Adaptogens: Herbs For Energy and Immunity – Invite Health Podcast, Episode 21
Invite Health Podcast, Episode hosted by Jerry Hickey. Ph
An adaptogen in herbal medicine is a natural substance proven to help you handle stress, improve your energy, and support your immune system. Today I would like to discuss three scientifically substantiated adaptogens and what you can expect from them. I’d like to talk to you today about how the herb Panax Ginseng, the herb Rhodiola rosea, and L-Theanine, an amino acid from the tea plant can help you safely rev up your energy, bust your stress, improve your immunity and supply you with the added benefits of helping to rewire your brain to support your memory.
What is Panax ginseng?
Adaptogens when combined can also help you on Monday mornings at work after a very fun but exhausting weekend where perhaps you had a bit too much alcohol
Lets’ start off with Panax ginseng, a very popular herb. The word Panax means all-healing in Greek – think of panacea. A number of recent studies published in medical journals show how good this herb is for fighting fatigue and improving energy and the thing is it does it within 15 to 30 minutes the very first time you use it and it doesn’t cause jitteriness like a cup of coffee can in some people.
For instance, a recent study of 174 people in China shows that Ginseng improved fatigue dramatically compared to placebo. Additionally, the Mayo Clinic performed a double-blind study on 290 cancer patients and Ginseng helped bring back their energy.
Panax Ginseng has to grow for five years to obtain enough ingredient to improve energy. These ingredients include Ginsenosides, acidic polysaccharides, and polyacetylenes and they are only found in the Panax Ginseng plant.
This age-old treatment for flagging energy is believed to work by supporting the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis, which helps your body adapt to and cope with stress and fatigue. Also called the HPA Axis, this is a set of three glands which interact with each through the regulated release of hormones to control your body’s response to stress, and which also help regulate your energy, your mood, your immune system, and your digestive tract.
Two hundred milligrams to 400mg of Panax Ginseng has been shown to produce natural energy, reduces mental and physical fatigue, and improves alertness.
What is Rhodiola rosea?
The biggest selling herb in Norway is Rhodiola rosea, it’s actually called Viking Ginseng, and it has helped get Scandinavian-people through there long, tough, cold winter.
Vikings used it for the same reason and it worked so well they took it along on their lengthy sea voyages. You can actually track where the Vikings ventured by looking at where rhodiola grows today – Scandinavian countries, Scotland and Ireland, Iceland and finally Canada. I take Canadian Rhodiola frequently and I love it!
Rhodiola works so well that in Europe they use it for burn out syndrome; it improves stress, mental and physical fatigue and boosts energy.
In a recent study in Germany and Vienna Austria, Rhodiola restored the health and quality of life to 118 men and women with burn out syndrome – we would just say they were burnt out – and the onset of benefits were rapid. Within the first week they felt improvements in emotional and physical exhaustion, loss of zest for life, depersonalization (feeling detached), and because they felt so good compliance was very high- notably symptoms continued to improve throughout the study. It is also helpful with anxiety.
Rhodiola, just like Panax Ginseng, has ingredients only found in this plant; Rosavins and Salidrosides and these are the constituents that function as adaptogens. In a review of 11 human clinical trials through the University of Alberta, Rhodiola improved both mental and physical fatigue, and achieved this very safely.
What is L-Theanine?
The last adaptogen I will discuss today is not an herb but an amino acid extracted from the tea plant called L-Theanine; it is an immediate stress buster. L-Theanine affects brain waves associated with cognitive functions, alertness and creativity.
It imparts a state of alert calmness and even joy. L-Theanine supports learning and memory, blocks stress, and supports creativity without making you feel tired. You can safely take it when driving your car.
A great upside of these three adaptogens is that they shield the brain from the effects of stress. Prolonged stress can kill brain cells and shrink the brain, damage nerve endings and keep you up all night. Reducing the prolonged release of stress hormones from the adrenal glands, which these adaptogens can achieve help improve energy during the day and you can sleep better at night; this is not paradoxical, reducing stress hormones allows you to sleep at night.
They may also help you fight belly fat; when you are stressed out foods are more fattening. So eating the same food when stressed out contributes more to weight gain than having the exact same serving when you are calm.
Just to review, adaptogens help improve your energy and support your immune system, while blocking the effects of stress. Panax Ginseng, Rhodiola, and L-Theanine have been proven to work and they can be used individually or grouped together for better effect.
In a future episode, I will discuss the benefits of adaptogens for sexual health; intimacy is important for a healthy relationship.
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