4 adaptogens that may already be in your cupboard

A farmer holds a piece of turmeric freshly harvested, displaying its bright orange-yellow interior.

We all know when we’re in the middle of one of those weeks: The mountain of work in front of you seems to be getting taller, not smaller. You notice a new wrinkle on your forehead. And a pesky warning light has suddenly picked this week to start flashing on the dashboard of your car.

During these hectic times, we all have our go-to coping mechanisms. Some people add in a little yoga, try to get a few hours of extra sleep or indulge in a relaxing glass of wine.

Increasingly, however, some are reaching for their favorite adaptogens, a trend that’s seen an uptick and is expected to continue to gain in popularity.

What are adaptogens?

Adaptogens are a group of certain herbs, roots and plants—like turmeric and ginseng—that have been used either by themselves or in various combinations in Ayurvedic healing practices and in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries.

Fast forward a few hundred years, and they’ve come back into the spotlight. Adaptogens are seen as a way to help the body resist feelings of stress and fatigue. Some people even believe they have anti-aging properties.

They get their name from the word “adapt,” because studies have shown these ingredients can help the body’s nervous system cope better during rollercoaster times of physical and mental stress.

Tea in a clear tea cup

 

How are adaptogens used?

As use of adaptogens flowed from East to West, the ways in which people are personalizing them have changed. Individual plants can be eaten as part of a meal or specific herbs can be brewed into soothing teas.

Some adaptogens or combinations of them are sold as powders. These can be sprinkled over meats or vegetables, stirred into your morning coffee or blended into juice drinks and smoothies.

Holiday Zanetti, a senior research scientist and clinical investigator for Nutrilite, identified adaptogens as a health trend to watch in 2020. Here’s a look at some of the most popular adaptogens, which may already be in your kitchen.

Two pieces of turmeric root sliced to show their bright orange interior.

Turmeric

This bright orange spice is a cousin of ginger, and it’s most often used as an ingredient in Middle Eastern, Asian and Indian cooking. But lately, it’s become a darling of health enthusiasts.

Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which studies show may be able to help the body fight inflammation and lower blood sugar levels.

While turmeric tea is becoming more commonplace, the spice is most easily used as a powder in soups, stews or curries. Some Asian grocery or specialty stores will also sell turmeric leaves, which can be sprinkled over vegetables or used in salads.

A bunch of ginseng root.

Ginseng

This little root packs a flavor punch, but it’s also seen as a food that can be used to fight fatigue and enhance endurance. Like turmeric, studies have shown that ginseng can lower blood sugar levels. It contains ginsenosides, a compound that’s been found to help regulate inflammation in the body.

The slow-growing plant can be used in dried or fresh form. It’s increasingly being added to energy drinks or sold as tea. It can be an expensive ingredient, so do a little research before you buy anything with ginseng in it to make sure you’re purchasing a quality product.

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry, is one of the more popular herbs in Ayurvedic medicine, thought to improve concentration, reduce stress and increase energy. It contains high levels of withanolides, which studies have shown to fight inflammation.

It’s a small shrub with yellow flowers. People use extracts or powders from the roots and leaves mixed with honey and warm milk to create a tonic.

A sprig of holy basil.

Holy basil

A staple of Ayurvedic healing, this plant was originally grown in India, where it is still considered a sacred herb. Its popularity has propelled its spread to other continents.

Holy basil contains a trio of chemical compounds that are believed to not only lower inflammation but help the body self-regulate in times of stress or anxiety. It can be eaten fresh or dried, and its peppery leaves can be used to spice up a stir fry or soups.

Learn more

Whether you are consuming these ancient herbs and roots as part of a meal, a tea or looking for them in your supplements, know that you are part of a growing trend that has actually been around for centuries.

Looking for more information on health and wellness and the latest trends? Read more at Amway Connections.

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