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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2016 1:59 am 
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Adaptogenic Herbs: What Are Adaptogens?

What Are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are natural substances that work with a person’s body and help them adapt; most notably, to stress. Adaptogens are a natural ally in dealing with persistent stress and fatigue because they work with regulating important hormones.

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Adaptogens offer several other health benefits, including…

- A boost for the immune system [1]
- Support for managing a healthy weight [2]
- Increased physical endurance and mental focus
- Reduction in discomfort caused by poor health [3]
- Encouraging a balanced mood [4]

All these benefits can come from something as simple as adding adaptogens into your regular diet. While there are a number of ways to increase your adaptogen intake, consuming adaptogenic herbs is arguably one of the best.

14 Powerful Adaptogenic Herbs

There are a number of naturally adaptogenic herbs that you might consider trying on for size. They can be taken in capsulated supplement form, brewed in teas, or simply cut up and used to spice up a meal. For maximum health benefits, it’s best to include a healthy variety of these herbs in your diet. Here are some of the most popular adaptogenic herbs and their traditional uses.

1. Asian Ginseng

This herb, also called Panax Ginseng, supports physical endurance, mental clarity, and has antioxidant properties that support heart health and your immune system. Studies show it’s safe to consume. [5]

2. Holy Basil

A member of the mint family, this herb has soothing properties and has been used for centuries for good health. Its antioxidant properties support heart health and normal lipid profiles. It’s also a powerful weapon against stress. [6]

3. Milk Thistle

The active compound in milk thistle, silymarin, supports liver health and metabolism http://www.dreddyclinic.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=119&t=32822 that helps manage the hormones associated with stress.

4. Ashwagandha

Also called Indian Ginseng, studies from India shows that those who take this herb enjoy dramatic improvements in how they handle – and feel – stress. It’s also taken to keep the mind sharp, and for energy. [7]

5. Rhodiola Rosea

This herb is popular among the Sherpas who work on Mt. Everest because of the way it supports regular energy levels and fights altitude sickness. Studies also show it helps encourage normal cortisol levels as well as energy levels. [8]

6. Ginseng Eleuthero

Commonly called Siberian Ginseng http://dreddyclinic.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=33270, the eleutherococcus senticosus is known for not only its adaptogenic properties but also as a natural energy booster.

7. Rosemary

You’ve probably used rosemary in your cooking, but this herb does a lot more than add flavor and fragrance to your meals. Research shows two of its compounds, caffeic acid and rosmarinic acid, support heart, digestive, and liver health. Traditional medicine from around the world has used it for centuries to relieve stress. [9]

8. Aloe Vera

Researchers have taken renewed interest in aloe vera as a powerful herb and superfood http://www.dreddyclinic.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=34550. Two of its compounds, acemannan and aloctin A, support immune and adrenal health. [10]

9. Gotu Kola

Long used in both traditional Indian and Chinese medicines, this herb stimulates blood flow, helps reduce swelling, and is a powerful antioxidant. [11]

10. Astragalus

The Chinese have used astragalus traditionally to encourage good health and fight stress. Its active compound, called TAT2, protects against aging, supports detoxification, and is nutrition for the kidneys. [12]

11. Moringa Oleifera

The seeds, leaves, roots, and oils of the Moringa Oleifera plant are used throughout Southeast Asia an ingredient in many common dishes. As part of traditional medicine, it supports the immune response, eases swelling, and promotes energy and adrenal health. [13]

12. Schisandra

This herb has been used in traditional Chinese Medicine to promote good health and overall wellness. Research shows it has powerful antioxidant properties that help your body stay balanced. [14]

13. Bacopa

This popular Ayurvedic herb has been used for centuries to support brain health like memory, focus, and thinking. [15]

14. Licorice Root

This herb has traditionally been used to promote many aspects of wellness, including normal metabolic function. [16]

How Do Adaptogens Work?

Now that we’ve mentioned some common herbal sources for adaptogens, let’s take a look at how adaptogens actually work. First of all, it’s important to understand that stress is only meant to exist in short bursts. It is a hormonal response that may have been responsible for helping some of your own ancestors escape from hungry lions (or maybe even face them!). Think about stress as what is commonly called your “fight or flight” response.

Today, most of us don’t have to worry so much about lions. However, most modern-day stresses are ongoing. When your adrenal system remains in a constant active state, it throws your body out of balance. Constant stress can wreak havoc on your body, especially on your digestive system and energy levels.

Adaptogenic compounds help mitigate the stress response. They work to bring the hormones of your adrenal system back into balance and overcome adrenal fatigue, a common condition of chronic stress. Studies show adaptogens like Rhodiola Rosea and Schisandra reduce the presence and effect of stress hormones. [17] In this way, they help endurance during physical stress like exercise and return your body to normal when you’re faced with chronic stress http://www.dreddyclinic.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=120.

Global Healing Center® is a leading natural health provider offering natural and organic supplements, cleanses, and a wealth of free natural health articles.

Think of adaptogens like a thermostat. The keep your body’s stress response at a desirable level, much like the way a thermostat keeps the temperature from becoming too high or too low. They’re good for you all the time, not just when you have a high level of stress.

Have Adaptogens Benefitted You?

Have you benefitted from adding adaptogenic herbs to your life? Leave a comment below and share your story with us.

