Adaptogens: What are they, and do you need them?
The latest buzzword in health and wellness has been “adaptogens”. They’ve been around in ayurvedic medicine for centuries, but the concept has just recently begun to take root in the West, and adaptogenic ingredients have been finding their way into various supplements and drinks.
But what exactly are they, and do you need them in your life?
What Are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens are a group of plants with a common overall beneficial impact, but each one is different, is presented differently, and offers different benefits.
You probably already have some ground Turmeric root at home – it’s popular in Indian cooking, and gives curries their vivid yellow colour. It has a powerful anti-inflammatory quality and improves circulation, and you can buy it powdered or as a fresh root (watch out for bright yellow fingernails when you handle it!). You have probably also come across Ginseng, which supports physical endurance, gives an energy boost, enhances libido in men, and is believed to lower blood sugar and cholesterol, Rhodiola Rosea, which boosts mood and memory retention (it’s often suggested coming up to exams) and Milk Thistle, a herb which supports liver function.
Others include Ashwaghanda, Cordyceps, Liquorice, He Shou Wu, Dang Shen, Eleuthero, Green Chirayta, Holy Basil, Guduchi, Jiaogulan, Reishi, Rhaponticum, Schisandra, Shilajit and Shiitake.
What Do They Do?
Adaptogens work on your adrenal system, and combat the effects of stress on your body and mental state. In general, their purpose is stabilisation, and many herbalists attribute a wide range of benefits to adaptogenic plants.
They are widely believed to induce a state of well-being, and to improve your mood and ability to cope when life is stressful, which can have a positive knock-on effect on the quality of your sleep, your libido, your immune system and more.
Although there is little clinical evidence in the west for the benefits of adaptogens as a group, many of the individual plants included in the group, such as turmeric, have well-established benefits.
Where Do You Get Them?
Most of these can easily be bought individually from different herbalists online, such as Nutriseed, who offer Ashwaghanda in capsules and powdered form, and Detox Trading who have a wide variety of different adaptogens (and much more), which you can blend into your smoothies or raw snacks, or even mix up your own personal blend, but you can also buy capsules of pre-blended adaptogens to suit your own needs if you prefer.
If you want to pick up your adaptogenic fix during your next beauty shopping spree, you can choose from the gorgeously presented collection from LA brand Moon Juice, available from Cult Beauty. These include Sex Dust, Brain Dust and Power Dust.
Note: This article is intended only to highlight adaptogens as alternative remedies, and nothing on melaniesykes.com should be taken to constitute medical advice.