By Susan Farkas – OR Supplements

Adaptogens (in herbal medicine) are botanicals or natural substances that specifically support the adrenals, the glands that manage the hormonal response to stress and help cope with anxiety and fatigue. They may protect the body from the undesirable effects of stress. Adaptogens may tone the body bringing it back to balance.

To qualify as an adaptogen, an herb must be completely safe and non-toxic, it must have broad uses for health, and it must specifically reduce stress, both mental and physical. According to a recent review published in the Current Clinical Pharmacology, adaptogens include:

Ashwagandha – reduces the intensity of a person’s stressful state, and potentially keeps a person out of the “stress zone” in the first place. It also helps due to its immune-boosting qualities.

Rhodiola – improves attention, cognitive function, and mental performance in fatigued patients.

Schizandra and Eleuthero – increases endurance and mental performance in patients with mild fatigue and weakness.

As these examples suggest, adaptogens can give the energy and stamina of performance enhancers like caffeine but without the stimulating effects and the “rise and fall” profile undesirable to many. Adaptogens can also allow the body to be more balanced; reducing mental and physical stress; and improving memory, attention, muscle strength, and muscle recovery. The mechanisms of action are different between adaptogens and caffeine, with adaptogens’ effects being more fundamental, systemic, and long term. Adaptogens don’t treat a specific condition. Instead, they’re for anyone looking to boost overall well-being.

Adaptogens offer several other health benefits, including boost for the immune system, support for managing a healthy weight, Increase physical endurance and mental focus, reduction in discomfort caused by poor health, and encouraging a balanced mood.