our health. From headaches, stomach problems, weight gain, and risk of diseases related to inflammation, including those of the heart and even cancer. We have reached a point where we are never really active, but nor completely relaxed. It’s hard for us to get up in the morning and go to sleep at night.
But… what if there was something that would help us activate when we’re fatigued and relax when we’re anxious? Something that would stabilise us and optimise our stress adjustment process?
Welcome to the world of adaptogens!
Maybe you have heard or read this term in social networks or in some magazine and it seems to be completely topical. However, it is by no means a new term, as they have existed along decades (already used during the Cold War to achieve greater soldier performance and worker productivity).
What are they and how to use them?
Adaptogens are medicinal plants that help our body adapt to different circumstances that cause stress contributing to regulate blood sugar, hormones, blood pressure and strengthen the immune system.
What differentiates an adaptogen from any other substance or drug is its bidirectionality, as it can calm a hyperactive system while reinforcing a downcast system. Their action must be adapted to the situation and the response must be improved in both directions.
The most popular effects and adaptogens
The most popular effects we can expect when supplementing with adaptogens are:
- More stress resistance
- Better rest
- Less fatigue and tiredness
- Lower anxiety
- Regulation of metabolism
- Improve of concentration
Hereafter, we provide a list of the most popular adaptogens so you can start to include them according to your needs:
Ashwagandha: already known and used in Ayurveda Medicine under the name of Withania, has been proven helpful to fight stress and anxiety, as well as to deal with glycaemia, thyroid function, to increase testosterone and to improve aerobic performance. It has anticancer properties and is very effective against arthritis because of its great anti-inflammatory capacity.
Ginseng: also known in Ayurveda Medicine, it is very effective as a tonic to reduce fatigue, strengthen the immune system, prevent respiratory diseases, as well as to improve physical and mental performance, increase fertility and regulate the menstrual cycle.
Reishi: widely used in Chinese medicine and known as ‘the fungus of immortality for its number of medicinal properties. Famous because of its antihistamine, anti-inflammatory properties, regulatory for the immune system, by fighting allergies, fatigue, sleep disorders and improving digestion. It has been widely studied because of its ability to fight cancer.
Rhodiola: valued by the Vikings to energise their warriors, it causes a great well-being sensation, associated with better physical and mental performance. A number of recent studies confirm its ability to reduce the effects of stress, fatigue and depression, apart from reducing muscle recovery times in athletes.
Maca: native to the Andes and growth in Peru. Already used by the Inca warriors to increase their vitality and endurance, it is known because of its potential as aphrodisiac. It has been traditionally used to improve sexual desire and performance, as well as to enhance sports performance.
Throughout history, adaptogens have proven to be safe substances, but it is important to remember that no superfood or medicinal plant, no matter how exotic or novel, can replace real food. If your diet is deficient, no miraculous food will cure or improve your mood. Also, if your life consists of constant stress, you should re-evaluate your priorities or help yourself with psychological tools to help you cope with it. Let’s not forget that physical activity is a great ally against stress, as well as relaxation and meditation techniques.