Adaptogens - what is all the hype really about??
The way that herbal/natural medicines are classed is generally around their action - namely the role they play in the body. For example if they help to reduce anxiety its an anxiolytic, help with pain - analgesic, you get the picture, generally fairly self explanatory. We get to the adaptogen class however, and what does it even mean?
So let's break it down.
Herbs are classed as adaptogens when able to help the body adjust to stress - whether that is physical, mental or chemical. The body has an ideal balanced state that it works literally non stop to try to maintain called homeostasis and this is exactly where our wonderful adaptogens come into play.
No doubt you've heard stress be blamed for a plethora of health complaints from autoimmune flares to heart disease, cancers, IBS, diabetes… I think it would be harder to find a condition that is not aggravated by stress. And apart from packing up our lives and moving to a quiet sanctuary in the mountains how do we reduce the stress in our lives.
Cue our adaptogens.
Some examples of the more common adaptogens include Ashwaganda, Tulsi, Liquorice, Rhodiola, Schisandra, Ginseng (Korean, American, Siberian etc), Gotu kola and medicinal mushrooms. Though the list goes on..
Again though the concept of helping the body deal with stress is broad so lets look a little deeper at some examples of adaptogenic capabilities:
- Ability to reduce fatigue, mental exhaustion or burn out, so providing the body and mind with more sustained energy
- Reduce anxiety and tension associated with high stress situations
- Modulate the immune system which can help with allergies or autoimmunity
- Provide focus, concentration and enhanced memory capability
- Protect the brain and nervous system from potential damage associated with prolonged stress
On top of this the individual herbs quite often have other actions in their tool belt such as being more stimulating, able to protect the liver, reduce symptoms of depression or protect the heart or gut.
Like buying a new outfit you want to choose one that suits your personality and individual needs to really get the most out of them. Definitely take the time to peruse our blogs or contact one of the amazing Tonika team to find out which adaptogen is best for you.
- Rowena Benbow (In-house Naturopath)