Feeling occasional stress is hard to avoid. While you may not have control over the stress you are experiencing, you do have control over how you support your body during those occasional stressful times. What’s the key to helping you ease those feelings of stress? The answer may be adaptogens.
What are Adaptogens?
The human body in its infinite wisdom has checks and balances to create homeostasis, which is a state of balance among all body systems that allow it to function properly.1 Adaptogens are plants that when taken as a dietary supplement help safely support normal homeostasis and general wellness, especially during times of occasional stress.2
Originally, plant adaptogens were used by professional athletes to help support the body’s resilience and physical endurance; however, research shows that these plants have a variety of compounds that may help support the body’s immune system, brain, and energy levels during times of stress. 3
There are a variety of plant adaptogens that can help support overall wellness including mushroom extracts, Rhodiola rosea, Holy basil, Eleuthero root extract, Schisandra extract, and ashwagandha.3
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an evergreen shrub that grows in Asia and Africa that is commonly used to help support the body’s stress response. Ashwagandha is a powerful adaptogen that contains compounds that may help support a wide variety of body functions during times of stress including the brain, blood sugar, heart, immune system, and sleep.4 In addition to supporting brain function, research shows it may also help support mood and mental health during times of occasional stress.5
Oftentimes people can experience anxious feelings during stressful periods. According to an analysis of 12 different studies featuring more than 1,000 adults between the age of 25 and 48, ashwagandha supplementation significantly helped reduced those anxious feelings during times of stress.6 Ashwagandha is often combined with other plant adaptogens to create a synergistic health-supporting effect.
How to Manage Stress Levels
Occasional stress is hard to predict and control but supporting the body’s response to that stress is possible with many different techniques. Try any of the following when you’re feeling a bit of stress:
Go for a walk
Hug a loved one
Eat a balanced diet, like the Mediterranean diet
Stress relief supplements, like ashwagandha
Move your body
The body is meant to be in balance but sometimes, it needs a little help. During those times of occasional stress, ashwagandha combined with other naturally occurring powerful plant adaptogens may help bridge the gap by bringing you back to that balanced state of homeostasis. Don’t forget to follow @zhou_nutrition for more fitness and wellness tips!
- National Cancer Institute. Homeostasis definition. Accessed 2023, Jul 5. https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/homeostasis
- Liao LY, He YF, Li L, et al. A preliminary review of studies on adaptogens: comparison of their bioactivity in TCM with that of ginseng-like herbs used worldwide. Chin Med. 2018;13:57. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6240259/?report=reader
- Todorova V, Ivanov K, Delattre C, et al. Plant adaptogens—history and future perspectives. Nutrients. 2021;13(8):2861. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/13/8/2861
- Mikulska P, Malinowska M, Ignacyk M, et al. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)—current research on the health-promoting activities: a narrative review. Pharmaceutics. 2023;15(4):1057. https://www.mdpi.com/1999-4923/15/4/1057
- Remenapp A, Coyle K, Orange T, et al. Efficacy of Withania somnifera supplementation on adult’s cognition and mood. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. 2022;13(2). https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0975947621001558
- Akhgarjand C, Asoudeh F, Bagheri A, et al. Does ashwagandha supplementation have a beneficial effect on the management of anxiety and stress? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Phytotherapy Research. 2022;36(11):4115-4124. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ptr.7598