Take a peek at Pinterest and you’ll quickly discover adaptogenic herbs are the newest trend claiming to cure numerous health struggles. Bloated, tired, no sex drive? Make this adaptogenic potion, and, alakazam, you’ll feel better! But, is there actual merit to these claims?
First off, adaptogens do contain natural medicinal properties to help balance the hypothalamic-pituitary-endocrine-axis, the bridge between your brain and hormone system. While adaptogens most likely can’t cure cancer or help you magically lose ten pounds on their own, some truly possess remarkable complementary power. Meaning, taken in conjunction with other herbs, medication, and/or individualized protocols and interventions, adaptogens can help target and ameliorate various ailments.
One targeted function of adaptogens includes improving metabolism. Each of the following 10 adaptogenic herbs can help improve metabolism via varying mechanisms such as raising body temperature, reducing stress hormones, and/or increasing energy and stamina. Supplementing with one or more of these adaptogens along with engaging in healthy lifestyle habits like eating mostly whole foods, exercising regularly, and reducing stress can truly enhance your metabolism. The slightly different purposes of the adaptogens described below can help you determine which combo will benefit you most.
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Eleuthero– Although not as highly touted as other adaptogens like Maca and Ashwaganda, Eleuthero serves as the model for all other adaptogens, according to Russian research. Studies demonstrate that this herb increased the ability of subjects to withstand stresses such as heat, noise, action, increased workload, and exercise, and increased mental alertness. Unfortunately, the exact mechanism of action is not yet fully understood, but many people enjoy the effects so much, they readily accept its powers. Currently, Eleuthero root can be purchased at gaia Herbs, online.
Holy Basil– Commonly used in Ayurvedic cultures, Holy Basil encompasses many uses, including, but not limited to, complementary treatment for the common cold, diabetes, asthma, anxiety, upset stomach, many aches and pains, mercury poisoning, snake and scorpion bites, and more. Researchers believe that certain chemicals in Holy basil help decrease inflammation throughout the body, and less inflammation and oxidative stress lead to better metabolism because your body systems can focus on optimization. You can purchase at Thrive Market and/or Amazon.
Ashwaganda– Another Ayurvedic herb, ashwaganda is a popular fan favorite. Otherwise known as the Indian Winter Cherry, it boasts wide ranging health benefits. Classic Indian cultures use this herb for numerous ailments such as emaciation of children, debility from old age, constipation, insomnia, nervous breakdowns, goiters, and many more. Scientific research reveals ashwaganda effectively increases stamina, prevents stress induced gastric ulcers, and decreases many different forms of stress. Due to its anti-stress, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective pharmacological properties, it can certainly augment metabolism in a favorable way. Because of its recent popularity, you can purchase at many common retail grocery stores and markets and online at Amazon.
Shilijat – Formed by natural decompensation, mainly in the Himalayas, it is traditionally recognized as a rejuvenator and anti-aging compound. Ayurvedic cultures tout its abilities to increase physical strength and generally promote overall health. It is believed that two major components of Shilajit, fulvia acid and selenium, represent its power as an antioxidant, anti inflammatory, and memory enhancer. More recent studies reveal its profound neurodegenerative powers, and it is currently being analyzed for Alzheimer’s treatment. A compound with the trifecta of power above can easily boost metabolism. Purchase it alongside Holy Basil at Thrive Market, online.
Maca– Many cultures know maca for its medicinal purposes, and, now, many of us consider it a potent food supplement. Historically, cultures consumed maca for fertility enhancement. While that still remains a reason for use, scientific evidence also suggests meaningful effects on sexual behavior, fertility in male and female, mood, memory, osteoperosis, some cancers, and, of course, metabolism. The complete mechanism is, unfortunately, not fully understood yet. If you want the truest, purest form, straight from the original source, you’ll have to visit Peru. In the meantime, you can purchase it at Trader Joe’s and other grocery establishments, and online at amazon.
Cordyceps– Did you know cordyceps is a combination of caterpillars and fungus only found at a very high altitude in Sikkim? Locals and traditional healers refer to cordyceps an “all illness cure,” because they use it to treat more than twenty one ailments including diabetes, erectile dysfunction, cancer, and hepatitis. They also claim it improves energy, appetite, stamina, libido, endurance, sleeping patterns, and much more. Recent day studies support its biological activity and pharmacological potential, however, like others, more mechanistic-based and pharmacological studies are warranted. Cordyceps is available for purchase at the popular Thrive Market and Four Sigmatic.
Mucuna Pruriens– Unlike some of the others, this herb is an established herbal drug taken to increase male fertility, nervous disorders, and as an aphrodisiac. Furthermore, its antioxidant activity is frequently targeted at Parkinson’s disease management. Oddly, cordyceps is also grown as a minor crop, rich in protein, essential fatty acids, and some amino acids, even though it also contains anti-nutritional compounds like protease inhibitors, phenolics, cyclitols. Extracts of this herb demonstrate anti-microbial and anitoxidant properties when combined with other various compounds. You can purchase this oddity online at Sun Potion or Moon Juice.
Rhodiola– People in Northern regions commonly used rhodiola for anxiety, anemia, depression, fatigue, headaches, impotence, and infections. Others consume it for improving high-altitude sickness, and to increase longevity, physical endurance, and work performance. Today, most people use it to increase energy, strength, and stamina, to strengthen attention and memory, and improve stress management. Shocking, the mechanism of action is not fully understood, but its actions are eagerly accepted. Amazon offers very affordable pricing for a powder form of this adaptogen.
Schisandra– Used as an adaptogen to increase resistance to stress and disease, and increase endurance, energy, and physical performance, it is also used to help treat many other ailments, too many to name, in fact. However, some treatment purposes not already mentioned include treatment of high cholesterol, PMS, chronic diarrhea, night sweats, irritability, and prevention of motion sickness. The mechanism of action is not elucidated yet, but you can purchase online at Nootropics Depot or Moon Juice.
Reishi– As a large, dark mushroom, it represents one of the the only mushrooms with pharmacological, rather than, nutritional properties. Cultures have used it for many purposes, like many of the other adaptogens, and studies support its positive health benefits like anticancer effects, blood glucose stabilization, antioxidant, anti-bacterial, and anit-viral effects, and protection against liver and gut. Further studies are required to determine specific mechanisms and potency of this adaptogen. The Reishi tea at Four Sigmatic is a popular favorite of many.
Although more research is needed to determine the exact mechanisms of action for many of these adaptogens, scientific research suggests positive consequences of the above herbs. All of these adaptogens contain one or more active compounds that target the hypothalamic-pituitary-endocrine-axis, a major pathway of systemic metabolism. Because of the targeted actions on this pathway, these adaptogens can favorably enhance metabolism. Based on individualized struggles, different combinations and concoctions of the above adaptogens will lead to best results for each person. Moreover, taken as supplementation in addition to a healthy lifestyle will render the most potent outcomes. Nonetheless, consuming even just one of the above adaptogens regularly can definitely improve your metabolism, and subsequently, overall health, as many of the earliest, indigenous cultures demonstrated long before Pinterest encouragement and literal sun potion stores.