10 Best Adaptogens To Fight Stress, Anxiety, and Avoid Depression
by Vickie Chin on May 12, 2023
Ever feel like life is spinning you around in a mad game of pin the tail on the donkey? You're not alone. In this topsy-turvy world of ours, we've got more stress and anxiety triggers than you can shake a stick at. From bereavement to break-ups, from ailments to alienation, life's a veritable rollercoaster ride, and not always the fun kind.
The kicker? Stress can sneak up on you like a crafty ninja, leading you down the gloomy path of depression, where your self-esteem and self-worth might take a hit. Not ideal, right?
Enter stage right, our superheroes of the day – Adaptogens! Imagine them like your own personal stress-buffering squad, on a mission to keep your body's response to stress in check. They're not just some fancy name we've made up, honest. Adaptogens are the real deal, mostly plant or herb-based, and they're here to rewrite your stress and anxiety narrative.
Think of them as a sprinkle of magic dust in your food and drinks, or a little drop of calm in tincture form. But, hold your horses! Not all adaptogens are created equal. They come in all shapes and sizes, a colourful crowd of non-toxic synthetic or plant-based compounds, each offering their own unique set of perks.
So, buckle up and join us as we embark on a whistle-stop tour of the top ten adaptogens. We're talking the crème de la crème, the bee's knees, the cat's pajamas of stress and anxiety management. Ready? Let's go!
What are Adaptogens
Adaptogens are naturally occurring stress relievers in plants, mushrooms, or herbs. Plants or mushrooms have biologically active compounds that are beneficial to the body.
For any of the plants to be adaptogens, they must be non-toxic and help the body manage stress without overdosing. It must also help your body return to balance without causing harm.
The plant-based adaptogens are from:
- Panax ginseng
- Rhodiola crenulata
- Schisandra chinensis
- Acanthopanax senticosus/ Eleutherococcus senticocus
The plant-based adaptogens have active compounds like flavonoids, terpenoids, coumarins, and alkaloids. The adaptogens like ginseng affect how the pituitary and adrenaline glands function. Ultimately, reducing arthritis, or nervous system issues and ideal superfoods for sleep and relaxation.
The synthetic adaptogens are:
Synthetic adaptogens help in mental and physical resistance. They also boost blood flow to various body parts and reduce sugar levels in the blood.
How Do Adaptogens Alleviate Stress and Anxiety?
Adaptogens help the body manage stress in different ways. It does this by providing long and short-term solutions to physical and mental stress, which most people suffer from. It works by altering how your body responds to stress.
Remember, during stress, your body automatically goes through the general adaptation syndrome. The process takes place in three stages, namely:
During the alarm stage, your body stays alert after the stress triggers activate. However, after taking the adaptogens, your body gets to react differently. Instead of the resistance stage taking a shorter time than it should, the adaptogens prolong the phase.
If your body takes longer in the resistance phase, it gets the stamina to do other things normally. This is because the exhaustion stage that’s supposed to crash you out completely delays taking toil of your body. If you adapt to the stressful situation despite its intensity, you’ll be able to come out victorious without health complications.
Remember, if stressed, your body releases cortisol through the adrenal glands, which helps you cope with any emergency. However, if the cortisol hormone level rises beyond the recommended level, it can cause cortisol dysfunction.
Cortisol dysfunction can result in pain and inflammation. But adaptogens can help manage the situation within a shorter while. It can also help reduce the long-term effects of stress.
10 Popular Types of Adaptogens
If you don’t want to suffer from stress-related complications, take any of the below types of adaptogens. Here is the list of adaptogens and the benefits you’ll enjoy from using them.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is another adaptogen to manage stress and anxiety. The name ashwagandha, which means “smell of horse,” helps individuals get the strength of a horse to cope with stress. The herb helps reduce the effects of stress in one body as it alters how the nervous, immune, and endocrine systems work.
All these ensure your body relaxes when undergoing a stressful situation. ashwagandha root powder also acts as an antioxidant and can reduce swelling, which is a cause of anxiety. However, it is unsafe for pregnant women and can cause stomach upsets.
The American ginseng, also known as Panax quinquefolium, boosts the immune system and helps manage inflammation and pain. This adaptogen is also a good stress reliever and improves how the nervous system works.
So in case of stress, American ginseng will change how your body responds to flight and fight stimuli. According to some studies, American ginseng can change your moods and reset your dopamine levels.
