Today, 7/2/2019, we share with you information on anti-stress herbs or adaptogens. First coined in the 1960s, the term “adaptogen” originates from the Russian word for adaptation (“adaptatsiya”) and refers to any herbs or plant extracts that can help the body adapt to stress. Get the basics about these so-called “super herbs” from registered dietitians Alana Kessler and Keri Glassman and see what they can do for you.
What Are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens are a class of natural substances, usually, plant extracts, that boost the body’s ability to function normally and resist inflammation. Some describe adaptogens as herbal or plant medicine in the same vein that nutrient-dense food is considered a form of medicine. Adaptogens are also referred to as “super herbs” since they are used for purposes beyond the scope of flavoring foods. Although many plants and plant products may have adaptogenic qualities, not all of them are considered adaptogens.
Examples of Adaptogens
There are several plants and plant extracts that are considered adaptogens and these include ashwagandha, astragalus root, eleuthero or more specifically, Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng), holy basil, Rhodiola, and some mushrooms like cordyceps and reishi.
The Benefits of Adaptogens
Different adaptogens have varying characteristics and qualities but they are generally high in antioxidants, help reduce cellular damage and inflammation, and boost energy and immunity. Rhodiola, in particular, may also help increase serotonin levels and improve mood.
Are Adaptogens Safe?
Adaptogens are relatively safe to consume but it’s important to note that they are unregulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Kessler emphasizes that she would not recommend adaptogens until she had a good understanding of a client’s comprehensive medical history. They are suitable for long-term consumption and support a healthy and balanced diet.
Adaptogens are versatile dietary supplements and are available in powder form, as capsule or pill supplements, and as concentrated tinctures. Capsules, pills, and powders are the most commonly recommended forms and tinctures are not recommended for anyone who is unfamiliar with dosage or usage. As with most types of foods and supplements, adaptogens can have a strong effect and should be consumed in moderation.
The Misconceptions About Adaptogens
Adaptogens should not be confused with antibiotics and other medications. They may help address the root cause of stress but not the symptoms of stress. Adaptogens are not a cure-all and may or may not work for every individual.
Who Should Avoid Adaptogens
Anyone currently on medication, who has a preexisting condition, or is pregnant should consult a doctor before consuming adaptogens. Although they’re safe to use for many people, others may need to proceed with caution. Adaptogens may interact with medications and may not be suitable for everyone.
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