What are adaptogens you might ask?
Concepts surrounding adaptogens are rather new to the modern Western wellness guru, but is fundamental to Ayurveda. While adaptogens have been used by herbalists for thousands of years, you are probably hearing more and more about the remedies behind these naturopathic herbs, or “healing plants,” as you dive deeper into the world of wellness.
In short, adaptogens are compounds found in certain plants—such as herbs and some mushrooms—that function to regulate the adrenal system, which controls the body's hormonal response to stress. Yet, these guys have a long list of even more health benefits! Adaptogens work to balance, restore, and protect the body, helping it adapt to an array of life’s stressors. Largely, they have gained global attention for:
systemically supporting the body to be more resilient to stress
systemically supporting the body’s ability to stay in homeostasis
being innocuous and not impacting normal body functions more than required
In addition to their general ability to calm the nervous system, adaptogens can reduce the risk of inflammation and autoimmune disease, boost energy, regulate hormones, increase digestion, promote weight loss, and even inspire better moods.
Adaptogens come many different forms, including pills similar to vitamins, solutions that can be mixed with water, powders, which can be used in smoothies, and teas. There’s no right or wrong way to get your fill—so sip, mix, or stir to your liking! Gaia does recommend that you take a day off from your adaptogens each week; if you're using them for more than six weeks, to also take a full week off; and if you're using them for six months, to take a full month off. (These little breaks are said to let the herbs really take effect in your system).
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MY GO-TO ADAPTOGENS
Cordyceps, reishi, shiitake and maitake mushrooms contain all the benefits of antioxidant foods, making cordyceps known for its anti-tumor and immune-enhancing properties. In addition, these shrooms also help our bodies use oxygen more efficiently, meaning that the muscles are then able to work harder for longer—which then can help power up the length of your workout by improving your strength and speed.
Research has found consistent use of this super-root has the power to regulate the immune system, lower anxiety, and significantly lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Since high levels of cortisol has been linked to belly fat, ashwagandha can aid in shedding extra weight. In addition, this little herb enhances endocrine function and supports an underactive thyroid. Due to its high levels of iron, it also alleviates heavy periods. Yes, please.
Rhodiola, often called rhodiola rosea or golden root, helps to increase mental stamina and physical endurance, boost the immune system during winter, and support fertility and endocrine health in men and women. Rhodiola also protects the heart and liver, increases use of oxygen, and improves memory. And thanks to its anti-inflammatory effects, it also can boost your recovery time after a long workout (even more reasons to add extra minutes to your next yoga sesh!).
Chaga mushroom is a legendary tonic food. It has been acknowledged in traditional medicine and in modern scientific studies to have magnificent healing properties. Historically, Chaga mushroom has been known as the "King of Plants" in China, "Diamond of the Forest" in Japan and is the cornerstone of the Siberian shamanic healing tradition.
Chaga is particularly special in that it grows on living Birch trees taking 15-20 years to reach maturity. Over this time it concentrates many important nutrients and enzymes from the tree and brings them into a form we can consume to support our bodies health. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chaga is considered a Chi Tonic and is reputed to contain adaptogenic qualities which modulate immune responses.
Chaga has high levels of B-Vitamins, flavonoids, enzymes, minerals, and phenols and contains some of the highest known concentrations of antioxidants of any food, such as Melanin. Chaga is also a rich source of Zinc, an essential nutrient for cell growth, differentiation and survival as well as Germanium.
In the Ayurveda world, turmeric is considered “tri doshic,” meaning it’s suitable for all dosha types (hooray!) When combined with other activators—such as cardamom, cinnamon, or pepper—it’s known for increasing ojas, or the body's vital strength. During both acute and chronic experience of stressors, turmeric supports healthy skin, liver function, healthy levels of body weight, blood glucose, cholesterol, corticosterone, memory, and reduced glutathione. I love Jarrow's golden milk powder (not vegan) or Gaia's golden milk powder if you're vegan.
Reishi Mushroom is perhaps the most beloved of all precious foods. Called Ling Zhi - "The Mushroom of Spiritual Potency" in Traditional Chinese Medicine, It holds its place as an essential ingredient in a healthy life. The Chinese have traditionally claimed that Reishi promotes calmness, centeredness, balance, inner awareness and inner strength. They have used it to improve meditative practices and to protect the body, mind, and spirit so that the adept could attain both a long and healthy life.
other faves: astragalus, lion's mane, He shou wu, yin power, matcha
I sell Sun Potion products on my shop page for 5% off ALWAYS because I love you all and want to share health with you without emptying your wallets. These powders are my favorite additions to matcha latte's, bulletproof coffee, smoothies, and golden milk. Also, be sure to check out Tamim Teas for delicious adaptogenic tea blends!
Think about your daily habits and sense of wellness:
Are you sleeping well?
Do you have a healthy appetite?
Do you have healthy digestion/elimination?
Are you feeling your optimal self?
If you’ve been trying to improve your overall well-being, adaptogens might be worth exploring. Want to learn more about the benefits of adaptogens and how they relate to the practice of Ayurveda? I’d love to chat with you one-on-one about your health goals. Reach out to me for more details @ https://www.natashawellness.com/appointment.