What is an adaptogen?
Adaptogens are all-natural compounds, or particular group of plants and herbs, that may assist your body to deal with a variety of stressors including physical, mental, emotional and environmental helping your body find and reside in its natural equilibrium so it can perform at its optimal level. These particular group of plants and herbs have compounds that give them the ability to resist stressful environments by adapting and when we make use of these plants and herbs, we have the unique ability to ‘adapt’ their function in accordance with the specific needs within our bodies.
According to adaptogen expert Dr. David Winston, for plants and herbs to be classified as adaptogens, there are 3 characteristics that set adaptogens from others:
- It is relatively non-toxic to the body – having little to no harmful effects on the body and being safe to take everyday
- Support to normalize and balance the body’s system in maintaining homeostasis (optimum body levels) especially in the cardiovascular, immune and glandular system. They are sometimes referred to as plants with intelligence since they influence many body systems (non-specific). Help body return to state of homeostasis, that is help raise what is low and lower what is high (e.g. Energy, stress)
- Strengthens the body’s ability to withstand a broad spectrum of stressors: physical (lack of sleep, nutritional deficiencies), mental (media overload, work stress), emotional (relationships, anxiety) and environmental (harsh weather, pollutions, extreme living conditions). Hence, helping your body ‘adapt’ to stress supportive to body’s ability to cope with stress
Where did adaptogens come from?
The concept of adaptogens can be traced back to the early beginnings of Traditional Chinese Medicine as Qi tonics (natural energy tonic) and Ayurveda (India) medicine as Rasayana herbs to boost energy, longevity and vitality – the two oldest traditional medical practices known to use adaptogenic herbs.
The term “adaptogen” was adopted in the 1940s by Dr. Nicolai V. Lazarev, a Soviet scientist, pharmacologist and medical doctor; the term is derived from the Latin word adaptare, which means to fit or to adjust – applying to substances that enhances the body’s stress resistance.
Ancient and recent uses of adaptogens include:
- 495 CE: Shaolin monks used Reishi (type of mushroom) plant to enhance meditations and concentrations
- 790 – 1100 CE: During their quests, the Vikings used Rhodiola to enhance their physical strength and endurance
- 1000 – 1100 CE: The Khanty people of Western Siberia used to drink Chaga tea to aid in digestion and detoxification as well as a soap to cleanse skin sores
- 1976: Russian athletes used Eleuthero to prepare for the Olympic games in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s
- 1977: Astronauts used Rhodiola plantsto help cope with motion sickness and enhance mood while living under stressful conditions
- 1993: Chinese athletes took drinks made from Cordyceps plantswhich led two unranked Chinese athletes break multiple world records in swimming competitions and Chinese women runner win 6 out of 9 track at the world championships in Germany
Physical and mental performance: How do adaptogens work?
Adaptogens function at a molecular level by targeting the adrenal system to maintain a steady balance, reduce levels of stress hormones and release adrenal fatigue. The General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS), a three-stage theory describing what occurs to the body when exposed to stress, is frequently used to describe the stress response of humans; there are three stages:
- Alarm phase: body’s initial response to stress
- Resistance phase: body tries to counteract the changes that happened during the alarm phase.
- Exhaustion phase: prolonged or chronic stress
Adaptogens interrupts the body’s natural response to stress by prolonging the resistance phase increasing the body’s ability to withstand stress and lessens our sensitivity to external stimuli (stress) – adaptogens exert an anti-fatigue effect that increases our mental work capacity, improves attention and reduce stress enabling us to perform better and carry on with everyday activities even when faced with stress and fatigue. As a result, under prolonged or ongoing stress, adaptogens assist in achieving a higher degree of balance (homeostasis) to help the body adapt to the stress – they do not focus on a particular body area or organ; rather, they normalize physiological stress throughout the entire body.
What are adaptogens benefits?
