Best adaptogens that help with stress and adrenal fatigue

Stress is something that we all experience throughout our lives. Stress can be beneficial for the body, if it's 'good stress' meaning we are excited, our pulse quickens and hormones surge. Short-term stress is nothing to be concerned about. It's when the stress levels are high for a longer period of time- this is when it starts to affect your body. And when you do nothing about it, the stress can turn truly detrimental for your health, like contributing towards anxiety, heart disease, insomnia, leaky gut, adrenal fatigue and different autoimmune conditions.


There are very crucial steps to take to lower your stress levels and below are most commonly gone wrong areas to start from (I know it's easier said than done, but take one step at a time):

  • re-evaluate, reduce or eliminate the stressors in life (work, relationships with others and yourself, environment where you live)

  • prioritise sleep- a minimum 8 hours per night

  • exercise as regular bodily movement is known to reduce stress

  • re-look at your daily menu- eating clean and well-balanced food has profound benefits for your health. If your body is inflamed because what you feed it (high-sugar, artificial colours, preservatives, hydrogenated oils, too much gluten and dairy, alcohol etc), it will have a great impact on how you feel and also how capable you are handling stress

There is a lot more that can be written about the different factors in life that affect the stress levels, but in this blog I want to focus on what are the best adaptogens to use for combating stress.


What are adaptogens?

They are plants and herbs that have been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for helping the body react better to stress. Adaptogens help to balance both your body and support your adrenals, managing different kinds of stressors, such as physical, biological and chemical.


Some adaptogens are used for enhancing mental performance, plus stimulating the body, while others are used for calming your body. Adaptogens can boost vitality and strength, help with adrenal fatigue, promote better sleep, but also treat other issues in the body.


Adaptogenic herbs promote a more balanced response to on-going stress. They regulate the production of stress hormones in your body, which protects you against adrenal fatigue and HPA axis dysfunction.

  

Below are some of the best adaptogens to use as they have been studied for their positive effects on stress relief and adrenal balance.


Ashwagandha (also known as Indian ginseng, winter cherry)

  • calms the mind

  • reduces inflammation

  • lower blood pressure

  • enhances the activity of immune cells

  • relieves arthritis

  • protects nerves

  • improves thyroid function

  • treats cancer

  • lowers cholesterol

  • increases stamina and endurance

source: Wikipedia Commons


How to consume Ashwagandha?

The taste of Ashwagandha is quite bitter, therefore many people prefer to take Ashawagandha in a supplement form. I have been consuming it in a powder form- adding it to warm drinks (almond milk or coconut milk, with different spices) and adding a half a teaspoon of honey. But you can also add it to foods, like when you are making energy balls, smoothies etc.


In order for Ashwagandha to have an effect, consume it for for 2 weeks or so. It's recommended to take breaks and not using Ashwagandha for long periods of time. Don't consume it, when you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Also don't consume it when you are taking any diabetes and blood pressure medications or if you have a surgery ahead that requires anaesthesia (stop taking Ashwagandha at least 2 weeks before).


Rhodiola

  • lowers the secretion of cortisol during stressful periods

  • increases energy

  • increases concentration

  • protects your heart

  • lowers depression

  • helps to burn fat

  • fights insomnia

  • cleans body

source: Wikipedia Commons


How to consume Rhodiola?

Rhodiola is typically taken in a capsule or tincture form. You can also consume it in a powder form, by mixing it in the glass of water. Take Rhodiola around 15 minutes before your meal once a day. You can also add Rhodiola powder to a hot (not boiling) water and consume it as a tea.


Liquorice Root

  • helps with acid reflux and heartburn

  • helps with leaky gut

  • fights adrenal fatigue

  • improves immunity as it's anti-viral

  • helps with sore throat and cough

  • relieves bodily pains, both stomach and muscle

  • helps with PMS and reduces menopause symptoms

source: Wikipedia Commons


How to consume Liquorice Root?

You can consume it as a tea, supplement or tincture. Do not take more than 100g a day.


Do not consume liquorice root when you are pregnant, also when you fight with any of the following cancers (uterine, ovarian, breast). Also do not take liquorice root at least two weeks before any surgery.


Ginseng

  • reduces stress and improves mood

  • boosts immune system

  • improves brain function

  • helps with weight loss

  • lowers blood sugar

  • is anti-inflammatory

  • improves your lungs

  • treats sexual dysfunction

source: Wikipedia Commons


How to consume Ginseng?

There are different types of ginseng: Asian (look for Korean, red of Penax ginseng), American (look for Panex quinquefolius), Indian, Siberian, Brazilian.


Most common way to consume ginseng is as a tea. Of course the best option would be if you could get the fresh root, but powdered root works as well. But do not consume it in high amounts, as it is a stimulant, so could could cause nervousness and insomnia.


As with the other adaptogens, pregnant, breastfeeding women should not consume ginseng. Also women with breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis and uterine fibroids because ginseng has estrogen-like effects. People with diabetes, some autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis should avoid ginseng. Those who have had bodily organ transplants may not want to take ginseng as it could increase the risk of organ rejection.


Echinacea

  • boosts the immune system

  • helps with anxiety and depression

  • fights with cancer

  • reduces pain associated with headaches, stomach, measles, herpes

  • pain reliever for snake bites, toothache, tonsillitis, sore throat

  • helps with common cold, asthma, flu

  • is a natural laxative

  • alleviates inflammation in the body

  • improves problems with skin

  • fights infections, such as urinary tract infections, bloodstream infections, vaginal yeast infections, malaria, gum disease, typhoid etc.

source: Pixabay

How to consume Echinacea?

Echinacea can be taken in a tincture, capsule or a tea form. It's recommended to consume Echinacea after the meal and not on an empty stomach.


I would actually want to challenge myself and plant Echinacea in my garden next spring, so I can make my own tincture from it.


Maca

  • boosts energy

  • improves sexual health

  • improves memory and mood

  • rich in antioxidants

  • boosts male fertility

  • balances hormones- increases hormone production when your body is under-producing, and brings down hormone production when your body is over-producing hormones

source: Gaia Herbs


How to consume Maca?

You can consume it in a powder, capsule, liquid or extract form. Powder for example can be easily added to your favourite drink or smoothies or mixed into recipes (but don't over-heat your food where you have added Maca, as it may damage some of the nutrients.


Holy Basil (Tulsi)

  • naturally decreases anxiety and balances stress hormones

  • manages adrenal fatigue

  • helps with unbalanced blood sugar and protects against diabetes

  • fights acne and skin infections

  • supports oral health

  • supports eye health

  • helps fight cancer

  • fights fever

  • helps with respiratory disorders

  • relieves headaches

source: Pixabay


How to consume Holy Basil?

It is mostly consumed in a supplement form, as a holy basil tea or as an essential oil. You can also add chopped tulsi leaves and add it your favourite soup.

As with the other above adaptogens, avoid consuming holy basil when you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Holy Basil can only slow blood clotting, therefore best not to use it for couple of weeks prior, if you plan to have a surgery.


As you have read above, adaptogens help to balance, restore and protect your whole body. They don't have just one specific action, they help to respond to any stressor or influence and bringing your physiological functions to balance.

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