Adaptogens have been getting some buzz lately in health magazines and in the natural health section of your grocery store. You might think this new trend is due to a recent breakthrough in science but in reality, adaptogens been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years.
It was formally defined in 1968 by Isreal Brekham, PhD and Dr. I. V. Darymovhe as having the following criteria:
With this definition, the word adaptogen is really an umbrella term that refers to compounds found in plants that are able to decrease your body’s sensitivity to stress. It has shown that these compounds activate stress-induced self-defence mechanisms and mitigates the harmful effects of stress. This is made possible by its ability to increase the threshold of resistance to damage via the support of adrenal gland and possibly pituitary gland function. In turn, this has shown to have a positive effective on neurological disorders including depression and even improve and extend one’s life.
Before you start stocking up on expensive powders and pills, know that adaptogens are easier to incorporate into your diet than you think.
Adaptogens are found in a variety of herbs and plants including Asian Ginsing, Rosemary, Ashwagandha, Aloe Vera, Licorice Root, and Maca Root. Interestingly enough, these plants that help us adapt to stressful environments often grow and flourish in extreme and stressful environments itself.
There are many more natural adaptogens and often they work even better when digested in combination than on their own. Which is why you’ll see adaptogen ‘blends’ being marketed on the shelves today.
Not all adaptogens agree with everyone so it’s a good idea to incorporate them one at a time into your diet to ensure you’re getting the effects you’re looking for. And it’s always a good idea to speak to your health practitioner about any changes to your diet.