The Health Benefits of Adaptogens
Have you ever used rosemary or turmeric? Congratulations my friend, you have officially used adaptogens.
Adaptogens are non-toxic ingredients found in a plant, herb, root, or fungi that support your body’s ability to fight stressors and boost immunity.
While these adaptive ingredients may seem like a modern discovery, they have been used in traditional medicine like Chinese herbalism, Eastern European, and Ayurveda for millennia.
You’ll find common adaptogens in capsule, powder, extract, or dried form including Reishi mushrooms, moringa, ginseng, tulsi, goji berries, and maca.
Wondering how these seemingly ordinary foods can support your wellness journey?
This guide looks at adaptogens and their role in optimal health with a nod to a special type of mushroom.
How do adaptogens help the body deal with stress?
The source of your anxiety and fatigue can be physical, biological, chemical, or mental. When you’re emotionally torn, your body’s stress response system releases steroid-like hormones.
You probably heard of cortisol. It is one of those hormones that act as your defense, coping, and recovery mechanism – it’s like your internal alarm system.
The active compounds in specific plant food and fungi can help reduce the negative, and often damaging, effects caused by various challenges in day-to-day life. The adaptogens team up with your body’s tension-busting chemicals to provide balance and stability – helping you bring harmony and some form of relief to your life. They will boost your cortisol levels when you’re tired and reduce them when you’re reeling under physical and emotional strain.
You are in a stronger position to take control of your health and stay focused, and not let adverse situations or anxieties bog you down.
Are there certain mushrooms that can help?
Adaptogenic mushrooms and their potential benefits
Scientific studies have identified certain mushrooms with beneficial compounds that enhance your stress response.
Some equate medicinal properties with these healing powers. Here is where you need to know the difference between the two.
You have mushrooms that act as natural medicine. They contain elements that are anti-bacterial or anti-inflammatory.
But certain fungi contain both medicinal properties and adaptogens that have a calming effect on your nervous system and build inner strength. Let’s look at some of these special mushrooms.
Cordyceps has been recognized for its ability to fight stress and slow down the process of aging. That is not all this mushroom is capable of. A weekly dose of cordyceps in capsule or powder form can protect against infections, reduce inflammation, and boost your energy levels.
As a yogi or athlete, stamina building is an ongoing activity. This mushroom can improve your staying power making it a perfect food supplement for the physically active.
A mushroom used in East European and East Asian cultures as herbal medicine, Chaga can help build your endurance levels. Planning on doing a marathon or working through a power yoga class? Incorporate this herb into your health routine.
In addition, Chaga mushrooms fight infection and inflammation and have the ability to reduce blood sugar and cholesterol. If you are a diabetic, you may want to try this one.
Reishi Mushrooms growing in the wild
Adding Reishi mushroom extracts to your food or lifestyle can help reduce fat storage in your liver and balance your blood sugar levels. But their immunity-boosting and anxiety relieving qualities are what makes them great adaptogenics - killing the bad cells that serve no positive purpose.
Other herbs for wellness and balance
This golden root is a powerful ingredient that protects from germs and inflammation.
Did you know the antioxidants in turmeric also help maintain cortisol levels?
This makes the spice a perfect adaptogen. Make anything from golden milk to turmeric spiced curries to get the dual benefits of better mental health and improved physical health.
If you’ve never had chamomile tea, now is the time to try it.
This calming herb affects your mind and helps you feel relaxed and at peace. Add it to your daily routine as tea, essential oil, or soap.
Brimming with antioxidants, goji berry is one of nature’s immunity-boosting gifts. They may protect against nerve damage and keep your eyes healthy.
Red Raspberry Leaf
The leaves are particularly useful for women. It contains compounds that balance female hormones and reduces the intensity of menstrual cramps. Raspberry leaf works best as a tea.
Moringa powder has become popular in recent years for its superfood qualities. With regular use, you can stabilize your blood sugar levels which is something important for diabetics and pre-diabetics.
A note of caution
Adaptogen-based ingredients are not suitable for everyone. If you suffer from blood pressure or thyroid issues, are pregnant or nursing, avoid using them until you consult with your holistic advisor, nutritionist, homeopathic specialist, or PCP.