Adaptogenic herbs and medicinal mushrooms have gained significant attention in recent years, and for good reason. Despite what your social media feed may lead you to believe, these powders are far from a recent trend. Adaptogens have been used for thousands of years in eastern medicine practices such as Traditional Chinese Medicine to help restore the body to balance.
What are Adaptogens?
The term “adaptogen” was first defined by a Russian pharmacologist to mean “agents which help an organism counteract any adverse effects of a physical, chemical or biological stressor by generating nonspecific resistance.”* For example, the cacao and reishi mushroom help the body achieve homeostasis and fight fatigue. If you are feeling depleted, they can deliver energy, but if you are overstimulated they can have a calming effect. Cacao and reishi specifically have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which are specifically beneficial for helping the body cope with physical and mental stress.
Adaptogens for Stress Relief
The psychological benefits of adaptogens make them especially useful in today’s world. An estimated 31.1% of Americans experience anxiety at some point in their lives.* Anxiety disorders range in their intensity, but, when left unaddressed, they can become crippling or lead to more severe mental and physical illnesses. Using adaptogens is a great way to manage stress from the outside world and minimize the effects of the cortisol stress response in the body. One study found that consistently taking adaptogens for 60 days decreased stress in participants by 28%.* Furthermore, other trials have shown the herbs ability to combat depression, lower blood pressure, promote sleep and cure sleep disorders like insomnia, and treat adrenal fatigue.
Adaptogens for Brain Health and Depression
Adaptogens can boost cognitive functioning in several ways, which explains why it is often used in patients with depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Adaptogens boosts serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in emotional and mood regulation. Low serotonin levels are linked to depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.* By helping achieve adequate serotonin levels, adaptogens can bring relief to those suffering from mood disorders. Furthermore, they help regenerate brain cells and reconstruct synapses, the never endings where cells communicate with one another. As a result, the ability to learn, memorize, and recall information is enhanced.
Adaptogens for Hormone Balance and Fertility
Maca is a root that is dried and ground into a fine powder. It has a rich, malty taste. Maca helps balance hormones by supporting the endocrine system, making it a natural aphrodisiac that increases sex drive and supports fertility. And while most energy enhancers like caffeine deplete the adrenal glands, maca supports the adrenals and stabilizes your blood sugar to give long-lasting stamina. Not to mention that it contains a host of vitamins and minerals that are necessary for reproduction, including calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, and iron.*