Adaptogens, the buzzword you hear and see people adding to smoothies, baked goods, rituals and so much more. So, what are they? You’re about to find out the what, when and why behind adaptogens. Pst, there’s a giveaway involved. Grab your own copy of my Hormone Loving Kitchen Detox Guide (for free!).
First, let me remind you, this information is not medical advice or in place of medical advice. I recommend you consult with a naturopath, herbalist or nutrition professional (like myself) before adding any powerful herbs into your life.
Adaptogens can be a great asset in your at-home FARMacy if you use them properly. They add delicious flavors, contain powerful properties and naturally occurring healing power. The kind God designed in nature and in our precious bodies. BUT you must source them from a wild-crafted source. That’s why I will be talking about Root & Bones.
What are adaptogens?
In herbal medicine, adaptogens are a natural substance known to help the body adapt to stress. They exert a normalizing effect in our bodies to help us manage and better deal with stress aka life. As a result, these plant medicines and herbs have been used for thousands of years. If you haven’t noticed, our earth-loving ancestors knew what they were doing. In addition, a plant medicine must have at least three specific criteria to be labeled “adaptogen”:
- generally safe
- help you to deal with stress
- they work hard to balance your hormones
Adaptogens – like Root and Bones’ – work to regulate the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). The SNS ‘produces’ fight or flight mode aka stress! When we regulate this system, we keep everything else smooth sailing downstream = less stress and better management of future stressors. Remember, if we become stuck in sympathetic mode, inflammation, hormone uproar and thyroid dysfunction can follow.
“As a pharmacotherapeutic group adaptogens were recently defined as herbal preparations that increased attention and endurance in fatigue, and reduced stress-induced impairments and disorders related to the neuro-endocrine and immune systems.”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3991026/
What adaptogens do.
Since we can manage inflammation and it’s associated issues with adaptogens, here’s what the literature says adaptogens are protective of (1):
p.s. you can usually feel a difference within two weeks but the longer you use these powerful plants, the better the benefits.
Adaptogens fight against (1):
- physical fatigue
- mental fatigue
- stress-induced chronic fatigue
- + they have antitoxic activity
The hypothesis is that adaptogens induce a slight stress response so our bodies can better handle future stressors. For example, it’s like a low molecular weight “vaccine” that tells our bodies “hey, stress may come in the future so, let’s get ready!”. Most importantly, this is protective for our HPA-axis (hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis).
Additionally, adaptogens structurally resemble corticosteroids which help to provide relief for inflamed areas in our bodies.
Different types of adaptogens.
From Root & Bones – my favorite wildcrafted adaptogen company. Since her herbs are wildcrafted, they grow in their natural arduous environments instead of a perfectly controlled environment. As a result, the plant is a fighting machine! Whoa, God’s cool.
- Cordyceps – Displays respiratory, nervous, sexual and immunological health effects in clinical studies. Cordyceps is high in B1, B6, B12 and K, all of which are crucial for optional hormone health. It enhances cellular energy in the form of ATP. Oh & in case you missed it, Cordyceps is pro-sexual.
- Reishi – This mushroom is high in Germanium; a mineral that shows anti tumor, immunopotentiating and antimutagenic activities. In studies on cancer, a polysaccharide extract significantly inhibited cell adhesion, invasion and colony formation (all of which are determinants of the aggressiveness of cancer).
- Chaga – This anti-cancer mushroom has been shown to suppress tumors. Over 60% tumor reduction and 25% lessened nodules were observed in studies. Furthermore, this adaptogen fights against inflammation, bacteria, oxidation and is used in immunodeficient humans.
- He Shou Wu – Processed HSW is used for nourishing the liver and kidneys. It’s shown the ability to strengthen bones/muscles, reduce lipids, enhance memory, protect nerve cells and cause an anti-aging effect. HWS is an antioxidant, liver protective and anti diabetic. Even better, it inhibits the pro-inflammatory signaling factors.
- Pine Pollen – liver protective, free-radical scavenging, regulates production of pro-inflammatory mediators. PPE (active constituent) prohibits production of nitric oxide, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, IL-1 and IL-6 (2). Most importantly, pine pollen is a highly nutritious antioxidant and inflammatory food. Studies show it may be beneficial in treatment of chronic inflammatory disorders.
p.s.s. Really, it’s important to know of genetic polymorphisms (CYP450). this can affect metabolism of herbal medicines. Keep in mind, everyone is different!
Root & Bones (she’s amazing)
Alyssa is an acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist. For over a decade she has researched and experienced the benefits of adaptogens. Root & Bones is a small ONE woman company that creates and sells nutrient-dense, therapeutic-grade and bioavailable superfoods to combat the stressors in our world today. Come on, you know there’s lots! Above all, she is dedicated to discovering the root cause of disease and transitioning “alternative” medicine to the new mainstream. HECK YES.
Chaga, Duanwood Reishi, Cordyceps, He Shou Wu and Pine Pollen are all up on her website. Plus, you can get single serving packs if you want to try them out first.
Chaga – king, gastrointestinal tonic, digestive aid & high antioxidant volume
Reishi – queen, hormone balancer, immune modulator, nervine tonic
Cordyceps – elixir of life, immune/brain/heart/hormone enhancer
HSW – anti aging, fertility enhancing, blood purifying, organ toning
Pine Pollen – fuels fertility, libido and hormone health + energy booster
I got to (e)meet her a little over a year ago and I couldn’t be more blessed with her products, knowledge and delicious recipes. So, if you don’t follow her on IG, run.. don’t walk. You’ll be blown away with her beautiful recipes. I love to add her herbs to my hot chocolate and raw banana cream pie.