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What's an Adaptogen and Why Should I Care?

Audrey Gerber
Audrey GerberPublished on March 12, 2022

Let’s look at different definitions of the word:

Google Definition

(in herbal medicine) a natural substance considered to help the body adapt to stress and to exert a normalizing effect upon bodily processes.

Merriam-Webster Definition

a nontoxic substance and especially a plant extract that is held to increase the body's ability to resist the damaging effects of stress and promote or restore normal physiological functioning.

Audrey’s Definition

An adaptogen is a herb or plant that acts on the overall health and regulation of the body, by acting specifically on the nervous system restoration (think of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis – the HPA). It is mostly known to help the body adapt to exterior stressors.

We know that a lot of our symptoms and discomfort are caused by stress, which is why adaptogens can have a vast impact on our bodies.

From a hormonal point of view, an adaptogen, through its effects on the adrenal glands, can help restore levels of progesterone and reduce PMS symptoms such as tiredness or exhaustion, mood swings, anxiety, depression, bloating, headaches, insomnia, and shakiness.

So when should you decide to try one?

If you are struggling with any of the symptoms I just mentioned, have high stress levels, are trying to conceive, or are constantly feeling ungrounded and disconnected, then trying an adaptogen might be the next smart thing to do.

With its effects on the adrenal glands, this will trigger healthy ovulation and therefore a better regulation of your reproductive hormones.

Types of adaptogens

Here is a short list of the most common adaptogens (that are often used in case of hormonal imbalance) and some of their extra benefits:

Holy Basil (Tulsi) – This one offers great liver support as it is loaded with nutrients for the liver’s good function (such as antioxidants, zinc, iron, vitamin A and C). It promotes better sleep and is a natural anti-depressant.

Lavender – One of the safest medicinal plants out there, lavender is also anti-inflammatory, soothing for skin issues and eczema, boosts digestion and calms emotions.

Ashwagandha – One of the most efficient adaptogens, this one regulates blood sugar and heart health. It boosts focus and mental clarity as well as fertility.

Maca – Also increases libido and is especially good for menopause. It increases energy levels and helps to clear skin imperfections.

Ginseng – This is one is another powerful anti-inflammatory that boosts focus and brain function, boosts the immune system, increases energy levels, and regulates blood sugar.

Rhodiola Rosea – Rhodiola has been used for hormones for hundreds of years. It helps to increase energy levels, is a natural anti-depressant, regulates blood sugar and mood swings.

Turmeric – This is a powerful herb for the liver, and it significantly reduces inflammation. It is a great antioxidant booster, as well as a booster for optimal brain function. It has also been used a spice to promote heart health.  

Licorice Root – This one is also great to reduce androgen levels, boost healthy digestion and regulate the microbiome.

Astragalus – This is another powerful liver supporter, as well as an immune system booster. It helps to combat infections and regulates blood sugar.

How and when to take them

When you have chosen the type of adaptogen you want to try, you will know in what form it comes. Some plants can be bought as dried leaves, in powdered form, in capsules, in essential oils, in teas, in tinctures, in fresh leaves, etc.

The form you choose will determine how you take it. For example, you might take one capsule of Holy Basil a day, or instead two teas per day, etc.

My recommendation is to buy from a herbalist or a local store. This way, you are more likely to deal with professionals and can trust their instructions that come when you buy the plant. If you can’t, make sure that the plant is organically grown and doesn’t have any other ingredients in the package (unless you’re taking a mix, in which case you want to be able to recognize all ingredients listed).

What is truly important is that you take the adaptogen regularly. You might only start to notice a difference after one month of daily intake.

Remember, this isn’t a magic fix. Healing of the adrenals doesn’t happen overnight. It requires patience and consistency, and the work on your mindset and feminine energy.

If your body is able to work, but your brain keeps sending signals of danger, then it won’t matter how well your stress response works. You’ll still struggle.

When looking to heal and balance hormones, you ALWAYS want to find the root causes and address them. Otherwise, the symptoms will come back.

As you are using adaptogens to help your body, you also want to ask yourself the question: why are my stress levels so high? Is there another reason, other than my body’s hormonal flow?

Healing is never only physical. You want to give your system full support for full healing. So look at your energy and thoughts when you are looking at your body as well. Nurture yourself back to health and radiance with holistic and whole practices.

Using adaptogens is just one of these practices. More will be coming on the membership. Stay tuned!!

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