Tuesday tip: Adaptogens – Myth or Miracle Stress Reliever? 🍄
You may have noticed a trend for “adaptogen” ingredients such as ginseng, mushrooms, turmeric, maca root, matcha etc being marketed as “stress reducing” and cropping up in smoothies. coffees, bars, supplements etc.
Adaptogens have their roots in traditional medicine and are defined it as any plant compound that helps increase our ability to adapt and avoid damage from stressful environmental conditions.
When under stress, adaptogenic compounds increase the release of hormones like dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine and elevate vascular relaxants like nitric oxide. They have also been shown to increase mental capacity and short-term memory. When taken regularly they can balance stress-related hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.
In today’s stressful environment it’s easy to see why adaptogens have become popular, but do any actually work? Well I’m afraid only 3 have any scientific evidence behind them (and that evidence is limited) – ginseng, golden root, and bacopa. Experimental trials found that Indian ginseng reduced feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety in patients with chronic stress, and significantly reduced cortisol levels. Others studies have shown lowered cortisol levels in patients with burnout syndrome when taking golden root (Rhodiola) for 28 consecutive days. Another sample of high-stress students reported lower mental fatigue, greater physical fitness, and better well-being after taking it.
Finally a study showed that people who consistently took Bacopa supplements had lower anxiety rates, higher learning rates, and greater memory consolidation after 12 weeks.
These studies are very small but indicate some benefits to these specific compounds. So before you switch to turmeric lattes and mushroom coffee you might want to consider that their hefty promises don’t live up to their price tag. If you do want to try adaptogens stick to Indian ginseng, golden root or bacopa (and always check with your Dr before you start taking any new supplements)
Happy Tuesday 🤗