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Adopting Adaptogens

November 09, 2020
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Adopting Adaptogens

If this is the first time you’ve read the word “adaptogen” and aren’t too sure what it entails, don’t worry; you are in good company. For this reason, we are going to dig deep into what adaptogens are and give you some insight into just how beneficial they can be when adopted into your everyday health routine and paired with other botanic alternatives like CBD.

Living in today’s world, you might be a bit more familiar with the term “CBD” (short for cannabidiol) or have at least heard it mentioned in conversation or seen advertisements promoting its recognized holistic and valuable effects. Natural hemp extracts and adaptogens carry countless similar traits. While CBD has yet to be branded as an actual adaptogen, many will argue that, perhaps, it should be. But before we delve too far into that, let’s take a look into the “who, what, why, when, where, and how” of all things adaptogen.

As much as social media bombards our daily lives, it is hard to miss the latest-trending star ingredient that everybody is incorporating into his or her diet in an attempt to improve certain areas of his or her health. Ordering specialty drinks and being asked if you want to “add a shot” of a well-known, health-boosting herb isn’t new. The idea of these “add-ins” is similar to what alternative medicine more commonly refers to as adaptogens. These specific power-packed plants and fungi, however, have been “add-ins” to health regimens for quite some time.

WHO: In many cultures, adaptogens have been around for centuries. Most commonly, practices were found within Ayurvedic medicine (India’s natural system of medicine) and traditional Chinese medicine. It wasn’t until the latter half of the twentieth century that the term “adaptogen” was born. In an attempt to help their soldiers, Olympians, astronauts, and civilians outperform their rivals, members of the former Soviet Union coined this term while they were on a secret mission to discover plants which contained specific health properties that, when ingested, would give these groups of individuals an ability to tolerate and endure different mental and physical stresses at a higher rate. One of the Soviet’s most promising finds came from the Rhodiola succulent which would keep soldiers energized without the negative side-effect of eventual “crashing” much like sugar and caffeine are known to do. This adaptogenic succulent was also noted to foster a more positive mood for the Russian cosmonauts while simultaneously increasing endurance and reducing recovery time for Russian athletes.

WHAT: To put it simply, adaptogens are plants that help regulate our body’s response to physical, mental, and emotional stress. More specifically, adaptogens are a special class of herbs and fungi whose properties and benefits meet three qualifications. In order for a plant to be considered an adaptogen, it must: 1) be non-toxic; 2) be non-specific and reduce stress, and 3) bring balance to the body by helping regulate homeostasis. Some might ask, “What is the difference between adaptogens and herbal medicine?” Herbal medicine can be a great aid for sudden, usually temporary, pains or problems as a way to offer more immediate relief. Ginger, for example, works wonders for pregnant women who suffer bouts of nausea at different stages throughout their pregnancies. Adaptogens, on the other hand, are most effective when incorporated into a daily routine for an extended period of time. The more regularly adaptogens are taken, the stronger the vitality-boosting effects become.

WHY: While our bodies strive to maintain homeostasis, exposure to endless external stressors spark the internal stresses that so easily throw us off balance. If this imbalance is not cared for, the cells and systems which help our bodies function are more susceptible to falling into a deadly state known as apoptosis. The disruptive stressors and stimuli of our current fast-paced lifestyles are making it extremely difficult for our bodies to adapt or recover at a quick enough rate. In a day and age where such a copious number of our health issues are linked to stress, it would be foolish of us to not take advantage of our natural and abundant resources which have been studied for centuries and are known to combat internal stresses, fight against cancers, diseases and ailments, and help our bodies maintain homeostasis.

While there are many ingredients that have been manipulated or created as a “quick fix” to fuel our bodies through desperate times, it is always more sensible to choose natural ingredients that don’t carry negative side-effects or pose further health risks. Stimulating drinks such as soda and energy drinks are an extremely popular aid to help us stay alert and focus throughout an exhausting day, but unlike the sugary, caffeinated beverages that we typically turn to for a “pick-me-up,” adaptogens known for their stimulating effects are a healthier and longer-term alternative for sustaining our energy.

WHEN: Because adaptogens work so well at regulating our hormones and keeping our biological systems balanced, whenever we sense even the slightest imbalance, adaptogens are a great means to help boost our levels back to normal. There is a large variety of adaptogens, each of which has properties that are known to target specific areas that need enhancing or balancing. Some of these more popular properties are great for supporting the following: immune health, low libido, stress relief, relaxation, inflammation, concentration, trouble sleeping, mood, and energy.

WHERE: With the majority of shopping done online these days, there are numerous reputable websites that offer a wide variety of specific adaptogens and adaptogenic blends. For those who prefer shopping in stores, many natural grocers and vitamin and supplement shops are likely the safest bet. Because herbs adapt to each person’s specific needs in a unique way, it is never a bad idea to consult a naturopathic physician before you start experimenting with adaptogens. Naturopathic physicians will not only recommend and direct you to the specific adaptogens that will help you attain your desired level of effect, but they can also suggest reputable companies that sell high-quality products.

