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Welcome to The Maris Practice Blog. Here you will find musings, reflections and information about best practice in alternative therapies. We hope you find it useful and interesting.

Adaptogens – can they help us manage our stress levels?

Adaptogens – can they help us manage our stress levels?

Adaptogens are herb powders from a unique class of healing plants which activate the body’s natural defence mechanisms against stress.  Eating a nutritious well balanced diet, getting enough sleep and keeping physically active can all help us avoid the effects of stress and improve our quality of life. Adding adaptogens to our daily routine can give us the extra boost we need to combat the damaging effects of everyday stress on our bodies.

The effect of stress on our bodies

You may have heard of the term Cortisol, this is a steroid hormone which is produced by our bodies and released throughout the day as a response to events as they happen.  The more stressed we get the more cortisol is produced.  Over production of this hormone can have a detrimental effect on us, causing us to become irritable and anxious, lose concentration, and even leading to weight gain, heart disease risk and diabetes.  Another side effect of Cortisol over-production is how it can affect the aging process.  As too much of the hormone is produced, the faster the aging process happens.  So if you want to stay looking and feeling younger for longer it is important to regulate the amount of Cortisol your body produces.  Other potential side effects of chronic Cortisol over-production include cancer, common colds, hormone imbalance, irritable bowel disease, thyroid conditions and depression. 

What makes an adaptogen?

An adaptogen must have 3 main characteristics.  Firstly, it must be non-toxic and therefore safe to take over a period of time, secondly it must produce a non-specific biological response that improves the body’s ability to resist many different stress types, and thirdly adaptogens must have a normalising effect on the body in order to bring it back into balance.  Here are 7 of the top adaptogens and their benefits:

  1. Ginseng – can improve mental performance, our ability to withstand stress and help lower blood pressure.
  2. Holy Basil – helps fight fatigue and stress, boost our immune system and regulate blood sugar levels.
  3. Ashwaganda – (sometimes referred to as Indian Ginseng) has been used for over 2,500 years to help boost the immune system and lower cortisol levels.
  4. Astragalus – boosts the immune system and helps the body repair and recover from the effects of stress.
  5. Liquorice Root – can increase energy and stamina, and boost the immune system.  It does require professional supervision as it can affect blood pressure.
  6. Rhodiola – or golden root, contains a phytochemical called salisdroside which helps relieve anxiety and combats aging.  This herb can also help restore disturbed eating and sleeping patterns, can protect the heart and liver and may even extend longevity.
  7. Cordycep Mushrooms – these are funguses with antioxidant, anti-tumour and immune enhancing properties.

Where can we get adaptogens?

Adaptogens can be found in your local health food shop or you can buy them online.  They can have a noticeable effect in just a few days but are best taken for a period of at least 3 months to build up the full effects.

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