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Adaptogens 101: nature's stress-fighters

Today's post is brought to you by sports and fitness writer Scott Reid. When he's not in the gym or writing for Focus Performance, you can see him hanging out in his favourite coffee shop devouring the latest Stephen King novel. 

One of the most common complaints nutritionists, personal trainers, and other health professionals hear from their clients is that they’re stressed and tired. And to be honest, it’s hard not to feel that way in such a fast-paced world where we fall asleep with our iPads and practically never turn off our phones. Thankfully, however, there are natural substances that can help alleviate these life-sucking, stress-induced symptoms.

Extracted from plants, adaptogens are herbs and plant extracts that can lower the body’s reaction to stress and anxiety symptoms, bringing calm, natural relief. Additionally, they’re able to decrease the effects of hormones and other chemicals released in the body when you’re feeling overwhelmed like cortisol and adrenaline.

A number of adaptogens have been identified, including:

● Ashwagandha

● Rhodiola

● Tulsi

● Astragalus

● Eleuthero

● Jiaogulan

● Maca

● Cordyceps

● Schisandra

● Sea buckthorn

● Reishi mushrooms

● Rhaponticum

● Panax ginseng

To obtain the benefits of these powerful substances, they need to be consumed on a daily basis as they need to accumulate in the body to see results. You’ll likely notice a difference at the six-or to eight-week mark. Known benefits include immune system support, weight management, improved mental focus and physical endurance, and a more balanced mood.

Thankfully, there are a variety of ways we can consume adaptogenic herbs to ensure that we’re getting them on a daily basis. They can be taken in supplement form, brewed to make teas, or chopped straight up and added to a meal.

Here’s a list of some commonly found herbs that are naturally adaptogenic and commonly found in specialty stores or health food markets:

1. Tulsi

Also known as Holy Basil, Tulsi is actually related to mint and is known for its antioxidant and soothing properties that can help support the heart while fighting against stress.

2. Panax Ginseng

This herb is also known as Asian Ginseng and has been shown to help improve physical endurance, create greater mental clarity, and it also contains antioxidants that can help support the immune system and heart.

3. Ashwagandha

Also known as Indian Ginseng, this herb has been proven to help people handle stress, enhance mind focus and boost energy levels.

4. Milk Thistle

This herb is good for supporting the body’s metabolism and liver health, which in turn aids in managing hormones commonly associated with stress symptoms.

5. Ginseng Eleuthero

Also known as Siberian Ginseng, this herb has natural energy boosting properties.

6. Rhodiola Rosea

This herb is good for helping to regulate cortisol and energy levels.

7. Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is known for its healing properties but it is also great for supporting the immune system and adrenal health. Refresher: your adrenal glands are in charge of pumping out stress hormones, so making sure they’re in good health is crucial.

8. Rosemary

As well as tasting great in dishes, rosemary is proven to support the health of your heart, liver and digestive systems while also being a great stress reliever.

9. Astragalus

Astragalus is a Chinese herb that can help protect against the ageing process, encourage detoxification in the body, and provide vital nutrition to the kidneys.

10. Moringa Oleifera

All elements of this plant are used across Asia in many dishes and it is known to boost the immune system, enhance energy and support adrenal health.

11. Schisandra

This herb has antioxidant ingredients which can help retain the body’s natural balance.

Adaptogens are an amazing natural discovery that can help your body fight ongoing fatigue and improve mental clarity and physical endurance. As they help to balance hormone levels, they can also be useful for weight stabilization and mood regulation. Rather than being a quick fix, they provide a good, all-natural, long-term option.


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