Adaptogens, What?

Many of you may be wondering, what exactly is an adaptogen? We've mentioned and touted the healing benefits of adaptogens on many of our products, but what are they and why do you need them? 

Adaptogens in the simplest sense are plants that have special qualities related to helping your body adapt to stress. From an herbal perspective, adaptogens are a unique set of herbal plants that contain special substances that can actually decrease your body's cellular sensitivity to stress. As a result, a state of homeostasis or equilibrium is achieved whereby your body can then stabilize and manage stress on both a physical and emotional level. Slowly and gently, these substances "adapt" their function to your body's specific needs. Over time they help strengthen your adrenal system, helping your body manage stress, fight fatigue and cope with anxiety. To qualify as an adaptogen, an herb must be both safe and non-toxic, have a broad range of uses, and must specifically reduce both mental and physical stress. 

I've never heard of them, how long have they been around?

Unlike modern day pharmaceutical medicines, adaptogens have been known about and used for thousands of years. 

All the long-standing healing disciplines around the world discovered the benefits of these botanicals in their respective regions that we now know collectively as "adaptogenics". It wasn't until 1947 that Russian scientist Nikolai Lazarev first defined an adaptogen as a "nutritive substance that counters adverse physical, chemical or biological sources of stress by raising nonspecific resistance, allowing the organism to adapt to stressful circumstances. 

Long before Lazarev's scientific approach, adaptogens have been recognized and well utilized in many healing traditions across the globe; most notably in Chinese Herbology and Ayurvedic Medicine. Although the information is more decentralized, it appears that the Shamans and "medicine men" of the Americas, Africa and Europe all identified plants that we would now label as adaptogens. What all these traditions recognized, is that our bodies contain an innate and special ability to heal themselves. Self-healing can be seen throughout nature, from plants to animals to even the earth as a bodily system of itself. There remains a desire in all of us to obtain and maintain a sense of homeostasis or well-being. Including adaptogens in your diet have a very real and undeniable effect on your state of mind and the way your body reacts to stress. Several studies have been done recently that provide evidence on what those ancient medical practices already knew---that adaptogens are not only safe for long-term use but have many positive stress-relieving benefits! 

Why do I need them?

Everyday your bodies are bombarded with various levels of stress whether it be from work, lifestyle, environmental or chemical toxins, and even from poor nutrition. All of these factors put a level of stress on your bodies creating sickness, disease, and just a lack of overall well-being. When this happens, many of us turn to stimulants such as caffeine and sugar. The problem is that these things don't work long-term! While they may offer a quick lift or emotional high, an inevitable crash is usually not far behind. Unlike caffeine or sugar, adaptogens offer a release from stress without the crash. Taken long-term, you will begin to feel noticeable effects such as how you react to a stressful situation, enhanced immune response, and feelings of vitality and longevity. 

How do adaptogens work?

Adaptogens normalize your body's imbalances much like a thermostat. They have the unique ability to calm you down or boost your energy depending on your body's particular needs. By supporting your adrenal system, adaptogens will counteract the negative effects of stress. Adaptogens have an amazing ability to help cells eliminate toxic overload and utilize oxygen more efficiently. As a result, the body can then access more energy and stop wasting metabolic energy trying to break down toxins that aren't useful to your body's health. Adaptogens have been especially successful in the treatment of many anxiety disorders.

Are adaptogens a stimulant? 

No. While there are some claims that certain adaptogenic plant extracts have stimulating effects on the nervous system, the process by which adaptogens create energy is much different than plants that contain stimulants such as caffeine. Also, sugar, processed foods, tobacco, and some teas can have an unhealthy short-term stimulant effect, but actually wear down our energy and vitality over time. Adaptogens do not create a spike in blood sugar nor do they cause any crash. Unlike stimulants, adaptogens do not deplete your energy but actually decrease stress, increase recovery after physical exercise, do not cause insomnia, have little to no side effects, and can even increase your sense of arousal and attention to detail. In short, adaptogens increase your body's ability to survive and thrive on a myriad of levels!  

Are adaptogens safe to take long-term?

Yes! Adaptogens offer long-term balancing influences on the body. Including adaptogens in your diet will increase your power of resistance against physical, chemical, and biological stressors. They are non-toxic and produce a healthy, adaptive response to stress thus improving and balancing the body's hormonal, nervous, and cardiovascular systems. 

Ok, so what are they and how do I take them?

Some of the most well-known and popularly used adaptogens are Maca, Rhodiola, Ashwaganda, Holy Basil (Tulsi Leaf), Turmeric, Reishi Mushroom, Burdock Root, Mangosteen, Camu Camu, Cordyceps Mushroom, Wild Blueberry, Goji Berry, Ginger, Shilajit, and most varieties of Ginseng. Solay Superfood incorporates all of these important adaptogens in its ingredients list. While adaptogens may be taken alone, they are best enjoyed blended with other healing and medicinal plants to create a more potent synergist benefit. Every Solay Superfood product includes ideal levels and combinations of adatgogens for enhanced nutritional absorption. You will find that just about every one of Solay's products contain at least two adaptogenic botanicals. 

Here is a a list of the most common adaptogens that Solay Superfood uses in its products:

 

American Ginseng Root

American Ginseng is one of three known species of Ginseng: American, Chinese, and Siberian. Ginseng root was valued so much by the Chinese that they considered if more valuable than gold. American Ginseng grows wild in the southern states of the US and into regions of Canada. According to Oriental Medicine, American Ginseng has a cooling, calming, and relaxing "yin" effect on the body. These yin qualities make the root especially beneficial for people with anxiety, stress, anger, or high blood sugar. 

 

 

Amla Berry

 

Amla Berry, or Amalaki, is considered to be one of the most important foods in Ayurvedic medicine and has been used for thousands of years medicinally. It has traditionally been used to rejuvenate many of the body's organs and functions, boost immunity, decrease inflammation and improves the function of the liver. Its high level of antioxidants slows down the aging process, improving skin tone as well as promoting longevity and offering protection from cancer causing free radicals. Amla Berry is indigenous to many parts of Europe, Western Asia, and Africa and India.

 

 

Ashwaganda Roots

Ashwaganda is another powerful ancient herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. This root is most well-known for its restorative benefits such as combatting stress, improving memory and concentration, reducing anxiety, stabilizing blood sugar, protecting the immune system, enhancing sexual potency, and acting as an anti-inflammatory. This miracle herb translates from Sanskrit to "the smell of the horse," implying that it can offer the strength and vigor of a stallion, and has been traditionally prescribed to strengthen the immune system. Ashwaganda is native to the dry regions of India, Northern Africa, the Middle East, and has most recently been grown in the mild climates of the United States.

Cordyceps Mushroom

Cordyceps is a medicinal mushroom that has been used to strengthen both the body and mind. These mushrooms have even been used to treat cancer as they can fight tumors. Cordyceps also have the amazing ability to reduce symptoms of asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory disorders. This mushroom has been popularly taken to improve stamina, reduce fatigue, enhance sexual function, fight free radicals, balance hormones, improve the function of the heart, kidneys, and liver, as well as maintain healthy cholestrol levels. This mushroom is even known to improve athletic performance! 

 

 

Camu Camu Berry

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Native to Peru and Brazil, Camu Camu Berry is a powerful Amazonian Superfruit that has more Vitamin C than any other fruit on the planet. In as little as 1/3 of a teaspoon, Camu Camu provides the body with 200% of your RDA for Vitamin C. Camu Camu is also rich in amino acids, bioflavonoids and minerals such as calcium, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, phosphorous, iron and beta carotene. Medicinally, Camu Camu has been used to treat viral infections, help maintain mental clarity, improve respiratory health, strengthen the immune system, decrease inflammation, provide nervous system support, and support the functions of the brain, heart, eyes, liver and skin. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ginger Root

Probably the most well-known adaptogen, Ginger Root is a commonly used plant that is native to Southeast Asia. Ginger has been renowned for millennia for its culinary, medicinal, and aromatic properties. Its adaptogenic health properties are vast in that it can build the immune system, aid in digestion, relieve nausea, calm the nerves, and act as an anti-inflammatory. It's high level of anti-oxidants also make Ginger an excellent defender against cellular damage due to free radicals. Today, Ginger is commercially grown and distributed in Jamaica, India, Fiji, Australia, and Indonesia. Considered one of the world's healthiest foods, don't be fooled by how common it is. 

 

Goji Berry

Goji Berry, also known as Wolf Berry, is native to Southeast Europe as well as Asia. It has been cultivated for centuries as both a food and medicine in the Himalayan region. Goji Berry has gained a lot of attention recently due to its wealth of health benefits. It is especially known for its high anti-oxidant value, having at least 10 times the amount of antioxidants than blueberries. Goji Berry's nearly perfect amino acid profile aids in muscle regeneration and contraction. Other medicinal qualities include its ability to strengthen the immune system, increase energy, act as an anti-inflammatory, support the nervous system due to its high level of essential fatty acids, and promote healthy cardiovascular health. 

 

Holy Basil (Tulsi Leaf)

Native to India, Tulsi Leaf, is known as the "queen of herbs" or the "elixir of life" due to its potent healing qualities. It is considered to be one of the most sacred plants in India. In the ancient holistic tradition of Ayurveda, Tulsi is known for its health enhancing, life prolonging, and disease preventing properties. Most recently many of these benefits have been scientifically verified by modern research as Tulsi contains a unique chemistry of compounds known as "phyto-chemicals." These phytochemicals possess anti-oxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, adaptogenic, and immune enhancing properties that help the body's ability to handle stress and disease. Along with strengthening the body's immune system and relieving stress, Tulsi promotes longevity, heart and respiratory health, aids in digestion, and increases mental clarity. 

 

 

 

Maca Root

Another commonly known adaptogen, Maca Root is native to the Andes region in South America and grows at elevations of 7,000-11,000 feet above sea level. Its ability to grow in harsh climates makes Maca a unique superfood as it is still able to extract potent nutrients from the sun and its barren, mountainous growing conditions. Maca contains many essential nutrients necessary for bodily functions such as protein, fiber, calcium, and magnesium as well as trace minerals such as zinc, iodine, and copper. Medicinally, Maca Root has been used to balance hormones, increase libido in both men and women, promote vitality, improve blood flow, and support the endocrine system. 

 

 

Reishi Mushroom

Reishi Mushroom has been used medicinally for thousands of years in areas of China and Japan. In Chinese medicine it is known as the "king of herbs" as it is believed to encourage vigor and long life. Ancient kings and emperors even drank reishi tea to increase wisdom and happiness. Reishi Mushroom has strong anti-oxidant value and is believed to suppress tumor growth in people with cancer. Other medicinal qualities include building respiratory strength, improving immunity and blood flow to the heart. It has been used to treat arthritis, high cholesterol, and Alzheimer's. Today in the West, Reishi Mushroom is often made into elixirs and tonics that promise to promote vitality and longevity. 

 

 

 

Schisandra Berry

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Schisandra is a superberry adaptogen that is native to China and parts of Russia. It owes its name Wu Wei Zi (five flavored berry) because it has the unique and rare characteristic of encompassing bitter, sweet, pungent, salty, and sour flavors. It has been used medicinally in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years to prolong life, slow down aging, and was used as a sexual tonic. As an adaptogen, Schisandra is known to decrease fatigue, enhance athletic performance, and promote endurance. Schisandra is beneficial to athletes, specifically endurance athletes such as long-distance runners. It is known to also improve concentration and coordination as well as prevent mental fatigue.  An amazing super berry, Schisandra is a vital addition to anyone's mental and physical health.

 

 

 

 

 

Shilajit Extract

Shilajit, which is actually a resin, is considered extremely sacred in parts of India. It literally translates to "nectar of the Gods" and is sometimes referred to as the "remover of weakness" due to its incredible health benefits. This resin is composed of centuries of decomposed plant materials that ooze out of the rocks in the Himalaya Mountains. It has been used by yogis for millennia to enhance meditation and focus. Shilajit contains a host of trace minerals and vitamins that increase strength, immune function, and stamina. This potent mineral also benefits the kidney and urinary tract, supports libido, revitalizes the reproductive system, increases vitality, enhances the potency of other herbs, and supports the healthy absorption of nutrients.

Although you'll find adaptogenic herbs in all of our products, here is a list of our top 5 most potent adaptogenic products in decreasing order:

 

 

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