Did you know that over 70% of people in the U.S.experience physical and psychological symptoms caused by stress?
Stress is a necessary part of life. But, too much stress can have a significant impact on your overall health and well-being. Because of this, it’s important to include stress management within your wellness routine. Many people relieve their stress through meditation, exercise, and time management.
In addition to these holistic stress management options, you can also reduce your stress by supplementing your nutrition with adaptogens. When used alongside other stress management techniques, adaptogenic herbs like schizandra and Eleutherococcus can neutralize stress and counteract its effect on the body.
How Stress Affects the Body
Before diving into the science behind adaptogens, it’s important to understand the way our bodies react to stress.
Types of Stress
Stress comes in many forms based on the root cause and severity.
When stress stems from positive triggers like exercise, bringing home a new baby, or beginning a new job, it’s referred to as eustress. Stress triggered by negative life events like divorce, injury, or health issues, is known as distress.
When it comes to severity, there are three types of stress: acute, episodic acute, and chronic. Acute stress triggers the body’s fight or flight mechanism. This form of stress is usually caused by one time events like having a disagreement or racing against a deadline. When acute stress occurs on a regular basis, it’s referred to as episodic acute stress.
The Three Phases of Stress
No matter which type of stress you’re facing, the body responds by going through three phases:
During the alarm phase, the body releases adrenaline which helps us to prepare for the incoming stress. We also experience physical symptoms like sweating, disruptive thoughts, and an increased heart rate.
As the body releases adrenaline and becomes more balanced, it enters the resistance phase. During this phase, the body begins to cope with the stress and it becomes easier to focus on the task at hand. In the resistance phase, you may notice an increase in energy and improved mental clarity
The final phase, exhaustion, occurs when we try to endure stress for an extended period. If stress goes unmanaged, you may find yourself feeling fatigued, burned out, or anxious. Exhaustion can also negatively impact the health of your immune system.
How Adaptogens Combat Stress
Adaptogens work by hacking the body’s stress response mechanisms and regulating the adrenal, hypothalamic, and pituitary glands. They can prolong the resistance phase which makes it easier for you to cope with stressful situations. Adaptogens also aid in stress management by reducing the length of the exhaustion phase.
Depending on which adaptogens you choose to add to your daily regimen, you may experience a variety of beneficial effects including:
● Increased energy
● Improved moods
● Reduced anxiety
● Improved cognitive function
Types of Adaptogens
There are many adaptogens that you can use for stress management. Here are a few of the most popular adaptogens and the potential wellness benefits that they offer:
● Schizandra, also known as magnolia berry, can boost your physical stamina and improve your cognitive performance.
● Eleutherococcus, or Eleuthero root, can improve your focus and reduce mental burnout.
● Goji berry has been shown to boost energy levels, reduce anxiety, and promote healthy sleep patterns.
● Ginseng can improve your memory and reflexes, support your immune system, and reduce anxiety.
You can add adaptogenic herbs to foods, smoothies, teas, and more! You can also test out adaptogenic supplements in capsule and powder form.
Stress is a natural part of everyday life, but adaptogens can work with the body’s stress response system to make it easier to navigate. While adaptogens won’t completely cut stress from your life, they make a great supplement to other stress-fighting habits like exercise, time management, and getting adequate sleep.
Panossian, A., & Wikman, G. (2010). Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress-Protective Activity. Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland), 3(1), 188–224. doi:10.3390/ph3010188
What is Stress?. The American Institute of Stress. Retrieved from https://www.stress.org/daily-life