What the hell are Adaptogens?! A definitive guide
We here at Miss Patisserie are all for a detox. Any practice that claims to remove harmful toxins and decrease inflammation (leading to a longer, healthier life and hopefully more glowing skin in the process too) and we're sold!
We first heard about Adaptogens about a year ago, and now it seems that they're everywhere! With so many options how's a gal supposed to know where to start? We decided to break it down to a definitive list of the most popular ones and what they're good for. Are you sitting down with a turmeric latte? Good. Let's begin.
First, an overview: adaptogens are basically tiny multitasking superheroes that 'adapt' (hence the name, geddit?) to what your body needs from day to day and provide their powerhouse stress support in accordance. Therefore, they are best taken regularly and consistently for several weeks before assessing whether or not they work for you. They can vary in type from root to mushroom and aid with everything from fatigue to hormonal balance. So without further ado, here's the most popular top 10:
1. ASTRAGALUS ROOT
Used in Chinese medicine, astragalus boosts immunity and buffers the effects of stress.
One of our personal faves and the most highly prized Indian root, Ashwagandha is often referred to as Indian Ginseng. Often used in Ayurvedic medicine, ashwaganda regulates the immune system and eases anxiety.
3. MACA ROOT
The only one we have tried so far that we've really stuck to and incorporated into our daily lives, Maca has been dubbed “Peruvian ginseng,” though it bears no relation to ginseng. But like ginseng, the root increases strength, energy, stamina, libido and regulates hormone balance. Plus it has a delicious roasted, nutty caramel flavour!
4. CORDYCEPS MUSHROOMS
A nutrition-rich mushroom that has all the benefits of antioxidant foods. It has stress adaptogenic functions, anti-tumor and immune-enhancing properties.
Ah the humble licorice, who would have thunk it?! Sadly, no, this does not include your Licorice Allsorts obsession. Licorice root can increase energy and endurance, boost the immune system, and protect the thymus from being damaged by cortisol. However, its use requires professional supervision because of how it may affect blood pressure.
6. REISHI MUSHROOM
Also known as the “mushroom of immortality,” reishi is a Chinese herbal mushroom that comes in six different types. The most potent variety, red reishi, is used for its immune-boosting properties. Reishi helps increase the production and activity of white blood cells, which makes it great for boosting the immune system and helps promote longevity- count us in! It has also been used to help treat viral infections, anxiety, high blood pressure, hepatitis, insomnia and asthma.
7. ASIAN GINSENG
Benefit-rich ginseng is the most well-known adaptogen, and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) is considered the most potent. Research has validated Asian ginseng’s use for improving mental performance and your ability to withstand stress. This red ginseng also has antioxidant effects, antidepressant effects, and can help naturally lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
8. HOLY BASIL/ TULSI
Holy Basil enhances the body's natural response to physical and emotional stress. Also called Tulsi, Holy Basil is known in India as the “elixir of anti-aging.” Preliminary studies suggest that holy basil benefits include helping you to fight fatigue and stress; boost your immune system; and regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and hormone levels. We're most interested in those so-called anti-aging effects and will be trying this out next!
Also called Siberian Ginseng, it is employed in Traditional Chinese Medicine to invigorate sexual function, boost vital energy and normalize general body functions, Eleuthero enhances immunity and vitality overall.
A well studied adaptogen, Rhodiola defends the body overall and protects general health and well-being. Its anti-stress and fatigue-fighting properties make it one of the most popular adaptogens. Rhodiola rosea contains a phytochemical known as salidroside which helps relieve anxiety and combat aging. Rhodiola suppresses the production of cortisol and increases levels of stress-resistant proteins.
Studies have found that it restores normal patterns of eating and sleeping after stress; lowers mental and physical fatigue; and protects against oxidative stress, heat stress, radiation and exposure to toxic chemicals. Rhodiola also protects the heart and liver, increases use of oxygen, improves memory, and may even extend longevity. Also, new research proves it's effective as a weight loss agent. Is there anything it can't do?!
Whilst these are most heavily researched adaptogens, there are about another 20 or so ingredients that have adaptogenic qualities, you can find some more here.