While nearly everyone experiences stressful situations or events, the effects of persistent or chronic stress on bodily function is associated with declining health, including increased risk of stroke, depression, obesity, and heart disease. Prolonged stress, triggered by various emotional, physical, psychological or environmental factors, may ultimately result in increased levels of stress hormones, suppressed immune function, and dysbiosis. The ability of certain botanicals to produce general holistic effects on the health has been known and utilized for thousands of years in Eastern medicine. Herbs known as adaptogens have been shown to aid the body’s ability to adapt to stress, improve mental clarity, and support increased stamina, energy, and endurance.
The body’s natural ability to balance both internal and external stress is known as homeostasis. When the body is not in a balanced state, it is in a state of dysfunction that can lead to fatigue, depression, insomnia, anxiety, weight imbalance and lack of libido. Also known as “herbal pharmaceuticals,” adaptogenic herbs work at the molecular level to counteract the effects of stress. Taken supplementally these herbs help to stabilize and regulate the hypothalamic- pituitary- adrenal (HPA) axis, and also balance key mediators of the stress response. As part of the neuroendocrine system, the HPA axis controls the stress response and plays a role in regulating the gastrointestinal, neurological and immune systems. Supporting an optimal and balanced function of the HPA axis helps to maintain overall health and wellness.
Adaptogens are multitasking herbs with restorative properties that help to naturally rebuild health and vitality. They enhance the body’s resistance to stressors, manage endocrine and neuroendocrine balance, and mediate the inflammatory response. To qualify as an adaptogen, an herb must have wide ranging health benefits, be safe, non-toxic, and have no significant side effects. It must also induce a normalizing effect, improve the function of numerous body systems, and produce a total body response that increases resistance against the negative effects of emotional and physical stress.
Adaptogens have self-limiting properties that are active when the body needs them and inactive when it doesn’t. In this way, the broad-spectrum actions help to optimize the health of the entire body. Additionally, specific nutrients including vitamin C, certain B vitamins, lipoic acid, phosphatidylserine, plant sterols and the amino acid tyrosine may help to minimize the negative systemic effects of stress and aid the adaptive response.
Ashwagandha: Used in Eastern medicine for several centuries, ashwagandha is best known for its ability to reduce the effects of stress and anxiety. Ashwagandha appears to enhance endocrine function, and may help reduce cortisol levels and balance the adrenals in chronically stressed individuals. In addition to improving stress resistance, ashwagandha supports the immune response, healthy thyroid and nervous system function, and a promotes sleep cycle regulation.
Eleuthero: Beneficial for men and women and especially the elderly, eleuthero is a gentle, supportive adaptogen that is suitable for long-term daily use. It helps to normalize overall body function, aids restful sleep, and supports mental acuity and optimal immune response.
Holy Basil: Known in India as the elixir of anti-aging and utilized in Ayurvedic medicine for more than three centuries, this powerful adaptogen helps the body to function optimally during times of stress by enhancing the body’s natural response to both physical and mental stressors.
Panax Ginseng: The most well-known adaptogen, panax ginseng helps rejuvenate and invigorate the body, and provides a sense of overall wellbeing. Research has shown that this Asian herb strengthens the ability to withstand mental, physical and environmental stress.
Rhodiola Rosea: This well researched adaptogen helps to relieve anxiety, alleviate mental and physical fatigue, suppress cortisol production, and increase levels of stress-resistant proteins.
Astragalus: This adaptogen helps to boost immunity and lessen the effects of physical, emotional and mental stress. As well, it helps to increase natural anti-stress compounds used by the body to repair and prevent stress-related damage.
Maca: Widely believed to be an adaptogen, maca is a medicinal plant that grows high in the Andes mountains of Peru. Maca is valued for supporting hormonal health and increasing libido in both men and women. It also believed to boost energy and increase exercise performance.
Schisandra: This herb appears to be most helpful for individuals with overall exhaustion and low physical and mental performance. Utilized as a general wellness tonic, schisandra appears to promote good health and balanced function.
Professional Supplement Center offers these and other fine products to support a healthy adrenal response and overall wellness:
HPA Adapt™ by Integrative Therapeutics®: Formulated with five powerful adaptogenic herbs, this non-stimulant formula improves the body’s response to mental and physical stressors. Key ingredients help to improve mood, calm anxiety, support cognitive function and reduce mental stress and fatigue. Gluten, wheat, soy, dairy, yeast and artificial ingredient free.
Schisandra Extract 500 mg by Vital Nutrients: This adaptogenic herb helps to improve energy, endurance, and the stress response, and supports liver, immune and nervous system health. Independently tested for potency, purity and toxic substances.
Adaptogen Support Complex by Professional Complementary Health Formulas: Traditionally known to support balance under stress, these encapsulated single herbs provide phyto-synergistic support to enhance the body’s ability to resist the effects of stress. Gluten and soy free vegetarian formulation.
Maca-3 by Pure Encapsulations®: Long considered the ginseng of the Andes, this formula provides three synergistic maca extracts to promote male and female libido and healthy reproductive system function. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.
Rhodiola Rosea Extract Full Spectrum™ by Planetary Herbals: This highly valued strengthening tonic helps to increase mental and physical stamina. Standardized root extracts provide the full spectrum of rhodiola constituents.
Nutritional and botanical interventions to assist with the adaptation to stress. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10468649
Adaptogenic Herbs: List, Effectiveness, and Health Benefits. http://www.healthline.com/health/adaptogenic-herbs#overview1
Are adaptogenic herbs beneficial to your health? http://www.healthline.com/health/adaptogenic-herbs#herbs-list3
Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress—Protective Activity. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3991026/
12 Proven Health Benefits of Ashwagandha. http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-proven-ashwagandha-benefits#section1