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Adaptogens: Not Your Ordinary Herbs

             They may be the coolest kids on the supplement block—but they're not your ordinary herbs. Adaptogens belong to a class of substances that have very specific modes of actions—and very powerful benefits.

             Unlike supplements that work by targeting specific physiological processes or systems, adaptogens support the body in resisting a wide range of adverse conditions and maintain balance and equilibrium in physiologic functions, protecting against external stress without interfering with the normal functions of the human body.[1] Adaptogens work in part by influencing what's called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a complex system that controls the body's response to stress and regulates energy, immunity, mood and other processes. By working with the body's natural systems, they help promote anabolic recovery and regulate energy use. And unlike some herbs and supplements, adaptogens can be taken on a daily basis to prevent disease, manage stress and enhance vitality.[2]

          Ashwagandha significantly reduces levels of cortisol, the body's primary stress hormone; in studies, it's been shown to enhance brain and nervous system function, support immunity, ease depression, balance mood, lower stress and anxiety and improve overall well-being.[3], [4]

             Rhodiola rosea, from a flowering plant native to Europe, Asia and North America, has powerful effects on cognitive function. It works by influencing brain neurotransmitters, enhancing mental performance and improving concentration. Other studies show rhodiola rosea can ease depression and offer anti-aging and neuroprotective benefits.[5], [6], [7]

[1] Liao LV et al. A preliminary review of studies on adaptogens: comparison of their bioactivity in TCM with that of ginseng-like herbs used worldwide. Chin Med. 2018; 13: 57.

 [2] Yance DR et al. Breakthrough solutions in herbal medicine adaptogenic formulas: the way to vitality. Townsend Lett. 2007;282:86–90.

 [3] Singh N et al. An overview on Ashwagandha: a rasayana (rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2011; 8(5 Suppl): 208–213.

 [4] Chandrasekhar K et al. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian J Psychol Med. 2012 Jul;34(3):255-62.

 [5] Olsson EM et al. A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the standardised extract shr-5 of the roots of Rhodiola rosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue. Planta Med. 2009 Feb;75(2):105-12.

 [6] Darbinyan V. Clinical trial of Rhodiola rosea L. extract SHR-5 in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. Nord J Psychiatry. 2007;61(5):343-8.

 [7] Zhuang W et al. Rosenroot (Rhodiola): potential applications in aging-related diseases. Aging Dis. 2019 Feb; 10(1): 134–146.

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