Adaptogens have been used for years in ancient Chinese medicine. Those in the west are just waking up to the extraordinary properties these herbs and roots can provide.
Primarily they are known to support our adrenal function, which allows the body to find balance in terms of energy and relaxation. However, they are also known to:
· Reduce fatigue
· Support Immunity
· Improve hormone balance
· Decrease inflammation
· Help manage blood sugar levels
Some food-based examples of adaptogens and how they work
- Turmeric –Scientists in India found that Turmeric helped the body stay healthy, based on numerous metrics such as weight, blood pressure, immunity and inflammation, whilst under stress. It is believed that Turmeric has the ability to support the body’s innate antioxidant function, so decreasing inflammation and boosting immunity, as well as helping the body to maintain healthy levels of stress hormone production. Turmeric can be enjoyed as an addition to Asian-themed foods, soups, curries and also in drinks as an infusion or as a turmeric latte made with warm, frothy coconut milk. Explore Turmeric Recipes here.
- Moringa which in studies has been shown to have a stabilizing effect on blood sugar levels in cases of diabetes. The leaf of the Moringa tree is dried and ground into a powder which can be added to foods such as an omelette at the end of cooking providing a nutty taste, it also makes a great addition to a green smoothie or juice.
- Maca which is actually a member of the cruciferous family i.e. linked to cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage. This is a powerhouse of nutrients containing seven essential amino acids and lots of fibre. It has been found to be a great use when trying to balance sex hormone levels and is also known to boost libido. Maca powder can be added to smoothies, porridge, breakfast bowls and home bakes. Explore Maca recipes here.
- Liquorice Root – Modern living places a lot of strain on our adrenal glands. Liquorice root has been found to help regulate cortisol, the stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. In fact chewing on liquorice root can serve two purposes because whilst it is giving our adrenals a break it also can distract from the state of anxiety by providing something to hold and chew. Liquorice can also be enjoyed as a tea by infusing the shredded or powered root in boiling water.
- Mushrooms such as reishi, cordyceps and chaga help to support the immune system, especially during times of stress. Reishi and Chaga are immune-modulating, which means that they contain substances that help to promote the production of immune cells to prevent disease. Dried, powdered mushrooms can be consumed by making a tea infusion, or adding to hot chocolate (they combine well in taste well the cacao bean). Explore Mushrooms recipe here.
- Astragalus is great for boosting the immune system especially during the cold, cough and flu season. As well as being infused in boiling water and enjoyed as a tea infuson Astragalus can both be added to the pot as rice and/or quinoa are steamed.
- Holy Basil (also known as Tulsi) – Is actually from the mint family. It is shown to help manage the stress response and improve symptoms of anxiety. It can be added to soups and stir-fries towards the end of cooking and has a peppery taste, it combines really well with Liquorice as a tea infusion.
- Nettle – Dried Nettle leaf can be ground into a powder for consumption. It is known to be particularly restorative for those experiencing stress and even burn-out. It makes a refreshing tea infusion.
- Wild Blueberries – a rich source of antioxidants, this adaptogen has been shown to help balance blood sugar levels. Wild blueberries can be consumed raw or in a smoothie.
- Raspberry Leaf – As an adaptogen raspberry leaf is known to help balance female hormones and alleviate monthly, menstrual cramps. It is most often consumed in tea, tincture or supplement form.