A few years ago I was in health food store in Colorado searching for a daily multi-vitamin. Looking at the options a store clerk came over and asked me if he could assist. I explained what I was looking for and he guided me to a specific supplement. He stated “ I love this I started taking it a few weeks ago and I have so much more energy!!” He then told me how he was in college & before taking the vitamin he was having a hard time with energy levels. It looked pretty good had a full range of B-vitamins, Magnesium that was absorbable. Looking at the herbal content I couldn’t help to notice all the herbs were adaptogens. Siberian Ginseng,Reishi, Rhodiola, Astragalus and a few more.
Fast forward last year I was at a wellness fair and this woman was selling an “ All natural supplement” that was Siberian Ginseng, Panax Ginseng and Astragalus. She told me “ This supplement saved my husband’s job! He had started a new corporate job with long hours and was struggling.”She told me (no joke) “ Since he started taking this he can work 60 or 70 hours and not feel exhausted!”
I asked her if she knew what adaptogens were and she didn’t. I explained them to her and recommended a few books. She seemed interested and said she was going to research more as it made sense to research the herbs she is promoting.
Recently I’ve seen numerous people ranting and raving about Shakeology. I wanted to know exactly what it was so I googled it. It is a protein and nutritional drink with a whole slew of adaptogens! Here is the list: Ashwagandha, Astragalus,Cordyceps ( Did you know most Cordyceps are parasitic in Nature? Check it out!),Ginkgo, Maca, Maitake, Reishi,Schizandra and Tulsi.
So you may be asking yourself “ Well what the heck are adaptogens?”
Well I shall tell you: Adaptogens are a classification of herbs that helps the body adapt to stress and has an overall centering effect on the body's system when taken. Even taken long term there isn’t much worry of toxicity. So basically this herb that helps you better adapt to stress, gives you more energy and balances they systems- pretty awesome huh?!
Herbalist David Hoffman discusses it a bit more eloquently stating:
“….an adaptogen enables [the body] to avoid reaching a point of collapse or over-stress because it can adapt ‘around’ the problem.… The core of their action appears to be in helping the body deal with stress… Adaptogens seem to increase the threshold of resistance to damage via the support of adrenal gland and possibly pituitary gland function. By stretching the meaning of the word it can come to mean what in the past was called a tonic. This is especially when an herb can have a normalizing effect; that is, contradictory actions depending on the body’s needs. This restorative quality is a common and unique feature of herbal medicines.…”
So adaptogens seem pretty awesome right? The fact is they are are pretty awesome when you take them as needed and with mindfulness.
The concern with adaptogens in my opinion is that many people use adaptogens as a crutch. Like the man I mentioned above they are burning the candle at both ends and are grasping at whatever it takes to continue their unhealthy lifestyle. Adaptogens can be so helpful if you are depleted and trying to restore your health but taking them to enhance an unhealthy lifestyle can only make you more depleted.
So when should you take adaptogens?
The truth is we live in a very Yang oriented world that is go-go-go. Often our diet is depleted and we aren’t getting enough nutrients, sleep and self-care. There are times when we are at the end of our rope and we need a little support. In these times adaptogens are wonderful to help build back up the body. They will support you while you make the dietary changes you need, alter your work schedule, get the sleep and self-care you need. They are best used as a tool to help you get back on track.
If taken like I mentioned above where you don’t take care of yourself your body will get more and more depleted with possible conquences to health and well being.
So if you want to know more about adaptogens doing a consultation with your local herbalist ( such as myself) is a great place to start! There are a number of different adaptogens so finding the right one can make a huge difference on how well your body responds.
If you decide to take adaptogens on your own a good question to ask yourself is“ Why am I taking this herb? What am I looking to get out of it? How long do I plan to take them?” On average in my opinion adaptogens are best when taken for shot periods of times such as 3-6 months.
Since Adaptogens support the body often when you stop taking them you may crash. If you have been taking good care of your body it might not be as bad- but I like to equate it to if you are use to having 3 cups of coffee a day and stop cold turkey your body will feel it. The same could happen with adaptogens. So just an word of caution.
Adaptogens are an amazing class of herbs and when taken responsibly they can really assist the body. I hope this little blurb had been informative. If you would like more info on adaptogens here is a little info or for more I would recommend David Hoffman's book or doing some research on your own!
Remember eat healthy, get rest, take care of and love yourself~
Happiness and Health,
Here is a little video for motivation to stay healthy!