Adaptogens or adaptogenic substances can refer to any compound or practice that results in the stabilisation of physiological processes, however, most commonly refers to a group of natural herbs that have been used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine for centuries to help the body cope with stress. In this context, Adaptogens main mechanism appears to be in helping the body increase the threshold of resistance to damage caused by stress via the support of adrenal and pituitary gland function.
There are 8 common adaptogens which are used to aid the bodies hormonal response to stress, these are:
Touted for its antioxidant profile and neuroprotective benefits, Ashwagandha is also supplemented to increase vitality, energy, endurance and stamina. Studies have proven Ashwagandhas ability to increase motivation https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19718255 and physical performance - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19718255
A typical dose of Ashwagandha is 300mg-500mg daily. For further studies and details on Ashwagandha read our Ginseng specific blog post here.
Also referred to as Brahmi, Bacopa Monnieri is a herb found predominantly in Asia and South America that interacts with the bodies Dopamines and Serotonin systems. Commonly used in medicine for Alzheimers disease, memory, anxiety, ADHD and as a tonic for stress, it is widely praised for its cognitive enhancing abilities, with studies showing longer term usage can have a reliable and efficiently improve memory - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18683852
A typical dose of Bacopa Monnieri is around 150mg of active Bacosides. To achieve this a consumer must supplement around 300mg of Bacopa Monnieri (around 50% active) or 750mg of Bacopa Leaves (around 20% active). For further details and studies, read our Bacopa specific post here.
Siberian Ginseng (Eleuthero)
Traditionally used for physical stress including muscle spasms, joint pain, insomnia and fatigue. Siberian Ginseng is now often included in modern day supplements to enhance energy and occasionally in nootropic supplements for memory and subjective-wellbeing, although studies seems to favour Panax Ginseng for nootropic effects.
As Eleuthero interacts with the bodies energy system, overuse or intolerance has been linked with insomnia, heart palpitations and cardiovascular problems. Suggested dosage varies from 500mg - 2000mg, with common census around the lower end of that range. For further details and studies on Siberian Ginseng check out our Ginseng specific blog posts here.
Used in medicine to treat bacterial, viral or parasitic infections including the common cold, shingles and tuberculosis. It is also used in modern health supplementation to boost energy, improve mood and aid digestion. It seems to reduce inflammation, decrease blood pressure and increase collagen production, aiding the bodies healing abilities.
Consider Gotu Kola for skin & wound healing, aiding blood flow, detoxification and as a treatment for anxiety. Studies show Gotu Kola as effective for aiding normal blood flow during mid-long distance flights - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11666121. Limited research has been published on advised dosages for Gotu Kola, however, common dosage is 60-180mg daily.
The original ginseng, Panax is perceived as a metabolic regulator, stimulating cell activity in the body and often supplemented for sustained mental energy. Panax Ginsengs main benefits appear to be in its ability to increase cognition and sexual health.
An increase in cognition is seen with Panax Ginseng, this is thought to lend its self to the anti-fatigue effects. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20737519
Panax Ginseng is shown to the sex life of adult Women - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20141583
Panax Ginseng is shown to improve erectile disfunction in adult Males - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16855773
Typical dosage is 200mg-500mg per day. Learn more about Panax Ginseng in our Ginseng specific blog post here.
Working closely with the bodies main stress hormone, Rhodiola is thought to normalise Cortisol levels. It is used in nutritional supplements to increase energy, stamina strength and mental capacity and is also touted as an efficient anti-depressant.
Studies have shown Rhodiola to be efficient at:
Decreasing fatigue - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11081987
Improving endurance performance - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15256690
Improving symptoms related to life-stress - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22228617
Rhodiola is not recommended for pregnant women, manic depressants or those prone to insomnia. Typical recommended allowances of Rhodiola Rosea range from 200mg-500mg daily.
Cordyceps are slightly different to the rest of the adaptogenic herbs on this list, as they are also classed as a species of fungus. This fungus naturally grows on the back of Caterpillars but will reproduce in the correct climates in a laboratory, Cordyceps are Vegan friendly.
Cordyceps are thought to improve immunity by stimulationing specific cells and chemicals in the bodies immune system and have been used in medicine to treat certain cancers. In nutritional supplementation Cordyceps are also often thought to be anti-aging and touted to increase energy, reduce fatigue and aid physical stamina, however, results from studies appear to be inconclusive or contradictory. Typical recommended dosage of Cordyceps are in the region of 1000mg daily.
A relative of the sweet basil used commonly in cooking, Holy Basil has a history in Indian medicine and boasts anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties.
Holy Basil is used by those suffering from acne, asthma, heart disease, breathing disorders, inflammation, headache and has even been demonstrated to aid generalised anxiety disorders - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19253862. Typical doses of Holy Basil range vastly from 300mg-2000mg daily.
Energy = Ashwagandha, Eleuthero, Rhodiola Rosea
Cognition = Bacopa Monnieri
Healing = Gotu Kola, Cordyceps, Holy Basil
Sexual Health = Panax Ginseng
Other substances that posses adaptogenic properties include, Licorice Root, Maca, American Ginseng, Schisandra Chinensis, Ginkgo Biloba, Goji and Ginger.
All of the aforementioned adaptogens are readily available at most health food stores or Amazon. Panax Ginseng and Bacopa Monnieri are both active ingredients in Vi-Brain Nootropic Supplement Stack.