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References:

1. Seely D, Singh R. Adaptogenic Potential of a Polyherbal Natural Health Product: Report on a Longitudinal Clinical Trial http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1978233. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: eCAM. 2007;4(3):375-380. doi:10.1093/ecam/nel101.

2. Panossian A1, Wikman G, Kaur P, Asea A. Adaptogens exert a stress-protective effect by modulation of expression of molecular chaperones https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19188053. Phytomedicine. 2009 Jun;16(6-7):617-22. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2008.12.003. Epub 2009 Feb 1.

3. Vyas P, Thakar AB, Baghel MS, Sisodia A, Deole Y. Efficacy of Rasayana Avaleha as adjuvant to radiotherapy and chemotherapy in reducing adverse effects http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3202271/. Ayu. 2010;31(4):417-423. doi:10.4103/0974-8520.82029.

4. Smirnova MD, Svirida ON, Ageev FT, Forfanova TV, Vitsenia MV, Mikhalov GV. [The ability to use meldonium as adaptogen in winter in patients with cardiovascular disease] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25675721. Kardiologiia. 2014;54(10):51-6.

5. Lee NH1, Yoo SR, Kim HG, Cho JH, Son CG. Safety and tolerability of Panax ginseng root extract: a randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial in healthy Korean volunteers http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22909282. J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Nov;18(11):1061-9. doi: 10.1089/acm.2011.0591. Epub 2012 Aug 21.

6. Manikandan P1, Murugan RS, Abbas H, Abraham SK, Nagini S. Ocimum sanctum Linn. (Holy Basil) ethanolic leaf extract protects against 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene-induced genotoxicity, oxidative stress, and imbalance in xenobiotic-metabolizing enzymes http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17887944. J Med Food. 2007 Sep;10(3):495-502.

7. Wadhwa R1, Konar A1, Kaul SC. Nootropic potential of Ashwagandha leaves: Beyond traditional root extracts http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26361721. Neurochem Int. 2015 Sep 8. pii: S0197-0186(15)30043-7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2015.09.001.

8. Panossian A1, Wikman G. Evidence-based efficacy of adaptogens in fatigue, and molecular mechanisms related to their stress-protective activity https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19500070. Curr Clin Pharmacol. 2009 Sep;4(3):198-219. Epub 2009 Sep 1.

9. al-Sereiti MR1, Abu-Amer KM, Sen P. Pharmacology of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis Linn.) and its therapeutic potentials https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10641130. Indian J Exp Biol. 1999 Feb;37(2):124-30.

10. Chokboribal J1, Tachaboonyakiat W, Sangvanich P, Ruangpornvisuti V, Jettanacheawchankit S, Thunyakitpisal P. Deacetylation affects the physical properties and bioactivity of acemannan, an extracted polysaccharide from Aloe vera http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26344314. Carbohydr Polym. 2015 Nov 20;133:556-66. doi: 10.1016/j.carbpol.2015.07.039.

11. Cataldi A1, Gasbarro V, Viaggi R, Soverini R, Gresta E, Mascoli F. Effectiveness of the combination of alpha tocopherol, rutin, melilotus, and centella asiatica in the treatment of patients with chronic venous insufficiency http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11292962. Minerva Cardioangiol. 2001 Apr;49(2):159-63.

12. Lim JD1, Yu CY, Kim SH, Chung IM. Structural characterization of an intestinal immune system-modulating arabino-3,6-galactan-like polysaccharide from the above-ground part of Astragalus membranaceus (Bunge) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26572470. Carbohydr Polym. 2016 Jan 20;136:1265-72. doi: 10.1016/j.carbpol.2015.10.029.

13. Leone A1, Fiorillo G, Criscuoli F, Ravasenghi S, Santagostini L, Fico G, Spadafranca A, Battezzati A, Schiraldi A, Pozzi F, di Lello S, Filippini S, Bertoli S. Nutritional Characterization and Phenolic Profiling of Moringa oleifera Leaves Grown in Chad, Sahrawi Refugee Camps, and Haiti http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26274956. Int J Mol Sci. 2015 Aug 12;16(8):18923-37. doi: 10.3390/ijms160818923.

14. Li J1, Wang J, Shao JQ, Du H, Wang YT, Peng L. Effect of Schisandra chinensis on interleukins, glucose metabolism, and pituitary-adrenal and gonadal axis in rats under strenuous swimming exercise http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25141817. Chin J Integr Med. 2015 Jan;21(1):43-8. doi: 10.1007/s11655-014-1765-y.

15. Preethi J1, Singh HK, Venkataraman JS, Rajan KE. Standardised extract of Bacopa monniera (CDRI-08) improves contextual fear memory by differentially regulating the activity of histone acetylation and protein phosphatases (PP1α, PP2A) in hippocampus http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24610280. Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2014 May;34(4):577-89. doi: 10.1007/s10571-014-0042-0.

16. Mattarello MJ1, Benedini S, Fiore C, Camozzi V, Sartorato P, Luisetto G, Armanini D. Effect of licorice on PTH levels in healthy women http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16513152. Steroids. 2006 May;71(5):403-8.

17. Panossian A1, Wikman G, Kaur P, Asea A. Adaptogens stimulate neuropeptide y and hsp72 expression and release in neuroglia cells https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22347152. Front Neurosci. 2012 Feb 1;6:6. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2012.00006. eCollection 2012.

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