Adaptogens: What are They?
As you read natural health posts on the Internet, you will come across many articles about herbs. There is a lot of herbal terminology associated with how plants work in the body, and I have written about common herbal terminology before, but I have never written about the term “adaptogen.” Since the adaptogenic herbs are a very important class, it’s time to define and explain them.
Adaptogens are plants that support the body’s ability to manage physical and emotional stress.
They do not typically have a targeted action in the body, instead acting mainly as supportive tonics.
Benefits of Adaptogenic Herbs
Adaptogens support the endocrine system, where your body interprets and acts upon stressors.
They usually support the proper functioning of the immune system.
They have a long history of use in Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
Adaptogens have been used to fight and prevent cancer in many natural protocols.
They are an important part of any natural therapy for a degenerative and/or chronic disease.
Adaptogens provide us some of the best means for aging in a healthy, vital way
Adaptogenic Herbs: Helpful and Common
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
The root of this plant is anti-inflammatory, and consequently, studies show it is beneficial to the cardiovascular, nervous, endocrine and immune systems.
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceous)
The root of this plant is an immune stimulator, therefore it is used in cancer therapies around the world. It also seems to be helpful in blood sugar maintenance.
Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum)
Everything above ground is useful in the case of holy basil. This is another of our highly studied adaptogens. It is antimicrobial, anti diabetic, and anti-inflammatory; therefore it is helpful in the circulatory, immune, and nervous systems. Holy basil is used in cancer treatments with success.
Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus)
A relative of our cultivated blueberry, both the fruit and the leaves of this plant have been used for their benefits in the urinary tract, reproductive system, respiratory, and endocrine systems. The fruit is high in antioxidants, earning bilberry a strong reputation for use with all kinds of eye disorders.
Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)
The berries and flowers of the common elderberry are both very beneficial. The berries are high in antioxidants and Vitamin C and support proper immune function. The flowers are useful in reducing fevers.
Ginseng (Panax ginseng or quinquefolius)
This once abundant temperate forest native is now in trouble as its habitat shrinks and it is over-harvested. Its reputation is well earned though, and when purchased from reliable growers the root has been heavily studied. It is known to be anti-cancer, anti-fatigue, anti-inflammatory, and helpful in both cancer and diabetes treatments.
Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum)
Reishis are rather hard and appear shellacked, so they’re not a mushroom to add to your eggs!
These mushrooms have a long history in TCM for longevity because they support healthy cholesterol levels and prevent plaque formation, thus improving immune function, reducing tumors, and promoting healthy liver and kidneys.
Adaptogens are Growing in Popularity
I predict you will hear more about adaptogens as the large generation of baby boomers continue to age. Hence, there are many more adaptogenic herbs to learn about, and it is definitely worth getting to know more about them.
Do you use any of these (or some other) adaptogenic herbs in your natural health regimen? Let us know about them in the comments below.