What are adaptogens? When is it worth taking them?
Maca (Lepidium meyenii)
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)
Gotu kola (Centella asiatica)
Adaptogens are plant or animal substances that help the body adapt and respond to stress. These are natural ingredients that help maintain the physical and emotional balance of the body in the face of various stressors such as illness, fatigue, infections or changes in the environment. What are adaptogens? When is it worth taking them?
Adaptogens work by regulating hormonal functions, accelerating metabolic processes and strengthening the immune system. They are especially beneficial for people who experience chronic stress as they help maintain hormonal balance and reduce the impact of stress on the body.
The most commonly used adaptogens include: ginseng, ashwagandha, rhodiola, eleutherococcus, maitake, reishi, shiitake, maca, cordyceps, astragalus and gotu kola. Adaptogens are used in natural medicine, but it is always worth consulting a doctor or pharmacist before using them.
Below we describe the health properties and benefits of the most popular adaptogens.
Ginseng is a plant from the Araliaceae family that has been used in natural medicine for thousands of years. Here are some of the properties of ginseng:
- Improving the functioning of the immune system – Ginseng is known to improve the functioning of the immune system, which helps the body fight against diseases and infections;
- Stress reduction – Ginseng may help reduce stress and improve the functioning of the nervous system, which can lead to better concentration and overall well-being;
- Improvement of brain function – some studies suggest that ginseng can improve brain function and memory, as well as help fight against neurodegenerative diseases;
- Improving the condition of the skin – due to its antioxidant properties, ginseng can help fight free radicals that are responsible for skin damage, which contributes to improving its condition;
- Improving Sexual Function – Ginseng can help improve sexual function in both men and women, including improving libido and erections.
- It is worth remembering, however, that ginseng can also have adverse effects.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a plant from the nightshade family that has been used in Ayurveda for centuries as an adaptogenic plant. Ashwagandha has many health benefits, here are some of them:
- Reduces stress and improves mood: Ashwagandha is known for its adaptogenic effects, which means that it helps the body cope with stress by reducing stress levels and improving mood;
- Improves sleep quality: Ashwagandha may help improve sleep quality by reducing stress and regulating levels of the stress hormone cortisol;
- Improves brain function: Ashwagandha may improve brain function, including memory, concentration, and information processing ability;
- Reduces inflammation: Ashwagandha contains compounds with anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce inflammation in the body;
- Improves the functioning of the immune system: Ashwagandha can support the functioning of the immune system, which is especially important during periods of increased infection;
- Improves thyroid function: Ashwagandha may help regulate thyroid function by affecting thyroid hormone levels.
However, it should be remembered that before starting supplementation with ashwagandha or any other plant, you should eat.
Rhodiola, also known as the rosemary plant, is an herb that is used as a dietary supplement for its adaptogenic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. Here are some of the properties of rhodiola:
- Adaptogenic: Rhodiola works as an adaptogen, which means that it helps the body cope with stress and reduces its impact on the body. In this way, it can help improve physical and mental performance;
- Improvement of mood and mental performance: Rhodiola can improve mood and mental performance by affecting the levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain;
- Anti-inflammatory properties: Rhodiola has strong anti-inflammatory properties, which means it can help reduce inflammation in the body;
- Protection against oxidative stress: Rhodiola is rich in antioxidants, which helps protect the body from oxidative stress and cell damage;
- Improvement of physical performance: Rhodiola can help increase physical performance by affecting nitric oxide levels, which can increase blood flow and provide better oxygenation to muscles;
- Blood sugar regulation: Rhodiola can help regulate blood sugar levels by affecting insulin resistance and increasing insulin sensitivity;
- Improving sexual function: Rhodiola can help improve sexual function by increasing testosterone levels and improving blood circulation.
It is worth remembering, however, that most of the research on the properties of rhodiola was carried out on.
Eleutherococcus, also called Siberian ginseng, is a plant in the Araliaceae family that grows in the forests and thickets of Siberia and other parts of Asia. In folk medicine, Eleutherococcus has been used as an adaptogenic agent that helps the body adapt to stress and reduce its effects.
Here are some properties of Eleutherococcus:
- Adaptogenicity: Eleutherococcus is considered a powerful adaptogen, meaning it helps the body adapt to physical, emotional and environmental stresses;
- Improvement of physical performance: Eleutherococcus may help improve physical performance and endurance by increasing the body’s ability to produce energy;
- Improvement of brain function: Eleutherococcus can help improve brain function, improve concentration and memory, and reduce mental fatigue;
- Blood Sugar Regulation: Eleutherococcus may help regulate blood sugar levels by increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin;
- Improving immunity: Eleutherococcus can help improve the body’s immunity by increasing the number and activity of immune cells;
- Antioxidant properties: Eleutherococcus contains antioxidant compounds that help fight free radicals and protect the body from oxidative damage;
- Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Eleutherococcus may help reduce inflammation in the body by reducing levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
However, be aware that Eleutherococcus may interact with certain medications and may not be suitable for everyone, especially pregnant and lactating women. Always consult before using Eleutherococcus.
Maitake, also known as the “dancing mushroom” or “scale mushroom”, is an edible mushroom native to Asia and North America.
Here are some of the health benefits of maitake:
- Boosts the immune system: Maitake contains polysaccharides that are associated with strengthening the immune system;
- Reduces the risk of heart disease: Some studies have shown that maitake may lower blood cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease;
- Supports metabolic health: Research suggests that maitake may help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, which may be beneficial for people with diabetes;
- Anti-inflammatory: Maitake contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory effects, which may help reduce inflammation in the body;
- Contains nutrients: Maitake is a source of nutrients such as vitamins B and C, fiber and minerals such as potassium, phosphorus and magnesium.
