Us humans love our wellness trends. In fact, wellness trends have probably been around since the cavemen days. Saber-tooth tiger meat: Fad or Fit? But the latest trend that’s having everyone perk up from behind their juicers is: adaptogens. Adaptogens are non-toxic plants (commonly herbs and roots) which supposedly help the body resist physical, chemical, and biological stressors. Their use dates back for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedic healing practices.
How do they work?
There are three stages our bodies go through when facing a stressor: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. The idea behind adaptogens is that they help us stay in the resistance phase longer. But do they actually work? The truth is, there’s not much research on how adaptogens affect human health. There have been more studies conducted on animals than humans. So unfortunately, it’s too soon to have undeniable proof that adaptogens can have a significant effect on the body. But anecdotally, there are many people who have stories about how adaptogens have changed their life for the better.
Are there any risks to taking adaptogens?
According to researchers, there isn’t much evidence to suggest that adaptogens can cause health problems (unless you’re allergic to them). However, just as there isn’t much research to show they actually help you, there also isn’t much research to show they don’t harm you. So keep that in mind.
How do you take them?
You can find the herbs as capsules, or powders which you can add to teas, smoothies, or soups. Pay attention to the dosing instructions on the package, but feel free to get creative with how you take them.
Which adaptogen is right for me?
- American ginseng
- Eluethero root
- Rhodiola rosea
- Schisandra berry
- Licorice root
- Holy basil
Again, adaptogens aren’t a magic pill. In fact, it’s possible that they’re nothing more than a placebo. So don’t go overboard, but if you do feel that they’re benefitting you, it’s worth adding them to your diet. James Roche, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with SCL Health St. Mary’s Medical Center reminds us, “In addition to adaptogens, there are general, healthy lifestyle practices that counteract the cumulative effects of lifestyle stress, keep us relaxed, yet focused, and also help us stay energized. These practices include having regular and balanced meals throughout the day, eating plenty of vegetables and fruits, incorporating regular exercise, avoiding alcohol and getting adequate sleep.”
And as always, consult your doctor before making adaptogens part of your daily routine.