It’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon. You have a deadline by the end of the day, but your energy reserves are running low. You consider a short walk to jumpstart your creative juices, but don’t think you have the stamina to make it around the block. You eye the office coffee pot, but remember you’re already on cup number three.
Still, you need some sort of pick-me-up to get through the midday slump. Adaptogenic herbs just might be the ticket. Also known as adaptogens, adaptogenic herbs are natural herbs that improve the body’s ability to respond to stress. Whether it’s stress that stems from work, home life, or chronic health conditions, adaptogens can help improve focus and clarity while reducing physical and emotional responses to stress.
Think of it this way: Most of us reach for an espresso or cup of coffee when we need to boost our energy levels or “take the edge off.” However, adaptogens can reduce feelings of irritability, anxiety, and severe fatigue without the negative side effects that may accompany caffeine.
What Are Adaptogenic Herbs?
The term "adaptogen" was first coined in 1940 by a former Soviet Union scientist named Lazarev, but the practice of using adaptogenic herbs for medicinal purposes extends much further back in history (1). Adaptogens held a place in both Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine as early as 6,000 BC, offering natural remedies to improve mental health, longevity, or physical ailments (2). But what are adaptogens, exactly?
Russian scientist Israel Brekhman defined adaptogens as medicine that could "help the body maintain ideal homeostasis under adverse or stressful conditions." Modern clinical studies show adaptogens help the body resist a wide range of external stressors (1). Stress can come from physical, chemical, or biological forms, such as pollution, disease, or personal discomfort.
The study of adaptogens has come a long way since ancient Indian and traditional Chinese medicine. In 1998, the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defined adaptogenic herbs as a treatment that can help you adapt to your environment and prevent harm from external sources (3).
How Do Adaptogens Work?
In herbal medicine, there are a number of adaptogenic herbs (you'll learn about a few in the next section). But overall, each of these adaptogens helps your body do one thing: Resist stress so you can adapt and survive.
Here's how it works: When you're confronted with a stress stimulus, be it lifting heavy weights (physical stress), going through a tough breakup (emotional stress), or studying for a test (mental stress), your body responds by boosting specific stress hormones from your adrenal glands (4).
These hormones, like cortisol and growth hormone (GH), are your body's way of resisting stress and drawing upon different energy sources to adapt to your new circumstance (4). Because of these hormonal changes, you're able to think clearly and perform better. If you've ever miraculously pulled an all-nighter before a big exam or felt eerily calm in an otherwise chaotic situation, you've seen these effects of stress in action.
However, after the stressor is removed, you probably felt an energy "crash." Adaptogens work by extending the heightened period of physical and mental performance before the crash, thereby providing anti-stress, anti-fatigue, and anti-depressive benefits.
Common Adaptogenic Herbs
While "adaptogens" might be a term that’s a bit unfamiliar, you'd be surprised at how many adaptogenic herbs you consume on a daily basis. Below, we'll dive into several of the most common adaptogenic herbs — some of which you've never heard of, and others that you may already keep stocked in your kitchen cupboards.
For thousands of years, ashwagandha was used as a rasayana (or tonic). Ashwagandha root, also known as "Indian ginseng" is one of the most common adaptogenic herbs, known for a wide variety of health benefits. It is said to enhance the function of the nervous system and immune system, and improve memory. It has also been shown to reduce joint inflammation and stomach ulcers (2).
Turmeric, the same yellow spice that gives curry its distinct color, is filled with beneficial compounds called curcuminoids. The most common of these — and arguably the most beneficial — is curcumin. Curcumin is the main, active ingredient in turmeric, and is associated with a number of health benefits. In various studies, curcumin has been shown to reduce chronic stress and prevent memory loss (5).
Maca is a Peruvian plant that's been hailed for its medicinal properties for more than 2,000 years. Studies show it's been able to have anti-fatigue and fertility-enhancing benefits (6). Maca has been shown to promote general well-being, particularly when it comes to reproductive health. Studies show it's been especially beneficial in normalizing fertility levels. It’s also linked to improving symptoms of osteoarthritis, providing stress relief, and even improving blood pressure levels (6).
Ginseng refers to a wide class of herbs that have become increasingly popular in recent years, garnering attention from both consumers and herbalists alike. Different varieties include Asian ginseng (panax ginseng), American ginseng, and Siberian ginseng (7) Research shows panax ginseng has anti-inflammatory, anti-fatigue, and antitumor properties. It's also been shown to help some people lose weight, boost cardiovascular health, and even prevent the onset of diabetes (8).
Siberian ginseng, or Eleutherococcus senticosus, has widespread health benefits. It's been used to boost immune function, treat Alzheimer's disease, and reduce symptoms of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and chronic fatigue system. It's also been shown to help treat the flu, common cold, insomnia, and even hangovers (9).
Also known as arctic root or golden root, rhodiola is an herb that grows in the cold regions of Europe and Asia. Studies show it can help people form a positive stress response to increase energy and relieve fatigue, exhaustion, anxiety, and depression (10). Rhodiola is also thought to decrease the likelihood of developing diabetes. In animal studies, it has been shown to help lower blood sugar levels (11).
Adaptogens at Work: How Ketone Energy PRO4 Boosts Energy Levels
While adaptogenic herbs were first studied thousands of years ago, modern, clinical trials display how they can improve cognitive function, physical performance, and general well-being. As such, if you're looking for a way to naturally boost your energy levels, mental focus, and immune health (and put down that third cup of coffee), you may want to supplement with adaptogenic herbs.
Ketone Energy PRO4 from Happy Mammoth combines gut-friendly ketones, medicinal mushrooms, and adaptogens to reduce symptoms related to brain fog, indecisiveness, depression, anxiety, and irritability. By easing stress, reducing inflammation, and stabilizing your cortisol levels, it may increase your productivity and overall mood throughout the day.
Try Adaptogenic Herbs for an Energy Boost
Ancient Ayurveda and Chinese medicine used adaptogenic herbs for medicinal purposes as early as 6,000 BC. Today, modern clinical studies show that adaptogens can boost energy levels and potentially improve immune, emotional, mental, and reproductive health. Adaptogens also improve your response to stress and reduce feelings of burnout or fatigue.
Common adaptogens include maca, turmeric, ginseng, and many others. If you're looking to fight feelings of chronic fatigue, balance your hormones, and boost your energy levels, you might be interested in trying a supplement such as Ketone Energy PRO4. As always, consult your doctor before taking any supplement or changing your diet. And be sure to read the ingredient labels so you know what you’re getting.