Could Adaptogens Be The Secret To Good Health?

Written by Lianna Sugarman

Photo by Stocksy

Adaptogens are often compared to a thermostat for your body. As we move through the ups and downs of daily life, we call upon our internal resources to stay at the right temperature and state of balance.

Adaptogens are an amazing class of plants and herbs that help normalize the body's stress response, making us more resilient (adaptive) in the face of physical/emotional stress and bringing us back to a state of true balance.

They calm and nourish the adrenal glands and support all the processes that are controlled by the adrenals — from blood sugar and immune system regulation to hormones and blood pressure. (All of which can cause serious problems when thrown out of whack.)

The amazing part lies in their name — they adapt to whatever our bodies need.

They energize without being a stimulant. They calm without being a sedative. They bring our bodies gently back into the state of homeostasis necessary for well-being.

They adapt to whatever our bodies need.

Think natural selection — survival of the fittest really means survival of the most able to adapt and still flourish, and that's what adaptogens help us do.

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Why we need them

In this hectic, stress-drenched, 24/7, always-on, utterly chaotic world of ours, the ability of adaptogens to normalize our adrenal response to stressors is essential.

The adrenal response to stress is not our enemy, it actually exists to protect us by pumping out adrenaline and cortisol. It ramps up your blood sugar, increasing blood pressure and heart rate, and cranks out insulin to give us strength to survive short-term emergencies with the super-human strength we might need to, say, escape a pack of lions.

The problem is created when constant emotional stressors fool our bodies into thinking we are in a continual state of emergency. That kind of ongoing stress reaction exhausts and burns out our systems completely.

A nonspecific, whole-body response

As opposed to our "normal" way of taking medicine (or self-medicating!) to treat this or block that specific issue, adaptogens work non-specifically. They benefit the body as a whole: calming, strengthening, and increasing the ability to deal with physical and emotional stressors.

No, they won't have the immediate response of a triple latte after no sleep and an all-nighter. They won't function as a sleeping pill to knock you out cold and kill your monkey brain, but they do bring your body into a state in which you don’t need those artificial jolts and knockouts and don’t suffer the (inevitable) blowback from them.

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Not a sparkly new fad

Given that adaptogens are showing up on every trend list imaginable, one might think it’s some crazy new invention or fad, steeped in the typical hyperbole.

On the contrary, they've been used consistently for many years in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. These two healing paradigms view health and wellness as a state of balance and flow and, conversely, illness as imbalance or stagnation.

Adaptogens are used to promote that flow and balance gently and gradually. They are meant to be taken regularly and are safe to take on an ongoing basis.

For athletes and lovers

Adaptogens have an amazing impact on athletic recovery and stamina. They help reduce fatigue, improve cardiovascular and respiratory function, and aid in building strength and muscle mass.

Natural adaptogens like Rhodiola, Eleuthero, Cordyceps, Reishi, and Shisandra Berries, to name a few, all amplify and support athletic performance, strength, and recovery.

When we're in balance, we often have a healthy and vibrant sexual energy. When we're exhausted, taxed, and overwrought, this aspect of our being (let’s face it) totally suffers.

Maca, Pine Pollen, and Muira Puama, in particular, are especially good for feeding desire, mitigating hormonal disturbances, and bolstering sexual energy.

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Some of our faves

These are our favorites to have around (in either powders or tinctures) to throw in smoothies, nutmylks, teas, or even soups:

Ready to learn more about how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE web class with nutrition expert Kelly LeVeque.

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