Feeling stressed? Adaptogenic herbs might be the answer! Part 2.

Pedro Gracia

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What are the 12 best adaptogenic herbs?

As herbal treatments, adaptogens date back hundreds and maybe thousands of years in the Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions, but they’re having a renaissance today.

adaptogens
Ginger is one of the best adaptogenic herbs!

 They have become the buzzword in the wellness world, and they are popping up in every podcast, health studies and lifestyle blog. What we know is that they help us counteract the effects of stress. But what are they, really? How do they work? And what are the 12 best adaptogenic herbs, that will ultimately make your life easier? 

I don’t know about you but with all that’s going on in the world right now, any help, and I really mean, any help is welcome! I have only used a few of them but I believe that these adaptogenic herbs can really help in alleviating the weight of many modern stressors like pollution, noise, unhealthy foods, job uncertainty, difficult relationships, etc. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, according to research on adaptogens, they might actually be as good as they sound.  Keep on reading, and find out what are the remaining, 6 best adaptogenic herbs and what they can do for you!!!

What are adaptogen herbs?

Adaptogens can be thought of as herbal pharmaceuticals( and some mushrooms) that support the body’s natural ability to deal with the effect of both short and long term biological and physical stress. They are called adaptogens because of their unique ability to adapt their function in accordance with the specific needs of the body. Some of them are stimulants and others are relaxing, they are found in a growing list of teas, drinks, extracts and powder. They are also used as a healthy alternative to prescribed medication like anabolic steroids and stimulants containing caffeine, and sugar, and have no side effects.  There are dozens of these plants that grow naturally around the world in the harshest environments, and I have included 12 of the most popular one with their associated benefits, in the 2 lists, Part 1 ( last week’s blog), and Part 2 with the remaining 6 on the list.

How do adaptogens work?

 Stress can cause real physical changes in the body, by harming the neurological, endocrine, and immune system.   Dr Brenda Powell, co-medical director of the Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine at Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute says,” Adaptogens may do for your adrenal glands what exercise does for your muscles. When we exercise, it’s a stress on our body. But as we continue to train and exercise, our body becomes better at dealing with the stress of it, so we no longer get as tired or as high a heart rate”. 

Powell says the plants do this by interacting with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathoadrenal system, both of which are involved in the body’s response to stress. Adaptogens may tweak hormone production and physiological responses to stress to ensure that your body—from your mind to your immune system to your energy levels—functions as it should, Powell says.

DrTeiraona Low Dog, a well-known western doctor who specializes in herbal medicine, said ¨Adaptogens could be the most important class of plants that we are going to find in the 21st century. “On top of daily meditation, healthier eating, and writing daily in a journal, these herbs could be an essential part of helping you manage your stress.”

ginseng
Both types of ginseng are beneficial to your health!

What are the best adaptogenic herbs? And what are they used for?

Studies now show over 75 different plants could be classified as adaptogenic herbs. The list down below will contain some of the most researched adaptogens and what they are used for, including  Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera​), Astragalus (Astragalus Membranaceus), Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi), black seed oil, Curcumin (Turmeric),  Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus​), Garlic, Ginger, Ginkgo Biloba, Ginseng, Rhaponticum (Rhaponticum carthamoides) and Rhodiola (Rhodiola Rosea​).

Find the first 6 adaptogenic herb in Part 1;

Garlic

Garlic is a species in the onion genus, Allium. Close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, chive and Chinese onion. It is native to Central Asia and northeastern Iran and has long been a common seasoning worldwide, with a history of several thousand years of human consumption and use. Garlic is most commonly used for conditions related to the heart and blood system. These conditions include high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia), and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).

Adaptogens should not be considered as a ‘miracle cure’, experts caution. They should be considered as part of a whole-body treatment that includes a proper diet, regular exercise and adequate sleep.  Researchers have found they have several effects on the body:

  • neuroprotective elements
  • anti-fatigue properties
  • antidepressive effects
  • stimulant for the central nervous system
  • increase mental work capacity
  • attention enhancement

As a word of caution, while there are some health benefits to adaptogens, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t monitor the quality or purity of herbs and supplements like over-the-counter products. Talk with your doctor before taking adaptogens.

What are the best adaptogenic herbs? And what are they used for?

Studies now show over 75 different plants could be classified as adaptogenic herbs. The list down below will contain some of the most researched adaptogens and what they are used for, including  Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera​), Astragalus (Astragalus Membranaceus), Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi), black seed oil, Curcumin (Turmeric),  Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus​), all in Part 1, and Garlic, Ginger, Ginkgo Biloba, Ginseng, Rhaponticum (Rhaponticum carthamoides) and Rhodiola (Rhodiola Rosea​) all in Part 2.

