What's an Adaptogen? - Duke's Materia Tonica
Adaptogens increase work-tolerance, recovery-from-stress, and promote immunity. They have generalized benefits which reduce the perception of stress. They also increase stress-endurance.
- Ashwagandha is a adaptogen.
The benefits of adaptogens come from the combination of nutrients and unique constituents that have superior effects on the biochemistry of the body, such as metabolism, the endocrine system, hormonal glands, nerves and brain.
- For example, B vitamins and ginsenosides are a nutrient combination that make ginseng an adaptogen.
Adaptogens promote dynamic equilibrium of 'yin' (stillness) and 'yang' (movement) which helps the body to maintain a calm balance with one's environment and state of activity or rest.
The adaptogenic effect is the body coming into balance and harmony with it's current environment.
In general, adaptogens promote balanced bodily function in alignment with the environment and the desired state of either rest or activity. They support and promote the body's ability to modify metabolism towards stability and homeostasis with one's environment. Depending on the adaptogen, they will:
- Promote performance with less stress, increased work-tolerance and the ability to handle more stress.
- Promote rest with less stress, increased recovery from stress and the ability to reduce perceived stress.
For example, the adrenal glands are responsible for the body's physical reaction to stress which are benefited by adaptogens.
- Ashwagandha, for instance, promotes adrenal function that has the adaptogenic effect of reducing the body's perception of stress and increasing the body's work tolerance.
And other adaptogens have an effect on the thyroid gland which is responsible for the body's physical action toward performance, a form of productive stress.
- For example, ginseng promotes thyroid function which has the adaptogenic effect of increasing the body's ability to tolerate work and to perform when stressed.
Choosing an Adaptogen
1. Select an adaptogen that fits your lifestyle. Examples:
- Rest - Ashwagandha
- Activity - Astragalus
- De-stress - Reishi Mushroom
- Performance - Deer Antler Velvet
2. Research an adaptogen that is the best fit for any organs, glands and benefits that are important to you. Examples:
- Adrenal - Ashwagandha
- Energy - Ginseng
- Detox - Chaga Mushroom
- Joint Health - Deer Antler Velvet
You may take one adaptogen during the day, with activity and performance (e.g. ginseng), and another adaptogen during rest and stress detoxification such a reishi mushroom.