Drinks with adaptogens, like adaptogen mocktails, are growing in popularity amongst consumers, and for a good reason; not only are they delicious, but they are great for relieving stress.
What are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens are plant materials and herbs that aid the body in adapting to stress. They are commonly incorporated into foods, supplements, and adaptogen beverages.
How do they Work?
Adaptations work in our bodies at the molecular level. They regulate the stable balance in several glands: the hypothalamic, pituitary, and adrenal, the glands involved in the body's stress responses. Adaptogens work by taking over the stress response.
Stress in the body appears in three stages:
- The alarm phase: Within this phase, the fight or flight response is initiated.
- Phase of resistance: the body tries to normalize itself: heart rate, blood pressure, etc. After the initial shock, this phase is entered as the body begins to calm, but it still remains on high alert.
- Exhaustion Phase: this is the stage that activates over time after the first two stages. The continuous activation of the first two stages causes a breakdown in the body's balance, and this is when diseases like heart disease and diabetes can start.
Adaptogens and Stress
Stress is common amongst adults, and there are many factors that can contribute to different kinds of stress, but adaptogens can help alleviate stress.
Long Term Stress
Long-term stress can cause hormonal imbalances, and certain adaptogens like ashwagandha and Asian ginseng can help soothe both the stress and the hormonal imbalance it causes. Ginseng can help to regulate the body and the hormonal changes caused by stress, which helps the body to maintain homeostasis.
Research into ashwagandha has shown it to improve mental well-being and reduce stress.
Also known as tulsi, holy basil can help to reduce both acute stress and anxiety. Research has shown that holy basil can help the mind handle different types of stress, and in one study, it was shown that there was an overall reduction in stress, forgetfulness, and sleep issues.
There are many different adaptogens that can be used in calming drinks, alcohol replacement drinks, and anti-anxiety tea; below are the more popular adaptogens.
Hemp, a plant with little to no THC content, has been used for many years for different health concerns. Many of the benefits that are associated with hemp were conducted under clinical trials.
Hemp affects the central nervous system, calming it. Hemp contains different cannabinoids, and each of these compounds reacts differently with receptors and provides different benefits.
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of the main cannabinoids found within the hemp plant. It is a fairly new adaptogen, and it has very little THC content.
CBD reacts with the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS), specifically with its two main receptors, CB1 and CB2. CB1 manages neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine and, when released, can promote a feeling of calm and relaxation within the body.
What is ashwagandha? Ashwagandha is an herb used in Ayurveda, a traditional form of alternative medicine, and it is present in many adaptogen drinks. The name ashwagandha means "smell of the horse," because of the herb's potent scent. It is a small shrub with yellow flowers, and it is native to Southeast Asia and India.
What does ashwagandha do? The adaptogen is best known for its ability to reduce stress. It helps to control mediators of stress, like heat shock proteins and cortisol. There have been studies conducted on the effectiveness of ashwagandha on stress, and results have implicated its usefulness and reducing stress and anxiety.
This adaptogen is a product of circuma longa, which is a herbaceous perennial plant belonging to the ginger family Zingiberaceae, native to tropical South Asia.
Turmeric has a compound called curcumin, which has been researched and found to aid the body in regulating cortisol levels, which help to modulate stress. Additionally, it has the potential to increase dopamine and serotonin levels, which improves mood and lowers stress.
Kava is an adaptogen that has been used for thousands of years and has been shown to have multiple health benefits. It comes from a plant native to the islands of the Pacific Ocean, and traditionally it was made into a paste and mixed with water or coconut milk.
One of the primary uses of kava is to reduce stress and anxiety, and it can be brewed into a stress relief drink.
Maca has many different variations, ranging in various colors, each with its own biological properties; yellow is the most common. Maca is similar in appearance to radishes, with green along the top and roots that range from white to purple. It can be made into a drink to calm stress.
Maca works by preventing increases in cortisol and adrenal size, and it limits feelings of fatigue. There have been many clinical trials on the adaptogen, which have found its positive impact on mood and energy.
Adaptogens can be incorporated into many different relaxing beverages, like alcohol alternatives, and adding adaptogens into your life can help reduce stress and some of its symptoms.