Adaptogenic Herbs are classed under phytotherapy which refers to the use of plants as medicine.These herbs and roots have been used for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions and are still used in the Functional Medicine world today. Adaptogens work to rebalance, protect and restore the body. The plants do this by interacting with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the sympathoadrenal system, both of which are involved in the body’s response to stress and therefore help our bodies to better handle stress.
Adaptogens are one of my go-to tools for improving my own health issues, along with my patients and loved ones. How can adaptogen herbs help you?
Our bodies are built to release the hormone cortisol in response to stress, however continual stress means elevated cortisol levels over long periods of time. This level of stress is a potent poison to the body. It cripples the immune system, upsets our hormones, disrupts digestion and produces inflammation throughout the whole body. Continual stress lies at the root of inflammatory disease! Adaptogenic herbs are an amazing natural medicine to relieve stress and reduce long-term cortisol levels. These are a few of my favourite cortisol reducing herbs that i could not live without:
Ashwagandha: This herb has the ability to regulate cortisol and is a powerful calming tool to have on hand. (careful! Ashwagandha is considered a nightshade and should be used with caution for those suffering an autoimmune disorder)
Licorice root: Also helps decrease cortisol in the body creating homeostasis.
Considering my line of work in clinic, anti ageing adaptogens are my go to!
Chaga: This super food mushroom is loaded with antioxidants that help fight free radicals to ensure cell health and youthful skin.
Cordyceps: This is the ultimate anti-aging adaptogen. Not only does this mushroom increase antioxidants, but it decreases the pro-inflammatory monoamine oxidase and lipid peroxidation activity that significantly contributes to the ageing process.
With the many physical and chemical stressors in our day to do life, it is very common for our hormones to be disrupted. Are you feeling cranky, more irritable and depressed for no good reason, whilst experiencing irregular periods and PMS? Well the chances are that your hormones are out of balance. Adaptogenic herbs help to regulate the endocrine system function, which is is needed to help balance hormones.
Maca root: Maca root supports and balances the endocrine system, aiding the pituitary, adrenal and thyroid glands. It is essential in helping balance out female hormones. Research also support maca root as a natural alternative to Hormone Replacement Therapy for early-postmenopausal women.
Ashwagandha: Supports overall endocrine function. It is particularly good for balancing the thyroid and adrenal glands.
Shatavari: This herb has been known to help relieve PMS, increase fertility and to alleviate menopausal symptoms.It is also known as a natural aphrodisiac, and therefore can help with low libido.
HOW TO INCORPORATE THEM INTO YOUR DIET?
You can find many good quality, organic adaptogens online and at health foods stores. Straight herbs can be added to teas (chaga tea is my favourite) or you can buy adaptogens in pre-mixed powder to spice up everything from smoothies to soups to your morning elixirs.