Adaptogens: This is how medicinal plants work as anti-stress agents

Adaptogens: This is how medicinal plants work as anti-stress agents

If you want to know how adaptogens can have a health benefit on you and what role they play in stress, read this one Items.

Adaptogens are substances from plants, i.e. of natural origin, and have been used by ancient cultures for centuries, including in Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions.

Basically, adaptogens should have the effect of helping the body to deal better with stressful loads and to bring the organism back into balance.

There are a number of different adaptogens and ways to take them. The medicinal plants all promise to do something different - what is behind it, let's take a look now.

hand holds ginkgo leaf


What are adaptogens?

Are adaptogens herbal active ingredientsthat can be found in spices, herbs, mushrooms and roots. The term comes from the Latin word "adaptare" and means to adapt or change.

This first appeared in 1947 by the Russian pharmacologist Nicolai Lazarev. Lazarev defined the term as Substances that can increase the state of unspecific stress resistance.1, 2

Adaptogens were first studied during World War II, as scientists wanted to encourage pilots to to work at an even higher levelso that they could fly even faster and for longer periods of time.

Adaptogens are designed to counteract the effects of stress in the body. Stress can cause physical damage and changes in the mechanism of your organism, for example affecting the neurological, hormonal and immunological systems.

The components of the active plant ingredients have stimulating propertiesthat help counteract these harmful effects.

Adaptogens must meet the following criteria:

  • do not cause disruption to the normal physiological functions of the body
  • improve the body's ability to resist environmental stressors
  • support the normalization of disturbed physiological functions of the body

woman smiles happily

How do adaptogens work in the body?

Adaptogens act on the HHN axis in the brain (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal glands), which involved in the stress response are. There regulate them at the molecular level the balance.

When we are stressed, we go through three phases:

  • Alarm
  • resistance
  • exhaustion

There are various stressors that can affect usFor example, when you lift weights while exercising, argue with someone or even take an exam.

What is your body's reaction? This is where your body reacts by producing hormones like Adrenalin releaseswhereby the Improves the performance of your muscles and improves your ability to concentrateto focus on the task in the phase of resistance.

As a result of this defense you feel clearer and feel more energyto overcome the stress response. Then you come into the exhaustion phase and you get tired. Adaptogens work in the resistance phase by making it possible to stay longer in the resistance phase.

stressed woman looks into the distance

If you can adapt to stress, you not only function better, but you also feel better - even if something is stressing you. If you are stressed, your adrenal gland ensures that the stress hormone is released Cortisol and stimulates you to deal with stress.

However, if this happens too often and to a high degree, it has a negative effect on your mental and physical health, for example by gaining weight or even leading to one Burnout.

With the help of adaptogens you can try to reduce stress factors, because this reduces the production of stress hormones like cortisol and their negative effects on you.

In addition, adaptogens can indirectly help with other health problems such as pain, digestive problems, insomnia and much more.

Denn Stress triggers a number of physical reactionswhich, among other things, have an influence on immune function, hormones, the cognitive functional system in the brain and the circadian rhythm, i.e. your internal clock.

In the worst case, this can lead to chronic diseases, which are often accompanied by inflammation. As you can see, adaptogens are real stress killers!

man is overwhelmed by tasks

What are the health benefits of adaptogens?

Adaptogens can be very effective in relieving stress, but they can have other health benefits as well. Who Can Adaptogens Help?

Research found that adaptogens promote general well-being can be used as a supplement to other medications for certain health problems. But you should always clarify with a doctor beforehand in order to rule out possible side effects.

For one, it has been shown that adaptogens Help people with cardiovascular diseases and certain neurological disorders, especially those that may become more common with age, such as dementia.

Next, the herbal ingredients of the plants can die Promote mental clarity in people with many health problems.

The same study found that it was increases activity as well as productivitywhen used with antidepressants without any documented serious side effects. It can also help people check out illnesses such as B. Infectious diseases like the flu to feel more energetic again faster.

woman smiles into camera

The adaptogen became the most helpful Schisandra in people with general exhaustion and poor physical and mental performance found.

It has Also shown to be beneficial in certain neurological disorders, mental disorders such as schizophrenia, and in improving lung function.

One of the unique properties of Schisandra is that the body unlike other stimulants, such as caffeine, not a tolerance so quickly is built up and you become somewhat dependent on it. So you can use Schisandra effectively in the same dosage.3

The results of the available studies suggest that adaptogens are really helpful to Symptoms of fatigue and reduce fatigue.  Adaptogens can reduce your caffeine consumption.


What adaptogens are there?

Now let's take a look at whether all adaptogens are the same and in which plants mainly adaptogenic plant compounds occur. This is how you can find out which adaptogen might be best for your issue.

