Mushroom coffee? Turmeric golden milk? Holy basil cereal?
It seems like many of the common things we usually enjoy are being infused with these new ingredients promising to make us smarter, feel less tired, or reach a new PR in the gym.
Except, these “new” things are actually very old, tried-and-true substances called adaptogens.
Adaptogens are substances like herbs or mushrooms that are used in herbal medicine for the treatment of various illnesses. It is thought that these particular substances are beneficial in treating common ailments like depression and weakened immune systems by regulating the chemicals of the body.
Let’s take a look at just what adaptogens are, how they benefit one’s health (if at all), and some of their different uses over the centuries.
What’s an Adaptogen?
According to proponents of adaptogens, various illnesses stem from a lack of homeostasis among the chemicals of the human body. Adaptogens help the human body to regain that equilibrium, thus treating the illnesses.
Adaptogens are particularly good at addressing the body’s imbalances when it comes to stress.
When our bodies are faced with stress, we go through what’s called general adaption syndrome (GAS). This is a three-stage response to stress consisting of an alarm, resistance, and exhaustion phase.
Adaptogens address stress by interacting with chemicals in the body and brain to reduce the negative reactions during the alarm phase and eliminating or decreasing the exhaustion phase altogether.
Despite the fact that the term “adaptogen” wasn’t coined until 1940 (and has been redefined several times since), the scientific research on adaptogens goes back centuries — with significant attention from modern Western scientists in the past 50 years.
And while the FDA does not regulate adaptogens per se, it has at least defined adaptogens as “a new kind of metabolic regulator that has been proved to help in environmental adaptation and to prevent external harm.”
The data from both scientists and regulating bodies confirm that these substances provide benefits to humans, and ongoing research continues to explore the extent to which these substances may be able to provide relief to humans in the future.
Which Herb for Which Hurt?
But what are the types of adaptogens and what do they claim to do?
Tulsi, also known as “holy basil” is a fragrant plant grown in India and parts of Asia. This “queen of the herbs” has been used for a variety of ailments, from a chronic cough to scorpion bites.
Tulsi has been found to also be effective at protecting the organs and tissue from heavy metal contamination and industrial pollution as well as providing anti-microbial protection, prompting possible uses as a disinfectant and mouthwash.
Ginseng has been a staple of traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, but modern Western medicine has only started to acknowledge the benefits of this adaptogen in the past few decades.
Ginseng provides a relief for a wide variety of ailments, including inflammation, fatigue, and even erectile dysfunction. Studies have also drawn correlations between ginseng intake and strong immune systems, lower cancer risk, and enhanced brain function.
Rhodiola rosea is a shrub found in many of the mountainous regions of the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia. The shrub has long been used, particularly among athletes seeking anti-inflammation relief after physical stress.
Studies have shown that rhodiola rosea also aids in mental inflammation and has been effective at treating symptoms of depression and fatigue. Furthermore, the adaptogen has seen success at fighting aging, enhancing immune systems, and preventing cancer.
Getting Your Adaptogens
If you’re interested in integrating adaptogens into your daily regime, there are several ways to go about it. Adaptogens are often sold in a variety of forms, including teas, powders, and tinctures, and with their ever-growing popularity, you can easily find them at your local grocery store or online.
While teas, powders, and tinctures have been the traditional means of ingesting adaptogens, their presence in everyday recipes is growing, making the integrating of adaptogens into your daily diet even easier.
ModBalls are a great example of a snack that has included adaptogens into its list of ingredients. These tasty snacks include 85 ingredients from natural sources to provide clean, sustained energy without sacrificing flavor.
Included in that list of 85 ingredients is none other than the queen of herbs, holy basil.
ModBalls takes advantage of the body’s natural chemistry and enhances it with nutritionally-dense ingredients in convenient, delicious treats.
Adaptogens are a wonderful way to enhance your current diet with herbs and foods that have been used to cure illnesses and heal wounds for centuries. As scientists learn more about them and companies integrate the ingredients into more recipes, we’ll likely see them more often in the future.
So the next time you see some mushroom coffee or ginseng ginger beer — or an adaptogen-packed energy bite, don’t just walk on by. Give it a try. Check out ModBalls today — your body will thank you.