Adaptogens, the latest holistic hype

Story by Nicole Villanueva

There’s a large culture breeding self-care. You see the wellness movement everywhere. From juice cleanses to keto diets to yoga with cats, people are on a mission to get right. Adaptogens are the latest hype amongst health junkies and holistic practitioners. Although new to many, adaptogen usage dates back thousands of years. Have we reawakened a key to wellness or just another passing trend?

So what are they?

Well you’re probably already consuming adaptogens from time to time. The term adaptogen links to a wide variety of plants and herbs.Some of the more popular being, ginseng, licorice root, holy basil, ashwagandha, and various mushrooms. But not just any old herb can be considered an adaptogen. Four Sigmatic, an alternative and holistic health service, sites the criteria as follows;

“They must be safe for long-term use, non-toxic, and non-habit forming.” “They must have a non-specific effect on the body-in other words, they must help a variety of bodily systems and help the body defend against a variety of stressors including physical, chemical, and biological factors.” “They must help normalize system functions and maintain a state of homeostasis or overall balance.”

They literally adapt to your body to restore balance according to Dr. Frank Lipman, a doctor to the celebrities that is known for integrating holistic approaches into his practice. Basically if you’re tired it will supply you with energy. If you’re anxious it will calm you.

What are the benefits?

The most marketed benefits of adaptogens are their ability to interact with ones adrenal and nervous system and help to mitigate stress. Other claimed health benefits include immune support, cognitive function, all over emotional well-being, hormone balance, liver function, and fighting fatigue.

Do they really work?

The Parakeet Cafe in La Jolla serves adaptogenic drinks including mushrooms and turmeric. / Postmates

It seems the debate is still out. According to an article in Berkeley Wellness, the marketing claims for adaptogens are widely exaggerated without the scientific research to back them up. They go on to explain that “as with most herbs, there are few well designed human studies on adaptogens. Moreover, the studies, many of them done in China or India, often use a mixture of herbs, so it is impossible to know what is having an effect, if there is one.” I wanted to be really excited about adaptogens, but upon my research I too couldn’t help but notice the lack of scientific evidence available to support the claims.

Talking with someone who tried adaptogens.

Moon Juice is one of the more popular online companies that promote and sell adaptogetic products. They offer a wide variety of powder form adaptogens that are each designed for specific support such as Beauty Dust, Spirit Dust, Sex Dust, Brain Dust and so on.

Mushrooms are typically used to relieve stress and help with anxiety / MoonJuice

I recalled a friend of mine, Kiel Hernandez, 26 year old college student, who struggles with anxiety, was excited about his new adaptogenic product back in March of 2018. Here’s what he had to say.

Exactly which product did you purchase?

“The brand I bought was Moon Juice, Brain Dust formula. It was $38 for a 1.5oz jar. I think it’s supposed to be a one month supply.”

How was the taste?

“Earthy, gritty, sweet and really strong bitter aftertaste from the stevia. They suggest you mix it with milk or juice or in a smoothie. Or you can just mix it with water, which is what I did.”

How long did you use it for ?

“I drank it every morning for about three weeks. I think somewhere around week two the taste started making me feel kind of sick, especially drinking it first thing in the morning.”

Did you notice any effects?

“I don’t remember feeling any super drastic or upfront noticeable effects.” He goes on to explain that with most herbal supplements the effects are not usually very strong or detectable right away.

When prompted, Kiel did say he would repurchase although he would ingest it in a way to better cover up the taste.

The takeaway.

I feel adaptogens do possess positive properties, but the effects of those properties can not be promised or measured. There are doctors and practitioners that swear by them. But before you get swept away by the magic of adaptogens do your research on the company as many are banking in on the trend. Time will tell if they are here to stay.

Author: Sammi Cox

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