  • Ashwagandha
  • Astragalus / tragacanth
  • Brahmi
  • Cordyceps
  • Ginseng
  • Gojibeeren
  • Raw Turmeric
  • Cat
  • Reishi
  • Rose root
  • Schisandra
  • Licorice root
  • Taiga root
  • Tulsi or holy basil
  • Immortality herb

Ashwagandha roots and powder 

Ashwagandha (Withania somniferia) Also known as sleeping berry, it is believed to reduce stress and anxiety. It can also increase brain function4, blood sugar and cortisol levels5 and help with depression.6

Astragalus or tragacanth (Astragalus membranaceus) is known for its anti-fatigue effect and has long been used in combination with other herbs in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), also to strengthen the immune system.7

Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) According to research by Indian scientists, its extracts also act in the body as an adaptogen, which, with its calming effect, can help with stress factors by helping to restore homeostasis.18

Cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris)
can increase the endurance of training, which is why your athletic performance can be improved by the mushrooms potentially increasing energy and oxygen consumption during training.8

Ginseng (Panax ginseng) has been known for thousands of years and has adaptogenic properties that are supposed to help you cope better with stress.

In addition, the plant ingredients in Panax Ginseng improve cognitive functions. Studies with Panax ginseng have found a positive effect on heart and lung functions as well as on the improvement of erectile dysfunction.9

ginseng roots on a wooden board

Goji berries (Lycium barbarum) increase energy, physical and mental performance, increase the subjective feeling of general well-being, improve physical and mental performance, improve gastrointestinal function and can improve the quality of your sleep. A real all-rounder among the adaptogens!10

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is said to increase brain function and relieve depression.11 Turmeric also contains many vitamins.

Maca (Lepidium meyenii) Like other adaptogens, it strengthens the immune system and balances hormones. It can support your energy levels and adrenal health. 

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is a medicinal mushroom and also known as the shiny lacquer porling. As an adaptogen, it should strengthen your immune system.17

Rose root (Rhodiola rosea) is an adaptogen that is supposed to prevent physical and mental fatigue, so it can contribute to better mental performance. If you are stressed, tired and exhausted, you can use the active ingredient of rose root to relax.

Rose root plant with blood

Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis) increases endurance, mental performance and ability to concentrate.12

Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) reduces stress and is now used to treat diseases such as heartburn, hot flashes, coughs, and bacterial and viral infections.13

Taiga root (Eleutherococcus senticosus) improves attention and focus and also prevents mental fatigue. So you can take it when you suffer from poor concentration and are quickly exhausted.14

Tulsi or holy basil (Ocimum sanctum) is used to reduce physical and mental stress and to relieve stress-related anxiety and depression.15

Mortality Herb (Gynostemma pentaphyllum) will not give you everlasting life. The herb with the promising name is known for its stress-reducing effect and is also said to increase stamina.16

woman smiles happily

You can find more detailed information in the book "Adaptogenic Herbs" by David Winston. Winston explains in his work how you can use adaptogens to increase the body's resistance to harmful influences.

It further details the history of the use of the herbal remedies as well as properties, manufacture and dosage for each herb. If you want to deal with the topic even more intensively, we can recommend "Adaptogenic Herbs".


Adaptogens: what do I have to consider when taking?

Adaptogens come in different forms: capsules, tablets, powders, tinctures, tea. You can also add adaptogens to your foods, for example in powder form, such as smoothies, soups or salad dressings. It can be taken daily or as neededif, for example, you are currently suffering from stressful situations.

You can buy adaptogens such as powders, tea, and others without a prescription as dietary supplements. These are available in many health food stores, in drugstores or online.


Side effects of adaptogens

Every plant can be allergic or cause gastrointestinal discomfort in some people. It is possible that some adaptogens could interfere with prescription drugs and not recommended for people with certain medical conditions.

Unless you have an allergy or are taking other medicines, adaptogens are safe to use, if you stick to the recommended amount and there are very few unwanted side effects.

However, rose root (Rhodiola rosea) can cause mild dizziness, dry mouth, sleep disorders or nervousness in some people due to its mild stimulating effect. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also avoid ashwaganda (sleeping berry), schisandra, and holy basil.

In any case, it is always advisable that you Talk to your doctor if you want to use adaptogens.

 Reishi mushrooms


Adaptogens are natural plant compounds that regulate one positive effect on the balance of your body functions can have. The active ingredients of the adaptogens are mainly known for their supporting effect as stress killers and have been for thousands of years, e.g. B. They are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Furthermore, adaptogens have properties that against fatigue and physical weakness act as well antidepressant effects and act as Stimulant on the central nervous system. Adaptogens can thus be used when applying the mental capacity and increase awareness.

Adaptogens help us stay in the resistance phase longer and have a stimulating effect by inhibiting exhaustion. Instead of “breaking down” in the midst of stressful situations, a task or an event. You can use capsules or powder, for example.

What do you think of such medicinal plants, are they true miracles or do you find them overrated? Have you already used adaptogens for stress? Please tell us about your experiences on Instagram @ahead_nutrition.

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