What Are Adaptogens? The Benefits, Side Effects & How To Use

Adapting is surviving! Our bodies have been adapting to all sorts of environmental and lifestyle factors as humans have evolved. Just because most of us live pretty comfortable and healthy lives now, doesn’t mean our bodies aren’t still changing on a microscopic level to make our everyday life easier.

Adaptogens are the best way we’re able to make it through the chemical, physical and biological stresses we all face.

Adaptogen - who?

This clever substance is a totally natural way that we can help ourselves become more resilient - and more productive - in the face of daily stressors….

What Are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens reduce the negative side effects of stress on your body. You know those moments where you can feel your stress levels rising and everything starts to feel a little more overwhelming and exhausting than usual.

Well, what if you could stop that feeling from affecting your body so deeply? 

Adaptogens are so useful to us because they promote normal body function during stress, rather than causing physiological damage. But truth be told, your body’s stress response is pretty complicated - rocket science type of complicated. 

It includes things like your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal, but if you’re friends you can just call it the HPA axis. This is basically where your body starts those alarm bells ringing (or glucocorticoids) when you realise you missed a deadline or your kids decide to ask you a million questions simultaneously.  

It’s at this point that those handy adaptogens take the HPA axis by the hand and tell it to chill. That means your stress response is less intense and you can get back to feeling like your normal calm self faster. 

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How Adaptogens Help Us Stress Less

Scientists found that when you’re exposed to super low amounts of stress frequently, you can actually become a little bit more immune to your natural stress responses. Now, if you were back in caveman times, that would be a huge bonus for your survival. 

If you could keep your cool when faced with a sabretooth, you’d be more likely to survive than the guy beside you frozen in shock. Of course, that’s an extreme example and you’re not likely to face many sabretooths, but adaptogens work for you in a similar way.

When you face a stressor of any kind - could be anything from public speaking to a particularly intense workout - you enter three stages of response. An alarm stage of stress symptoms, a calm stage of reduced symptoms, and finally, exhaustion where symptoms can return. 

Adaptogens work by acting as a ‘stress vaccine’, instigating very mild responses and building up that desired ‘immunity’ to your body’s stress reactions. 

Because of this, they’re considered metabolic regulators, which lets you adapt to your environmental factors a bit more efficiently. They also improve adrenal function, protect you from disease and boost immune function. All helpful things for an organism like you trying to survive a stressful world!

So where can you find these miraculous adapto-thingies? 

Well, they’re a category of herbs and mushrooms, working their stress modulation magic on your hormonal and physiological functions. We’ll give you some examples in just a minute. But first, we’ve got to tell you about one of the most effective adaptogens you’ll come across.

The Health Benefits Of Adaptogens

Okay, okay, so you can recover from the physical and mental effects of daily stressors more effectively. Big whoop. What else can adaptogens do for you?

Quite a bit actually. The major benefits of adaptogens is a fairly impressive list including:

  • Increased overall wellbeing
  • Enhanced physical performance
  • Calming effect on the nervous system
  • Resulting decreased adrenaline 
  • Full of supercharged antioxidants and phytonutrients
  • Increased energy and endurance
  • Improved cognitive function 
  • Improved immunity 
  • Deeper sleep
  • Improved mood
  • Strengthened libido
  • Increased fertility 

It’s obvious we all need more adaptogens in our lives, especially if you want to feel at your best and ensure your body is functioning at its peak, even when you face stress. If you’re looking for a specific effect, it can be helpful to pick out the best adaptogen for your desired outcome.

Common Adoptogens & What They Do…

These are some examples of the most common adaptogens and the action they’ve been shown to produce in your body. Some of them might sound familiar, and usually have other positive effects too.

Astragalus: helps reduce stress and ageing by protecting the telomeres (structures linked with ageing located at the end of each chromosome).

Ashwagandha: helps the body cope with daily stress, and as a general tonic.

Siberian ginseng: provides energy and helps overcome exhaustion.

Holy Basil: helps promote relaxation, and relieve stress and anxiety.

Rhodiola rosea: lowers anxiety, fatigue, and depression.

Cordyceps: a specific type of mushroom which is said to fight stress and help balance hormones.

Lion’s Mane: reverses stress-related changes to neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin. It may also reduce levels of inflammatory markers and reverse the loss of an essential protein called BDNF, which supports your brain’s resistance to stress damage.

Reishi: a mushroom which is thought to help the body adapt to stress and promote a healthy sleep pattern.

Maca: improves mood and increases energy.

Liquorice: increases energy and endurance and helps boost the immune system, stimulates the adrenal glands and promotes healthy cortisol levels.

Bacopa: protects the brain and improves memory, as well as other aspects of cognitive function.

What Makes Lion’s Mane An Adaptogen?

Lion’s Mane is an incredible medicinal mushroom that’s been used for centuries for its beneficial properties. Everything from immune boosting to mood stabilisation, Lion’s Mane is your go-to mushy. 

So it’s no surprise that it also falls into the coveted category of an adaptogen. 

If this incredible natural shroom can do all of these things, what makes it an adaptogen? What makes anything an adaptogen?

For a herb or mushroom to qualify to be classed as an effective adaptogen it must do these three things:

  1. It must be non-toxic to the recipient.
  2. It must produce a nonspecific response in the body. (An increase in the power of resistance against multiple stressors including physical, chemical, or biological agents.)
  3. It must have a normalising influence on your physiology, letting you return to normal quicker.

Initially, adaptogens were simply defined as substances that enhance your bodily resistance in the face of stress, but they’re more than that. They help our bodies resist stressors of all kinds, whether physical, emotional or biological.

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Are There Any Side Effects?

What’s the catch? Like any supplement to your diet and lifestyle, adaptogens should be taken seriously. Fortunately taking the wrong adaptogen supplement or an incorrect dose isn’t usually dangerous. 

It’s possible you might experience some annoying disturbances like a headache or a digestive issue but nothing that is too serious or that will last too long. 

Of course, if you ever experience any unusual symptoms when taking new medicines or supplements, it’s best to check in with your doc and make sure everything is normal. But Lion’s Mane, in particular, is a safe supplement, with no risk of overdose and plenty of research to support its medicinal use. Learn more about its safety here… 

Want To Adapt To Be A Healthier, Happier You?

Adaptogens work by helping your body adapt to all kinds of different stressors such as physical activity, emotional distress, and environmental factors like temperature and humidity. 

Herbs or mushrooms, like Lion’s Mane, are said to increase your stamina and mental clarity, and support the normal function of your physiological systems.

Lion’s Mane and other adaptogens have been used for decades in Ayurvedic medicine, but it’s important to make sure you choose a quality supplement. Check out our super high-quality, all-natural, no-filler Lion’s Mane capsules to experience the stress-busting properties of Lion’s Mane for yourself.

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