Adaptogens: Your Herbal Personal Trainers

Let’s dig into how a singular class of herbs can simultaneously enhance performance, increase endurance, and support recovery all at once.

What does it take to be an adaptogen?

You don’t get more fit by going to the gym once a month; it’s the daily commitment that builds up strength and stamina over time. Adaptogens are no different - they work with your body and its unique regulatory systems, training them to handle adversity more gracefully while also bolstering your defenses and improving your endurance, sense of calm, and clarity over time. Just like that coach cheering you on the side lines to go a bit harder or faster, adaptogens are doing the same thing INSIDE YOUR BODY.

Not just any herb can hold the title of adaptogen. An herb must be:

  1. Non-toxic: this means you can take it over a long period of time with no bad side-effects- only good ones!
  2. Non-specific: affecting multiple systems at once. This is the piece that still baffles scientists: how can one herb do so much? Well, it’s because adaptogens work in the centers of your brain that send signals throughout the whole body!
  3. Normalizing: another piece that baffles science; how can one herb down-regulate an overactive system in Billy while increasing a sluggish one in Bobby?  Adaptogens have the ability to normalize regulatory systems, no matter the direction they may fall due to their complex & incredible biochemistry.

While all adaptogens have these 3 things in common (non-specific, normalizing, non-toxic), each one has its own unique profile with its own strengths and specific actions in the body based on its unique biochemistry. Furthermore, every body is different, so the same adaptogen can have different effects in different people, depending on that body’s individual needs.

Adaptogens have been used by cultures across the globe for thousands of years, but they weren’t officially studied and labeled until the 20th century. In  the 1940s, Russian scientists were tasked with finding natural substances that could enhance the performance, cognition, and endurance of Russian athletes, military personnel and other elite figures.

Soviet scientist Nikolai V. Lazarev found the ideal performance tonic in adaptogens, a group of plants that all increase the body’s ability to handle adversities of all kinds, allowing organisms to adapt and rise above and beyond stressful situations. When stressors don’t get us down, we are able to find that abiding energy to tackle whatever life throws our way.

You can imagine that such a substance is pretty useful for athletes who put their bodies under stress day in and day out. But even the non-athlete can benefit from adaptogens, as the modern world is filled with stressors of all kinds. From busy parents juggling packed schedules to pressures at work or in relationships, we could all use a little extra help!