Stress is an unavoidable part of modern life, and it can have a negative impact on our physical and mental health. Adaptogens are natural substances that have been used for centuries to help the body cope with stress and promote overall wellness. In this article, we will explore adaptogens and their benefits, specifically in the context of Australia.
Stress and Australian Women
A recent survey conducted by the Australian Psychological Society has shed light on the severity of stress among women in Australia. The findings reveal that stress is a significant issue for women, with a staggering 35% rating their current stress levels as very high or high. In comparison, only 27% of men reported the same.
When it comes to the sources of stress, the survey found that personal finances, family issues, and personal health are the top three factors causing stress among women in Australia. Interestingly, women aged 18-35 reported the highest levels of stress, suggesting that this age group is particularly vulnerable to the effects of stress.
Perhaps even more alarming, the survey showed that 58% of women felt overwhelmed by their stress in the past year. This suggests that stress is not just a minor inconvenience, but a serious problem that can have a significant impact on women's lives.
The survey also revealed that 44% of women experienced symptoms of stress, such as feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge. This highlights the need for natural remedies to help women manage their stress levels.
What are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens are natural substances that can help the body manage stress and improve overall well-being. These substances can be found in various plants and herbs and have been used for centuries in traditional medical systems such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The term adaptogen however is a relatively recent one. The term "adaptogen" was coined in the 1940s by a Russian scientist named Nikolai Lazarev, who was researching natural substances that could improve the performance and resilience of Soviet soldiers.
How do Adaptogens Work?
When we experience stress, our body activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. This is a complex system that involves the release of various hormones, including cortisol, which is commonly referred to as the "stress hormone." Cortisol is important in short-term stress responses, but prolonged exposure to high levels of cortisol can have negative effects on the body, including impaired immune function, increased inflammation, and disrupted sleep.
This is where adaptogens come in. Research has shown that certain adaptogens can help regulate cortisol levels and reduce the negative effects of chronic stress on the body. Adaptogens have been found to modulate the HPA axis, which can help regulate the release of cortisol and other stress hormones. This can result in improved energy levels, better sleep quality, and reduced feelings of anxiety and fatigue.
In addition, adaptogens have been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help protect the body from the damaging effects of chronic stress. By reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, adaptogens can help support the body's immune system and reduce the risk of chronic diseases associated with stress, such as heart disease and diabetes. Overall, incorporating adaptogens into your daily routine may be a helpful way to manage stress and promote optimal health and wellbeing.
3. Types of Adaptogens
There are many different types of adaptogens, each with their own unique properties and benefits. Here are a few examples:
Ashwagandha, a potent adaptogenic herb with a rich history of use in Ayurvedic medicine, has gained popularity in recent years due to its ability to combat stress and anxiety, enhance cognitive function, and fortify the immune system. Ashwagandha supplements, teas, and tinctures are now widely available and have garnered a loyal following of enthusiasts.
Ashwagandha's active compounds, including withanolides and alkaloids, have been shown to modulate stress hormones, enhance neurotransmitter activity, and reduce inflammation.
2. Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola Rosea is an herb that is native to the mountains of Europe and Asia and has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to promote physical and mental well-being. The herb is known for its ability to enhance cognitive function, reduce fatigue, and improve overall performance.
Rhodiola Rosea is commonly found in supplements, teas, and tinctures, and its popularity has grown in recent years due to its purported health benefits. The active compounds in the herb, including rosavin, rosin, and salidroside, have been shown to have adaptogenic effects, helping the body to better cope with stress and anxiety.
In addition to its mental health benefits, Rhodiola Rosea has also been found to have physical health benefits, including improving athletic performance and reducing symptoms of depression. The herb has also been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a potentially valuable therapeutic agent.
3. Schisandra Berry
Schisandra Berry is a vine that originates from China and parts of Russia, and has been used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine for its adaptogenic properties. The berries of the Schisandra plant are commonly used, and they are known as a "five flavor fruit" because they contain all five basic flavors: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and pungent.
