Lately everybody is talking about adaptogens but have you considered what really is an adaptogen?

A non-toxic substance especially a plant extract that is held to increase the body’s ability to resist the damaging effects of stress and promote or restore normal physiological functioning.”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Notice, adaptogens by definition are “non-toxic” and they help adapt to and heal from the damaging effects of stress.

It is inevitable that you will experience stress each and every day (likely throughout the day). How we perceive and manage stressors makes all the difference. Adaptogens are an option to help support the HPA axis during times of acute stress (a few weeks-months) or for periods of chronic stress while also implementing lifestyle changes (get to the root cause of why you are stressed in the first place).

Adaptogens are not meant to be a “quick fix” they work best taken regularly for at least a few weeks to months.

Examples of adaptogens include ginseng (Panax and Eleutherococcus senticosus), ashwagandha, astragalus, maitake, reishi, and rhodiola.

It is important to note that some adaptogens are calming and others are stimulating. Just because it is an “adaptogen” doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone with any symptoms. Each of these adaptogen has unique benefits which are best matched with the unique symptoms of the individual.

For example ashwagandha has anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties that lower cortisol levels, reduce stress-induced insomnia and depression. Ashwagandha is often recommended for those who are “tired and wired,” meaning exhausted but can’t get to sleep.

It’s also important to consider what time of day is best to take them. Panax ginseng is used to increase energy and vitality during times of stress and fatigue. Therefore, Panax ginseng is best taken in the morning to avoid troubles sleeping. Reishi is another adaptogen which is helpful for getting more deep sleep as well as improved immunity. I like drinking reishi mushroom elixir or hot cocoa prior to bedtime.

Adaptogens can be beneficial for women with anxiety, fibromyalgia, brain fog, chronic muscle tension, fertility struggles and hormonal imbalances providing nourishment, balance, and support. In addition to adaptogens lifestyle changes are key to long lasting improvement. Consider including nourishing foods that balance blood sugar, time in nature, meditation and/or yoga to reduce stress and lower cortisol long term.

Finally, avoid adaptogens in your coffee (and energy drinks)…this is counter-intuitive yet trendy. Caffeine at high doses increases cortisol and potentially anxiety (only in those genetically susceptible). Adaptogens are taken for the opposite effects. A preferred approach would be to lower caffeine consumption especially in the afternoon. If you love coffee and are worried about giving it up try reducing your consumption slowly and switching to a coffee alternative like Teeccino (roasted dandelion root and chicory root) or Rasa Koffee (which is a blend of adaptogens).

Here’s to your health & a little less stress in 2019!

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