Words by: Emily Smith
More and more often we’re hearing the word ‘adaptogens’.
Nutritionists and health nuts alike swear by them, but what exactly are they?
Well, adaptogens are basically ‘super herbs’, just with a fancier sounding name. These roots, leaves and fungi are hailed for their abilities to help our bodies in a variety of different ways. Each adaptogen has a specific super ability, but in general they’re known for helping people manage stress and anxiety.
Because we live in such a time of high anxiety and stress, these herbs have seen a sudden surge in popularity, and this is only expected to continue growing. Some of the more common ones you’ve probably heard of are holy basil, ashwagandha, maca and reishi mushrooms.
Holy basil, highly regarded for its health benefits in reducing stress, right through to indigestion, can be added to stir-fries and soups, for a spicy, peppery taste.
Ashwagandha, meaning ‘smell of a horse’, has a reputation for boosting vitality, and can be used in seasonings or supplement form.
Maca, and its nutty, caramel-y flavour, is also linked to protecting the body from stress and balancing hormones.
Reishi is often found in a power form, and can be added to savoury recipes or bitter tea, and is said to have immune-boosting, stress-fighting properties.
Theoretically, each adaptogen is meant to adapt to what your body needs, protecting you against physical and emotional stress, making claims to help with everything from immunity to libido.
Research into how these super-herbs know what your body needs is very limited. So while they’re becoming more readily available in supplement form all over the place, or in your local health food store as add-ons to your hot cacao, we recommend exercising caution. Remember, the proof behind the superstar claims is limited! (And a PSA: pregnant women – avoid altogether!)