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There are many supplements and medications on the market that can aid the human body. Whether it be mental or physical issues, there seems to be a pill for everything. Nonetheless, there are those that prefer a more natural route. A simpler and a traditional way of healthy supplements. Adaptogen is that simpler and traditional way.

Adaptogens are plants and herbs that have medicinal properties. They can aid in digestion, fighting stress, and maintaining proper heart health. The concept of adaptogens isn’t new, it actually goes back thousands of years. Many early civilizations used adaptogens as the primary source of medical aid. Even after centuries of advancement in western medicine, many countries in the east still rely on them. Rightfully so.

These adaptogens have powerful properties with little to no ill side effects. Here are the top 10 adaptogens out there and what they’re capable of:

Ginseng

Ginseng is perhaps a name that many are familiar with. Most people may find it in the tea section of their local markets. It’s a strong-tasting root with various properties.

This east Asian favorite has the ability to support the body’s inflammatory response. Helping it fight diabetes, stroke, heart disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma. It also has neurological effects such as supporting cognitive function, suppressing chronic stress, and improving mental performances.

If the taste of ginseng is too much for you, try enjoying it in a tea or supplement. It’s a super root that brings countless benefits and shouldn’t be passed up.

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is another ancient herb that’s been used for centuries. In Indian herbal medicine, it is the most important herb. Its name comes from Sanskrit and means “horse smell”. This is due to the strong odor it gives off.

It’s a small green herb that promotes a calming effect. It’s been known to reduce blood sugars, optimize blood pressure, and support immunity by promoting the production of T3 and T4 cells. 

Additionally, it can help fight stress and anxiety by enhancing adrenal function. Ashwagandha may also improve brain functions like task attention and boosting memory.

It also maintains the body’s hormone levels and is great for those struggling with stress-induced fertility issues like problems conceiving. For men, in particular, it’s said to have a healthy impact on sperm count and testosterone levels. Due to its strong smell and taste, people take it in a supplement form or as an extract.

Maca

The Maca plant isn’t only an adaptogen but also a “superfood”. It’s rich in calcium, fiber, protein, magnesium, and amino acids. It’s found in the Andes mountains of central Peru. 

Maca is a cruciferous vegetable and is harvested from high altitudes for its root. It exists in a range of colors from black to white and is usually dried and consumed as a powder.

Aside from its impressive nutritional value, it also increases libido in both men and women. Along with sexual desire, Maca also improves sperm quality in both infertile and healthy men. It reduces the prostate size in men as well. For women, it’s been proven to alleviate menopausal symptoms and help with women’s issues with bone health.

Maca improves physical performance and is commonly used by athletes. It enhances muscle growth, endurance, and overall strength. As for neurological properties, improves mood, learning, and memory. It also naturally balances hormone levels by boosting the hypothalamus and pituitary gland.

The Maca root has a nutty flavor to it. Some say it’s similar to butterscotch. You can easily incorporate it into your diet. You can add it to your smoothies, oatmeal, and even baked goods.

Rhodiola (Arctic Root)

Rhodiola, also known as the arctic root, is a herb that grows in the mountain ranges of Europe and Asia. People in Russia, Norway, Sweden, and other Scandinavian countries have been using it for centuries.

It’s the perfect herb for increasing stamina and decreasing fatigue and cortisol levels.

It is a natural herb for suppressing stress in various unknown ways. It also has the ability to fight some symptoms of depression. It aids the body’s immune system and alleviates chronic illnesses. Rhodiola also has the ability to cure sexual dysfunction in both men and women. 

The herb can also improve mental stamina along with physical performance. People who took Rhodiola in a study were able to exercise longer than those that took a placebo. In a study of cadets who took Rhodiola, they showed improvements in mental capacity and enhanced memory.

Additionally, Rhodiola may have anti-cancer properties by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells throughout the body. As for blood sugar, it can improve diabetes control. Rhodiola reduces blood sugar levels by increasing the number of glucose-carrying molecules.

Amla

The Indian gooseberry commonly referred to as amla, is a very nutritious fruit. Giving off a greenish color, it’s an odd combination of sour and bitter flavors. It’s a great source of Vitamin C, iron, and calcium.

Amla aids your immune system and helps you fight diseases. It’s been known to have anti-aging properties for a number of reasons. It fights the breakdown of collagen keeping the skin firm, prevents hair loss, and maintains your vision by improving the mitochondrial health of the eyes.

In animal studies, it’s been shown to kill various kinds of cancers. Due to its antioxidant powers, it prevents cancer and tumor growth as well.

For heart health, it reduces blood pressure, normalizes blood fat levels, prevents the formation of clots, and lowers blood sugar levels. According to a Dr. Shalini Minglani, amla makes the blood vessels stronger and thicker.

Although amla may have an unpleasant taste, it is commonly found candied and in jams. It is full of antioxidants and immune boosting compounds, and should definitely be in your daily diet.

Gotu Kola

Gotu Kola is an Asian leafy plant that is known as the “herb of longevity”. It’s found in the wetlands of southeast Asia, it’s commonly consumed as a juice, tea, or a leafy vegetable.

It is believed to have numerous medicinal benefits like treating Alzheimer’s, boosting memory, and improving mood. It’s often used by those that have poor blood circulation in their legs. It promotes blood circulation and prevents varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency. 

The leafy adaptogen can heal wounds and scars; as well as reduce swelling. It contains healthy amounts of potassium, iron, calcium, and Vitamins A, B2, and C. 

Gotu Kola is often eaten fresh but can be taken as a supplement. Fresh Gotu Kola is used in many Asian dishes and has a sweet and bitter taste, with a grassy scent.

Siberian Ginseng (Eleuthero Root)

Siberian Ginseng, although similar in name, has nothing to do with the American or Chinese ginseng. This adaptogen is found in eastern countries like Russia and China. It is also known by the name eleuthero with the active ingredient being eleutheroside.

It’s supposed to be able to help the body cope with stress and handle physical fatigue. Siberian ginseng was commonly used to combat the cold and flu. It strengthens the immune system and helps fight illness and disease.

Siberian Ginseng also has been noted for its ability to fight herpes. The active ingredients reduce the severity of the symptoms of herpes simplex type 2 virus. A double-blind study showed that it reduced the number of herpes outbreaks.

Additionally, it enhances your overall mental, physical, and sexual abilities. It keeps you mentally alert, improves athletic performance and strength, and supports healthy menstruation in women and testosterone levels in men.

It can be taken in various forms: powder, liquid, capsule, tablet, cut root for tea, etc. Children are not allowed to consume it and you should consult your doctor before using this adaptogen.

Licorice

Used in both eastern and western medicine, licorice is one of the oldest adaptogens. The root has many medicinal properties and is used for numerous ailments. 

Licorice is used as a sweetener in candies and contains more than 300 antimicrobial and antiviral compounds. It is native to western Asia and southern Europe.

It reduces skin inflammation and is great for people suffering from eczema. It fights skin diseases by destroying bacteria infecting the skin. It’s also useful in promoting the accelerated healing of canker sores and various ulcers.

Small studies have concluded that licorice is great for sore throats. They noted that patients that were coming out of surgery were suffering from sore throat. This was caused by the breathing pipe that was inserted during surgery. They found that when the patients gargled licorice solution for 1-15 minutes, it reduced the severity of postoperative sore throat (POST).

Other uses include: fighting colorectal cancer, easing the pain of functional dyspepsia, and alleviating menstrual symptoms (like cramps and hot flashes).

Licorice is probably the tastiest adaptogen with amazing properties. Although it can be conveniently found in every market, you should consult a medical professional first before taking it.

Shilajit

Shilajit, also called mineral pitch, is a blackish-brown resin that comes from the breaking down of plants and minerals. This tar-like substance is found in the layers of rock in the Himalayan, Tibetan, and Altai mountains. It contains an important compound known as fulvic acid.

Fulvic acid acts as an antioxidant and slows the many aspects of aging. It reduces the free radicals and the cellular damage that is done to the body. 

Additionally, it improves brain function and is known to treat Alzheimer’s. Fulvic acid may block tau buildup, a key marker of Alzheimer’s syndrome and other mental ailments.

Shilajit also aids with problems concerning dementia, anemia, fatigue, chronic pain, and eczema. Although there isn’t much of an effect on blood pressure, it does lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood.

This adaptogen can also be taken to boost male testosterone levels and fertility as well as defend the body against viruses. A research study has noted shilajit’s ability to kill viruses like herpes.

Tulsi

Closely related to culinary basil, Tulsi is a medicinal herb native to India and Southeast Asia. It’s been used for 5000 years and has a peppery flavor and aroma. Also known as “holy basil” it is rich in Vitamin A and C, calcium, zinc, iron, and chlorophyll.

The herb has the potential to reduce the effects of asthma, bronchitis, flu, and other respiratory ailments. It is also taken to relieve anxiety and improve moods.

Tulsi reduces inflammation and helps those suffering from arthritis. Indians use it as an antiseptic for stings and itch, and even utilize it to kill bacteria in their mouth and as a breath freshener. 

This adaptogen reduces blood sugar, blood pressure, and most importantly, reduces stress. For some it can even lower symptoms of depression and lead to better sleep. Tulsi is mainly consumed in the form of teas by either boiling the leaves or using a power extract.

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