Coronavirus outbreak last year and the cases still going rampant, has taught us many valuable lessons. The vaccine is now a reality but it is also necessary to follow certain safety measures like facemasks, hand sanitizers, avoiding unnecessary travel till the world is declared virus free. We have also learnt putting ‘health first’ on our bucket list and let’s not forget that mental wellness is equally important as physical wellbeing. Stress can affect all age groups right from teenagers, young, middle-aged adults to the elderly.
So, if you are looking for natural components that can alleviate mental tension, ensure consuming that plant based diet rich in adaptogens.
So, What Exactly Are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens are bioactive substances derived from naturally occurring plants, that do not release any toxic effects upon consumption and which are highly beneficial in shielding the body when exposed to external stress, by maintaining homeostasis. These powerful herbs have been employed for several centuries, in numerous traditional therapeutic formulations, as documented in the manuscripts of ancient curative practices of Chinese medicine and Ayurveda. They are, without a doubt, undergoing a revival in today’s modern world, wherein individuals are plagued with myriad mental health complaints of undue stress, nervousness, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, fatigue, sleeplessness.
Ginseng and astragalus root, reishi and cordyceps mushrooms, goji berry are all touted for their excellent adaptogenic potential in the age-old practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Popular examples of adaptogens as mentioned in the scholarly texts of Ayurveda – Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita, Ashtanga Hridaya, consist of ashwagandha, shankapushpi, brahmi, shatavari, gotu kola, aparajitha, kaunch beej, gokshura and tulsi, aside from lots of other potent herbs.
How Do Adaptogens Aid In Stress Relief?
In healthy individuals, the body is ideally in a poised internal condition of homeostasis. Homeostasis refers to the stable state of living organisms, characterised by steady internal physical, chemical and biological settings, even amidst fluctuations in the surrounding milieu. Under these circumstances, the functioning of the system is optimal, with normal body temperature, hormone levels and fluid balance. However, the scales of this equilibrium are conspicuously distorted when the system endures massive stress from the outside environment, with a sudden overflow of cortisol – the stress hormone from adrenal glands.
This hampers practically every organ in the body, including the nervous system, brain, heart, lungs, stomach, kidneys, liver, reproductive structures, metabolism, defence mechanism and immune functions. During stress, adaptogens positively influence the hypothalamus in the brain, pituitary gland within the skull, adrenal glands above the kidneys, to enhance stamina, bolster immunity, elevate nerve responses, lower cortisol, stress levels and guarantee maximal efficacy of the system.
Ways To Include Adaptogens In The Diet:
Thanks to natural remedies being all the rage now, ayurvedic herbs of ashwagandha, brahmi, gotu kola, kaunch beej, tulsi and many more, imbued with significant adaptogenic traits, are packaged as supplements in the form of tablets, capsules.
These beneficial florae are also sold as finely ground powders, pre-mixed pastes, that can be easily incorporated in all staple Indian foods of dal, curry, sambar, soups, besides salads, juices and smoothies. In addition, herbal teas of ashwagandha and tulsi are readily available that can be sipped on as a rejuvenating beverage. Browse this infographic, to discover five miraculous adaptogenic herbs.