Although I have not been doing a good job of listening to my favorite podcast, Ben Greenfield Fitness, I am at least still able to follow his blog. I was reading this post today, and his mention of adaptogenic herbs reminded me of how MUCH he talks about them. He always mentions his adaptogenic herb tea on his podcast and also includes them in his blog posts occasionally. I finally had to ask myself today, What are adaptogenic herbs?
Basically these herbs are used as supplements to help fight of stressors to the body. They can help slow down stress and aging, enhance the body’s resistance to stressors, maintain antioxidant balance, mediate inflammatory response, and manage endocrine and neuroendocrine balance. In other words, they help the body to maintain a state of homeostasis. Think ancient Chinese medicine…
There are many different types of adaptogens, but some of the best-known herbs used to protect the body against degeneration and aging fall into the following three categories:
Global system regulators
These herbs are known to have a global impact on the body and to prevent aging. They are Pamax, ginseng, Siberian ginseng (eleuthero), rhodiola, ashwagandha and Holy Basil.
Cellular and immune regulators
These herbs, also called companion adaptogens, are used specifically to support the immune system of the cells and to prevent degenerative diseases. They include turmeric, green tea, rosemary, grape seed (proanthocyianidin), grape skin (resveratrol) and ginger.
These herbs target specific issues and include licorice and fo-ti (for energy and sleep), gotu kola (for connective tissue), ginkgo biloba (for circulation) and royal jelly (for mental alertness).
There are quite a few articles out there on the importance of adaptogenic herbs and their role in the response of the adrenal glands to stressors. This article from Livestrong gives a brief description of this role as well as explains how to incorporate adaptogenic herbs into your diet. From what I’ve read, it seems adaptogenic teas are a pretty easy and convient way to consume them. I tweeted @BenGreenfield to ask what brand he drinks and I’m still waiting for a reply. (It was only 10 minutes ago.) (UPDATE: Ben Greenfield uses TianChi and says nothing else even comes close.) In the meantime, here is a very detailed description of the importance of adaptogenic herbs as well as what herbs come from what part of the world and what they are good for. Maybe I’ll substitute my green smoothie for a new tea 🙂 I think it could be a good addition to my diet…
Happy Trails and Happy Running,