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What are Adaptogens?

July 01, 2018

What are Adaptogens?

If you are focused on your own health and wellness, then you may have heard the term “adaptogen” floating around the community. And if you made it to this article, then you are probably wondering “what are adaptogens?” While adaptogens are not yet widely known, more and more people are discovering the power of these hidden gems.

In short, adaptogens are a family of plants that have special stress-relieving properties and that promote overall well-being in your body. They help you achieve a state of optimal balance. These plants are well known in Asia where they have been used for their powerful healing properties for centuries. Adaptogens are either eaten, brewed as a tea, or taken in supplement form (or all three sometimes!). And fortunately for you all, they are finally reaching the Western world.

Our goal at Aum Tea is to empower people to live their most fulfilled lives.

We want you to live a long and stress free life that is in balance. Adaptogens are immensely beneficial to the human body and mind, and they can help with all of these things. If you haven’t heard of adaptogens before, then you are most likely going to wish you knew about them a lot sooner.

In this article we have compiled everything that you need to know in one place so that it’s conveniently available to you. Let's dive in.

What Are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are a unique family of super herbs which include Jiaogulan, Ginkgo Biloba, Ginseng, and many others. They have a long history of use in China and Ayurveda because of their special healing properties. Slowly but sure they are making their way into the minds of people in the western world and rightfully so.

This family of herbs is the most loving family you could ever have when it comes to reducing stress in your life. Imagine if every person in your family helped you stop stressing out and relax every time that you saw them. Well, that’s exactly what adaptogens do!

Adaptogens help humans adapt to mental, physical, and environmental stress. They help you naturally reduce stress, relax, and they protect your body from future illness. In addition, this loving family of medicinal plants increase concentration, performance, and endurance during fatigue. (6)

Their Name Says a Lot

what-are-adaptogens-balance-equilibriumThe most unique part about adaptogens, as their name infers, is that they help your body and your mind adapt to your specific situation. What does this mean? Well, everyone’s health is unique, and therefore every person needs slightly different things to achieve optimal health.

Adaptogens meet you exactly where you need them, and they help return your body to an optimal state of balance. They adapt both to the person taking them and to the person’s specific condition.

This make sense because adaptogens have themselves, as plants, learned to adapt to the environment. Many of them have grow in stressful conditions that are not easy to thrive in. One can imagine then how adaptogens share this adaptability with us, helping us deal with the conditions that challenge our bodies and our minds.

Tips on Sourcing

When looking for adaptogens, we suggest that you source them from growers who are in the indigenous location where the plant naturally grows. As we will always suggest with plants and consumables, try to source them from organic farmers who do not use pesticides and who minimally process the plants.

In addition, always try to support farmers who use sustainable practices. Doing these things will ensure that you get the highest quality plant possible. Your body, and the planet, will thank you.

These are the principles that you can always count on with Aum Tea. Unfortunately, however these principles are not the norm, so if you want to source any adaptogens other than Jiaogulan, you will have to put in some work to find a grower that lives by these same principles.

Which Herbs are Considered Adaptogenic?

To be designated as an adaptogen, an herb must have two main qualities. It cannot harm the body, and it must work only when the body requires it to. For a plant to be considered an adaptogen, it must be non-toxic.

Adaptogenic is a term used to describe the ability of an herb to work as a biological response mechanism. Additionally, for an herb to be adaptogenic it must meet three criteria originally written by the Russian doctors N.V. Lazarev in 1947 and I.I. Brekman in 1958:

For an herb to be considered adaptogenic, it must:

  1. Cause no harm and place no additional stress on the body
  2. Help the body adapt to varied environmental and psychological stresses.
  3. Have a nonspecific action on the body, supporting all the major systems, such as the nervous system, hormonal system, and immune system, as well as regulating functions (such as the blood sugar); if they are too high, an adaptogen will lower it and vice versa.

Saviors in a Stressful World

Adaptogens could very well be seen as saviors in the modern world.

Much of human history had far lower levels of stress in daily life. There were of course times in history that were more dangerous than the modern day, but it would be difficult to find any time in history that is more stress-ridden than our modern, complex society.

what-are-adaptogens-stress-reliefWe are living in a fast-moving and an ever-changing world. As a result, it is a challenge for us to keep up with its pace. Simply put, our plates are overloaded with what is, a lot of times, more than we can handle mentally. How so?

We sleep less, our quality of sleep suffers, the complexity of society crowds our minds with never-ending decision-making, social media bombards us, we have less time...the list goes on and on.

All of these things cause us to stress more and to age faster both physically and mentally.

Therefore, having adaptogens there to help you restore balance to your life and reduce stress is a wonderful, herbal gift.

How do Adaptogens Work?

So you’ve now answered the question “what are adaptogens?”, but you probably want to know more about how they actually work.

