Written by: Dr. Christine Manukyan, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
What are adaptogens?
Adaptawhat??? Derived from the Greek word “adapto”.
This might be the first time you hear about adaptogens! The term adaptogen is applied to plants that produce special substances allowing them to survive under significant conditions of environmental stress.
Former Russian Soviet Union research scientists and pharmacologists Dr. Nicolai Lazarev and Dr. Israel Brekhman were the first to study adaptogens in the 1960s systematically. Their research found that adaptogens work by normalizing the body’s functions under stress and that daily consumption may improve mental and physical performances while reducing fatigue.
Adaptogens encompass various plant and herbal medicines that are generally safe for everyone and work to target the areas in your body and health that need a boost or need to be rebalanced.
To qualify as an Adaptogen, an herb must be completely safe and non-toxic, it must have broad uses for health, and it must specifically reduce stress, both mental and physical. To put it simply: ADAPTogens help you ADAPT.
What are the health benefits of taking adaptogens?
Adaptogens are my favorite superfood! There are so many varieties that serve so many purposes. Adaptogens greatly improve your body's ability to adapt to stress, whether it's a hectic schedule, heat or cold, noise, high altitudes, or any number of other stressors. This elite class of herbs impart strength, energy, stamina, endurance, and mental clarity. In many parts of the non-Western world, Adaptogens are used extensively in high-risk, fast-reflex occupations, from athletes to miners to deep-sea divers. With the scientific data to back these natural wonders already available and more research underway, it is only a matter of time before Adaptogens become mainstream in the United States.
Popular stress management methods such as regular exercise, hobbies, meditation, and yoga are useful to mitigate daily stressors. Research shows most Americans instead resort to unhealthy habits when times are tough. Whether it’s alcohol, stimulants, or simply overeating, many Americans could benefit from finding a better solution to help manage stress.
Additional benefits include but not limited to:
Helps fight stress
Maintains health and energy
Enhances physical and mental performance
Supports balanced mood
Promotes calmness and control
Helps balance and normalize the body’s systems (circulatory, digestive, excretory, endocrine, exocrine, immune, lymphatic, muscular, nervous, renal/urinary, reproductive, respiratory, and skeletal system)
Energizes cells to support faster post-exercise recovery
Supports clarity and focus
The great thing about Adaptogens is that they are usually available in powder form and can be added to smoothies, teas, elixirs, or even food. I prefer to take it as a premade liquid shot every morning to start my day. As with any supplements, make sure you check with your health care professional to make sure this will be best for you and listen to how your body responds to anything new. Keep a diary of how you feel, what you like, or don’t like when taking Adaptogens. I personally noticed a significant change in my energy and stress level after taking them for three consecutive days. I remember waking up before my alarm, energized and well-rested, excited to start my day. I also remember my husband telling me that I wasn’t screaming at the kids as much. I was much nicer😊 Well, I guess I was becoming more patient and could handle stressful days way better.
What are the top 10 Adaptogens?
Like I mentioned earlier, Adaptogens are my favorite superfood. I don’t go a day without them. Each one claims to do something a little different, but on the whole, Adaptogens help your body handle stress, and it’s ok to take more than a couple of Adaptogens a day. Let’s learn about my favorite plant Adaptogens (listed in no specific order).
Wolfberry (Lycium barbarum): A red-orange berry of the Solanaceae nightshade family that ancient regarded as nourishing to the liver, kidneys, and eyes. Modern studies affirm its use in modulating stress and supporting faster recovery post-exercise. It is known for treating diabetes, repairing damaged liver cells, kidney function, and improving vision. It contains 500% more vitamin C than oranges, more beta-carotene than carrots, over 19 amino acids and 21 trace minerals, along with B1, B2, B6, and vitamin E. The extraction process is very important because most of the health benefits are in the berry’s skin. Wolfberry has been used for centuries for its anti-aging benefits.
Eleuthero root (Eleutherococcus senticosus): A small, woody shrub native to Northeastern Asia used in traditional Chinese medicine as a natural remedy for reducing fatigue. Modern use of the root was popularized after the former Soviet Union popularized its use for its space and sport programs to support physical endurance.
Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea): A plant that grows in the coldest regions of the world, including Northern Asia. Rhodiola has been traditionally used in Russia and Scandinavian countries to strengthen the body’s resistance to stress and improve energy levels.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): Used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine for centuries and native to India, Africa, and the Middle East. In recent studies, ashwagandha has demonstrated potent antioxidant effects. Studies have also shown it to support healthy brain and immune function.
Bacopa (Bacopa monniera): A plant popular in traditional Indian medicine practices to enhance memory and promote longevity. Preclinical studies have shown it to have antioxidant and adaptogenic effects on the central nervous system.
Schizandra (Schisandra chinensis): This berry grows as part of a woody vine native to the forests of Northern China and Eastern Russia and has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine. In human studies, schizandra has been reported to increase work accuracy and decrease fatigue and exhaustion feelings.
Tribulus Terrestris (Tribulus terrestris): Also known as Puncture Vine, it has a detoxifying effect on the liver and improves the blood supply to muscles and the brain while increasing endurance. It helps with hormonal and libido problems in men and women.
Siberian Ginseng: is the main Adaptogen responsible for athletic recovery while increasing endurance and lean muscle. It is used to improve energy levels, longevity, vitality, protect the immune system, and increase mental sharpness. It is also used for conditions for the heart and blood vessels, such as high blood pressure, low blood pressure, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), and rheumatic heart disease. Some studies show its use for kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), fibromyalgia. Millions take it daily. This has been a game-changer for my recovery as I ran marathons and competed in multiple bodybuilding fitness shows. Before taking it, talk with your healthcare provider if you take any prescription medications as this herb interacts with many prescription drugs.
Nepali Shilajit: is translated as “Destroyer of Weakness and the Builder of Strength.” Shilajit is harvested off the sides of the cliffs in the Himalayas. Its list of health benefits is as long as Siberian Rhododendron Caucasicum, above. It is high in trace minerals and supports health longevity.
Maca Extract: Maca is a root vegetable grown high in the Andes, known as the Incan Superfood. Maca is high in amino acids, which play a role in sexual function, making it known for its sexual performance properties and enhancing fertility, memory, mood, and energy.
Why would I need an adaptogen?
Life is all about balance! You need to take adaptogens to help your body bring you back to homeostasis (i.e., your body’s state of balance)
Many people suffer from imbalances in body systems. This can lead to fatigue, weakness, indigestion, heart issues, blood sugar problems, infertility, etc., and may even lead to disease. Taking adaptogens regularly will increase the body’s ability to cope with internal and external stresses and normalize the body's functions.
I have been taking Adaptogens for six years, and they have significantly transformed my life - physically and mentally! There is no way I would have been able to crush my weight loss goals(100+ pounds), be the best mom I could be, and a Functional Medicine Practitioner without taking care of myself and making the changes that I did. You too can incorporate adaptogenic drink into your daily lifestyle and choose to start on the path to a healthier you!
Feel free to contact me if you have more questions regarding Adaptogens or book a FREE 15-min Discovery Call with me to discuss your health goals. You can also visit Isagenix official website anytime!
Till then, live with passion!
Dr. Christine Manukyan, Executive Contributor, Brainz Magazine
Dr. Christine Manukyan is a residency-trained Clinical Pharmacist, Functional Medicine Practitioner, Business Coach, Author, Speaker, Top-Rated STORRIE™ Podcast host, and mother of two. Before becoming an entrepreneur, she spent 13 years in Corporate America as a Clinical Pharmacist with various leadership roles. After experiencing her own health transformation with Functional Medicine, losing 100+ lbs, and becoming a natural bodybuilding athlete and marathon runner, she found her true calling empowering others to reach their health goals without pharmaceuticals. Dr. Christine has helped more than 250 clients transform their health.
She is a frequent speaker on holistic lifestyle choices, creating a virtual business, founder and entrepreneur mindset, and creating multiple income streams. She's spoken in front of audiences numbering 15,000+ and has been recognized globally for her entrepreneurial achievement and dedication. Her magazine features include PharmaSis Magazine for female pharmacist entrepreneurs, health and wellness publications, and she is a BRAINZ Magazine Executive Contributor, including BRAINZ 500 Global recognition. In 2021, she's bringing a revolutionary product to market as a startup partnered with the UC Berkeley SkyDeck accelerator and incubator.
Dr. Christine is passionate about helping burnout medical professionals build and scale a profitable virtual practice to have more quality time with their loved ones doing what fulfills their life. She believes everyone deserves a second chance to rewrite their story and become the best version of themselves.