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Notes on Adaptogens

Adaptogens are a sound place to start. These are, quite simply, natural plant materials (predominately herbs, though these extend to various roots and mushrooms) which help aid the body’s natural processes and provide support for mental and physical stress.

Used in ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years, adaptogens are clinically proven to provide support to the human body. They are renowned for the neutralising effect they impart on the human body. Simply put, adaptogens work to restore normal bodily functioning and systems while helping your body deal with a myriad of internal and external stressors. For example, if the immune system is depressed, adaptogens will enhance the immune response, and if the immune system is overactive, adaptogens will recognise this and regulate their response accordingly. Adaptogens are commonly enlisted to help ease stress and anxiety and enhance sleep and mood and may also enhance the quality care of patients with chronic diseases. As such, their name is a direct reference to their ability to adapt to the body’s specific needs.

Adaptogens are an integral component of my daily supplement consumption – I love Sun Potion powders for this very reason. These contain powerful blends of medicinal plants and adaptogenic mushrooms and algae, amongst other superfoods. As we know, good skin comes from within, so if your body is in a hormonally balanced, optimally functioning place with minimal inflammation, this will manifest via your complexion.

My personal favourite is Ashwagandha powder. Ashwagandha is considered a vital herb in Ayurvedic Medicine with a long history of therapeutic. It provides a full spectrum of healing properties such as harmonising physiological processes while supporting hormonal balance and accommodating the endocrine and nervous system. Mostly, I love adaptogens for stress relief and to assist with overall wellbeing.

While all adaptogens possess hormone balancing qualities, each has it’s own unique strength. It’s just a matter of finding the one that is right for you – consider any concerns or issues you may have.

Some of my favourite adaptogens:

Ashwagandha: Commonly used to manage and reduce stress and anxiety by neutralising cortisol levels and providing thyroid support. Ashwagandha is the only adaptogen that is rich in iron.

Rhodiola: Perfect for stress reduction and wonderful for those suffering from adrenal fatigue. This adaptogen can be stimulating, so avoid consuming it at night time if you struggle with sleep.

Mucuna pruriens: Holds copious amounts of L-DOPA (the precursor to dopamine) so it is ideal for stress relief.

Licorice Root: Balances cortisol and as such, provides physical and emotional stress relief and assists with adrenal fatigue.

Cordyceps: The ultimate anti-ageing adaptogen as it increases antioxidants while neutralising inflammatory activity (responsible for accelerating ageing) while increasing energy and stamina.

Maca: Incredible energy booster with a pleasant, honeycomb-esque flavour. It can help with symptoms associated with menopause such as hot flushes and interrupted sleep.

Pearl: An adaptogen of the sea, supercharged with amino acids to nourish skin, nails and hair.

Astragalus: Your immunity secret. Astrgalus contains anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties with strong immune-boosting abilities.

Always do your research before incorporating adaptogens into your diet, as there are specific types for different concerns and as such, the right adaptogen for you will be different from the next person and so on. Remember: consistency is key when incorporating adaptogens into your diet. You will never see a benefit from one-time or sporadic use!

NB: Adaptogens are best incorporated into any diet within the guidance of a medical professional as they can interact poorly with certain medications. Don’t get lured into the trap of consuming more than the recommended amount either, as the herbs work by assisting with natural bodily processes over time. It’s a slow – but worthwhile – burn.