The stress and pressure of modern life disturb the equilibrium between various organs of your body. As a result, your body becomes more susceptible to disease. One of the defining traits of adaptogens is that they have a protective activity that helps your body return to and maintain homeostasis. In other words, they help restore the equilibrium that stress throws out of balance.

This ability has been linked with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the regulation of key mediators of the body’s stress response. Studies have revealed that adaptogens exhibit neuroprotective, anti-fatigue, antidepressive, anxiolytic, nootropic and CNS stimulating activity.

In addition, a handful of clinical trials have shown that adaptogens increase mental work capacity while reducing stress and fatigue at the same time, particularly in tolerance to mental exhaustion and enhanced attention (4)

The Science Behind Adaptogens

Adaptogens reduce your reaction to stress, and they protect you against the long-term effects of stress as well. These protective effects may have something to do with adaptogens’ relationship with your glucose metabolism.

Jiaogulan increases your blood glucose level by stimulating the liver to convert glycogen to glucose. In addition, jiaogulan enhances the entry of glucose into cells and enhances the utilization of glucose within cells. (3)

When used on a regular basis, adaptogens cause a normalization of stress hormone levels, and they decrease your predisposition to stress.

The human body is designed to release the hormone cortisol in response to stress. Some stress, of course, can be beneficial. It acts as a motivating force to accomplish necessary goals. However, stress can reach harmful levels, causing a variety of negative side effects from compromised immune function to weight gain (5).

Every physiological system in your body can be negatively affected by elevated cortisol levels over time.

In addition, people with elevated levels of cortisol because of constant stress may age more rapidly. Therefore, proper stress management is of great importance given the wide range of bodily systems impacted by stress hormones.

How to Add Adaptogens to Your Life

Adaptogenic herbs are typically consumed in supplement form, made into a tea, taken as a tincture, or eaten as part of a meal. You can choose the form that best suits your lifestyle, or even better try all of them!

Make sure to do your research beforehand, however, because each adaptogenic herb may have an ideal way of ingesting.

what-is-jiaogulan-caps-teaFor example, you are not going to eat Rhodiola, but it is fantastic in supplement or tincture form, and can be made into a tea as well. On the flip side, adaptogens like Jiaogulan can be enjoyably consumed in all forms.

Jiaogulan capsules and Jiaogulan tea are crowd favorites, but you can also eat the leaves at the bottom of your tea cup or add them to meals. People love adding the fresh leaves to smoothies, soups, and salad dressings. This is a great way to add an extra health boost to whatever it is you are eating. (And don't forget, you can still use the leaves after you brew a batch of tea with them!)

The most convenient way to get your daily dose of adaptogens is to take them in supplement / capsule form. This works no matter your lifestyle because they can be taken on the go and don’t require any effort like making tea does.

Regardless of which method you choose, the most important thing to remember is that you need to take adaptogens on a daily basis for several months before you will feel the full range of healing effects these incredible plants have to share.

⟶ Click here for the most comprehensive guide to jiaogulan dosage available online.

Things to Consider Before Taking

If you are using any type of medication, then you should talk to your doctor about the adaptogen(s) you plan on taking before you start taking them. You always want to make sure that you are careful about any potential interactions between the medication you are taking and the natural supplements that you want to add into the mix.

In addition, as with anything that you put into or onto your body, it is important to make sure the product is sourced safely.

Ideally, as we mentioned earlier in this article, you want to get adaptogens from farmers in the native region of the given plant who grow organically without pesticides, minimally process the plant, and who practice sustainable growing.

And lastly, when you start taking a new adaptogenic herb, we suggest that you start with a small dose and slowly work your way up to the full recommended dose. For example, if you are making your adaptogenic herb in tea form, then start out with 1-2 cups daily and build up to 4-8 cups daily over the span of 1 to 2 weeks.

Each person is unique, so let your own body be your best guide.

Conclusion

Adaptogens are an incredible family of plants that have the unique ability to meet your body exactly where it needs help. From stress relief to natural life extension, these plants are truly in a league of their own.

We recommend that you add adaptogens to your daily routine so that you can achieve and maintain optimal health. They help bring your body back to a state of balance and protect your from future illness and disease.

We don’t, however, suggest that you rely on adaptogens alone.

You should also make sure that you are managing your stress in other ways and living an overall healthy life. To live a long and fulfilled life, you must establish a practice of healthy habits in your daily life.

Get enough sleep and get quality sleep. Eat healthy, real food sourced locally when possible. Drink lots of quality water every day. Get some sunshine every day. Exercise multiple times a week, walk more, and stretch your body. Take some time everyday to reflect and just sit, acknowledging what you are grateful for.

Be proactive with your health and constantly check in with yourself.

Don’t be passive and let life just happen to you. By doing so, you are getting to the root cause of stress and illness, which is the only way to find lasting change in your life.

REFERENCES

  1. healthysleep.med.harvard.edu
  2. slate.com
  3. sciencedirect.com
  4. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  5. dujs.dartmouth.edu
  6. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov




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