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What are adaptogens and why have they become so popular?

Adaptogens seem to have become trending term appearing anywhere from supplements to tinctures, teas, cosmetics to lifestyle blogs.

What exactly are adaptogens? Adaptogens are a group of herbs,and some mushrooms, that support the body’s ability to deal with stress.

They have taken their name from their unique ability to ‘adapt’ their function to the body’s specific needs, physical, chemical or biological, something like a bodily thermostat.Some of the most well known ad

aptogens include Ginseng, Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, Gotu Kola, Milk Thistle, Holy Basil, Reishi Mushrooms and others, each one doing something slightly different but overall act to increase resistance to stress. Other benefits quoted include anti-inflammatory boost, flu prevention, immune system boosting, infection resistance, insomnia combatting and others.

Are adaptogens effective?

Adaptogens work though our adrenal glands, without disturbing normal biological functions, providing them activity similar to exercise for the muscles.

“When the body is subjected to stress, adaptogens help the adrenal glands mount an immediate hormonal response by manufacturing and releasing more stress hormones,” says Dr Ben Tabachnik, a scientist with decades of adaptogenic research.

“When the stress stops, however, the adaptogens help the adrenal glands shut down more quickly. In cases where stress is prolonged and/severe, the adrenals reserve their resources by reducing the amount of hormones they release due to adaptogenic restoration by hypothalamic receptor sensitivity. This conserved energy becomes available to continue the body’s response to stressors, thereby delaying adrenal exhaustion.” [1]

“When we exercise, it’s a stress on our body. But as we continue to train and exercise, our body becomes better at dealing with the stress of it, so we no longer get as tired or as high a heart rate,” she says. When you take adaptogens, meanwhile, “you’re training your body to handle the effects of stress” says Dr. Brenda Powell, co-medical director of the Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute. [2]

Powell says the plants 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 may tweak hormone production and physiological responses to stress to ensure that your body—from your mind to your immune system to your energy levels—functions as it should, Powell says.

There may be scepticism in the medical community because of the lack of credible research, there seems to be an increasing realisation, as the number of smaller studies grows, that adaptogens do have unique, probably beneficial, qualities that warrant further investigation.

Do Adaptogens have side-effects

The predominant belief in the medical community is that it is best to consult with a doctor before adding adaptogens to your diet or routine. Whilst there is there is little evidence to suggest that adaptogens can cause side effects or health problems—though, like any plant, they can be allergenic gastrointestin

al distress for some people. Whilst adaptogens can ease the effects of stress on the body, they should be used in conjunction with adapting your lifestyle as getting to the root cause of stress in your life a the better long term approach.

1. Adaptogens and Human Stress Responses


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