Adaptogens are gaining in popularity because they have the ability to help you handle stress more effectively. They can train your brain to handle the effects of stress in the same way that exercise trains the body to deal with the stress of physical activity.
Although more research is needed, preliminary findings of some studies have found that adaptogens have the potential to:
- Improve attention
- Increase endurance when fatigue is the culprit
- Balance cortisol and other hormone levels
- Reduce the impact of stress on cognitive function
- Boost the immune system
- Improve the gastrointestinal system
Different types of adaptogens have different effects on the body. For example, some adaptogens, like ginseng, are more stimulating, while others, like ashwagandha, work as depressants. More stimulating herbs should be used when you want to enhance your mental performance, while unstimulating herbs should be used when you need to relax after a particularly stressful experience.
It is important to note that these improvements are only made when stress is the cause. For example, you will only experience a boost to your immune system if it has been compromised due to prolonged stress, but not if your weakened immune system is due to a poor diet.
Adaptogens and drug recovery
Adaptogens have the potential to help prevent drug use, as well as assist during recovery, but only if stress is the primary contributing factor.
It isn’t uncommon for people to turn to alcohol and recreational drugs in order to deal with stress. Some may use in order to wind down at the end of the day, while others may turn to drugs and alcohol in response to stressful life events, like a death in the family or the loss of a job.
Adaptogens can help you deal with stress so you don’t turn to drugs or alcohol in the first place, and they can help you stay sober when stressful life events would otherwise cause you to turn to your drug of choice.
Overall, it is safe to take adaptogens, but they aren’t meant to offer a single solution to combat your stress. They are just one part of a healthy lifestyle, that when paired with things like eating well and exercise, can help reduce the effects of stress on your mind and body.