Today's fast paced life hardly yields one moment to stop and recharge. Bulletproof coffee and raw chocolate aren't the solution to dwindling energy levels. Our bodies are taking strain and premature aging is the result. To repair and rebuild we need to ask the 5000 year-old experts: adaptogen herbs.
DID YOU KNOW? Russian physician and scientist Dr. Israel Brekhman and his mentor Prof. Lazarv coined the name 'adaptogens' nearly 50 years ago. They used it for a group of herbs long revered by people in China, Japan, Russia and Korea. They called them adaptogens after scientific discoveries proved how effective they are in helping the body adapt to strains and changes in daily living.
Originally used in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine, adaptogens hold a quality unlike any other. They provide the antidote to the stress story. Your body has a stress response system, hardwired to protect you from danger. For most of us, constant pressure keeps the body on danger alert most of the day. The constant drip of stress hormones eventually leads to inflammation, cellular damage and dysregulation of your systems. Enter adaptogens.
These tonic herbs help your body adapt to stress. High cortisol (stress hormone) can be responsible for excess weight. It can impact your brain making you more forgetful and mentally fragmented, as well as impair your immune system. Adaptogens normalize the stress hormones. They take you out of the fight flight state and into the rest and digest state.
Unlike other plants, adaptogens are not stimulating, but they are able to energize a tired body. They are also not tranquilizers, yet able to calm a wired body, and help you into deep sleep. On top of all that adaptogens also repair damaged tissue. Science has been studying these unusual plants for decades. Only 1 in 10,000 plants are classified as adaptogens.
Here are some examples of these fine fellows:
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
This soothing adaptogen has been used in India for 4000 years. It has the ability to increase daily energy, blood sugar, memory and concentration. It's a great herb for those that feel tired but wired and have difficulty falling asleep. Ashwagandha has a positive effect on the endocrine system, reducing cortisol, increasing fertility including libido, and balancing thyroid hormones T3 and T4. It also supports perimenopause and impedes premature aging. Many use it for reducing inflammation, especially in arthritis. Ashwagandha is a strong immune modulator. It even contains the ingredient withanolides, which has an effective anti-tumor quality.
Found in the arctic, this adaptogen was traditionally used by young Siberian couples to promote fertility; it is powerful enough to bring back lost menstruation and help resolve erectile dysfunction. This anti-anxiety herb helps regulate the brain chemicals serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, relieving depression and balancing cognitive disorders. Rhodiola helps with short intensive periods of stress; improving recovery time, strength and endurance during exercise. Its anti-inflammatory and immune balancing elements provide relief for chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. It also contains phenolic compounds, which have a strong antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic quality.
Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum)
Also known as Holy Basil, Tulsi has been revered in India for over 5000 years. This vitalizing adaptogen does a significant job at relaxing the nervous system, relieving mild depression, uplifting mood and helping with restful sleep. By increasing efficiency in oxygen use, Tulsi improves energy, strength and endurance. It is great herb for balancing heart health and blood pressure. It reduces the negative physical effects of stress, even protecting the liver and other organs from chemical damage. Tulsi is also used to regulate the immune system, cortisol levels, as well as being a digestive aid. It relieves inflammation and protects tissue from radiation damage. Hundreds of antioxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and immune-enhancing compounds can be found in this herb.
Fo-Ti (He Shou Wu)
Fo-Ti is frequently used in Chinese medicine prescriptions, and is known to help improve health, stamina and resistance to diseases. It effectively cleanses the kidney and liver, which in turn clean the blood. Fo-Ti has the ability to nourish the glandular, nervous, and skeletal systems. It is extremely rich in potent antioxidants and in anti-oxidant-potentiating molecules, strong enough to detoxify the free radical superoxide. Fo-Ti protects our cells from DNA damage, lipid peroxidation, ionizing radiation damage, and many forms of progressive cell degradation. Plus it is extremely rich in zinc, and the lecithin content of Fo-Ti helps lower cholesterol.
Schisandra is a bright red adaptogenic power packed berry. It invigorates the RNA-DNA molecules to reconstruct cells generating vitality in the body. Schisandra helps prevent mental fatigue and increases accuracy and quality of work. In studies it increased physical performance in athletes while lowering cortisol levels. Schisandra stabilizes the blood glucose and blood pressure. It affords a stress-protective effect against a broad spectrum of harmful factors including radiation, heavy metals and oxidative stress. Schisandra's active properties gently support and protect the liver while aiding the detoxification of carcinogens. It has a positive effect on cardiovascular disorders and the immune system. A recent study found Schisandra to be a potent support for people with conditions like ADHD, Alzheimer's disease, poor attention and brain fog. Numerous clinical trials have demonstrated the efficiency of Schisandra on psychiatric disorders like neurosis, depression and schizophrenia.
This medicinal mushroom is known as the immune nourisher. Its antioxidant quality is strong enough to remove environmental toxins from the body. Yet it is so gentle it calms the nervous system and promotes restorative sleep. Its anti-inflammatory and neuro-protective properties have been found beneficial for patients with arthritis, neuralgia and Alzheimer's. It is also known as a longevity elixir as it lowers stress impact and improves cardiac health. Reishi contains the immune-stimulating polysaccharide, beta-glucan, which has anti-microbial, anti-viral and anti-tumour properties. It improves blood sugar regulation, oxygenation of the blood, and liver regeneration. Reishi is rich in antioxidants, amino acids, minerals, vitamins, including B12. It boasts potent free-radical and radiation protection. Adaptogens can be taken daily, with their potency improving over time. They have no known side effects and are not addictive. They should be avoided during pregnancy but are highly beneficial during breastfeeding. Other adaptogens include Panax Ginseng, Maca, Gynostemma, Cordyceps mushrooms, Chaga, Taheebo, Rhemannia and Shilajit.
We're so proud of Kheryne Danu for bringing us the range of products under the brand SuperThrive. Three of us in the Wellness magazine office tried out the SuperThrive for Women and each one of us felt they made a noticeable difference in general wellbeing and energy levels. We asked Kheryne for a snapshot of her journey towards developing Super Thrive. She explains...
We all experience strange changes during puberty, but when problems keep escalating it gets a little scary. Between mood swings, insomnia, weight fluctuations, fatigue and a desperate need to overcompensate for my shortcomings, I managed to frazzle myself into a heap by the time I was 26. But I was one of the lucky ones. A friendly health shop owner looked at me and announced, 'Your adrenals need support, take adaptogens.' After years immersed in the natural health world, I hadn't yet heard about adaptogens or the effect on adrenals. Taking adaptogen herbs was like lifting a veil. I discovering my calm, energized self for the first time.
Superfoods arrived in my life shortly after and the two seemed like the perfect marriage. One day I decided to make my life easier and mix my 14 adaptogen and superfood powders into one pot. Trusting the avid research I had done on each plant, alongside some expert advice I worked out the dosage and 'SuperThrive for Women' was born. Plus it tasted good! I loved the fresh, slightly earthy flavour. A month later my close friend saw the difference in me and insisted I make the mix for other people. The feedback was amazing. I soon got to work on the Men's formula, then the 'Digestion SuperThrive' and later the Children's. Everytime I hear how someone's PMS or hot flushes have cleared, their IBS has resolved or they finally fell pregnant, I am still amazed that my little product is really making a difference.