These are the top 3 adaptogens that help manage stress, according to an ND.
Stress is something that we all experience, and each have different ways of managing, whether through lifestyle, diet or supplements. During periods of ongoing stress, adaptogens can be a great way to support ourselves, help us cope and build resilience.
How stress works in the body
Chronic stress can take its toll not only on our mental, but physical health. It can manifest as feeling anxious and irritable, or as symptoms like headaches, insomnia, low energy, and upset digestion. It can also lead to exhaustion and burn-out, and predispose us to more serious health issues if not managed well.
Our adrenal glands (which sit on top of our kidneys) are essentially our stress regulators. Anytime our bodies encounter stress, it triggers a chain of events which results in our adrenals producing cortisol, AKA our stress hormone. And when our bodies stay in a ‘fight or flight’ state during chronic stress, this can lead to cortisol abnormalities.
Aside from addressing lifestyle as a way to manage stress (which is important), what else can you do to reduce the effects of stress? Below are the top 3 types of adaptogens that help the body cope better and regulate cortisol.
What are adaptogens?
Adaptogens are actually a group of botanical herbs with stress-busting properties. Just like their name, these herbs help your body ADAPT to ongoing stress and protect it from its harmful effects. In addition, they can also help your body recuperate after you’ve experienced excessive stress. You’ve probably heard of adaptogens before (like ashwaghanda), but you might not know that certain adaptogens can have different effects depending on how stress is showing up in your body (AKA is it making you exhausted or have low energy?).
1. Restorative adaptogens
All adaptogenic herbs will benefit your adrenals. These types of adaptogens are good go-to’s for when you’re expecting a stressful event, or need to recuperate from stress you’ve already experienced. They can help your ability to ‘perform’ despite additional stress, and bounce back faster afterwards.
2. Stimulating adaptogens
Feeling drained, depleted or unmotivated? These adaptogens may give you a fast-acting boost during periods of both acute and long-term stress. They will also increase mental stamina and focus.
3. Calming adaptogens
Is your stress manifesting as restlessness, racing thoughts, or insomnia? These adaptogens may balance any nervous energy you’re feeling, and help you overcome that ‘tired but wired’ sensation.
Adaptogens can be taken in different forms such as tinctures, teas, decoctions, or capsules. They are often recommended as complexes with multiple herbs for a broader range of stress support.
Find what’s right for you
Not sure what kind of stress fighter(s) you might need? Salivary hormone testing can help assess adrenal fatigue and cortisol imbalances. It also paints a picture of your cortisol pattern throughout the day. Traditionally, our cortisol levels peak early in the morning and taper down during sleep. If you’ve been suffering from chronic stress, your adrenal glands may be making greater amounts of cortisol, or releasing cortisol at the wrong times. This can guide what type of adaptogen or other supplement(s) might help you fight that stress!
As always, please seek assessment and care from your healthcare practitioner. They can help determine which supplements may suit your needs!
Here’s to your resilience,
Dr. Caroline Lewis, ND MSc
Dr. Lewis is a licensed ND in the Greater Toronto Area and recently helped create a Stress Recovery Program, for which she is currently accepting patients via telemedicine. Check out her Instagram @healthwithcare to learn more!
For more tips on stress management, click here.