What is an Adaptogen?

East Valley Herbal Adaptogens

An adaptogen is a nutritional supplement that has been shown to help the body deal with physical, emotion and biochemical stress. They are usually herbs, roots or plants. In the United States, as we went away from natural remedies, we moved away from many of our native herbs and spices, but across the world adaptogens are used in Ayurvedic Medicine, Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine as well as Native American medicine.

Adaptogens have been used in athletes to decrease stress (think Soviet Union) for many years in order to increase training loads and improve recovery. (Note: this isn’t always a “healthy” strategy, but it does allow them to push to their limits)

The FDA added the term adaptogen to medicine in 1998. They are a somewhat new kind of nutritional supplement that helps to restore balance or homeostasis in the body. They are special in the way that they don’t overstimulate or over inhibit a normal body process. In general, they normalize and strengthen the system. Because they are good at not over stimulating a specific process, adaptogens can be very helpful in sensitive patients.

Patients often experience improved moods, increased physical stamina and beter overall physiology. I prefer to use the entire herb or plant rather than an isolated concentration of a single chemical. In medicine, drugs are singled out and broken down to an individual chemical, but in nature, this is not how it works. The multiple chemicals in any given herb or plant work synergistically together to provide the best response. In my opinion an adaptogen isolated into its specific individual chemical parts is no longer an adaptogen. What are some of the benefits of Adaptogens? Each herb has different clinical benefits, but some of the common benefits you may see with adaptogens include:

  • Decreased anxiety
  • Maintenance of healthy weight
  • Increased detoxification
  • Improved mood
  • Increased energy
  • Increased libido
  • Improved muscle tone
  • Increased strength and stamina
  • Better focus and concentration
  • More restful sleep
  • Increased motivation
  • Improved blood sugar
  • Decreased sugar cravings
  • Improved dietary control
  • Improved immune resistance
  • Improved antioxidant activity
  • Better digestion

While adaptogens offer many benefits, some websites overstate their “magical” healing powers. Natural remedies are not magical or whimsical in any way but rather the scientific application of the new knowledge applied to old traditions.  The proper adaptogen/herb given at the proper time for a specific condition as part of a individualized treatment plan can produce excellent results.

Our primary source for adaptogens is Supreme Nutrition Products. They consistently offer the highest quality products available.  You can call our office to check our current stock of adaptogenic herbs.