Adaptogens are a popular wellness trend, and products containing adaptogens promise to decrease stress and anxiety. But what are adaptogens exactly and do they actually work? Or, are they just another dietary fad? Keep reading to find out if you should add adaptogens to your diet.
Adaptogenic plants are non-toxic plants, herbs and roots that have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. But there isn’t a whole lot of scientific research on how they affect human health.
However, scientists are making concessions that adaptogens seem to help the body cope with stress.
According to Dr. Brenda Powell, who is the co-director of the Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine at Cleveland’s Wellness Institute, adaptogens seem to function in a similar way to exercise.
For example, when you first exercise, you stress your body, but the more you exercise, the better your body is at handling the stress. With adaptogens, “you’re training your body to handle the effects of stress,” says Powell.
This may be because adaptogens influence the production of hormones and your body’s physiological response to stress.
There are different adaptogens that address different types of stress. For example, ashwagandha – a popular herb in Ayurveda – and Asian ginseng are both believed to relieve long-term stress. Siberian ginseng, on the other hand, is thought to reduce acute stress.
Reishi mushrooms, along with various forms of ginseng, are thought to boost immunity.
Taking these adaptogens in the form of high-quality supplements may be a good way to better cope with stress and to support your body’s immunity.