This time of year it's difficult to avoid stressors, whether it's holiday shopping, money worries, hectic holiday travel, annoying relatives, or planning large meals for a crowd.
I'm here to help you make life’s stressors a little easier. Introducing....ADAPTOGENS!
Adaptogens Manage Stress
Adaptogenic herbs are just like they sound – they help the body adapt to and cope more effectively with stress. They work by modifying the body’s reaction to stress and alter the release of stress hormones in the body, particularly from the adrenal glands. They do this by affecting the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis).
When we experience a stressor, whether physical or mental, our body goes through what’s called General Adaptation Syndrome, which is a three-stage response: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. Adaptogens help us stay in the resistance phase longer, via a stimulating effect that holds off the exhaustion. Instead of crashing in the midst of a stressful moment, task, or event, we attain equilibrium and soldier on. You will feel balanced, relaxed and naturally happy, but not sluggish.
Not one size fits all. Each adaptogen supports stress AND has its own unique characteristics. For example, some are calming, some stimulating, some warming, some moistening, and some drying. Which one to take depends on the results you seek.
As a bonus benefit, many adaptogens provide immune support, which is crucial this time of year.
Adaptogens To Hack Your Daytime Fatigue
When a person is under stress, more stress hormones are released. Adaptogens help the adrenal glands respond more effectively and efficiently to the excess hormones. Along with tackling stress, certain adaptogens can give the body and mind an energy boost and provide an increased flow of steady energy throughout the day. The specific adaptogens that do this include: American & Asian Ginseng, Rhodiola, Eleuthero, Schisandra, Ashwagandha. Although a single adaptogen can be useful, many health problems are interrelated, so it’s best to take combinations of adaptogenic herbs to support different body systems. For daytime support, I love Healthy Goods adaptogen blend Stress-Adapt Day.
Adaptogens To Hack Your Sleep
Adaptogens regulate the production of cortisol, reducing stress. A relaxed, less stressful body allows for better and more rejuvenating sleep. Specific adaptogens that support sleep include: Holy Basil, Ashwagandha, Eleuthero and Rhodiola.
In particular, holy basil is an effective adaptogenic herb for supporting normal cortisol and blood sugar levels during times of stress. Read more about holy basil here. Ashwagandha helps the body cope with stress, which can interfere with stress. It also promotes a natural sleep cycle.
A great option for night time stress and relaxation is Healthy Goods Stress Adapt Night, which is a blend of holy basil, ashwagandha and pantethine. Pantethine is the active form of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) and supports stress management. Without enough, the body doesn’t recover from stress very well, which makes it harder to rest.
How To Take Adaptogens
- The best way to use adaptogens is daily.
- Find a creative way to incorporate adaptogens into your routine – breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack.
- If using capsules, follow product instructions. If using powder, start with a small amount – ¼ to ½ teaspoon and slowly increase to ½ Tablespoon over time.
I think it goes without saying, don't forget to take time out to manage and reduce your stress this holiday season, and don't forget to include adaptogens as a part of this plan.
In Health and Happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods