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How is your Dry January going so far? This is an annual reset that I love to start the year off with (or suffer through). Yes, suffer… because I always allow my indulgences to consume me over the holidays and that makes breaking any bad habit a difficult task! I certainly enjoy my glass of wine on a Friday or Saturday night after a long, usually physically and mentally challenging week. How do I do it? Adaptogens.

Adaptogens are components of herbal medicines that are said to help the body overcome the influences of physical, chemical, or biological stressors. Replacing your bad, stress-lowering habits with healthy ones is always a good feeling. Knowing I have the ability and control to do it makes the daily challenge only that much more rewarding. So, I am one week-END into Dry January (3 more to go!) and I have to say that my wind-down, Adaptogen drink of choice (Tran Quini) has been quite helpful. I have had zero cravings for my weekend imbibing and I have to say, it feels great! Adaptogens are said to have a variety of health benefits, and are recommended for everything from lowering stress to balancing hormones, improving attention, and boosting the immune system. Adaptogens are also said to have anti-aging properties. They have been used for hundreds of years in Ayurvedic healing practices and are becoming more accessible for use in the Western world.

Adaptogens have been recommended by several Functional Practitioners to:

  • Improve attention

  • Increase endurance in situations caused by fatigue

  • Lower stress-induced disorders and impairments in the body

  • Balance hormone levels

  • Keep cortisol (the stress hormone) levels and other hormone levels in check

  • Fight fatigue that results from excessive physical or emotional stress

  • Combat the impact that stress has on cognitive function

  • Stimulate mental performance that has been impacted by stress

  • Normalize body functions

  • Boost the immune system

  • Fight the symptoms caused by elevated cortisol levels (such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and obesity)

Examples of common adaptogens and the action they are said to produce in the body include:

  • Astragalus Root: to help reduce stress and aging by protecting the telomeres (structures linked with aging, located at the end of each chromosome)

  • Ashwagandha: to help the body cope with daily stress, and as a general tonic

  • Siberian Ginseng: to provide energy and help overcome exhaustion

  • Holy Basil: to promote relaxation, relieve stress and anxiety

  • Rhodiola Roses: to lower anxiety, fatigue, and depression

  • Cordyceps: a specific type of mushroom which is said to fight stress and help balance hormones

  • Reishi: a specific type of mushroom which is said to help the body adapt to stress and promote a healthy sleep pattern

  • Maca: to improve mood and increase energy

  • Wild Yam: to regulate female hormone levels

  • Licorice: to increase energy and endurance and help boost the immune system, stimulate the adrenal glands and promote healthy cortisol levels

  • Bacopa Monnieri: to protect the brain and improve memory and improve other aspects of cognitive function

As adaptogens have become more popular it is important to understand that they are not a replacement for the foundations of a healthy nutritious diet, regular exercise, adequate good quality sleep and healthy lifestyle choices. If you plan to add supplements with adaptogenic qualities to your diet, talk with your healthcare provider to discuss how they could impact your health and if they are right for you.


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