Adaptogens: A Balanced Response to Stress
Adaptogenic herbs such as ashwagandha, amla and holy basil are increasing in popularity because of their ability to support the body’s response to a variety of stressors. These centuries-old staples of Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine (which is likely a product of Ayurveda; hence why the two share so many ingredients) help the body literally adapt to physical and emotional stress in order to manage everything from sleep to energy. This means if you’re feeling flustered, they’ll calm you, or if you’re feeling sluggish, they’ll provide pep. They also help to balance and regulate the body’s immune response.
Studies Showing Adaptogens Support Many Other Mind and Body Functions
In addition to their traditional uses, the popularity of adaptogens is partially thanks to the vast amount of recent research showing their effectiveness. In a culture conditioned to pharmaceutical trials and premarket approval, many consumers want to see hard science—and new science—before they’re convinced to try a natural remedy. Current studies indicate that ashwagandha, for example, has antioxidant effects that can support healthy inflammation response, a strong immune system and a clear mind, all while keeping energy steady.
More Than Just Herbs
But in Ayurveda, adaptogens far transcend the benefits of the individual herbs. Adaptogens have long been part of an Ayurvedic practice of Rasayana, or “regenerative therapies,” said to support a long and happy life. While in Western herbalism, adaptogens are just a category of herbs, in Ayurveda, it’s the herbs plus therapies, formulas, topical remedies and detoxification practices that are all aimed at increasing allostasis, which is the “flexibility to the demands of life.”