After the death of my daughter, I have been very stressed having to cope with the loss of a child, physical recovery and a homicide case because of medical malpractice. Shutting my brain is very hard, especially at night. On top of all this my postpartum hormones are out of whack. I am usually a very healthy and balanced person, but right now my body needs a lot of help which is why I started using adaptogens.
I don’t like pharmaceuticals and I have very little trust in most doctors, pharma and the modern medical system (for justified reasons). They told me to take birth control pills, antidepressants and tranquilizers. While at the same time having to detox from all the pain medication, antibiotics and general anesthesia which made my bad cholesterol rise. I told the doctors I wouldn’t take any synthetic drug, which has made the process more painful and slow. But it is allowing me to heal on my own time.
You can try adaptogens at any time, just keep in mind that your needs will change overtime. They are considered safe for long term use. Rotate the type of adaptogen you use every six weeks, so the body can benefit from different herbs. Some are not recommended during pregnancy so make sure to consult with your health provider. There are over 70 known types of adaptogens which can come from herbs, fruits, seeds, roots or mushrooms.
It is quite easy to add adaptogens to your life. They can be consumed as teas, while others are taken as supplements, powders, and tinctures. Some can be incorporated into meals, such as turmeric, schisandra berry or astragalus root. Take stimulating adaptogens early during the day and calming in the evening or at night.
What are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens are a new buzz word, but their use is not new. These herbs have been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for thousands of years. The term was invented in 1947 by the Ministry of Health of the Soviet Union. They were looking for mushrooms and herbs that could support the body while enduring mental and physical stress without major side effects. Russians wanted to find plants that could help soldiers in extreme conditions of cold and altitude. They tested Siberian ginseng, Schisandra berries and Rhodiola rosea. This last herb grows in Arctic climates and helps stimulate the body without crashing.
These adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms work with the body. As their name suggests, they adapt to give the nutrients needed by the body to restore wellbeing and health. Thus, stabilizing the physiological process and producing homeostasis of cellular level.
How do Adaptogens Work?
Cortisol is released as a response to stress. This hormone causes us to age. Stress is supposed to happen for short periods, when the body experiences a “fight or flight” response. Increased cortisol levels stimulate the sympathetic nervous system and the adrenal glands. Thus increasing digestive secretions and increasing blood pressure. Once the event passes, the cortisol levels should return to normal and the body balances.
Chronic stress with long term cortisol levels can affect the physiological system of the body, including the thyroid and chronic inflammation. It can cause weight gain, especially around the belly area. Herbs that are non-adaptogenic and pharmaceutical drugs have more specific roles and target just one condition.
People deal with stress in many ways, some get an upset stomach, while others get joint pain, headaches, palpitations and so on. Adaptogens minimize these effects and help the body respond to stress in a healthier way, keeping cortisol levels in balance. Most adaptogens minimize fatigue, improve focus, and increase endurance even when tired. Other functions include balancing moods, relieving depression and anxiety, sustaining mental focus and cognitive abilities, as well as restoring metabolic processes.
Which Herbs and Mushrooms are Considered Adaptogens?
For a plant or mushroom to be included in the list of adaptogens, it must be non-toxic to humans. It must also have many functions instead of one specific function and have a normalizing effect on the physiology of the body. For example, the same adaptogen may energize a person, while it may calm another.
List of Adaptogens
• American Ginseng
• Asian Ginseng
• Eleuthero (or Siberian ginseng)
• Goji Berry
• Gotu Kola
• Licorice Root
• Lion’s Mane
• Maca Root
• Rhodiola Rosea
• Schisandra Berry
• Tulsi (or Holy Basil)
• Turkey Tail
Kinds of Adaptogens
- Cordyceps: is a medicinal mushroom that helps improve endurance and exercise performance. It can also support fatigue recovery in animals according to a study. Buy cordyceps here.
- Eleuthero: Siberian ginseng is a stimulant that has been used to restore and re-energy the body. It can help fight physical and mental fatigue, as well as stress. Consumption helps the body use fat as fuel and last longer while doing physical activity before being exhausted by the buildup of lactic acid and blood urea nitrogen. Buy Siberian ginseng here.
- Rhodiola rosea: this adaptogen is great for people who feel tired or worn down. Buy rhodiola rosea here.
Stress and Mood
- Tulsi: also known as holy basil is a type of basil that has a positive effect on the mood and mental health. It is used by Ayurvedic medicine to treat the spirit or soul. This adaptogen can alleviate anxiety. Buy Tulsi here.
- Schisandra berry: helps people who worry too much, especially those who worry about the future to the point they feel paralyzed. Lignans found in these berries can help fight stress-induced anxiety, as well as depression. Buy Schisandra berry here.
- Ashwagandha: this plant helps promote restful sleep which is why it should be taken in the afternoon or evening. It helps reduce the body’s physiological response to stress, reducing the levels of cortisone. Buy Ashwagandha here.
Brain Fog and Focus
- Rhodiola rosea: is beneficial for people who have difficulty accomplishing mental tasks. This herb stimulates the body and brain in a way that doesn’t give a buzz and crash like coffee. Continued use of rhodiola extract can increase mental performance and concentration in people suffering from stress-related fatigue according to research. Buy rhodiola rosea here.
- Lion’s mane: is a mushroom that promotes nerve growth factors which are needed for optimal brain function. It is used to treat people with Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as cognitive impairments. Buy Lion’s mane here.
- Adaptogenic mushrooms: including reishi, cordyceps, shiitake, maitake, turkey tail and chaga. They all have antiviral properties which help the body combat viruses and bring the immune system to a healthy state. Buy Adaptogenic mushrooms here.
- Astragalus: should be taken between illnesses including the cold and flu. It is also recommended for allergy, asthma and respiratory infections. Buy Astragalus here.
- Ashwagandha: this herb has gentle thyroid supporting properties. Low thyroid hormones can cause hair loss, brain fog, sluggish and cold feelings. It may also help support healthy testosterone levels in men. Buy Ashwagandha here.
- Maca Root: may have positive effects on sex hormones and boost the sex drive. Maca helps reduce menopausal syndrome, which are caused by fluctuating estrogen levels. Buy maca root here.