Adaptogens are herbs which fight stress, and can have powerful physical and mental benefits. In this video we explore the science behind Ginseng, Rhodiola, & Ashwagandha.
The Adaptogen Blend I Take:
If you’ve been feeling over stressed and burnt out lately, you’re not alone. Not even close.
In fact according to one yearly poll, 2018 saw Americans reach their highest reported stress levels in over a decade.
With talk of stress related diseases and reports of work related burnout on the rise, it’s no surprise that people are showing increased interest in herbal supplements which are said to reduce stress and improve health.
While the idea of using herbs as medicine is gaining traction in America, in the rest of the world it never left. Just ask the World Health Organization, who report that 75% of the worlds population depend on botanical medicines for their basic healthcare needs.
While China and India are some of the largest users of these medicines, herbal medicines are widely used in Europe as well. Take Germany for example, where they classify medicinal herbs as phytomedicines, all German medical students learn about them, and regularly prescribe them to their patients.
In this video, we are going to look specifically at Adaptogens.What are adaptogens? This family of herbs are said to carry a wide range of benefits, mostly centering around adapting to stress, supporting metabolic and immune function, and restoring hormonal balance.
While many people swear that they have seen major improvements to their physical and mental wellbeing, on this channel we like to dive a bit deeper.
I also want to take a deeper look to really understand and explain our body’s physical and mental stress pathways, where they go wrong when we get burned out, and how adaptogens can help us get back to our best physical and mental performance.
Specifically we’ll look into Ginseng, Ashwagandha, and Rhodiola. These Adaptogens have received some of the most praise for their supposed benefits on stress, immune function, longevity, mental performance, and even physical performance.
So beyond just providing a broad overview of adaptogens, we’ll also look at their history and science backed benefits behind some of the most well known ones.
I’ve included timecodes for everything on the screen and in the description, so if you only clicked this video to learn about a specific one of these herbs, you can skip right to it.
So the question is, are these claims just hype?
Well the first clue might be just how long people have been using these herbs.
The history of humans using these adaptogenic herbs goes back far. While we are going to cover the modern science behind them, and the science of stress, let’s first investigate what the people who discovered their health effects thought of them.
Thousands of years before russian scientist Nikolai Lazarev would first coin the term adaptogen to describe the shared properties of these herbs, ancient cultures around the world were already discovering their effects for themselves. If you aren’t interested in any of this history, you can skip ahead to the research backed effects, personally though I find the history adds some great context.
Lazarev and Brekhman the russian researchers claimed adaptogens could prolong the duration of the resistance to stress phase and diminish the magnitude of the alarm phase.
And sure enough, search the literature and countless researchers have pointed to a calming and balancing effect on the HPA axis as the explanation for how they are able to alleviate general stress.
As their research into Adaptogens continued, they searched for new herbs to study. To fit their criteria as an adaptogen an herb had to be absolutely safe with no side effects especially when used long term. It had to have a broadly positive impact on the body, and have a normalizing effect.
But how exactly are plants able to do all this, and what’s the mechanism?
Well as it turns out plants have an incredibly diverse chemical makeup. Hundreds of thousands of primary and secondary metabolites, which are unique chemical compounds exist within them to do everything from, supporting energy generation and storage, to providing resistance to environmental stressors, such as the stress of attacking pests, or a frigid winter.
Two classes of these secondary metabolites have been found to be especially active in humans, polyphenols, which typically carry antioxidant properties, and terpenes, which generally exist to help the plant survive in its own unique and often harsh environment, interestingly these compounds often carry structures very similar to hormones within our own bodies.