HOW: There are several forms in which you can incorporate adaptogens into your day-to-day life. Among the most popular ways to take adaptogens are through tinctures, gel capsules, powders, or blended into food and beverages such as smoothies, teas, and soups. As stated above, everybody reacts differently to adaptogens, so it is wisest to check with a naturopathic physician who can help guide and adjust your individual dosage. If you are taking any prescription medications, it is always important to let your doctor know before adding any herbal supplements to your routine as sometimes supplements have been found to interact adversely with certain medications. Taking adaptogens known for their stimulating effects are best when taken earlier in the day. Rotating types of adaptogens every couple of months also gives the body a chance to receive the different benefits each plant offers.

Well-known Adaptogens and What They Target: Ashwagandha- Also known as Indian ginseng, this popular adaptogen promotes relaxation, aids in more restful sleep, and assists in lowering anxiety levels which is often a key contributor to poor sleep. Schisandra berry- This adaptogen increases mental clarity, focus, memory, and has even been found to have a positive effect on diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and hepatitis, to name a few. Asian ginseng- For centuries, Asian ginseng has been used as an aphrodisiac for both men and women. American ginseng- Similar to Asian ginseng, American ginseng also supports sexual health and is known to be especially beneficial for post-menopausal women due to its increased moistening properties. Kava Kava- With its ability to upsurge dopamine levels and produce euphoria and extreme relaxation, it is no wonder this adaptogen is also highly recommended as an aid in the bedroom. Turmeric- This increasingly popular adaptogen and spice is often used to help treat pain, decrease inflammation, and even hinder cancer cell growth. Turmeric has been particularly helpful at fighting migraines. Interestingly, many of its benefits also mirror those found in the cannabis plant. Oat straw- Full of several benefits, oat straw has been found to help maintain heart and brain health by significantly improving blood flow within these areas. It is also known to help reduce inflammation which, in turn, helps prevent against certain cancers, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes. Rosemary- Along with boosting alertness and focus, this diverse plant is comprised of many antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds theorized to strengthen the immune system and improve circulation. Rhodiola rosea- This adaptogen is great for fighting fatigue and enhancing physical performance. Rhodiola has also been used to treat anxiety and combat depression. Maca- This trending adaptogen possess a plethora of beneficial properties. Not only is it popular for increasing energy, strength, and stamina, it is also thought to increase libido, reduce erectile dysfunction, increase infertility, enhance mood, reduce blood pressure, improve memory, and help balance wacky hormone levels brought on by menopause. Matcha- Similar in name and, perhaps, even more popular than maca, matcha carries just as many valuable health properties. Matcha leaves have become most popular for use in teas because all of the nutrients, including a vast number of antioxidants, come from the entire matcha leaf. Among the cascading list of benefits include: protection of the liver, overall heart health, a boost in brain function, aid in cancer prevention, and the added bonus of its assistance in weight loss.

Should CBD be Considered an Adaptogen Too? Adaptogens and natural hemp products, like CBD, are known to possess many of the same health benefits. Among these benefits include: strengthening the immune system, reducing inflammation, supporting healthier sleep cycles, offering pain relief, decreasing stress and anxiety levels, and, on the whole, helping regulate hormonal imbalances and maintaining homeostasis. While scientific research is still being conducted, most adaptogens are believed to have a major effect on the adrenal system which manages how the body responds to stress. CBD has been found to interact with the newly discovered endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is responsible for regulating many of the body’s other biological systems that, in turn, promote an overall biological balance.

The technical reason CBD and other cannabinoids are not considered adaptogens is because they are molecules and not whole-plant extracts. Although CBD has yet to be considered an official adaptogen, the properties of CBD are still non-toxic, stress-reducing, and contribute to an overall balance verifying that CBD meets all three requirements used to classify adaptogens. This attribute, alone, lays a solid foundation for arguing why CBD should be counted amongst the ever-growing list of adaptogens. Based on the fact that cannabinoids help regulate our cannabinoid systems and that our cannabinoid system helps regulate so many other biological systems within our bodies, it shouldn’t be far-fetched to at least consider whole-plant hemp extract and whole-plant CBD oil as adaptogens.

Technicalities aside, it is hard to ignore the similar manner in which CBD and adaptogens work. The question then arises concerning what the possible effects of combining the two might be. To receive the health benefits offered by either adaptogens or CBD in full, these healing plants are most effective when taken consistently over a prolonged period of time. Regardless if CBD is ever officially named an adaptogen, it is still vastly agreed upon that CBD and adaptogens carry the potential to pair significantly well together. Whether CBD is used to boost a specific adaptogen or vice versa, the combination of the two are alleged to strengthen and enhance overall holistic effects. While the coupling of this powerful combo sounds promising, it is still important to keep in mind that scientific research on this topic is still relatively new and limited. As with implementing anything new into your diet or health routine, it is always best to conduct further research and talk with healthcare professionals in these given fields.

BluPeak Botanics is a nature-made online shop that produces some of the very best botanic products on the market. If you are interested in learning even more about CBD products and how they can be suited to best fit your health needs, please do not hesitate to contact the BluPeak Botanics team. We are eager to help. Health Disclaimer: All information in this blog is provided for general and educational purposes only and should not be substituted for professional health advice. Before taking any action based upon the above information, it is strongly encouraged to consult with the appropriate medical and healthcare professionals.

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