Q&A: About Adaptogens
Research shows that adaptogens may affect energy levels, strength, and may even help with a stress response. (1) But what exactly are adaptogens and how do you find quality products to best meet your needs?
Questions like these and many others are among the top questions we receive about stress and adaptogens. If you have additional questions please feel free to comment below to discuss with our Master Herbalist!
Q: What are adaptogens?
A: Adaptogens are a classification of herbs that provide the body with the nourishment and support it needs in order to support a healthy stress response. Unlike medicinal herbs, adaptogens support a broad-range healing response and don’t focus on one specific system.
Q: What are some of the top adaptogens?
A: are some top adaptogens:
Q: What does the term “healthy stress response” mean?
A: A healthy stress response is referring to how we deal with and respond to daily stressors. When stress occurs, a wide variety of reactions and responses happen in the body. For example, if you were about to be attacked, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode. In this mode your heart rate increases in order to pump blood to your muscles which will allow you to fight or run for your life.
The sole purpose for these responses is protection and survival of the body. The fight or flight mode is a very aggressive response. To stay in this mode for longer than necessary can cause great damage to the body. Under normal circumstances once the threat is gone, the body goes into rest and digest mode in order to prevent further damage. If we live a stressful life, then we are often stuck in a chronic state of stress. Over time, this leads to our body’s inability to respond to stress in a healthy manner.
A healthy stress response is the body’s ability to go from a ‘fight or flight’ state to a ‘rest and digest’ state as efficiently as possible.
Q: When you use the term “stressors” what are you referring too?
A: Stressors are daily lifestyle habits or environmental factors that trigger a stress response.
Q: What is a proper dose of adaptogens to use and do I need to take them everyday?
A: There is no perfect dose for any adaptogen. The dose is often based on the individual’s ability to deal with stress and how well they respond to the herb. Learning to understand your body and how it responds is a most important tool. I can say with 100% certainty that consistency trumps dosage every time when we speak about adaptogens. As long as you use adaptogens everyday, overtime you will provide your body with the protection to support a healthy stress response.
Q: How is inflammation and stress related?
A: Unlike stress which is a true causative factor in the dis-ease process, inflammation is a symptom. This is why, when you “treat” inflammation, you often only get relief of symptoms. Stress and inflammation are related because inflammation is another one of the body’s signals that it is under attack and attempting to reestablish homeostasis. The attack or event that caused an inflammation response was triggered by the stress response.
Q: Are adaptogens something you should rotate every 12-16 weeks or can you stay on the same one for a longer period of time?
A: While it is not necessary to do so, you certainly can. I don’t suggest rotating your adaptogens. I do suggest starting with one herb and over time adding more adaptogens in as you see fit. The longer you stay on it, the more effective it can be. If any changes need to be made, you can increase or lower the amounts you are taking.
Q: When I start a new adaptogen, I feel this burst of energy for the first few months and then it goes away. Does this mean the herb is no longer working?
A: The simple answer to this question is NO. The reason you feel this burst of energy at the beginning is because this is the body's way of bringing you back to homeostasis. When you stop feeling that burst of energy, what you should begin to feel is a steady, calm feeling. That steady calmness is how you know the herb is truly working because it is supporting you in a balanced state.
About Michael Stuchiner
Michael Stuchiner is an experienced Master Herbalist, the Head of Education for Z Natural Foods, a teacher and an accomplished author. With a 16-year specialization in medicinal herbs, Mike also has a vast knowledge in tonic and adaptogenic herbalism. Mike has enjoyed a 25-year career as an elite-level competitive powerlifter where he learned to heal his ‘mind and body’ as an avid user of herbal remedies.
As an “in-the-trenches” herbalist, Mike has done more than 85 speaking engagements, consulted with clients ranging from young to elderly, worked with athletes in virtually all sports and with clients who have “dis-ease” states of a wide variety. Mike also mentors student Master Herbalists and will continue to teach the next generation to grow a deeper wisdom of the human body through appropriate herbal remedies.
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