Schisandra is believed to help the body resist stress, boost energy, and support liver health. It has also been studied for its potential benefits for cognitive function and mood. Research suggests that Schisandra may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and may also help to regulate blood sugar levels.
In addition to its traditional use as an adaptogen, Schisandra has also been found to have potential benefits for cognitive function and mood. Studies have shown that Schisandra may improve mental performance and reduce mental fatigue, and may also have mood-enhancing effects.
4. Panax Ginseng
Panax Ginseng, also known as Asian Ginseng, is a root herb that has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries for its adaptogenic properties. It is believed to help the body resist stress, boost energy, and improve mental and physical performance.
Panax Ginseng contains compounds called ginsenosides, which are thought to be responsible for many of its health benefits. These compounds have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and may also help to regulate blood sugar levels.
In addition to its traditional use as an adaptogen, Panax Ginseng has been studied for its potential benefits for cardiovascular health, immune function, and cognitive function. Research suggests that Panax Ginseng may help to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, and boost immune function.
4. Adaptogens in Australia
Australia has a rich history of traditional medicine that dates back thousands of years. Indigenous communities in Australia have long used natural remedies and healing practices as part of their culture and way of life. These practices have been passed down through generations and are still used today by many indigenous people in Australia.
In addition to indigenous medicine, many immigrants to Australia have brought their own traditional healing practices with them. Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, and homeopathy are just a few examples of traditional practices that have become increasingly popular in Australia. These practices are often used as alternative or complementary therapies to address a wide range of health concerns and very often include adaptogens.
Some of the most commonly used adaptogens in Australia include Ashwagandha, Rhodiola Rosea, Schisandra Berry, Panax Ginseng, Holy Basil, and Licorice Root.
5. Benefits of Adaptogens
Adaptogens offer numerous benefits for both physical and mental health. Here are a few examples:
1. Stress Relief
One of the most well-known benefits of adaptogens is their ability to reduce stress and anxiety. They work by regulating the body's stress response system, which can help to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. When we experience stress, our bodies release hormones such as cortisol, which can have negative effects on our physical and mental health if levels remain high for prolonged periods. Adaptogens can help to reduce the impact of stress on our bodies by balancing hormone levels and promoting a more relaxed state. This can lead to improved mood and a greater sense of well-being.
2. Immune System Support
In addition to their stress-reducing properties, adaptogens have also been found to support immune function. They work by regulating the body's immune response and reducing inflammation, which can help to protect against illness and disease. When our immune system is functioning properly, it is better able to identify and fight off harmful pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses. Adaptogens can help to support the immune system's ability to do this by promoting a balanced immune response and reducing chronic inflammation, which can lead to improved overall health and reduced risk of chronic diseases.
3. Energy Boosting
Another benefit of adaptogens is their ability to increase energy levels and reduce fatigue. They work by supporting the body's natural energy production pathways and regulating hormones that impact energy levels. When we experience fatigue, it can be due to a number of factors, such as poor sleep quality, stress, and imbalances in hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Adaptogens can help to address these factors by promoting restful sleep, reducing the impact of stress on the body, and balancing hormone levels. This can lead to increased energy levels and improved overall vitality, making adaptogens a popular natural remedy for fatigue.
4. Cognitive Function Enhancement
Adaptogens have also been found to enhance cognitive function, including memory, focus, and mental clarity. They do this by increasing blood flow to the brain and supporting the production of neurotransmitters that are important for brain function. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that transmit signals between nerve cells in the brain. Adaptogens can help to support the production and release of neurotransmitters like acetylcholine and dopamine, which are involved in cognitive processes such as memory and attention. Additionally, adaptogens can help to protect against oxidative stress, which can damage brain cells and impair cognitive function over time. As a result, adaptogens have become a popular natural remedy for boosting brain function and improving mental performance.
How to Incorporate Adaptogens into Your Daily Routine
There are many ways to incorporate adaptogens into your daily routine. Here are a few examples:
In Australia, you can find several adaptogen supplements in tablet or capsule form that you can add to your daily supplement regimen. These supplements are a convenient way to integrate the benefits of natural adaptogens into your routine. You can purchase adaptogen supplements easily from health food stores, pharmacies, or online retailers.
