Taking Care of your Adrenal Health with Adaptogens
Adaptogens have long been regarded as the ‘kings and queens’ of herbal medicine in Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine due to their ability to promote longevity and wellbeing. They also restore everything from our vitality, to our immunity and stamina. This intriguing species of herbs gets its name from its ability to both adapt to our unique biochemical needs and respond to the stress in our lives by regulating the adrenal stress response of our bodies.
What are adrenal glands and why do we have them?
Well, our adrenal glands are sensitive organs that react to even the mildest form of bodily stress, as their primary function is protect us from perceived immediate danger in our environment.
When we’re under stress, our adrenal stress response wants to protect us by producing the hormones cortisol and aldosterone. These hormones increase our blood sugar, blood pressure, heart rate and our immune response. Perfect for a situation where our survival is threatened or we’re faced with an attacker.
However, while this was extremely beneficial for our ancestors as the dangers they faced were often threatening and required them to fight or run. Most of us nowadays are lucky not to have to deal with high danger situations like these. Still, despite not being chased by tigers on a daily basis, modern living has become more complicated and we’re dealing with evermore responsibilities, demands, choices.
These mild stressors, combined with little time for rest and relaxation, have left our bodies believing they are in constant state of low-level danger. Our hardwired adrenal stress response reacts accordingly by releasing the necessary hormones to protect us. However, when our body doesn’t get the signal that we’re safe and out of danger, our adrenal glands keep working at producing the stress chemicals. This can wreak havoc on our bodies when left unchecked, resulting in adrenal fatigue and other serious health symptoms.
Here’s how Adaptogenic herbs can help
The beauty of adaptogenic herbs is that the chemicals they contain have a gentle and calming effect on our adrenal glands. They support the processes that our adrenals are responsible for controlling, such as hormones, blood sugar and moods.
They also adapt to our own unique biochemical needs, knowing intuitively what it is that our bodies need to return to a balanced and normalised state. How incredible is that?
And last but not least, they contain powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that protect our cells from stress-induced damage. They truly provide our bodies with the whole package: a range of benefits to help our bodies function optimally without any unwanted side effects.
Adaptogens are becoming increasingly popular in today’s health and wellness movements, but ancient civilisations reaped their unusual and healing benefits long before they were touted as a ‘superfood’.
Still, they deserve all the credit they can get which is why increasingly more naturopathic doctors are now prescribing them to their patients, knowing the positive and restorative effects that these herbs have on our body’s functions and overall vitality.
Curious to find out more?
Some of the most common adaptogens used today are: ashwagandha, maca, holy basil, schizandra, and rhodiola. As well as a whole class of medicinal mushrooms that include chaga, reishi, lion’s mane and cordyceps, amongst others.
Due to the over popularisation of these plants, it’s important to do a bit of research before purchasing them, to ensure that they were sourced in a sustainable and sound way.
Functional Medicine Practitioner, William Cole, D.C. says: “Adaptogens are one of my favorite tools for my patients' health as well as my own. But just like with supplements, no one needs to be taking every adaptogen under the sun. Since different adaptogens work better at enhancing certain parts of your health than others, it’s important to choose wisely and play up the strengths of each one. The great thing is that these are usually available in powdered form and can be added to smoothies, teas, elixirs, or even food.”
We recommend consulting your Doctor or Naturopath before trying adaptogens as a natural medicine.
Conscious Contributor: Michelle Havy
Michelle’s inspired by nature, the holistic sciences, sustainable living and true wellbeing. A ‘Jill’ of all trades, master of none, with an insatiable curiosity for life. Ocean lover, information-absorber, truth sharer, café-hopper, amateur recipe tester, animal nurturer, traveler, plant-food eater and beginner yogi with an appreciation for all things conscious and honest. Being close to nature, surrounded by an abundance of fresh produce and an empowering, supportive community is what makes her come alive. Continuously learning to find the beauty and balance in life’s polarities, stay present, be of service, and do her part in positively contributing to the evolution of our world and collective conscience.