Adaptogens Foods And Benefits

Lanu Pitan

Adaptogens have long been the reason for the sound health of the Ancients

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Adaptogens are a combination of rejuvenating botanicals (plants, herbs and spices), that have long been used in traditional medicines (in particular Indian Ayurveda and the traditional Chinese medicines) for general body debility and for variety of ailments.

They are named ‘’ADATOGENS’’ by a Russian Toxicology and Pharmacologist, Nikolai Vasilyevich Lazarev, because of their ability to adapt their functions according to needs of the body. This needs can be physical, chemical or biological. They are not specific in their actions but rather by bringing in the body hemostasis (equilibrium) to support the body to heal.

Popular ones among them are ashwagandha, super mushrooms like the (Shitake, Cordyceps, and Reishi), Panax (Asian ginseng), American & Siberia Ginseng, Rhodiola Rosea, (golden root), Astragalus, Goji and Magnolia Berry, Jiogulan, (Southern Ginseng), Licorice root, Reishi, Maca Root, Holy Basil, and Turmeric. This list is not exhaustive, (see the photo below). They all have wide-ranging positive effects on the body.

‘’Adaptogens are botanicals that have an affinity for the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. HPA is the chief regulator of our body’s response to stress’’ Dr Low Dog

Adaptogens are becoming popular today as more are turning to a holistic method of cure for their stress. The impact of the stress of modern-day living cannot be overemphasised coupled with pollution effect on the body. Adaptogens are safe alternatives to pharmaceutical medicines as we know them.

The Mystery Of Adaptogens

The mystery behind adaptogens is that it is NOT for any specific treatment, but it is known to work at the cellular level to restore the body balance, aiming that when the body is in a correct equilibrium, it will heal itself.

However, for a plant or herb or food to be classified as an adaptogen, it must satisfy these criteria:

  • Nutritional Benefit — must be obvious, either in the short or long run when used. Adaptogens, however, work better over time.
  • Non-toxic — its tolerance level of dosage must be high, such that it is not toxic when taken at any time. Probably definitely, with no prescription medication.
  • Varied Usage — it must not be for a particular type of cure or illness, but a general type that supports the body to normalises itself.

The Major Function Of Adaptogens

  • Normalises blood sugar level.
  • Support the working of vital organs in the body, especially the brain in improving memory and perception.
  • Supports the synthesis of proteins (amino acids) in the body, as the body powerhouse.
  • Balance the cortisol level to an acceptable standard.
  • Relieves anxiety and a depressive episode.
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Adaptogens are different from stimulants in the effects of that stimulant are short-lived, and the body returns to the former need, even needing a higher dosage of the stimulants. Adaptogens, however, goes to work on the cells causing the debility and correct what needs to be corrected by bringing in the cells to homeostasis (equilibrium), and the body adjusting itself.

Adaptogens also increase the body’s protective hormones, Neuropeptide Y (NYP Y) and Heat shock protein 72 (Hsp 72). A little bit different from antioxidants in that the cells are protected from the formation of the free radicals, whereas antioxidants eat up free radicals only when they show up.

How To Take Adaptogens

Adaptogens are available in various forms, powder, tablets, paste and liquid format. The choice is definitely yours and what you eat at various time of the day.

The powdered form can be added to your breakfast cereal or smoothies. You can take the paste directly in bread toasts, or as an addition to a side dish. Liquid and tablets are taken directly of course, as appropriate to the meal of the day. Here it is important to listen to your body.

Who Should Refrain From Adaptogens

Although adaptogens are natural foods, that does not mean they can be taken by virtually everybody. The number one people to refrain are those with serious health conditions and are on life-supporting medication, like cancer and cardiovascular patients. This does not signify that adaptogens cannot help them, but such people need to consult the doctors before taking adaptogens. The main reason is to prevent ugly interactions with their life-saving medications.

Pregnant Women — Pregnancy affects women differently, so it is important to consult your doctor before taking adaptogens.

Lactating Women– Basically whatever a lactating woman eats, is also fed to the suckling baby, so a lactating mum should be careful not to harm the undeveloped intestine of the baby.

Generally, anyone taking any supplement, food or adaptogens should listen to your body’s reaction. Does your body want you to continue by agreeing with it or not? These are subtle signs to look for. Your body knows best. Listen to it.

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