Adaptogens are a unique class of herbal plants used as tonics that help balance, restore and protect the body. Generally, they are used to increase resistance to disease and stress, increase energy, and increase physical performance and endurance.
Here are some of the more common ones and their top benefits:
Resihi is a a mushroom (fungus). Boosts the immune system, protects against heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, kidney disease, cancer, and liver disease. It is also used for HIV/AIDS, altitude sickness, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), trouble sleeping (insomnia), stomach ulcers, poisoning, and herpes pain. Other uses include reducing stress and preventing fatigue. In combination with other herbs, reishi mushroom is used to treat prostate cancer (Webmd).
Cordyceps is a fungus that lives on certain caterpillars (!) in the high mountain regions of China. It can be reproduced in a lab setting so that’s why it can be widely available. It is used to treat respiratory disorders, kidney disorders, nighttime urination, male sexual problems, anemia, irregular heartbeat, high cholesterol, liver disorders, dizziness, weakness, ringing in the ears, and unwanted weight loss. It is also used for strengthening the immune system, improving athletic performance, reducing the effects of aging, promoting longer life, and improving liver function in people with hepatitis B (Webmd). It may also have a positive effect on inhibiting growth of certain cancers.
Astragalus is an herb and the root is the medicinal part. It may be useful in treating common colds, upper respiratory infections, allergies, fibromyalgia, anemia, HIV/AIDS. It is also used for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), kidney disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Generally, astralagus appears to stimulate and increase the immune system.
Ginseng is a root that also helps boost the immune system and may lower blood sugar levels and improve mental performance. One type of ginseng is called eleuthero, also known as Siberian ginseng. Eleuthero is used in Korean and Russian folk medicine to increase stamina and improve athletic performance. In Chinese medicine, the root is used to invigorate qi (chi or energy), strengthen and nourish the spleen and kidney and to balance vital energy (Mountain Rose Herbs).
Schisandra is a plant and the fruit is both a food and a medicine. Schisandra is used for preventing early aging and increasing lifespan; normalizing blood sugar and blood pressure; and stimulating the immune system and speeding recovery after surgery. It is also used to treat hepatitis and protect the liver from poisons. Other uses for schisandra include treatment of high cholesterol, coughs, asthma, sleep problems (insomnia), nerve pain, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), chronic diarrhea, dysentery, night sweats, spontaneous sweating, thirst, erectile dysfunction (ED), physical exhaustion, excessive urination, depression, irritability, and memory loss. Some people use schisandra for improving vision, protecting against radiation, preventing motion sickness, preventing infection, boosting energy at the cellular level, counteracting the effects of sugar, and improving the health of the adrenal glands (Webmd).
The chemicals in schisandra improve liver function by stimulating enzymes in the liver, thereby promoting liver cell growth.
Rhodiola is a plant and the root is medicinal. Rhodiola may be effective in improving athletic performance, shortening recovery time after long workouts, improving sexual function; treating depression; and for heart disorders such as irregular heartbeat and high cholesterol. Rhodiola extracts might help protect cells from damage, regulate heartbeat, and have the potential for improving learning and memory. However, none of these effects have been studied in humans. The root is native to the arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and Alaska and has a long history of use as a medicinal plant. In fact, it is mentioned by the Greek physician Dioscorides as early as the first century AD! (Webmd)
Ashwagandha is a plant and both the root and berry are used as medicine. It has a LOT of uses but there is not enough information to tell if it is effective for any of them. Ashwagandha is used for arthritis, anxiety, trouble sleeping (insomnia), tumors, tuberculosis, asthma, a skin condition marked by white patchiness (leukoderma), bronchitis, backache, fibromyalgia, menstrual problems, hiccups, and chronic liver disease. Some people also use ashwagandha for improving thinking ability, decreasing pain and swelling (inflammation), and preventing the effects of aging. It is also used for fertility problems in men and women and also to increase sexual desire (!). Ashwagandha contains chemicals that might help calm the brain, reduce swelling (inflammation), lower blood pressure, and alter the immune system (Webmd).
The name Ashwagandha is Sanskrit and means “horse smell” haha which is pretty accurate but I can’t taste/smell the little bit I put in my smoothies at all!
Something else I add to my smoothies are tocos, which is derived from the bran of brown rice. Tocos is a rich source of fat-soluble natural vitamin E which is great for the skin, connective tissue and healthy muscle function. It’s almost white, very fluffy and light and looks like fake snow and makes drinks and oatmeal creamier and really has no taste! I get mine from Sun Potion and it contains: Vitamin A (Beta Carotene), Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine), Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Vitamin E, Folic Acid, Biotin, Choline, and Inositol. It also contains naturally occuring Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Iron, Zinc, Manganese, Copper, Iodine and other Trace Minerals (Sun Potion).
WOW amazing benefits huh? I want to know why these herbs aren’t more popular! However, it should be noted that not everyone should take any of these herbs if you have medical issues (or clear it with your doctor first of course) and I heard you want to kind of cycle the herbs so you are not taking them ALL the time. I usually do 3-4 weeks taking them and then 3-4 weeks off of them and I mix up which ones I add to my smoothies as well.
My favorite adaptogen smoothie
This taste like a chocolate peanut butter milkshake and you instantly feel good after drinking it!
- 1 cup loosely packed spinach
- 1 tablespoon powdered peanut butter (sub regular nut butter if desired!)
- 1 ripe banana
- 1 serving sprouted brown rice protein powder (I use Moon Juice Deep Chocolate – Activated Brown Rice Protein* Maca* Cacao* Stevia* Cinnamon*)
- 1 teaspoon maca powder
- 1 teaspoon Moon Juice power dust (Organic Astragalus* Ginseng* Organic Eleuthero* Organic Schisandra* Rhodiola* Organic Stevia*)
- 1 teaspoon Sun Potion Anandamide (Raw Cacao* Tocos * Mucuna Pruriens* Ashwagandha* Reishi Mushroom* Astragalus** Suma** Moringa* Rose Petals* Cardamom* Turmeric* Cayenne*Cinnamon* Black Pepper* Himalayan Salt Crystals* Love!*)
- 2 teaspoons Sun Potion tocos
- 1 teaspoon bee pollen (one of nature’s most completely nourishing foods, it contains nearly all nutrients required by humans)
- 4-5 ice cubes
Since I have started cycling this tonics, I honestly have noticed my mood is better and I have been less stressed and anxious! I think that is all I have noticed so far but I’m sure my body is healthier on the inside too. If you try any of these, I would love to hear how they have effected you!
In other news, I’m really excited today because I just bought my study guide stuff for the NASM personal trainer exam! I can’t wait to start studying (somethign I’ve never said before) and I have already signed up for my exam date- September 30th! I technically have 180 days to study so until the end of October but there were no exam dates available later than the 9/30 so hopefully I’ll be well-prepared by then.