Adaptogens: Everyday herbs that can improve stress, sleep, and energy

Stress is an inevitable part of life that our bodies have learned to accept and adapt to as per the situation. However, for most of us, stress is becoming more of a constant state and an increasingly difficult part of our lives. So, while we know how to manage stress, why does it seem to have become a catalyst for many emotional and mental health issues today?

The answer is the increased frequency with which most people are now experiencing “stress” on a daily basis, rather than the stress itself. The constant state of stress, coupled with too little sleep, not enough rest or relaxation to counteract its impact on our bodies, has a negative bearing on our overall health and well-being. Some forms of stress are good for our bodies, like exercise, when done in short bursts throughout the day, which can actually trigger a positive response. It helps to improve blood circulation, increase muscle mass, and release endorphins that can improve clarity and reduce inflammation.

So, what are Adaptogens and how do these useful herbs improve stress, sleep, and energy?

If you are feeling really stressed, Adaptogens could help. Despite the overwhelming attention that they are receiving today in the western wellness industry, these are not exactly new. These herbs have been used for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine and have been proven to work. Adaptogens include natural herbs, roots and mushrooms, all of which can help to mitigate the effects of stress and can actively work towards restoring your state of balance.

How do they work?

Adaptogens work by stabilizing stress hormones (cortisol levels) through HPA axis, also known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. We now have scientific proof that these herbs can combat fatigue, ease anxiety and depression, and enhance mental performance. Adaptogens can enable your body to regain and attain a state of equilibrium and balance. So, rather than shutting down your stress responses, these will work to bolster and strengthen your body’s natural stress responses to lower cortisol levels when it is in an elevated state. As such this makes them incredibly versatile as a sound holistic alternative for helping us to combat stress, and can potentially help with other health issues like digestion and insomnia.

How can we introduce Adaptogens into our diet?

Adaptogens can take many forms and variations, which means that you can find a fun and convenient method for consuming them. Adaptogens exist in tea and coffee, chocolate, granola bars, licorice root, Goji berry, holly basil, baked goods and more! The best and most effective ways to imbibe them entail having capsules, including them in your morning or evening meals, or adding them in powder form to your tea, coffee, or oatmeal. Using the tincture form is a great way to add them to your diet since it is also the most potent. For dosage, please refer to the instructions that come with the product information and observe your own reaction. Be sure to time the use of your Adaptogens. For example Rhodiolais is recommended for use in the first half of the day before 3pm to align with your body’s natural rhythms, whereas Holly Basil, a calming Adaptogen, can be taken both in the day-time and in the night-time.

Adaptogens are not a cure or a substitute

Adaptogens should be used only during times of intense stress, like when meeting deadlines, filing taxes, or coping with the pressure of exams to remain energized for long durations. They are not a substitute for taking good care of your body through diet and exercise.

How long do Adaptogens take to work?

Adaptogens are not a quick-fix solution. Like many other herbal products, they can take a few months of consistent use before you start noticing any tangible health benefits. While it is not unusual for some people to start noticing changes after a few weeks, consistency is the key. If you are thinking of including Adaptogens to your diet, we suggest introducing them one at a time, so that it will be easier for you to pinpoint how different Adaptogens make you feel.

Recommended Adaptogen sources:

  • Lions main
  • Rhodiola
  • Reishi
  • Holy basil
  • Ashwagandha
  • Eleuthero
  • Schisandra
  • American ginseng
  • Jiaogulan
  • Maral root