Ginger

Ginger is a plant with leafy stems and yellowish-green flowers. The ginger spice comes from the roots of the plant. Ginger is native to warmer parts of Asia, such as China, Japan, and India, but now is grown in parts of South American and Africa. It is also now grown in the Middle East to use as medicine and with food.

Ginger is commonly used for many types of nausea and vomiting. It is also used for menstrual cramps, osteoarthritis, diabetes, migraine headaches, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these uses.

One of the chemicals in ginger is also used as an ingredient in laxative, anti-gas and antacid medications.

Ginkgo Biloba

As the most commonly used adaptogenic supplements for brain health, ginkgo Biloba also offers impressive cardiovascular and nervous system benefits.

Ginkgo is the world’s oldest cognitive-enhancing plant.

Because ginkgo trees are the oldest living trees, at over 250 million years, the use of ginkgo as a cognitive enhancer likely precedes these 10,000 years of recorded history.

Much like curcumin, ginkgo has a wide array of confirmed health benefits.

Many like the fact ginkgo is one of the most well-researched supplements one can use.

Ginkgo Benefits

• Anxiety

• Antioxidants

• Blood Pressure

• Blood Flow (Brain, Eyes, Cutaneous, and Peripheral)

• Depression

• Diabetes and Diabetic Symptoms

• LDL Oxidation

• Eye Health

• Peripheral Nerves

• Skin Appearance

Dosage and use: Standardized extract of 120 mg used twice a day. EGb 761 is the most common ginkgo extract we find in research studies.

ginseng
Ginseng!

Ginseng

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and the more commonly used Asian or Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng) are the two main types of ginseng.

Only Panax and American ginseng are actually ginseng, as all other ginseng come from different plant families.

Asian ginseng also called “Red Ginseng” is recognized as the only “true ginseng.”

In Chinese medicine, Panax ginseng stimulates “yang” energy, which is stimulating and heating, while American, or “White Ginseng”, is thought to promote “cooling” energy.

Ginseng Benefits

• Alzheimer’s (Unconfirmed)

• Antioxidants

• Erectile Dysfunction

• Cognitive Function

• Colon Cancer

• Fatigue

• Fertility (Male)

• Immunity

• Inflammation

• Ovarian Cancer

• Overall Cancer Risk (Men Only)

• Pancreatic Cancer

Rhaponticum (Rhaponticum carthamoides)

Rhaponticum carthamoides, also known as Maral root or Rhaponticum, is a herbaceous perennial plant from the family Asteraceae that inhabits the sub-alpine zone as well as alpine meadows. It can be found growing wild in Southern Siberia, Kazakhstan, the Altay region, and Western Sayan Mountains.

Modern herbalists have used Rhaponticum to support physical and mental endurance and natural resilience. The herb can help promote stamina, and it can support lean muscle mass and healthy oxygen levels in muscles before and during exercise. As an adaptogen, it helps support the body’s healthy physical stress response, which is controlled by the adrenal glands. In human studies, Rhaponticum has been shown to support normal glucose levels, and it has been shown to offer antioxidant and immune support. Rhaponticum has also been used to support healthy transitions during menopause.

 Rhodiola (Rhodiola Rosea)

Rhodiola Rosea is a perennial flowering plant in the family Crassulaceae. It grows naturally in wild Arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America, and can be propagated as a groundcover. Traditionally, it was used to attempt to increase endurance, work performance, and tolerance of high altitudes and to treat fatigue, weakness, and other symptoms. Today, Rhodiola is promoted to increase energy, stamina, strength, and mental capacity, improve athletic performance, resist the effects of stress, and help manage depression, anxiety, and other symptoms.

My conclusion

 Adaptogen herbs could be an essential part of helping you manage stress, but they should not be considered as a ‘miracle cure’. Instead, they should be used in conjunction with a whole-body treatment and care that already includes;

Love
Adaptogens are a great help, but in the end love conquers all!!

I believe stress in small and controlled ways can be a good thing because it can mobilize our body to cope with changes and challenges. But on the other hand, too much stress can damage your health. So maybe the key to a long and healthy life is being able to manage this fine line between too much and too little stress. In this continuous tug of war, adaptogens can be a great help.

The list of adaptogen herbs here above is non exhaustive, and if you know of others please share them with the community. 

Until next week, take care my friends.

Smart Living To 100.

DISCLAIMER; The material on this post is for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before undertaking the protocols, diet, exercises, techniques, training methods, or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein.  No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.

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