What are Adaptogens? Everything you Should Know
Feeling out of whack? Adaptogens are here to help you adapt!
Although they've only recently gone mainstream, adaptogens have been around as long as plants and mushrooms have been growing on earth–because that's what adaptogens are. More specifically, they are plants and fungi that help your body deal with stress.
But we’re not just talking about the “I lost my job, my credit card bill is out of control, and I’m pretty sure the world going to hell in a handbasket” kind of stress. No, we mean stress in the broader sense that may include all of the above as well as poor diet, air pollution, and other environmental toxins.
So how do adaptogens do this? At first blush, it sounds a bit like magic. For instance, some of ginseng’s benefits, which have been touted for centuries, directly contradict one another, such as having the dual properties of promoting both energy and sleep. It’s almost as if it “just knows” what your body needs. And guess what? It likely does.
It's impossible to talk about adaptogens without discussing homeostasis, which is basically a fancy word for balance. Every living thing on the planet is constantly in a battle to maintain a stable internal state despite stressors and changes from the outside world. Turns out we are all now and always have been, on a cellular level, trying to keep our shit together. But instead of reading your mind, adaptogens are merely striving to get your body back in balance, or, if you like things fancy, achieve homeostasis.
This “middle way” is a crucial feature of adaptogens, and it’s what sets them apart from stimulants and other quick fixes. The energy that the body gets from Cordyceps mushrooms, for instance, isn't going to cause a crash and burn like caffeine or a sugar high might. The beauty in these plants and mushrooms is that, just like a thermostat that turns off after an optimal temperature has been achieved, adaptogens will give our body only what’s needed to bring it back into balance. Much like exercise strengthens a muscle, adaptogens train our body to handle stress when confronted with it, thereby avoiding the inevitable exhaustion phase that usually follows. And just like exercise, to see the benefits, daily long-term use is recommended.
Human trials on adaptogens have been conducted for thousands of years, with documented use of the adaptogen Rhodiola to treat headaches dating back to 77 AD. And while more modern-day long-term scientific studies are needed, it was discovered that the stress–protective activity of adaptogens was "associated with regulation of homeostasis through interaction with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the regulation of key mediators of the stress response." Meaning, that while science hasn’t proven precisely what it's doing, we know it's interacting with the HPA axis and appears to be influencing homeostasis. Other studies on animals and isolated neuronal cells have shown that adaptogens exhibit anti-fatigue, antidepressive effects that can also boost mental capacity and improve focus.
Ready to Try?
Want to see for yourself if adaptogens live up to the hype? Try our oat milk lattes, packed with adaptogenic mushrooms that promote immunity, focus, calm and more. Prepare to be balanced.