In our last blog, Understanding Nootropics and How They Work we delved into the history of Nootropics and the positive effects they have on our body. In it, we also touched on adaptogens, a group of natural non-toxic plants that are taking the wellness industry by storm. So we’re here to give you everything you need to know about natures super herbs and how to consume them!
First things first, what are adaptogens?
The most simple understanding of adaptogens is that they are a collection of naturally occurring plants that have been scientifically identified for their abilities to help the human body resist physical, chemical and biological stressors. According to the CSHS (Centre for Studies on Human Stress) ‘a stressor is anything that causes the release of stress hormones.’ The term adaptogens is then collectively coined by each plant's ability to help the body adapt its functions to manage these stress related flare-ups. There are many different types of adaptogens with new breakthroughs being discovered each day. Common plants like the reishi mushroom, ginseng, maca, rosemary and aloe vera are all considered adaptogens, as are more unique species including ashwagandha, gotu kola, schizandra and rhodiola.
Although their rise in western wellness has been recent, many have been used in Ayurvedic medicine and Asian cooking for centuries.
How do they work?
Co-medical director of the Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute, Brenda Powell explained that “adaptogens do for your adrenal glands what exercise does for the 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,” she said. Therefore, like any athlete conditioning their body “you’re training your brain to handle the effects of stress.”
While each plant carries slightly different stress management functions, adaptogens are also known to contribute to boosting immunity, mood management and topical concerns like breakouts and skin burns.
Stress fighters: Ginseng and ashwagandha are both connected to soothing long term effects of stress by reducing inflammation and transmitting a message to the brain that encourages a blanket calming feeling.
Memory enhancers: Bacopa monnieri, rhodiola and holy basil are all related to enhanced recall, alertness and memory. In particular, rhodiola rosea improves general well-being and neuro-motoric fitness while bacopa has been studied for its ability to repair neuronal damage.
Immunity boosting: Reishi and aloe vera are commonly noted for their abilities to fight common colds and virus’, topically they also help with inflammation and burns. Plants like gotu kola and schizandra help fight internal parasites as well as skin infections.
Back Pain: Turmeric can be consumed to help with joint and muscular pain whilst ashwagandha can be applied to the skin for treating wounds and soothing backaches.
Sleep Encouragers: The ever humble lavender plant has been used throughout the ages to lower anxiety and assist in calming the brain for sleep. As does schizandra and holy basil.
Consuming the right dosage of adaptogens.
As each adaptogen delivers a slightly different effect, it is important to consider your needs and focus on addressing what will best enhance your unique symptoms before consuming each plant. That being said, as each of these are naturally derived super boosters, it’s safe to add them into your regular cooking, smoothies, teas and vitamin routines, just ensure you check for your correct dosage first.
Of the above-listed plants, you can find the optimal daily intake of bacopa-monnieri, rhodiola and gotu kola in Clariti.
As mentioned in our previous blog it’s important to state that, while adaptogens continue to serve as a positive assistant to those looking for a brain boost, we must advise that these substances are not to be taken as a substitute to a healthy diet, sleep and routine.