Adapta- what?

Our favorite super-herbs and super-mushrooms explained!

by Vivian Morellon

Walk into any trendy juice or smoothie shops and guess what you’ll find….  stress-relieving, energy-boosting Adaptogens! If you’re not interested in paying an extra $2 for a 9 dollar smoothie then you probably haven’t paid much attention to the adaptogen section, but we’re here to explain what the hype is all about.

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What are they? Well adaptogens (from “adapt) are basically superherbs (and supermushrooms) that help your body handle mental, physical and emotional stress. It’s a holistic, herbal medicine that help the body's central stress response system (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) better respond to stressors and produce less stress hormones.  Across the board, adaptogens help support your adrenal system, increase physical performance, reduce fatigue and insomnia and regulate hormonal responses. 

At NTCH we are firm believers that “natural” heals and that food can cure the roots of most problems, so as someone who already avoids pharmaceuticals its no surprise that my smoothie comes with a side of adaptogens. Because of today’s modern medicine we don’t need healers and botanists to consume these super-herbs since you can find them as drink add-ons, teas and supplement pills.

It can get confusing and hard to pronounce so here to navigate the menu is NTCH’s guide to our favorite adaptogens and their magical healing properties.

Ashwagandha

The “Indian ginseng” is one of the most powerful herb in ancient herbal medicine helps regulates cortisol (THE stress hormone), strengthens your immune system, reduces blood sugar levels, helps against chronic fatigue and treats anxiety.

Also, some studies believe that this super shroom helps fight cancer cells and impede their growth by producing reactive oxygen species.

Chaga

The super-adaptogen. Chaga is a mushroom loaded with antioxidants that fights free radicals and it great for your hair, nails and skin! The list of benefits goes on and on since it is packed with over 200 phytonutrients, essential vitamins and minerals… helping the body remain alkaline.

Chaga’s impressive resume also includes lowering blood sugar, anti-inflammatory properties, pain relief and stopping abnormal cell growth (cancer). Add this to your rack of spices because you won’t find a multivitamin that offers all the nutrients and anti-oxidants.

Rhodiola

This little herb actually comes from the root of its flower! With over 140 active ingredients Rhodiola can help manage stress and is great for people suffering with adrenal fatigue. Some studies show that this root also works as a natural antidepressant, reduces mental fatigue and can improve brain function and work-related performance… no more caffeine crashes!

Also here to give you one less excuse: In some athletes, rhodiola also seemed to improve muscle endurance and exercise performance, guess were hitting the gym now.

Maca

Native to Peru, Maca is a cruciferous vegetable (like broccoli) commonly consumed in powder form because of its nutty flavor, making it a perfect add-on to your cacao banana smoothie! Maca is also very nutrient dense as its packed with vitamin and minerals, making it a perfect immune booster.

Because of its various plant compounds, ( glucosinolates, flavonoids and polyphenol), Maca is believed to elevate your mood and help with anxiety, depression and even PMS symptoms. For women with low estrogen count, this is the root for you (careful to not overuse Maca if you suffer from high estrogen levels).

Reishi

Anti-cancer properties? According to some research, the consumption of Reishi increases activity of the body’s white blood cells, which helps fight cancer cells. While additional research is needed, Reishi has been incorporated into cancer patients’ treatments due to positive effects.

Since Reishi positively affects white blood cells, the consumption of this mushroom helps boost the immune system and helps it fight other types of infections. It also lowers blood sugar levels by regulating the enzymes in charge of breaking down starches.

Talk about a magic mushroom!

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Holy basil (tulsi)

Holy Basil is actually native to India and has been prominent in Hinduism for its therapeutic uses. This superhero reduces bloating and gas, (aiding with gut issues) and is great for levitating inflammation and joint pain. Holy Basil also balances cortisol levels, improving your thyroid health and in turn reducing adrenal fatigue. Another plus, this herb promotes the body’s production of antibodies, which help fight infections and antigens.

You may have seen it in different forms at the supermarket, ( pills, oils, etc.) but depending on how you ingest it you can receive different benefits. As a pill or ointment, holy basil can help with eczema, as an essential oil it helps insect bites, ingesting the fresh flowers cures bronchitis and used as alcohol extract it can be sued for stomach ulcers and eye infections.

Licorice root

Finally, candy that is good for you! Licorice root is usually used as a natural sweetener or as candy itself but it has been used for its medicinal benefits for centuries.

Licorice root is a common remedy for leaky gut syndrome, heartburn, pain and fatigue. Licorice is also packed with antioxidants, eliminates free-radicals and its triterpenoid content makes it antiviral, helping your immune system stay strong.

So no matter which herb you choose to try, all adaptogens will regulate hormonal responses to stress and aid with fatigue and those 3pm crashes. Try it in your morning coffee, in your oatmeal or as part of your vitamin routine and after a few weeks you will start to feel the benefit of a balanced, stress free body.

If you don’t know where or how to start check out our favorite products from our favorite brands.