Among the hundreds of thousands of plant species found on our planet, there are some which are distinguished by special features. They have the ability to adapt to extremely unfavorable conditions in which they live and develop a special resistance to them. What’s more, some of them transfer these properties to the organisms of creatures that eat them – animals and humans. These unique plants are called adaptogens.
What exactly are adaptogens?
Plants described as adaptogens, broadly speaking, support the body’s resistance to stress in a broad sense. This refers not only to a specific emotional state, but also to all unfavourable conditions and circumstances which our body has to cope with and which disturb the natural balance.
Life in constant tension, environmental pollution, improper diet, lack of physical activity, noise and smog, and last but not least the natural degenerative changes associated with the aging process, are all strong stress stimuli for the body. It is often the case that the body cannot cope with the excess of stress and reacts with the dysfunction of some system or organ.
The solution to restoring balance to the body in a stressful situation may be plant adaptogens.
An adaptogen restores stability and proper balance in the functioning of important systems and organs, thus having a comprehensive effect on the health of the entire body. It strengthens the immune system and protects individual organs, increasing the body’s ability to adapt to adverse conditions that may lead to disease.
Thus, plant adaptogens do not treat specific conditions, but strengthen the body so that it can deal with potential threats on its own.
Furthermore, plants that exhibit adaptogenic properties exert only as much influence on physiological processes as necessary, without blocking or interfering with normal bodily functions.
The best known adaptogens – list:
- Ashwagandha – a plant native to India, also known as Vitania sluggard, is rich in incredibly health-essential and adaptogen-boosting substances. Ashwagandha supports the nervous system by reducing the impact of stressful stimuli, protects the heart and circulatory system, supports the functioning of the respiratory system, liver, pancreas and kidneys. It has a beneficial effect on hormonal balance, contributing to improvement in thyroid and reproductive system function. It is also a powerful antioxidant, which slows down the aging process and reduces the risk of cancer.
- Chinese lemon – a very old plant medicine known for two thousand years, particularly useful when the body has to cope with excessive strain, whether caused by illness, increased physical or mental exertion. It has beneficial effects on the functioning of the heart and circulatory system, metabolism, respiratory system, strengthens immunity, anti-allergic properties, improves psychophysical condition, reduces fatigue and stress.
- Rhodiola rosea – a plant found in high mountain areas, including the Arctic (hence another name – Arctic root). Difficult environmental conditions led to the development of a number of beneficial traits, also for humans. Rhodiola rosea increases resistance to stressful situations by strengthening the body’s natural protective barrier, accelerates physical and mental regeneration, adds energy to action, improves mood and well-being, has a positive effect on mental functions, and exhibits antioxidant properties.
- Gotu Kola is considered a symbol of traditional medicine of India and Ceylon. It contains a lot of valuable ingredients and shows a number of healing and pro-health attributes. First of all, it supports the nervous system and restores its balance. It has a positive influence on the work of the cardiovascular system and the elasticity of vessels and blood supply to tissues. It supports the movement system, strengthens the connective tissue by stimulating collagen synthesis. It acts antibacterially and antifungally, accelerates healing of wounds and scars.
- Bacopa monnieri – or Small-leaved Bacopa, is a plant also originating from India, particularly valued in Ayurveda. Used in the treatment of many diseases, it is particularly desirable in cases of intense mental activity, because it affects such functions as memory, attention and concentration. Moreover, it strengthens the immune system, shows strong antioxidant properties, influences normalization of blood sugar level.
- Ginseng – probably the best known plant originating from the Far East. It is considered a universal medicine, for almost everything, mainly due to the exceptional abundance of active substances (about 200). In the first place it supports the heart and shows anticoagulant action. It strengthens the immune system, inhibits the harmful effects of free radicals, restores balance in the hormonal economy, lowers cholesterol and sugar levels. It has a significant impact on psychophysical condition and sexual health. It stimulates the work of the brain and its functions. One of the varieties of this plant is Siberian ginseng, characterized by very similar adaptogenic features.
- Green tea – probably everyone has heard of its benefits, because of them it is sometimes referred to as the world’s healthiest drink. The nutrients and antioxidants present in this plant influence a number of important life activities. One substance of particular importance is L-Theanine, which, together with caffeine, supports brain function. Thanks to L-Theanine, green tea has a calming effect, reduces tension and stress, relaxes and stabilizes the mood. At the same time, by slightly stimulating brain functions, it promotes better concentration. Green tea is also known for its positive role in the metabolic process.
- Maca root, or pepper grass, is a plant that, like other adaptogens, grows in extreme conditions, namely in the Andes, at an altitude of 3000-4000 meters. Its unusual composition and properties make it one of the so-called superfoods. Maca root protects the body from various pathogens and reduces the risk of cancer. It supports the work of key systems and organs, has a significant impact on physical endurance and mental functions – memory, concentration, attention. Additionally, it increases libido and improves the quality of sperm.
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