Adaptogens are active ingredients in certain plants and mushrooms known to help your body respond to stress, anxiety and fatigue. They target specific stressors in your body, assisting your return to a state of balance. Essentially, adaptogens increase or decrease chemical reactions in your body in accordance with your individual needs.
For example, when a stressful state causes the body to release cortisol, an adaptogen will respond by reducing cortisol levels. In the event you experience chronic fatigue with low cortisol levels, adaptogenic herbs will increase your level of cortisol.
Three qualities plants must have to be an adaptogen include:
- It is non-toxic when taken in normal doses.
- It helps your body cope with stress.
- It allows your body to return to balance (homeostasis).
While some adaptogens in our mixes, like Ashwagandha and Siberian Ginseng have a number of studies on their varied actions, these supplements are not regulated by FDA, and FDA approval does not equate to safety. If you plan to add plants with adaptogenic qualities to your diet, advise your healthcare provider to discuss how they could impact your health.
The following adaptogens are in PranaCakes (Ashwagandha) and BrainCakes (Siberian Ginsing, Rhodiola and Got Kola):
- Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): A revered herb from the Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine, ashwagandha root is a Rasayana - an adaptogen that strengthens the body. Used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, ashwagandha has been seen to help boost muscle strength, reduce inflammation and joint pain, increase endurance and stamina, boost immunity, normalize blood sugar levels, improve heart health, and enhance fertility and sexual function in both men and women. It also can relieve adrenal fatigue, enhance thyroid function, reduce brain cell degeneration, and combat anxiety and stress.
- Siberian Ginsing, or Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus): relieves stress and fatigue. This adaptogen helps boost immune function as an immune modulator.
- Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea): Also known as “arctic root” and “golden root”, has been used over hundreds of years in Russia, Asia and parts of Europe for its many adaptogenic health benefits. Rhodiola is believed to help protect the cardiovascular system while also possessing anti-anxiety, energy-promoting, and memory-enhancing properties. As an adaptogen, rhodiola may improve concentration, alleviate fatigue, and enhance physical endurance. Research has shown that rhodiola may also help some symptoms of depression by positively influencing neurotransmitters that affect mood and emotion.
- Gotu Kola: Dubbed the herb of longevity, Gotu Kola is believed to help relieve stress, enhance mood, and induce sleep. This Brahmi herb is known to facilitate improved cognition by oxygenating the brain and stimulating neural pathways by eliminating plaque and free radicals. Studies indicate Gotu Kola can have a positive effect on anxiety, as it lowers the stress hormone cortisol and increases serotonin and dopamine levels. It is also known to enhance spirituality, and is thus referred to the “Herb of Enlightenment,” the “Herb of Longevity,” or the “Herb of Life is Beautiful.”
Before you start taking adaptogen supplements, check the label on how much and how frequently you should take them and talk with your healthcare provider to see if they have recommendations on which adaptogen is right for you. Living Prana daily serving sizes provide the daily value of each adaptogen in our pancake & waffle mixes.
Studies show that adaptogens work best for a short duration (less than six months) because your body can eventually build a resistance to adaptogens and their intended effects, with the potential to be ineffective over time.
Adaptogens are generally well tolerated. Side effects are rare but possible and vary based on the plant. Side effects of adaptogens can include allergic reactions, abdominal pain, constipation, nausea or diarrhea.
Adaptogens could react with medicines and impact how certain medicines work if you have medical conditions like hypertension, diabetes, insomnia, depression and hypothyroidism. If you have any of the above conditions, or take prescription medications, please advise your physician to make sure they won’t interact with any conditions you have or medications that you are taking so your body can reach optimal balance.