Popular adaptogen supplements in Australia include Panax Ginseng, Schisandra, Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and Eleuthero. These supplements are usually combined with other natural ingredients that work together with the adaptogenic properties of the herbs. For instance, Ashwagandha supplements might contain black pepper extract to improve herb absorption, while Rhodiola supplements could have vitamin C to provide extra antioxidant support.
It's important to research and select a reputable brand that sources high-quality ingredients when selecting an adaptogen supplement. It is also recommended that you consult a healthcare professional before adding any new supplements to your routine, particularly if you have underlying health conditions or are on any medication.
Adaptogenic teas are a soothing and relaxing way to incorporate adaptogens into your daily routine. Simply steep the tea in hot water for several minutes and enjoy. You can buy the herbs yourself and make up your own brew or you can buy pre-made teas that include adaptogens like these teas which are currently available online in Australia:
- Botanikos Adapt and Strengthen - Organic Adaptogenic Loose Leaf Herbal Tea
- Blend Remedy - Wellbeing Adaptogen Herbal Tea
- Golden Grind - Focus and Energy Tea
Adaptogenic tinctures are a concentrated liquid form of adaptogens that can be added to water or taken directly under the tongue. They are a fast and easy way to get the benefits of adaptogens. Tinctures are made by steeping the roots of the plant in alcohol to extract its beneficial compounds. So if you are avoiding alcohol it might be best to avoid consuming adaptogens in this way.
3. Functional Beverages
Functional beverages are drinks that contain ingredients that provide a specific health benefit, such as adaptogens. These can include bottled drinks like kombucha, kefir, and cold brew coffee with adaptogens added, as well as homemade drinks like adaptogenic lattes and smoothies. Functional beverages are a convenient and tasty way to incorporate adaptogens into your daily routine. Just be sure to check the ingredients list and choose beverages that are low in added sugars and other artificial ingredients.*
Adapt Drinks are functional beverages that are 100% natural and have zero sugar so tick all the boxes!
Precautions and Side Effects
While adaptogens are generally safe and well-tolerated, it is important to use them responsibly and under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Some adaptogens can interact with medications or have side effects like gastrointestinal upset or allergic reactions. Always read labels carefully and follow dosing instructions.
Adaptogens are natural substances that have been used for centuries to help the body cope with stress and promote overall wellness. In Australia, adaptogens like Ashwagandha, Rhodiola Rosea, Schisandra Berry and Panax Ginseng have a long history of use in traditional medicine systems. Whether you choose to incorporate adaptogens into your daily routine through supplements, teas, functional beverages or tinctures, they offer numerous benefits for both physical and mental health.
Are adaptogens safe to use?
- Adaptogens are generally safe and well-tolerated, but it is important to use them responsibly and seek guidance of a healthcare professional.
Can adaptogens interact with medications?
- Yes, some adaptogens can interact with medications. Always read labels carefully and consult with a healthcare professional before use.
How long does it take to see the benefits of adaptogens?
- The benefits of adaptogens can vary depending on the individual and the type of adaptogen used. Some people may see benefits immediately, while others may need to take adaptogens for several weeks or months before noticing a difference.
Can I take multiple adaptogens at once?
- Yes, it is possible to take multiple adaptogens at once, but it is important to do so under the guidance of a healthcare professional to ensure safety and effectiveness.
Are adaptogens a replacement for medical treatment?
- No, adaptogens are not a replacement for medical treatment. While they can offer numerous benefits for overall health and wellness, they should not be used to treat or cure any medical condition without the guidance of a healthcare professional. It is important to continue to follow any recommended medical treatment plan and consult with a healthcare professional before making any changes.
Are adaptogens native to Australia?
Adaptogens are not native to Australia. Ashwagandha is native to India and North Africa, while Rhodiola is native to the arctic regions of Europe and Asia. Schisandra berries are native to Northern China, Russia, and parts of Korea. Panax ginseng, also known as Korean ginseng or Asian ginseng, is native to China, Korea, and parts of Russia.