Adaptogens to the rescue! They swoop in, hijack and whisk away cortisol!
What are Adaptogens?
First, let me tell you what they are not. Adaptogens may sound like something artificial or manmade. They are not. Adaptogens may sound like something to be afraid of or like an android, kinda like Data, on the star ship Enterprise. But they are not.
Adaptogens are herbs.
Herbs have been my childhood friends. My adult fascinations with them lead me to not only exploring them but also experiencing them! Out of many herbs, adaptogens, have always stood out...
Wondering why I’m choosing to writing on nothing but adaptogens? Because these are what we need the most in today’s stressful world! Let’s explore these miraculous herbs and see what they can do for you!
Adaptogens are herbs that sooth your stress levels by manipulating your adrenal glands. Adrenal glands secrete hormones that control your stress levels. They are like control houses sitting on top of your kidneys, preparing you to deal with inappropriate situations. So, adaptogens enhance your body’s capability to deal with anxiety and stress-mental and physical both- by supporting this control system.
Science also backs this claim that adaptogens fight stress!! They also have other health benefits which will be discussed later in this article so read on.
How to know which herb qualifies as an Adaptogen?
Any herb has to possess following qualities to be called an adaptogen:
• It must be safe and non-toxic to use
• It must help your body in ‘adapting’ to stress levels and fighting with it effectively
• It must be capable of attaining a homeostasis- a state of balance in your body
How do Adaptogens work?
To understand the mechanism by which adaptogens help your body, you need to understand what happens when you’re stressed out!
When your body encounters a stressful stimulus, adrenal glands wake up! They are like an alarm system in your body that activate on sensing danger. So, adrenal glands make a call by secreting cortisol hormone and your body answers to it!
Source: John Douillard
Cortisol prepares you for fight or flight response. It increases your sugar levels so that you have enough energy to fight back. It raises heart rate and blood pressure to make sure you don’t go into shock. And immune system wakes up to strengthen your defenses against foreign bodies. Insulin spikes up as well so that when you are done with dealing that situation, sugar level can be drawn back to the normal levels. Once the stress stimulus fades away, cortisol also dissipates.
But what if you’re chronically stressed?
It’s not impossible! Give a good look around you and you will realize how stressful life has become! People are losing their longevity to it! Energy drinks, tea and coffee have become a lifestyle only because we are desperate to have a bit of energy and peace. Owing to such low-grade stressors which constantly affect your life, cortisol never stops coming in your bloodstream.
Your adrenals are always at work to cope up with stress. But this is not the only thing they do. Cortisol has long lasting effects on your body including insomnia, forgetfulness, weight gain, and anxiety. It also leads to accumulation of toxic proteins. It deprives cells from energy because it blocks enzyme that turns glucose into ATP (energy) and you feel fatigued. And on top of all, PREMATURE AGING! That is exactly why you need adaptogens!
But where do Adaptogens enter into the picture?
I say they totally hijack the picture!
They normalize the cortisol levels of your body in the presence of constant stress. They make your body to ‘adapt’ to the constant stress and keep the damage to a minimum.
Moreover, they neutralize the harmful effects of cortisol.
But main question is how do they do it?
Adaptogens have biologically active compounds that manipulate the adrenal system. They prevent the formation of toxic proteins (beta-lipoproteins) in your body. They also hinder the outright increase in glucose levels in your bloodstream. They don’t allow cortisol to hinder enzyme responsible for glucose breakdown. Resultantly, more glucose is converted into energy and your energy levels stay intact.
You feel energized and effects of stress lessen. Adrenal glands also stay away from exhaustion because adaptogens sooth the process of stress reduction. They also boost up the formation of mRNA and tRNA, which help increase functional capacity of cells in your body.
By these mechanisms, adaptogens reduce the adverse effects of stress on your body. You become strong enough to resist exhaustion and look younger for a long time! Yes, this is how it fights stress and limits premature aging of cells!
What else do Adaptogens offer?
Thinking that was all adaptogens could do? NO! There is more to what adaptogens offer to your health.
• They are loaded with antioxidants. These antioxidants fight oxidative stress in your body and put a reign on free radicals damaging DNA of your cells. As a result, your cells stay away from premature aging. You look younger and live longer! So, you should add adaptogens to your anti-aging life style!
Anti-aging story has another aspect! Stress also triggers premature aging because it exhausts your cells. Of course, when you put more burden than they can endure, they will suffer, won’t they? Plus cortisol that is supposed to manage stressful situation also comes with a side effect of premature aging. Adaptogens not only keep you younger with their anti-oxidants but also fight stress and keep cortisol under control.
• Adaptogens have biological substances with anti-inflammatory effects.
• They boost your immune system and modulate your body defenses.
• They are mood enhancers. Stress exhausts your dopamine levels and depression comes easy. But adaptogens enhance the levels of dopamine and serotonin in your body. As a result you mood lifts up and you stay happier!
• They improve energy and stamina without side effects inflicted by stimulants in your body.
So, NO to energy drinks, YES to adaptogens!
Til Next Time,
Growing Younger Everyday