Adaptogens are edible plant extracts used over millennia to relieve various ailments in parts of India and Asia. But in recent years, this substance has become popular in American health and wellness practices worldwide. Adaptogens are simply a family of herbs and plants that can reduce stress by increasing and boosting tolerance and resistance to stressful situations. 1
The exponents of adaptogens claim that these substances help the body adjust to chemic, biological or chemical stress. They are said to be able to stimulate the body's stress-protection response, helping the system return to a homeostasis state. 2
What are the benefits of adaptogens?
Must maintain a balanced state – The substance should not make worse effects caused by external stressors.
Should be able to help the human body in various chemical, biological, and physical conditions as improving sexual desire.
In a nutshell, adaptogens may help lower the human body's response to stress, improving sexual performance. 3
The common herbal adaptogens
There are more than 70 types of herbal plants that can be categorized as adaptogens. Most of them have been applied in traditional Eastern medicine for millennia. 4
Here is a selected list of common adaptogens that are known for relieving stress:
Rhodiola Rosea L
Different types of Adaptogens
According to a classification by Dr. Donald Yance (an internationally known master herbalist and nutritionist), adaptogens are categorized into three parts:
1. Adaptogen Companions
These are compounds that, while they do not fit the primary criteria of an adaptogen, can have incredible beneficial impacts on the HPA axis as well as anabolism.
2. Primary Adaptogens
Primary adaptogens follow strict requirements and can help the body curb stress and restore the body system to its optimum state. These substances may also have positive stress effects by actively enhancing the ability of the human body to withstand stress.
3. Secondary Adaptogens
These adaptogens are similar to their primary counterparts, with the main difference being that secondary adaptogens do not act on the hypothalamus-pituitary (HPA) axis. This means that these adaptogens do not directly affect the production of stress hormones. Nevertheless, secondary adaptogens may still have effects on the immune, endocrine, and nervous system. 5
How do adaptogens work?
These substances work at a molecular level by controlling a stable balance in the pituitary, adrenal, and hypothalamic glands. These glands are known for involving in stress response by 'hacking' the stress response of the body. This simply means adaptogens can help the body to better manage stress.
Studies have found that adaptogens have several impacts on the body, including but not limited to the following:
Stimulant for central nervous system
Anti-depressive effects. 6
Adaptogens are not new in modern health fads. They have been subjects to studies for millennia as a way to enhance the ability of the body to respond to stress, improve sexual performance, desire, prevent fatigue, and increase attention and energy.