Article by Ashley Finkel, Nutrition Student and Intern at Open Space Clinic.

Everyone experiences stress!

While short bouts of stress can be manageable, continuous stress can be hard on our bodies, both physically and mentally. Adding adaptogens to your diet is just one way to manage stress.

What are adaptogens?

Adaptogens are a group of plants that can help our bodies cope with stress. Adaptogens can be herbs, fungi or roots; and they work with our bodies to regulate our stress response systems. Adaptogens have been newly growing in popularity; however, they actually have a long history of health benefits. For centuries, Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine have been using adaptogens to battle fatigue, increase energy levels and reduce stress levels.

Some common Adaptogens

Rhodiola rosea

Schisandra chinensis

Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng)

Let’s learn about them! 

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola is an herb that has been proven to help the body cope with its stress response. In addition, it has shown to improve cognitive function and mental performance in individuals experiencing fatigue. One study found that Rhodiola can even help to reduce symptoms of depression.

Rhodiola can be taken as a capsule supplement; however, in my opinion, brewing it and ingesting as tea is best!

Schisandra Chinesis 

Studies show that Schisandra has stress-reducing properties; it has a specific, beneficial effect in reducing stress symptoms under fatigue. There is also strong evidence that it can increase endurance and mental performance in individuals experiencing fatigue and weakness.

Schisandra is available as a supplement; but it can also be purchased as dried whole berries or as a juice.

Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian Ginseng) 

Siberian Ginseng is a very popular choice among the common adaptogens. It has been proven to increase endurance and improve mental performance in fatigued individuals— similar to Schisandra. As well, many patients with stress-induced depression experienced an overall mood improvement and a better night sleep as a result of taking Siberian ginseng.

Siberian Ginseng root is available in supplement format; however, again, my personal favourite is Siberian Ginseng tea.

The Takeaway

All of these adaptogens have been proven to have beneficial effects on our bodies stress response systems. They also respectively have a long list of benefits for our bodies ranging from mood improvement to improved cognitive function. However, it is important to note that there is no “magic remedy” to stress. Stress is different for every individual and while adaptogens might work for some people, it may not work for everyone.

Please remember that it is always advised to speak with your healthcare professional before taking any adaptogens!

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References 

Anghelescu, I. G., Edwards, D., Seifritz, E., & Kasper, S. (2018). Stress management and the role of Rhodiola rosea: a

review. International journal of psychiatry in clinical practice22(4), 242–252. https://doi.org/10.1080/13651501.2017.1417442

Cropley, M., Banks, A. P., & Boyle, J. (2015). The Effects of Rhodiola rosea L. Extract on Anxiety, Stress, Cognition and Other

 Mood Symptoms. Phytotherapy research : PTR29(12), 1934–1939. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.5486

Lekomtseva, Y., Zhukova, I., & Wacker, A. (2017). Rhodiola rosea in Subjects with Prolonged or Chronic Fatigue Symptoms:

Results of an Open-Label Clinical Trial. Complementary medicine research24(1), 46–52. https://doi.org/10.1159/000457918

Olsson, E. M., von Schéele, B., & Panossian, A. G. (2009). A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study

of the standardised extract shr-5 of the roots of Rhodiola rosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue. Planta medica75(2), 105–112. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0028-1088346

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. https://doi.org/10.3390/ph3010188