Adaptogenic Herbs: Benefits and Side Effects

Adaptogenic herbs are one healthy way to get through the day. They help improve the health of your adrenal system that manages your body’s hormones responsible for causing stress. Adaptogens, a unique group of herbal ingredients, have this ability to adapt their function as per your body’s specific needs and make you more resilient to stress, whether physical, mental or environmental. This is how they help enhance body’s ability to cope up with stress and anxiety, and fight fatigue. However, adaptogenic herbs work on our body slowly and smoothly.

Consumption of adaptogenic herbs offers you several health benefits that include increasing physical endurance and mental focus, encouraging a balanced mood, reducing discomfort caused by poor health, boosting the immune system, increasing resistance to chemical carcinogens and aiding in weight management. In addition to these, adaptogenic herbs also help you get your imbalanced hormones under control. Some of the most effective adaptogenic herbs for hormone imbalance include ashwagandha, avena sativa, epimedium and shilajit.

There are many ways to consume adaptogenic herbs, these can simply be added to your diet, brewed in your morning tea, taken in capsules or used to spice up your meals. However, the six most popular adaptogenic herbs, their benefits, and possible side effects are listed below;

Ginseng: Total-body Tonic

In Latin, this adaptogenic herb is known as Panax, which means ‘all-healing’, and this is no exaggeration. Ginseng significantly relieves fatigue, improves immune function, helps treat chronic bronchitis and diabetes, normalizes heart rhythm and significantly improves athletic performance. Researches have shown that the herb helps increase oxygen intake and improves stamina. It also helps in relieving fatigue associated with menopause.

Side effect of Ginseng – Ginseng has no major side effect but can sometime give caffeine like jitters. People with high blood pressure are not advised Ginseng because few compounds present in it can result in an increase in blood pressure. However, this fact is not backed by any research or study. Therefore, it is always better to consult your doctor if you are considering using ginseng.

Eleuthero: Echoing Ginseng

Studies have shown a positive impact of eleuthero on health. Eleuthero helps increase energy, improves stamina, improves immune function, maintains heart health, reduces LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides, and controls blood sugar level. This strong anti-viral herb help people suffering from cold recover faster, prevents internal blood clots and normalizes heart rhythm. According to a Russian study, eleuthero strengthens the immune system of people with cancer.

Side effect of Eleuthero – Eleuthero’s use can make you feel drowsy. Other side effects include anxiety, headache, insomnia, and irritation. Do not consume eleuthero during pregnancy and nursing, or when you have high blood pressure and in fever.

Rhodiola: A Russian Restorative

The plant rhodiola has a thick medicinal root which exudes rose like fragrance when cut. Rhodiola is a powerful antioxidant that helps increase strength and stamina, boosts memory, strengthens the cardiovascular system, lowers blood pressure, prevents stress-induced heart damage, normalizes heart rhythm, protects the liver and improves blood flow through the brain preventing stroke. The herb also helps eliminate the toxicity of chemotherapy drugs. Rhodiola is also used to treat severe depression.

Side effect of Rhodiola – Rhodiola has no significant side effects. Since it is also a stimulant, it may cause anxiety and jitters. One should not consume rhodiola in a commercial preparation that includes caffeine. 

Schisandra: Balance Your Body

This herb is mainly used in Chinese medicine as it contains all five flavors – sweet, salty, bitter, spicy and sour. Its powerful antioxidant properties promote good health that helps your body stay balanced. Schisandra also protects the liver from several toxic agents and helps in treating digestive and respiratory ailments. 

Side effects of Schisandra are rare.

Ashwagandha: Antioxidant All-star

Ashwagandha is popularly known as Indian ginseng. This adaptogenic herb helps strengthen the immune system, reduces the risk of heart diseases and cancer, and lowers cholesterol and blood sugar level. It is a good antidepressant and also helps keep your mind sharp and attentive.

Side effect of Ashwagandha – Ashwagandha, when consumed in moderate amount, has no side effect but huge doses may result in diarrhea, vomiting, or other stomach distress. It is not recommended for pregnant and nursing women.

Reishi: Immune Booster

This adaptogenic herb, reishi mushroom, is a very significant component of Chinese medicine and is known as life tonic. It is very effective in treating fatigue, respiratory and liver ailments, heart diseases, and suppresses cancer growth. It has antiviral and antibacterial properties and is a potent antioxidant. According to a Chinese study, reishi helps prevent the internal blood clot, reduces cholesterol and lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

Side effect of Reishi – The overuse of reishi may lead to skin irritation, stomach upset, diarrhea and dizziness, and may also interfere with blood clotting. Reishi herb should always be taken after consultation with a Chinese medicine practitioner. It is not recommended for pregnant and nursing women.

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