What are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens are remarkable botanical treasures that help the body restore balance and adapt to stress. They work by increasing the body’s resistance to multiple stressors, including physical, emotional, chemical, and environmental. They also shield against acute and chronic stress.
With their modulating effects on the body, particularly regarding the endocrine and immune systems, are what make them particularly unique, though each and every adaptogen operates differently for each individual person. By working non-specifically, they alter base operations within the organism, regaining homeostasis through their regenerative properties and helping to harmonize the body, mind, and spirit.
Adaptogens have their own energetic make up. Therefore are specific to each person’s energetic body constitution.
The adaptogens listed below are for specific actions to the body, please work with an herbalist who understands the energetic makeup of the herb used as an adaptogen.
Immune boosting adaptogens: Chaga, Turkey tail and Eleuthero.
Skin support: Turmeric, Schisandra berry, and Goji
Enhanced energy: Ginseng
Brain health and enhanced concentration: Lion’s mane, Gotu Kola.
Vitality: Cacao, Astragalus
React or Respond?
Adaptogens are capable of restoring normal tone and function to the HPA (hypothalamic/pituitary/adrenal) axis and SAS (sympatho-adrenal system) and therefore to the entire body. As the adrenal glands underlie much of the body’s response to external and internal stressors. While improving resistance to stress they help to prevent some of the more common symptoms of stress including poor concentration, sleep disturbance, fatigue, decreased immune response, and decreased resistance to infections.
The goal of the nervous system is to bring homeostasis to all internal responses, which helps keep the body healthy and protected. Within the endocrine system, we find the famed HPA axis, a complex set of interactions between the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands.
The hypothalamus gland is whats known as the “command center” of the brain. This area of the brain communicates with the rest of the body through the autonomic nervous system and through influxes of hormones. Our hypothalamus gland essentially oversees and assesses everything going on in the body, sending communication to the pituitary gland, so it can respond to the situation. The pituitary gland informs the target organs, which then enlist the particular biochemical processes in the relevant tissues or organs of the body.
The enlisted or activated tissues include the visceral organs which are;
The visceral organs also include those less talked about parts of the body, such as the gallbladder, spleen, blood vessels, and skeletal muscles.
The Ramifications of Unmanaged Stress
Unmanaged stress and disruption of the HPA axis’ flow is at the core of many health issues. For example, when the HPA axis is strong, your body is usually able to handle high levels of stress. A strong HPA axis is also helpful for pregnant women, or women in menopause.
Over time, the repeated activation of stress hormones, aka the “sympathetic” response, can take a serious toll on the body. Research suggests that chronic stress contributes to high blood pressure, promotes the formation of artery-clogging deposits, and causes brain changes that may contribute to anxiety, depression, and addiction. New studies also show that stress breaks down the astrocyte lining in the brain. cells also degenerate in several neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, astrocyte cell loss may contribute to the impairment of learning and memory.
Systemic Stress Take-over
Chronic stress and the over-secretion of cortisol and other stress hormones can disrupt almost all of the body’s processes. Overexposure to cortisol can cause numerous health problems, one well-known problem being adrenal fatigue.
“Adrenal fatigue” is a term often used by health practitioner to describe the phenomenon of the adrenal glands running on empty and the resulting mental and physical state of those experiencing it. Our glands release high levels of adrenaline and cortisol during stressful periods. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone, helping to regulate after the wake that adrenaline leaves behind.
Think of cortisol as our own built-in alarm system, alerting us when the body is in danger. It also works with certain parts of the brain to control mood, motivation, and fear. If too much cortisol is secreted, many bodily processes begin to underperform, potentially resulting in poor digestion, stagnant lymph fluid, which eventually leads to illness.
Malnutrition from stress
When chyme is left undigested it cannot be converted into amino acids, or fatty acids to feed us at a cellular level.
Adaptogens regulate our digestion process by helping us adapt and respond to everyday stressors rather than overreact. Thus, generating a systemic homeostatic response.
- Adaptogens are capable of restoring normal tone and function to the HPA (hypothalamic/pituitary/adrenal) axis and SAS (sympatho-adrenal system) and therefore to the entire body.
- Adaptogens are safe to use over a longer duration than most herbs.
- Work with a qualified herbalist, who has a general comprehension in phytotherapy dosing and possible OTC/allopathic medications that could possibly cause a contraindcation with an herb. That way the dosage is catered to your age, body type, or if the cause of concern is chronic or acute.
- Adaptogens regulate our digestion process by helping us adapt and respond to everyday stressors rather than overreact. Thus, generating a systemic homeostatic response.
Medical Herbalism (David Hoffman)
The Essential Guide to Herbal Safey (Mills and Bone)
The Home Physician Dr. Christian Fanger (1918 edition)
Clinical Herbalist Training (Herbal Academy)
Science and Art of Herbalism (Rosemary Gladstar)
Healing Adaptogens (Tero Isokauppila and Danielle Ryan Broida)