Every adaptogen has its own unique characteristic and sets of benefits such as stimulating, smoothing and calming, strengthen, balance, etc… In addition to enhancing our ability to cope with stress, adaptogens also boost our moods, energy levels and immune functions. By assisting us in finding balance and managing stress naturally, they improve our overall health and wellbeing.
Adaptogens and Complementary Health: A Holistic Approach
In the realm of complementary and integrative health, adaptogens have emerged as key players in supporting the body’s stress response and overall well-being. These all-natural compounds, sourced from specific plants and herbs, go beyond addressing physical stressors. They extend their benefits to mental, emotional, and environmental stress.
Emotional stress is a pervasive aspect of modern life, impacting overall well-being. Adaptogens, with their multifaceted effects on the body’s systems, play a role in emotional stress relief. Incorporating adaptogens into dietary supplements or herbal blends offers a holistic strategy for individuals seeking emotional balance and stress relief.
Nexira’s range of adaptogen powders
Zoom on Grounded ASTRAGALUS
A perennial indigenous to China, Astragalus powder is sourced from the roots of the flowering plants. Organic astragalus is cultivated and harvested with adherence to carefully regulated environmental standards for water, soil, and other factors, helping the plants to maintain their natural adaptogenic properties.
Also known as huáng qí, the dried root and extract have been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years as an ancient remedy. The nutritional compounds found in astragalus are believed to help stimulate the immune system and may help to enhance the body’s response to stress.
The characteristics of Nexira’s astragalus powder:
- Astragalus powder from Nexira has low solubility. Solubility refers to the ability of a substance to dissolve in a liquid. This powder has poor solubility, meaning it may require special handling or processing.
- Groundeed ASTRAGALUS has a moderate taste intensity. It can be described as mildly sweet or slightly bitter, not overpowering.
- The astragalus powder’s color is somewhat subdued. Astragalus powder typically has a light beige to yellowish color.
Zoom on Thunderous MACA
Found high in the remote Andes Mountains, Maca, also known as Peruvian Ginseng, is a small tuberous plant native to South America. Grown in extreme conditions, at altitudes of 3500 – 4000 meters above sea level, it is dried at low temperatures and converted into Maca Organic Root Powder. With its intense malty, caramel flavor, this nutty-tasting superfood’s active substances come from the root.
Maca root powder contains minerals, and may help to act as an energy enhancer. The ancient Incan warriors consumed Maca, believing it would provide them with enhanced endurance in battle. The indigenous Incan people revere Maca as their most sacred root plant and they call it the “food of the brain” – believing that it brings them happiness and balance, while alleviating stress. Over the years, its reputation grew and many Peruvians consider it a good source of energy that can help combat fatigue and help to balance the body.
The characteristics of Nexira’s maca powder:
- Maca root powder has moderate solubility.
- Thunderous MACA powder has a very strong and pronounced taste. It is known for its earthy and nutty flavor, very intense and easily detectable in any product or recipe in which it is used.
- Maca root powder typically has a beige to light brown color.
Researchers, formulators, and manufacturers can use this information to determine how to best incorporate the astragalus or maca powders into their products or formulations. Keep in mind that these characteristics may impact how these powders are used in various applications.
We are here to help! Contact us for customized support in product formulation.
Why are people take adaptogens & how to add them to your diet?
“What does being healthy mean to you?” – nowadays the chief factor mostly everyone considers when answering this question is mental wellbeing, therefore it makes sense that the demand has shifted away from specific immunity functionalities to mental wellness.
Dependant on the type, adaptogens can be found in different forms as powders, extracts and whole (dried or fresh):
- Powder: smoothie bowls, baked goods and raw snack bars. Try our indulgent French chocolat mousse.
- Extract: juices, smoothies, plant-based milk. Find our authentic masala chaï recipe.
- Whole (fresh or dried): teas, soup broth
This communication is not intended to the final consumer. It provides scientific information for professionals only. Communications to the final consumer have to be checked according to local regulations in force, since the conditions of use are beyond our control. This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease