Maybe You’ve Never Heard the Word, or Maybe You’re Dying to Know: “What are Adaptogens Anyway?”
In our current Western society, occasional daily stress is a somewhat common occurance.* We are a society fueled by stimulation, starting our morning off with caffeine, the radio buzz and traffic. We are bombarded by external and internal stressors on a daily basis. Externally we battle toxins, weather, and radiation, while internally we deal with food intolerances, hormonal imbalances, and pain, just to name a few. We can’t completely prevent all stressors, but we can try to support our bodies responses to that occasional stress.* This leads to the question: what are adaptogens and how can they support the occasional stress response?*
Stress and the Body
To dive into the land of adaptogens, it is first essential to understand how the stress response is elicited in the body. When we feel internal or external occasional stress, the sympathetic nervous system is activated, secreting epinephrine and norepinephrine which alert the body by increasing heart rate and perspiration.*
About 10 seconds later, the HPA axis is activated. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is a complex system of chemical communications between the organs and these three glands. The hypothalamus and pituitary gland are located just above the brainstem, and adrenal glands are positioned on top of the kidneys.*
With raised norepinephrine levels, the hypothalamus begins to secrete Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which then tells the pituitary gland to release adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH travels to the adrenal glands via the HPA axis, which then secrete glucocorticoids like cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol is the body’s built in alarm system, which acts on a checking system through negative and positive feedback.*
What are Adaptogens?
In 1946-7, Dr. Nikolai Lazarev began researching chemical compounds that could support a healthy responses to occasional stress.* He proposed the term ‘adaptogenic herb’ in 1957 to refer to a plant that supports the state of nonspecific support to occasional stress including physical, mental, emotional, and environmental.*
Adaptogens support the body in responding to occasional stress and then support a sense of equilibrium and balance.*
Want to learn more about what adaptogens are all about? Check out this blog post: Herbal Energy Supplements: The Power of Adaptogens
Supporting Response to Occasional Stress*
The term ‘adaptogen’ was coined in the mid-1900’s, but this type of supplement has been used traditionally long before the name or definition came about. Check out our tasty ENERGY Blend including adaptogens like Cordyceps, Holy Basil and Ashwagandha, or our decadent CALM Blend featuring some of the star players in adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms.