What are adaptogens?
When the difference between a win and a loss can be a matter of inches and seconds, it should come as no surprise the interest high caliber athletes take in doing all they can to enhance their performance.
I am in no way suggesting that adaptogens will be the difference between a win and a loss given the amount of variables that influence an athletes performance come game day, I am however suggesting given how influential a factor stress can be on one’s performance and the stimuli regarding training that high caliber athletes typically subject themselves to, provided adaptogens were to be resorted to as a means of helping the body subdue such stress, improvements of relation to sleep, performance and composition are probable.
Adaptogens, also known as phytochemicals work by modulating the stress response within the body which is controlled and mediated by ACTH and adrenal corticosteroids.
Apoptogenic herbs are a class of botanical medicines and nontoxic plants that can assist the body in resisting stressors of all kinds including but not limited to physical, biological and chemical. Adaptogens have become increasingly popular of late attributed to their proven influence regarding cellular metabolism and nutrient utilization, also of relation to the efficiency with which the body is able to subdue stress.
As with majority of health and fitness related products, some are most certainly not as effective as others, most are not worth taking. Of all the adaptogens I have read about and the few that I have had the opportunity to trial the three I deem the most viable to supplement with include:
Also known as Tulsi is an an Ayervadic herb which can lower cortisol, improve insulin sensitivity and improve the skins ability to retain moisture. The psychotherapeutic properties of tulsi have been examined in animals. Such research revealed that Holy Basil has anti- anxiety and anti-depressant properties, in addition to benefits of relation to one’s cognitive ability and memory. A randomized double blind, placebo- controlled study in 2012 found that Tulsi (Holy Basil) significantly improved general stress, sexual and sleep problems and symptoms such as exhaustion.
(Evid based Complement Alternat.Med 2012;2012() 894509)
If looking to combat general fatigue is of interest to you, Rhodiola or “golden root” could prove to be a viable addition to your current supplementation regime as it is amongst the few adaptogens highly regarded for its fatigue fighting properties. It has also been known to encourage improvements regarding strength and muscular endurance.
According to a four-week study in 2009 it was found that Rhodiola had a profound effect on fatigue levels and cognitive attention compared to the placebo administered.
(Planta Med 2009)
GINSENG: (Panax Ginseng)
Ginseng is a herb from the Araliaceae family. Ginseng is believed to benefit immune function and contains ginsenosides which have antioxidant and neuroprotective qualities.
Peruvian Ginseng, also known as MACA is nutrient dense and has been known encourage improvements regarding adrenal function.
THE TAKE HOME:
Adaptogens can be classified plants or plant extracts that increase the ability of biological substrates to adapt to particular stresses and to balance endocrine changes and alterations in immune function. Given the profound influence stress has been proven to have on one’s health, wellbeing and physical performance, should you respond as studies suggest, adaptogen supplementation will result in improvements regarding body’s ability to subdue and suppress stress.