Life gets crazy sometimes; work and class deadlines start creeping up, you’ve just had a fight with your partner, you have what seems like a million extracurriculars for the kiddos, and to top it all off, your check engine light has just come on again. Stress keeps building until it overwhelms. Good news for you, adaptogens are here to ensure your personal “check engine light” stays off, helping manage stress in a healthy, clean, natural way. While it may sound too good to be true, they’ve been a staple in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. As our friends at Droplet like to say, adaptogens are “the new (but old) way to deal with stress.” We’re here to give you the lowdown to help you decide if they’re legit, like too legit to quit. So let’s take it from the top, adapt-a-what?
What Are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens are a select group of non-toxic and non-specific super-herbs, and super- mushrooms that support the body's natural ability to deal with stress. They are called adaptogens because of their unique ability to “adapt” their function according to the physical, chemical or biological needs of your body.
From a [traditional] Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine perspective, adaptogens are literally meant to help ground you so you can get your roots back, in an effort to restore balance in your life.
For example, if you are feeling fatigued, adaptogens will give you energy; if you are feeling restless and fidgety, adaptogens will work to calm you.
How Do They Work?
Adaptogens interact with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA), which is the body’s stress response system, helping calm the following areas: the hypothalamus (a small region in your brain), your pituitary gland (found at the base of your brain), and your adrenal glands (which are located at the top of your kidneys and produce the hormone cortisol).
Cortisol is the hormone released by your adrenal glands during tense or stressful times, increasing your heart rate, blood pressure, and glucose levels, often known as the “fight or flight response”. While the hormone is important for those “fight or flight moments,” too-high levels of cortisol over time can lead to a whole slew of health issues like type 2 diabetes and Cushing’s syndrome, according to the Endocrine Society’s Hormone Health Network.
Because of their ability to interact with the HPA axis, adaptogens have shown promise in normalizing stress hormones, such as cortisol, when taken consistently and over a longer period of time, Adaptogens also have reaching benefits, such as boosting your immune system, helping mental clarity, and aiding you in combating mental fatigue.
What Are Some Common Adaptogens That Health Experts Recommend?
1.) Ashwagandha- Stress & Anxiety Management
Ashwagandha, the darling of the adaptogenic world, is more commonly known as Indian Ginseng. Studies have shown it helps the body manage stress and anxiety.
In addition to its stress mitigating properties, further studies have shown Ashwagadha may help reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol & triglycerides, improve cognitive function, increase muscle mass and strength, reduce blood sugar levels, and boost testosterone levels and increase fertility in men. It also may help treat certain types of arthritis and have anticancer properties.
Ashwagandha is the adaptogen that was really the catalyst for a|dash and why we have heroed it in our initial Balance line.
2.) Cordyceps- Improves Exercise Performance
Cordyceps is a super mushroom grown primarily in the grassy land of the Himalayas.
Cordyceps are best known for their ability to boost exercise or athletic performance by improving the way your body uses oxygen, especially during exercise, due to the way they increase the body’s production of the molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is essential for delivering energy to the muscles.
Studies have also shown potential benefits for heart health, inflammation, type 2 diabetes management, and may have anti-tumor properties for some types of cancer.
3.) Rhodiola- Fights Fatigue
Rhodiola is an herb that grows in the cold, mountainous regions of Europe and Asia. People in Russia and Scandinavian countries have used rhodiola to treat fatigue, anxiety, and depression for centuries.
Studies show that rhodiola can help fight fatigue by targeting some of the main causes for fatigue such as lack of sleep, stress, and anxiety.
Rhodiola may also reduce symptoms of mild to moderate depression, improve brain function, control diabetes by helping lower blood sugar, and improve exercise performance by decreasing perceived exertion.
4.) Schisandra -Boosting Your Immune System
Schisandra is a herb plant whose deep red berries have long been used in traditional Chinese medicine. Schisandra is a deciduous climbing vine native to China and Russia that thrives in almost all types of soils.
The berry itself is often called "five-flavor berry" because it possesses all five of the basic flavors of Chinese herbal medicine: salty, sweet, sour, spicy, and bitter. Having these flavors means that it can benefit all five yin organs: the liver, lungs, heart, kidneys, and spleen.
It is highly regarded for its anti-aging properties and is used to promote physical, emotional, and even sexual stamina. The berries or seeds may be used to treat coughs, asthma, high blood pressure, liver injury, stomach issues, and helping overall to boost your immune system.
It has been used by natives of Asia and North America for thousands of years to supplement their health.
How Do You Take Adaptogens?
After hearing about all the amazing perks of adaptogens, we are hoping you are trying to figure out how you can incorporate them into your wellness routine. Most adaptogens are found through the supplement category here in the US, which means they are most commonly in a pill and powder format. They can be purchased from a variety of health stores or even on Amazon. However, adaptogenic pills and powders can be messy and hard to keep up with. Supplements are also not regulated in the US.
The less common method, but more effective method, for using adaptogens is in the extract form.
Luckily for you, a|dash makes consuming adaptogens not only simple and effective but delicious by infusing them into our lower caffeine, organic cold brew coffee. Our Balance line is infused with 165 mg of Ashwagandha per 8 oz, allowing you to enjoy your daily dash without the pills, powders, mess or stress. You will also know that the Ashwagandha you are consuming is of the highest quality standards since we are regulated by the FDA as a beverage.
To reap the full benefits of an adaptogen, you need to go through a pre-loading period and take it every day for a few weeks, and then continue enjoying your daily can of a|dash to ensure you continue to benefit from a simplified, elevated coffee experience.