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Adaptogens: Your Secret Weapon Against Stress

What if we told you that 75 to 90 percent of all doctor’s visits are due to stress-related illnesses? Even worse, what if we told you that stress is a factor in five out of the six leading causes of death?

In recent years, stress has developed into a $1 trillion health epidemic. That’s more expensive than the cost of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes combined. So what can you do? How can you manage stress in an era that seems to glorify the concept of “busy”?

While it’s true that you can’t get rid of stress completely (some stress is actually good), there are many things that you can do to manage it. You probably already know about the big guys — meditation, yoga, and deep breathing, for example — but there’s another player in the game that frequently falls off the radar, and that’s adaptogens.

What are Adaptogens?

The term adaptogens was first coined by a Russian pharmacologist named Lazarev in 1947. He defined an adaptogen as any agent that helps an organism counteract any physical, chemical, or biological stressor by generating a nonspecific resistance. In simpler terms, an adaptogen is a substance that helps reduce stress levels by acting on the body as a whole.

In addition to helping reduce stress, adaptogens also:

  • increase energy and stamina
  • improve strength and mental focus
  • boost the immune system
  • balance mood
  • support a healthy weight
True Adaptogens

Many herbs are credited with being adaptogens: but in order to be considered a real adaptogen, a substance must meet three criteria:

  1. It must be non-toxic to the person taking it.
  2. It must act on many organs and body systems (rather than just one) and allow the person taking it to better adapt to biological, chemical, and physical stressors.
  3. It must help the body maintain homeostasis (or normal functioning).

Examples of true adaptogens include:

  • American Ginseng root
  • Ashwagandha root
  • Asian Ginseng root
  • Cordyceps
  • Dang Shen root
  • Eleuthero root
  • Holy Basil herb
  • Jiaogulan herb
  • Licorice rhizome
  • Reishi fungus
  • Rhaponticum root
  • Rhodiola root
  • Wu Wei Zi Berries/Seeds
  • Maca Root
  • Astragalus
How to Take Adaptogens

Luckily, many of these adatogens are easily accessible. Some of them are available as teas, while others are added to protein powders or liquid multi-vitamin products. Intramax, which is dubbed the “crown jewel of multi-vitamins” contains a stress management matrix that offers Ashwagandha, licorice, astragalus, and ginseng all in one place.

The best stress management program combines several methods of stress relief and management, but adaptogens should definitely be a part of that puzzle.