What are adaptogens and why should I take them?

Traditional herbal medicine is all about adaptogens. They are believed to lower the production of the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol, which leads to anxiety, suppressed immunity, slowed metabolism, and hormone imbalance.

Adaptogens help brings our bodies back to a stable baseline point of health and wellbeing, improving the physical ability to adapt to stress, whether it’s a busy schedule, heat or cold, noise, high altitudes, or any number of other stresses. This elite class of herbs imparts strength, energy, stamina, endurance, and improves mental clarity. They have been used for centuries in Eastern medicine, as part of Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions, but the Western world is finally starting to catch on. Taken in teas, tinctures, supplements, or in powder form with food, adaptogens are completely safe, non-toxic herbs.

Knowing the powers of adaptogens, and what works well together, we’ve to combine Maca and Yerba Mate into two of our oral supplements – BeauTea and SkinShake – to provide a full range of health benefits which work inside and out. To put it in the simplest form, adaptogens help you adapt. But how do they do it?

Well, they may just do for your adrenal glands what exercise does for your muscles. When we exercise, it’s a stress on the body. But as we continue to train, the body becomes better at dealing with the stress of it, so we no longer get as tired or as high a heart rate.

Taking adaptogens is similar – it’s training the body to handle the effects of stress.

These herbs achieve this by interacting with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathoadrenal system, both of which are involved in the body’s response to stress.

But how do adaptogens help the skin?

Ever been just plain stressed and exhausted, and seen the results show up on your skin? Adaptogens like ginseng or maca will boost your skin as well as your energy.

Adaptogens are also believed to slow the appearance of ageing, with antioxidant properties that prevent free-radical damage.

Since skin rashes and disorders can often be due to a hyper or hypo adrenaline condition, adaptogens can also benefit the skin by treating the underlying condition.

Many dermatologists will also treat the digestive system for skin disorders. By slowing the breakdown of cortisone, acting as an anti-inflammatory, this can help with irritations and rashes.

Each adaptogen has a slightly different function, so the best one for you depends on the specific ailment you’re experiencing.

Here are just some of the herbs which demonstrate significant adaptogenic activity: 

  • Ashwagandha:  Ashwagandha Known as the ‘strength of the stallion’ in India, this is used in Ayurvedic medicine to strengthen the immune system, treat fatigue, reduce anxiety and combat stress

  • Astragalus: Guards against disease and supports the liver. Great for the immune system and digestion

  • Eleuthero: Invigorates sexual function, boosts energy, enhances immunity, and vitality. Known as Siberian ginseng.

  • Ginseng: Increases mental alertness and builds resistance to stress. Enhances libido.

  • Holy Basil: Enhances the body’s natural response to physical and emotional stress

  • Jiaogulan: A member of the pumpkin family, this plant shows benefits for the heart, the immune system, and brain function.

  • Jujube: A red berry that helps with anxiety and insomnia. Supports energy levels

  • Maca: Dubbed ‘Peruvian ginseng’, the root increases strength, energy, stamina, libido, and sexual function. Maca can be found in BeauTea and SkinShake.

  • Milk Vetch: Immune system stimulation and regulation of blood sugar and blood pressure are just some of the benefits of this plant, which also improves heart function and circulation.

  • Panax Ginseng: A tonic herb, used to rejuvenate and invigorate. Protects against stress.

  • Panax Quinquefolius: Used for calming and tonic qualities.

  • Reishi Mushrooms: Regulates the immune system and organ function, studies have shown they can alleviate allergies and asthma.

  • Rhaponticum: Full of antioxidants, this promotes cell health and stimulates the nervous system and memory.

  • Rhodiola Rosea: Defends the body overall, encouraging wellbeing. Fights stress and fatigue.

  • Schisandra: A potent tonic, enhancing physical performance, and promoting endurance. The berry counters stress by reducing stress hormone levels in the blood. Also believed to improve liver function and treat gastrointestinal problems.

  • Sea Buckthorn: This is a super fruit containing all of the omegas and a large number of antioxidants and minerals. Grown in the Himalayan Mountains, it is often used to improve skin health and is linked to healing psoriasis and slowing ageing. Used to improve gastrointestinal disorders and colon health.

  • Yerba Mate: Made from the leaves of the South American rainforest holly tree, local tribes have sipped yerba mate for its rejuvenating effects. Its leaves contain 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, and abundant antioxidants. Yerba mate is in Integrative Beauty’s oral supplements BeauTea and SkinShake.