Different adaptogens enhance the body’s response to stress in different ways, and since stress is the root cause of so many of the negative health effects we deal with, research has shown that adaptogens uniquely improve other areas of overall wellness, beyond our conventional understanding of stress. In other words, research has shown adaptogens can be used to boost mood, stimulate focus, improve memory, raise libido, ease anxiety, and increase energy levels and stamina.
Hacking the Stress Response
Adaptogens have a lot of different mechanisms through which they fight the effects of stress and fatigue, and we’re still learning more. However, we have observed several ways in which adaptogens help the body adapt to stress at the molecular level.
When your body is stressed it goes through three phases:
- Alarm Phase
- Phase of Resistance
- Phase of Exhaustion
When your body starts a stressful activity, say writing a paper or lifting weights, it sounds off an internal alarm and it begins to pump your body full of hormones like adrenaline in response. As you go about the activity, your body will feel more clear and focused due to those released hormones. It is how your body prepares you to resist the upcoming stress. However, your body can only resist for so long until it is exhausted. This is where adaptogens work their “magic”.
Adaptogens prolong & improve the Phase of Resistance. Through the powerful natural compounds found in them, adaptogens essentially “hack” the stress response, safely and effectively extending this resistance phase. This helps you stay focused longer and tire less easily while doing stressful activities like working out or running a meeting. Even more importantly, by improving the phase of resistance, adaptogens help reduce the exhaustion your body typically feels after a stress response.
Adaptogens also have strong anti-inflammatory properties. When you are stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is the body’s fight or flight response to stress and overtime this hormone causes the body to become inflamed. Inflammation leads to your body breaking down slowly over time and is responsible for many of the physical effects of aging. The anti-inflammatory properties of adaptogens help fight the negative effects of cortisol through various mechanisms of maintaining homeostasis in the body.