All Stressed Out and Nowhere to Go? Time to Adapt(ogen).
I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes - the
Love Stress that’s all around me, and so the feeling grows.
Even before the invisible spines of coronavirus turned our world into something once reserved for science fiction movies, mounting sources of stress in modern life have been taking their toll and impacting our emotional and physical health and wellbeing.
It’s well understood that management of stress is not about eliminating it; it’s generally impossible to have that level of control over your circumstances. The solution lies in how you deal with it. Simple changes can go a long way with some of the most effective ones based on traditional practices that are now being validated by modern science. For instance, incorporating adaptogens into your diet is a generally safe and accessible way to help your body build resilience to the impact of stress.
What Are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens are a class of botanical herbs with biologically active compounds that help the body adapt to and recuperate from stress from any number of sources. Adaptogens don’t prevent you from experiencing stress, they help to improve the way your body responds to stress, increasing your resilience over time.
The first-ever mention of the word “adaptogen” in modern science records was in 1940, after renowned scientist and physician, Dr. Nicholai Lazarev, observed that particular plants naturally boost the body’s resilience to stress.
Together with his team studying Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, Dr. Lazarev researched the impact of adaptogens on humans. The team published numerous clinical trials demonstrating how adaptogens aid in stress management.
Today, one of the most highly researched adaptogens is turmeric with its active component curcumin. A Google search for health benefits of turmeric will turn up over 32 million citations.
How Do Adaptogens Work?
Let’s start with the well-known “fight or flight” reaction. When stressed, your brain naturally goes into the alarm state and signals the release of hormones that focus your body on responding to danger. One of these hormones, released by adrenal glands, is cortisol. Cortisol helps upregulate your ability to respond to danger. With no clear and present danger, cortisol levels return to normal. HOWEVER, in the face of modern everyday stress such as a pile of bills or a looming deadline, your brain tends to respond in the same way it would to a serious physical threat. And that’s not good.
If you’re chronically stressed, cortisol levels build-up, resulting in a chemical imbalance. This causes a series of side effects such as premature aging, weight gain, psychiatric disorders, insomnia, concentration problems, and even a low sex drive.
Here’s where adaptogens come into the picture. They dampen the adrenal glands’ response to stress, optimizing cortisol levels and consequently restoring balance. Over time, regular consumption of adaptogens may help increase the body’s resilience to the everyday stresses that are more prevalent than ever, especially the profoundly stressful impact of uncertainty.
Sources of Adaptogens
Beyond turmeric, there are a broad range of adaptogens that support cellular health and resilience to stress. Some adaptogens can be easily incorporated into a lifestyle diet, but to ensure you are getting an effective dose, look for nutritional supplement labeling.
Ginseng is one of the most studied adaptogens. The plant has been proven effective in restoring homeostasis, consequently reducing adrenal fatigue, and balancing sugar levels.
It also helps improve mental clarity and physical strength. Different types of Ginseng, from Asian, American to Siberian, have different effects, so be sure to match sources to desired benefits.
Like Ginseng, ashwagandha is an ancient adaptogen and is a staple in Ayurvedic practices. It interacts directly with the human endocrine system and is incredibly effective in alleviating stress and anxiety. Ashwagandha also helps improve memory and mental clarity and is believed to help prevent neurodegenerative illnesses.
3. Astragulus Root
Astragalus root is linked to Traditional Chinese Medicine practices and is said to boost the immune system. It also helps alleviate stress that can lead to premature aging.
If you are looking to boost your energy levels and cope with stress, put maca on your list. It was used by the Inca warriors to increase stamina and endurance, and also helps prevent the signs of premature aging by supporting collagen production and strengthening the skin’s natural defense against UV rays.
5. Rhodiola Rosea
If you are feeling depressed, anxious, or finding it difficult to concentrate, Rhodiola rosea may be right for you. It also helps boost the immune system and ease fatigue.
Schisandra has been used in Ancient Chinese medicine for years. It is an anti-inflammatory berry said to have calming effects, and protects the skin from UV rays and free radical elements. It can also improve endurance and concentration.
Native to Asia and Africa, Moringa is a superfood that has long been used for its medicinal properties. It has adaptogenic properties and helps increase stress resistance to restore the body’s balance. It also helps improve blood circulation, enhance energy and endurance, aids with digestion, and ultimately, nourishes the immune system.
Add Gratitude and Stir
Incorporating adaptogens into your life can be a meaningful step towards physiological stress management. Making a ritual out of your adaptogenic practices can add an even greater dimension for training your brain to respond in a more measured way to stress triggers. Try carving out designated time every day to enjoy a cup of Golden Moment, a delicious turmeric elixir, along with a simple gratitude practice. You’ll be surprised how far a little intentional positivity can go when it comes to stress resilience for better health, more luminous skin, and a happier you.