However, keep in mind that maitake can be dangerous for people who are taking anticoagulants because it can affect blood clotting. Consult your doctor before starting maitake supplementation.
Reishi (Latin Ganoderma lucidum) is a mushroom that has been used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine for centuries due to its healing properties. Here are some of the properties of reishi:
Strengthens the immune system: reishi contains polysaccharides that can help improve the functioning of the immune system and increase its resistance to disease;
Anti-inflammatory: Reishi contains anti-inflammatory substances that can help reduce inflammation in the body;
Supports detoxification: reishi can help cleanse the body of toxins and other harmful substances;
Has antioxidant properties: reishi contains antioxidant substances that can help protect the body’s cells from free radical damage;
Helps Regulate Blood Pressure: Reishi can help lower blood pressure, which may be beneficial for people with high blood pressure;
Improves Liver Function: Reishi may help protect the liver and improve its function;
Supports the nervous system: Reishi contains substances that can help relieve anxiety and stress and improve the functioning of the nervous system.
However, keep in mind that reishi may have side effects and interactions with certain medications. Before taking reishi,
Shiitake mushrooms come from Asia, known for their characteristic taste and smell. Below are some of the properties of shiitake:
- Improve the functioning of the immune system: Shiitake contains beta-glucan, a polysaccharide that stimulates the immune system and increases its efficiency;
- Helps lower cholesterol: There is a substance in shiitake called eritadenine that can help lower blood cholesterol;
- Contains vitamins and minerals: Shiitake is rich in B vitamins, vitamin D, manganese, copper and zinc;
- May reduce stress: There are compounds in shiitake that reduce stress, such as pantothenic acid;
- Have anti-inflammatory properties: Shiitake contains compounds such as ergothioneine and polysaccharides that have anti-inflammatory properties;
- Helps maintain heart health: The polysaccharides in shiitake may help maintain heart health and improve blood circulation;
- Support Digestion: Shiitake contains enzymes that aid in the digestion of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
However, it is worth remembering that people with an allergy to mushrooms or taking the drug.
Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a plant from the cruciferous family, cultivated in Peru at an altitude of over 4,000 meters above sea level. It contains many nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals, as well as unique compounds such as glucosinolates and alkaloids. Here are some maca properties:
- Boosts Libido: Maca is known for its potential to improve libido and increase fertility in men and women;
- Improves mood: Maca can help relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as improve mood and overall well-being;
- Improves physical performance: Maca can improve physical performance and reduce fatigue, making it a popular supplement among athletes;
- Supports the functioning of the endocrine system: Maca can help regulate the level of sex hormones, as well as help reduce the symptoms associated with menopause and andropause;
- Increases energy levels: Maca can improve energy levels and stamina, making it a good choice for people who want to improve their physical condition;
- Improves Brain Function: Maca can help improve cognitive functions such as memory and concentration, making it useful for the elderly and students.
It is worth remembering, however, that the effectiveness and safety of using maca as a dietary supplement has not been confirmed
Cordyceps is a species of mushroom that has many potential health benefits. Here are some of them:
- Improving physical performance: Cordyceps can help improve physical performance by increasing the amount of oxygen in the body and improving blood flow;
- Immune system support: Cordyceps contains polysaccharides that can help boost the immune system and fight infections;
- Anti-cancer properties: Some studies suggest that cordyceps may have anti-cancer properties and help fight certain types of cancer;
- Kidney function support: Cordyceps may help improve kidney function and prevent kidney disease;
- Blood Sugar Regulation: Cordyceps may help regulate blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity;
- Improving Sexual Function: Cordyceps may help improve sexual function, especially in men.
However, it is important to remember that most research on cordyceps has been conducted on animals, not humans, so further research is needed to confirm these properties. In addition, you should consult your doctor before taking cordyceps, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking any medications.
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) is a plant that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Below are some properties of astragalus:
- Boosts the Immune System: Astragalus is known to boost the body’s immune system, which helps fight off illnesses and infections;
- Improves Liver Function: Astragalus can help cleanse and detoxify the liver, which helps it function properly;
- Reduces stress: astragalus has adaptogenic properties, which means that it helps the body adapt to stress, reducing its negative effects;
- Improves Circulation: Astragalus may help improve blood circulation and reduce the risk of heart disease;
- Has Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Astragalus has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation in the body.
However, it is worth remembering that, like any dietary supplement, astragalus can have side effects and should be used in moderation and after consulting a doctor.
Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) is an herbal plant that has been used in traditional medicine for centuries, especially in Ayurveda, Chinese folk medicine and Ayurvedic medicine. Here are some properties of gotu kola:
- Improves Blood Circulation: Gotu kola contains triterpenoids that help strengthen blood vessels and improve blood circulation;
- Improves brain function: The active ingredients in gotu kola may help improve cognitive functions such as concentration and memory;
- Has anti-inflammatory properties: Gotu kola can help reduce inflammation in the body and relieve symptoms of inflammatory diseases;
- Promotes Wound Healing: Gotu kola can speed up the wound healing process by increasing collagen production and improving blood circulation;
- Supports skin health: Gotu kola may help soothe inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, acne and psoriasis and improve the appearance of the skin;
- Has antibacterial properties: Gotu kola contains compounds that can help fight bacteria and prevent infections;
- Improves mental state: Gotu kola can help relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety, improving mood and reducing stress.
However, it is worth remembering that you should consult your doctor or pharmacist before using gotu kola, especially if the person has any medical conditions or is taking medications.