Despite the recent frenzy over these apparent miracle working ingredients, Adaptogens have actually been around for hundreds of years and their use dates back to traditional Chinese medicine and Indian Ayurveda medicine. So what exactly are adaptogens and how can they help fight stress, fatigue and a weak immune system?
Adaptogen by name, adaptogen by nature
Frank Lipman, MD says that adaptogens are “a unique group of herbal ingredients which help strengthen the body’s response to stress and enhance its ability to cope with anxiety and fight fatigue.” This means they fight the daily wear and tear that our lives throw at us slowly and in a nurturing way, rather than sending us on an emotional rollercoaster like coffee or sugar. These herbal ingredients adapt to what our body needs: when we are stressed an adaptogen can calm us, when we are feeling low an adaptogen can help improve our mood. A great example of this is Ashwagandha which acts to both energise and calm us depending on what our body needs.
What counts as an adaptogen?
Sebastian Pole of Pukka Herbs adds that adaptogens must abide to the ‘Four N’s’:
Nourishing – bring nutritive strength.
Normalising – raise what is low and lower what is high (eg energy, stress).
Non-specific – act on multiple parts of the body at the same time.
Non-toxic – be completely safe when used over extended periods of time.
Adaptogens are natural, nurturing products, which can help restore vitality and balance in our bodies. Obviously, they aren’t a one-pill wonder and we should always try to lead balanced lives and support our bodies emotionally and physically as well as nutritionally. However, adaptogens have been shown to have a number of beneficial properties and are certainly worth adding to your diet or supplementing.
What other benefits are there?
As well as having a homeostatic effect on our body, adaptogens can improve overall wellbeing. If you start to regularly include adaptogens in your diet you might notice an increase in energy levels, a better response to stress, an increase in inner strength, balanced blood sugar levels and an improvement in many more metabolic processes.
How can I incorporate adaptogens into my diet?
The below products are all great sources of adaptogens and will hopefully leave you feeling healthy and much more balanced!