Adaptogens—suddenly, they’re in everything from your superfood smoothie to your plant-based protein bar to your Chilean dark chocolate. Known to be great natural herbs for anxiety, they must be good for you. But what the heck are they?
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Adaptogens can help you, well, adapt to daily stress. Let’s say you have a day where you’re running around non-stop. You go from the gym to daycare to work to the grocery store to your daughter’s softball game. The next day, you’re so tired you can barely form a sentence. Adaptogens can restore your energy levels after a stressful day.
Or maybe you spent an evening responding to Facebook messages, scrolling through your news feed and shopping for hiking boots online. Then when bedtime rolls around, all that screen time has you feeling anxious and wired rather than restful. Adaptogens such as ashwagandha can calm you down.
Basically, adaptogens have an amazing ability to act as your body’s thermostat. When internal and external stressors have you feeling less than your best, they can calm you or energize you, depending on what you need. Adaptogens can improve your mental focus and mood too.
By acting on your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The HPA axis connects your central nervous system to hormone-regulating organs like your hypothalamus, pituitary gland and adrenal glands.
When something stressful happens (like a semi-truck cuts you off on the highway or none of your Facebook friends like the picture you posted of yourself shirtless on the beach), your nervous system releases epinephrine and norepinephrine, chemicals that kick your fight or flight response into gear and trigger your HPA axis. Your HPA axis releases stress hormones like cortisol, and before you know it, your body’s hormonal balance is out of whack. But adaptogens can shield the HPA axis from the effects of stress and keep your body (and cortisol levels) in balance.
Amazing, huh? That’s why adaptogens are in everything you purchase from the health food store nowadays. But adaptogens are more than the newest “It” herb. They’ve been used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions for centuries. The adaptogen Asian ginseng, for example, was considered a panacea by ancient Chinese emperors. And the adaptogen ashwagandha was used in Ayurveda to treat everything from nervous breakdowns to goiters for more than 6,000 years.
This impressive history combined with modern research showing adaptogens reduce stress, anxiety, fatigue and burnout means you should seriously consider adding adaptogens to your supplement stash. But there are loads of adaptogenic herbs out there—ginseng, ashwagandha, eleuthero, maca, Schisandra, rhodiola, cordyceps. So, how do you know which ones to take?
Studies show ashwagandha can help you feel happier, less anxious and less hungry (read: less fast food binges) when you’re dealing with chronic stress. It’s also helpful for counteracting the negative effects of sleep deprivation and oxidative stress [9;10;11;12].
According to research, cordyceps is a fantastic fatigue fighter. It also supports your immune system and liver.
Maca is known for its effect on energy levels and sexual health. In fact, research shows Maca can improve fertility, help with sexual dysfunction and increase sex drive.
Studies show that American ginseng has a calming effect. But it doesn’t make you groggy or spacey. It calms you while still boosting mental reaction time and improving memory.
These four herbs have an impressive effect on your stamina, mood and vitality, which is why they’re the backbone of our Mdrive line. If you’re curious whether adaptogens can keep you feeling strong and stress-free, try our Mdrive supplements and experience the amazing power of adaptogens for yourself.
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