A conversation about stress and adaptogens is never complete without first understanding the adrenal glands and how they respond to stress.
What are the adrenal glands?
They are part of your body’s endocrine system (i.e. the hormonal system), which also include the thyroid and reproductive organs. The adrenal glands (there are two!) sit on top of the kidneys and are responsible for regulating your stress response using adrenaline and cortisol. They usually do it in a rhythmic way, releasing the hormones in the morning, to help you wake up, then gradually decreasing the release throughout the day until bedtime.
Now, it’s important to take a second and remember that our body is ALWAYS trying its absolute best to maintain balance and protect you from harm. But you see, this system has been in place for thousands of years! And, well, let’s just say our modern-day stressors are tiny bit different than the ones our hunter-gatherer ancestors dealt with.
And so, whether it’s a call from the bank, an email from your boss or a hungry pack of wolves, the adrenals will release cortisol and adrenaline to get you ready to fight. Your blood sugar will go up and the blood will go to the limbs so that you could, quite literally, run for your life.
The most beautiful thing about this response is that it quiets right back down once the danger is over – and we can recover. However, in our modern life, many of us experience this response chronically, so that all these responses happen at the same time, all the time. And constant high levels of cortisol over time can lead to other health problems.
Adding healthy habits like practicing self-care, eating healthy and taking adaptogens may help to prevent and overcome chronic stress and its effects.
Adaptogens increase the body's ability to resist the damaging effects of stress
So how can adaptogens help?
Adaptogens work with your endocrine system and offer support for when it’s over-used. So that slowly over time it releases less and less cortisol when it really just doesn’t need to. One of the best benefits of this one for me was that I’m so much less jumpy about things!
You know the feeling when you are all nice and chilled, doing your thing and then pick up the phone and it isn’t a conversation you want to have, so all red lights turn on and you become stressed. I was in this situation constantly trying to set up a small business. Thankfully when I actually received my adaptogens I became much more ‘in control’ and relaxed about things.
This also has to do a lot with your daily routine. Like what do you take during the day and when?
I, for example, take reishi in the morning because I just feel like it gets me up and ready for my day. I also take Ashwagandha to ensure I am grounded and energised. At about 16:00, when the day is starting to get to me, I fuel up with some cordyceps and lion’s mane to boost my energies and my brainpower! That also helped me completely ditch that pick-me-up coffee habit I got into in uni.
Please comment with your daily routines that help you reduce stress and feel fabulous.
Also, these are my everyday go to adaptogens for you: