The Betterment Project
A drawing of several circles stacked on top of each other growing rounder.

What Are Adaptogens, and Why Are They Important?

As of recently, adaptogens have been gaining traction in the health and wellness world. 


Adaptogens can now be found in a variety of products, ranging from adaptogenic and nootropic supplements to being additives in powders and beverages. 


If you have heard of adaptogens before, you have likely heard, to some extent, that they can have a positive impact on the way that your body reacts to stress… but how? What exactly are adaptogens, and why have they become so popular? 


Having a better understanding of adaptogens can keep you more informed about the ingredients in your supplements, tonics, or other vitamins, which allows you to make more educated health decisions. Let’s get into it.


What Are Adaptogens?

 

Adaptogens are basically herbal pharmaceuticals that can help counteract the impacts that stress has on your body. This is because adaptogens have stimulant effects that can work against the negative effects of stress.


The history of adaptogens is long and interesting, but we’ll try to condense it for the non-history-buffs. 


Adaptogens were developed and studied first during World War II, but on a more global scale, adaptogens have been used for hundreds of years in traditional Ayurvedic healing practices. 


While some adaptogenic herbs are mild enough in flavor to be enjoyed as part of a meal, others are less pleasant in taste and are thus incorporated into vitamins, supplements, or capsule form in order for the benefits to be taken advantage of in an easier, more convenient way. 


How Do Adaptogens Work?

 

Adaptogens may help the body overcome the effects of stress, including physical, chemical, or biological stressors.


When you are stressed, your body releases stress hormones that can take a toll on your body and mind. These stress hormones can cause things like a rapid heart rate, sweating, and high blood pressure, all of which can wear down your immune system (and health overall) if experienced for a prolonged period of time. These symptoms together are referred to as the fight-or-flight response, because it occurs when your system is deciding whether you should fight the stressors or flee from them. 


Adaptogens do not prevent you from experiencing stress, nor do they make it less likely that you will face future stressful situations. They do, however, help your body respond to stress in ways that are more productive by helping to ensure that your body’s built-in stress management system is working optimally. 


Adaptogens interact with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the sympathoadrenal system, both of which are major parts of the way that your body experiences and responds to stress. 


Over time, adaptogens essentially help support your body to respond to stress in ways that do not take as drastic a toll on your health.


What Are the Health Benefits of Adaptogens?

 

Because of their ability to help promote healthier responses to stress, adaptogens can have a wide variety of potential health benefits.


These include:

 

  • Improved attention
  • Improved endurance related to stress-inducing situations
  • Improved balance of stress hormones including cortisol
  • Stimulated mental performance in relation to the impacts of stress on cognitive function
  • Supported immune system
  • Normalized body functions
  • Improved responses to cortisol-related symptoms

Overall, adaptogens can offer benefits pertaining to several different parts of your body and systems within it. Adaptogens can have neuroprotective effects, energizing properties, mood-supporting effects, and can help stimulate your nervous system. All of these properties combine make for a powerful substance that can very much contribute to your overall health. 


What Adaptogens Are the Best?

 

When it comes down to which kinds of adaptogens are the best, the answer depends on what you are looking for. Certain adaptogens work best for certain purposes, so the one that is best for you will vary depending on your specific needs, but these are a few ideas:

 

  • Adaptogens for long-term stress: If you are looking for a solution to your long-term stress, ashwagandha or ginseng may be great options for you. These can be powerful contributors to healthier stress-reactions, and can help balance out the hormones that come as a result of chronic stress. 
  • Adaptogens for acute stress and feelings of anxiousness: Adaptogens such as ginseng and rhodiola can help support your body when it comes to the fight-or-flight response, and they can also promote stamina and energy. Thus, these may be good options for coping with acute stress. 
  • Adaptogens for immune health: Some adaptogens are also great choices for supporting your overall immune system. These include reishi and ginseng. 

It is important to keep in mind that more research still needs to be done to explore the specific positive effects of certain herbs, but you can rest assured that adaptogens in a more general sense can holistically support your journey to a healthier you. 


If you hesitate to choose a specific herb on the premise of its adaptogenic properties, a supplement that does the work for you is a great choice. 


ASYSTEM’s Superhuman Supplements for Natural Energy and Immunity is a powerhouse regimen that already contains the best adaptogens in their most ideal forms, such as KSM66® Ashwagandha. Choosing this kind of supplement makes life easier because it takes out the guesswork when it comes to deciding which herb or other natural source will best benefit you.


Takeaway

 

Adaptogens have gained tons of popularity in recent years, leaving many people wondering what, exactly, they are, and what is so special about them. 


In short, adaptogens are herbal pharmaceuticals that can help support your body’s stress response. Of course, adaptogens cannot prevent that stress from occurring in the first place, but they can help train your body to react to stressors in a healthier way overtime. 


This, in turn, can have a positive impact on your overall health and wellbeing seeing as your stress responses can take a toll on your body, especially if you experience chronic or maladaptive stress. 


Making sure your body is properly supported during periods of stress can keep your immune system strong, too, because it can help balance out stress hormones. 


It’s also worth reiterating that some adaptogens are better than others when it comes to certain usages. For example, ashwagandha may be better for long-term overall stress management while rhodiola is a good choice for acute mood-related stress. 


More research is needed to fully determine the benefits of specific herbs, but adaptogens are still a great, natural way to give your body the boost it deserves. 






Sources:

https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-are-adaptogens-4685073

https://www.healthline.com/health/adaptogenic-herbs

https://time.com/5025278/adaptogens-herbs-stress-anxiety/