Another type of adaptogen to try is the Astragalus. The adaptogen is good for reducing fatigue and helping prevent stress. The roots of this plant have beneficial components that is used to make adaptogenic foods and immunity boosting supplements.
Astragalus can also help manage physical stress by reducing chemotherapy's side effects. It may also improve heart and kidney functions, which can lead to stress when left unattended.
Also known as Curcuma longa, turmeric can help reduce the side effects of depression. Turmeric contains curcumin which is a bioactive compound that treats anxiety or depression. Curcumin boosts serotonin and dopamine levels in the body. The two chemicals are good mood enhancers that create a happy soul.
So, if you take turmeric powder and your serotonin levels increase, expect to manage stress or depression better. But dopamine will make you feel good and motivated after achieving something instead of concentrating on the negatives.
Eleuthero (Siberian ginseng) is a good stress reliever as it improves mental and physical performance. Most people use it to treat depression symptoms like loss of appetite, sleep deprivation, and headaches. Its berries are a good source of potassium and magnesium, which work in the body to reduce anxiety.
Eleuthero also increases the secretion of dopamine and norepinephrine. Having these catecholamines in the brain helps manage stress. Additionally, eleuthero increases the production of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) chemical.
BDNF is responsible for the growth of nervous tissue and prevents brain damage. If you're stressed, the production of this chemical reduces. But eleuthero helps restore the BDNF levels.
This plant is suitable for anxiety and depression management as it reduces its effects. It can also improve the burnout symptoms that occur due to stress. Rhodiola Rosea also boosts mental performance and physical resilience during stressful situations.
It does so by increasing serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine levels. These hormones help regulate sleep and blood pressure, which are some of the effects of stress on the body.
Holy basil (tulsi)
You can also use Holy basil to manage stress. The herb is good for the body as it regulates blood pressure and psychological stress. Every part of the holy basil plant is an adaptogen that helps your body to adapt to stress. It triggers positive thinking by creating a mental balance.
Holy basil can help with chemical and physical infections that create emotional stress. It's a highly antioxidant plant that can act as an antibacterial or prevent cancer.
Licorice root is an adaptogen popular in most parts of the world. It originates in Mediterranean regions like Spain, Italy, and southern France. This sweet root is a good antioxidant and is anti-inflammatory or antimicrobial.
It helps manage stress by stimulating the adrenal gland, which regulates cortisol levels. If your body has enough stress hormones, the effects of anxiety and depression are barely visible.
Lorice roots also have monoamine oxidase, which breaks down neurotransmitters like serotonin. If your body has high levels of the monoamine oxidase enzyme, it can manage stress and anxiety.
Another adaptogen herb you can rely on to manage stress and anxiety is Jiaogulan (southern ginseng). It helps the body and mind relax in stressful situations. It is also a good sleep promoter that reduces anxiety and stress.
Furthermore, it relieves pain and swelling, which are causes of insomnia. Using Jiaogulan increases stamina and endurance, which are essential during stress or sickness.
Goji berry (Lycium barbarum) also improves depression and anxiety. It does this by improving individuals' moods, which reduces stress. Goji berries can also boost energy levels in the brain, which helps it cope with stressful situations.
It may also reduce inflammation and make you calm and physically fit. After using this adaptogen, you will sleep better, be more productive, and have good mental health.
How to Take Adaptogens
To enjoy the soothing relief from adaptogens supplements, you must learn how to use them effectively. As you know, too much of adaptogens can result in serious side effects. So it's best to stick to the recommended dosage given by the naturopathic physician. The physician can recommend a dosage based on the effects you want to achieve.
You can use the adaptogens in your beverages or food. Alternatively, take the adaptogens capsules or tincture. Before taking any type of adaptogens, talk to your doctor. Let them know if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to conceive. Your doctor will recommend a way to use adaptogens without fully relying on them to cope with stress or depression.
Many people are using adaptogens to help relieve the effects of stress and anxiety. The different types of adaptogens work differently on the body but help prevent depression. You can use the adaptogens supplements, the dried, ground plant, or chew/eat the herb.
But since overusing or misusing adaptogens can cost you, talk to your doctor before using them. Your doctor will tell you the recommended dosage and when to discontinue using it.
Get your adaptogen list from a recommended supplier and benefit from using it. You can choose any of the 10 types of adaptogens and see immense changes in your life.