Adaptogen herbs (also called adaptogens or adaptogenic herbs) got their name from their unique ability to buffer the effects of stress—they actually help the body 'adapt' more readily to the demands of life. At times, when the demands of life extend beyond everyday worries about work, money, and relationships, adaptogens play a vital role in sustaining and strengthing internal and external strength when under the emotional and physical stressors of illness, grief, or difficult life adjustments and transitions.
When confronted with stressors, the body rallies by increasing blood pressure and heart rate, quickening breathing, and dumping glucose into the bloodstream to meet the increased demands; at the same time non-essential systems such as immune function and digestion are suppressed. When the crisis subsides, all systems are designed to return to normal.
But we were never meant to endure the long-term, daily stressors that so many of us experience. Under conditions of chronic or severe stress, the body loses its ability to return to normal, healthy functioning. The result is the degenerative, debilitating diseases of modern life including depression and anxiety.
Obviously, learning to manage stress and rebalance the body is essential for immediate and long-term health. At the same time, because it’s impossible to avoid life stressors, it’s important to do everything possible to mitigate the damaging effects. Herbal adaptogens act to normalize homeostasis, optimize metabolism, and improve resistance to a variety of adverse factors. These special herbs contain a wide range of active constituents such as polysaccharides and flavonoids that fortify immune response. They act as biological response modifiers in host defense mechanisms against cancer and other chronic diseases and help protect the bone marrow, neuroendocrine and endocrine system (including the adrenal glands), as well as the liver, kidney, brain, and other vital organs.
Adaptogens, besides having stress protective, anabolic effects also possess profound anti-toxic, anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory and trophic properties that normalize numerous gene pathways and enhance recovery from stress. Whether we are mostly healthy or faced with a serious stress, adaptogens are ideal as our primary, daily supportive health supplement because of their multi-faceted beneficial effects.
**Adapted from an article posted by Donald Yance on www.donnieyance.com. He is the author of one of our favorite books on adaptogens, Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism. We got to meet him and his wife last summer and spend some time talking. His knowledge was even more impressive in person. We highly recommend his book.**