In a nutshell, adaptogens are natural herbs that bring the body to a balanced state by reducing stress hormones. Really they help the body’s ability to adapt to it’s environment, rather than fight it. There are a few easy ways to add them to our daily diet, but first let’s touch on stress.
The World Health Organization (WHO) Global Burden of Disease Survey estimates that mental disease, including stress-related disorders, will be the second leading cause of disability by the year 2020. (1) And according to Mayo Clinic, stress can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
Common effects of stress on your body
- Muscle tension or pain
- Chest pain
- Change in sex drive
- Stomach upset
- Sleep problems
Common effects of stress on your mood
- Lack of motivation or focus
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Irritability or anger
- Sadness or depression
Common effects of stress on your behavior
- Overeating or undereating
- Angry outbursts
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Tobacco use
- Social withdrawal
- Exercising less often
So, back to adaptogens. How do they work?
For centuries, many of these herbs have been used for medicinal purposes, but recently the NIH did a formal study on them. 100% of the participants had reduced levels of stress and a feeling of better well-being after taking adaptogens for a 12 week period.
In todays world with all of our everyday stressors, our bodies are having a difficult time regulating. Adaptogens are essentially a thermostat for the body, helping it to reset by balancing it’s hormones of your adrenal system. Reducing stress and fatigue.
Here’s a list of the most common adaptogens:
1. Asian Ginseng
2. Holy Basil
3. Milk Thistle
5. Rhodiola Rosea
6. Ginseng Eleuthero
8. Aloe Vera
9. Gotu Kola
11. Moringa Oleifera
14. Licorice Root
How to incorporate adaptogens into your daily life?
A few of these might have you scratching your head trying to pronounce them. I’m with you on that! But, most of these can be found in a capsule form at your local health food store, and can also be incorporated into a recipe. Like this awesome one for paleo chocolate truffles that contain ashwagandha.
So, get ready to hear much more about these herbs. And now, you’ll know what they are and maybe have a headstart on your well-being when it comes to stress and fatigue!
- Murray CJL, Lopez AD. The Global Burden of Disease: A Comprehensive Assessment of Mortality and Disability from Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors in 1990 and Projected to 2020. Report on Behalf of the WHO and World Bank. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996.