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What are Adaptogens and What do They Do?

What are Adaptogens and What do They Do?

We hear about adaptogens all the time, but what do they actually do in the human body, and how exactly do they help support your immune system, fight off disease, and protect you from harm? 

There are plenty of important macro and micronutrients in our food that provide health benefits to every part of our body systems, from the immune system function and balancing out our hormones to promoting a healthier cardiovascular system and boosting cognition. 

Plants contain a variety of powerful compounds that do more than just support our health, and adaptogens fall under the category of some of the best superfoods you could add to your diet to prevent diseases and promote longevity. In a world where no magic pills exist, adaptogens might come the closest. 

What are Adaptogens? 

Adaptogens are specific plants and mushrooms that help your body adapt to chronic stress and its harmful effects. They improve how your body reacts to stress, inflammation, anxiety, fatigue, and other negative experiences, helping you find balance through physical, chemical, and mental aspects. 

According to experts, there are three important factors that adaptogens need to have in order to obtain the label:

  • Non-toxic in normal, moderate doses
  • Help your body with stress response through literal chemical interactions within your system
  • Promote homeostasis, or bringing your body back to its optimal balance 

How do Adaptogens Work?

Adaptogens quite literally interfere with your body’s chemical reactions by lowering your stress levels, reducing inflammation, fighting free radical damage, and pushing your body back to homeostasis. They’re like little soldiers that come to battle when there’s an attack on your body, trying to protect them from advancing and wreaking havoc. 

On a molecular level, adaptogens regulate a stable balance in the pituitary, hypothalamic, and adrenal glands, helping teach your central nervous system to better react to stress in any future occasion. That’s why taking them regularly improves your overall response to stress, and not just on one particular, very stressful occasion. 

Types of Adaptogens

There are plenty of plants and herbs considered adaptogens, with some of the most common being:

  • Rhodiola - one of the most powerful adaptogens, Rhodiola’s roots contain more than 140 active ingredients that help lower your stress levels, reduce anxiety symptoms, improve mood, and bring the inflammation down. 
  • Ashwagandha - probably the most popular adaptogen you’ll encounter, ashwagandha is known for its stress-reducing properties for thousands of years. It’s one of the most important herbs in the ancient Easter medicine, Ayurveda, that’s based on natural healing principles.  
  • Maca Powder - this incredible Peruvian root is a powerful adaptogen that’s rich in essential amino acids and a variety of antioxidants. This potent mix of compounds makes it one of the best superfoods you can add to your diet and help bring your body back to balance. 
  • Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng) - research shows a powerful link between Asian ginseng and a reduction in inflammation, allergies, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and even cancer. 
  • Eleuthero (Siberian ginseng) - this Asian herb has been used as a potent therapeutical tool for thousands of years and studies even show its incredible effect on physical performance, energy levels, metabolism, and mood. 
  • Chaga - one of the most important medicinal mushrooms, Chaga's powerful healing properties help reduce the response to chronic stress, lower inflammation, and even suppress cancer progression. It’s one of the best-known regulators of stress and inflammation in the supplement world. 
  • Reishi - another amazing medicinal mushroom, reishi specifically impacts the adrenal glands and the production of cortisol. There’s even evidence that proves its positive impact on stress as a side effect of overtraining in professional athletes. 
  • American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) - this powerful herb helps improve immune modulators to reduce pain and inflammation, even potentially stimulating dopamine release. This is especially important in anxiety and depression symptoms. 

How to Use Adaptogens? 

Adaptogens are most commonly used in powder or pill form, which makes it easy to add them to smoothies, smoothie bowls, and a variety of different recipes. Since they come from plants and mushrooms, they usually have a strong, earthy taste that isn’t the most delicious. That’s why mixing them with different ingredients to mask their flavor is usually the best way to go. 

If you really can’t stand the flavor and you don’t consider yourself to be the most creative in the kitchen, take them in pill form and reap all the benefits with more convenience. Our organic maca gelatinized capsules exist for exactly that reason, helping you get all the adaptogen and antioxidant benefits without much hassle. 

On the other hand, if you really are interested in creating some fun and interesting recipes, here are a few ideas on how to incorporate adaptogens into your daily diet:

  • Add to smoothies and smoothie bowls
  • Mix into sauces and dressings 
  • Add to broths and soups
  • Mix in pastry dough, muffins, and homemade bread
  • Add to coffee, tea, or hot chocolate

Who Should Stay Away From Adaptogens? 

Adaptogens may be naturally occurring, but they’re still very powerful compounds. Before starting any new supplement, it’s important to consult your doctor if you’re experiencing a known health condition, are pregnant or nursing, or are put on specific medications. 

Adaptogens are rarely linked to any negative side effects, and aside from some mild digestive discomfort, abdominal pain, or nausea, they’re generally considered safe in moderate amounts. Still, there’s always a potential of interfering with certain medications or even developing an allergy so keep that in mind when you’re deciding on adding an adaptogen to your diet. 

Final Thoughts

Plants and mushrooms are incredible gifts from nature that have the power of improving our health, assisting with the healing, and protecting us from harm. It doesn’t come as a surprise that the majority of these superfoods are not only adaptogens, but also contain other powerful micronutrients, antioxidants, and other compounds that in conjucnture, really do act like magic pills to protect our bodies from diseases, infections, and damaging free radicals. 

In order to promote your overall health and wellbeing, it’s not just about avoiding certain harmful foods and toxins, it’s also about adding the ones that support a healthy function of your mind, body, and soul. Whether it’s adding adaptogens, joining in prayer, or implementing better sleeping habits, it all works together to achieve your optimal balance. 

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