Adaptogenic herbs are one of the most useful health hacks that you probably haven’t heard of. Our daily lives provide different stresses to our system: emotional, physical, chemical and mental. Our nervous and immune systems are constantly to adapt each of these stressors. Additionally these stressors can affect our liver, thyroid and our adrenal glands. Throughout the day we need a steady flow of energy in order to perform the never ending activities in life. However around 3 pm slump most people experience a blood sugar crash and many resort to caffeine as a fix.
Over indulgence in caffeine can have a negative effect by stimulating your adrenal cortex to constantly produce the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for the “fight or flight syndrome, which increases your heart rate and blood pressure, while conversely shutting down digestion and repair functions. A constant release of cortisol however is not desirable, chronic release increases inflammatory and degenerative processes in the body. Each spike of cortisol releases glucose from the liver, leading to unnatural fluctuations in daily blood sugar.
Unlike caffeine, these herbs are smart, they work with your bodies system and assist the adrenal glands in adapting to stress. They support and restore adrenal health, increase energy, mood, and your sex drive. Adatogens are the go to supplements for overall daily performance.
Ashwaghanda has been used in Ayurvedic Medicine for thousands of years. Ashwagandha is a shrub with oval leaves and yellow flowers. The fruit is raisin shaped and bright red. The herb is native to the dry regions of India, northern Africa, and the Middle East, and today is also grown in more mild climates, including the United States. In the largest human trial using Ashwagandha, the herb was shown to reduce cortisol levels by up to 26 percent. Because elevated cortisol increases inflammatory processes in the body, Ashwagandha is also prized as an anti inflammatory herb. Additionally, the participants had a lowered fasting blood sugar level and improved lipid profile patterns. It has also been shown to reconstruct neuronal networks in the brain! (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov )
Ashwagandha has a great effect on stress levels and has been shown to reduce anxiety. Try taking this supplement before you workout or at the beginning of your
day. It will provide you with a calm energy and feeling of vigor and stamina. It is also great for sexual health so try taking it with your partner for some fun.
Speaking of sexual health, Maca is known as the most potent adaptogenic herb for sexual health and energy. Maca is a root typically grown at higher elevations. It is native to the Andes of Peru and often has a light tan to brown color. It is sold in powder and capsule form. The most effective way to take it seems to be in what’s called the gelatinized form.
One study showed that Maca is effective at balancing hormone levels. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614604/) It could be a great addition to starting up an exercise program that can be taxing on the hormonal system without the support of this powerful adaptogenic herb.
Maca is a very effective herb for both women and men, so try buying some and enjoying it with your partner. It is also sold blended into chocolates, teas, and other treats.
Ginseng is a perennial herb that has been used in Chinese and Siberian medicine for thousands of years. It is known to provide energy, cognitive function, mental clarity, anti-inflammatory effects, and even help with the flu. It is a very safe herb to take and is sold in pretty much any health food store.
In one study Ginseng was given to cancer patients who were suffering from extreme fatigue. They saw a 20% improvement in energy with no side effects. (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/246262.php)
Another study showed that Ginseng helps users with mental clarity and enhances cognitive function. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21154383)
This is good for students and those with demanding jobs. Instead of reaching for a cup of coffee or a 5 hour energy try a few capsules of ginseng next time you need a pick me up.
In another study ginseng was shown to help treat and prevent influenza. With tons of debate nowadays about the effectiveness of the flu shots, trying some adaptogenic herbs such as ginseng might be an effective way to curb next flu season (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/275809.php)
Licorice root has tremendous benefits on leaky gut, adrenal health, excess cortisol, blood sugar, and heartburn. It is an extract from the root of the Licorice plant. Lots of people know the word Licorice from the candy however they may be surprised to learn the following health benefits of the root extract.
In one study Licorice was found to help with stomach ulcers and heartburn. Try using Licorice if you’ve experienced heartburn or stomach issues. It has a dual effect of cooling down ulcers and heartburn while helping fix leaky gut. Leaky gut happens when the lining of your stomach gets little holes in it. Usually from poor quality food such as high sugar, low fiber processed foods. Antibiotics can as disrupt the gut by killing loads of beneficial bacteria. Licorice has been shown to help heal these lesions and get the users back to health.
Licorice also helps the adrenal glands manage cortisol. Try taking it in conjunction with a few of the herbs above for a tremendous change in your overall health.
In conclusion, the herbs above have been proven effective and safe to help with a wide variety of conditions. Adaptogenic herbs are a great place to start and are widely available.
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