What the FLIK is…an Adaptogen?
Drop into your trendiest coffee shop or juice bar and you might see the latest craze in latte additions: mushroom. Like matcha and turmeric lattes, these mushroom lattes are boasting potential medicinal benefits and today, we’re diving into what wellness properties everyone is raving about.
Turns out this trend in mushroom boosters belongs to a greater group of non-toxic herbs, roots, and other fungi known as adaptogenic herbs or adaptogens. From more commonly known roots like ginseng to more strange sounding herbs like cordyceps, we’re going to dive into what the FLIK is an adaptogen.
What the FLIK is…an adaptogen and what is it supposed to do for me?
As the name suggests, adaptogens are supposed to help the body adapt more easily to the stresses of everyday life.
Some anecdotal research suggests that adaptogens might be helpful in managing stress and inflammation, which are commonly interrelated. Inflammation is the body’s biological response to stress; some inflammation, such as the swelling and redness around a cut, is helpful, but chronic inflammation in response to everyday stress can make us more susceptible to getting sick.
But take anecdotal benefits with a grain of salt. Like many trendy supplements, proponents believe they work, but more science-based research is needed to prove any medicinal properties.
Should you add adaptogens to your diet?
If you’re set on trying out these adaptogens and seeing if they have a benefit to your daily routine, here’s a breakdown of some of the more popular herbs and roots you can eat (or drink):
- Ashwagandha: May help with stress and inflammation. You can find ashwagandha in a powdered form, which can be added to warm milk (or non-dairy milk) along with any seasonings you like, or in capsules.
- Reishi: Reishi has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, valued for its potential to enhance longevity, and—in contemporary medicine—enhance immunity. It can often be found in medicinal mushroom blends or sold in a powder form. Try adding reishi to warm beverages or smoothies for a soothing effect in the evening.
- Cordyceps: Some adaptogens are notable for their calming qualities, while others—“active” adaptogens—are celebrated for boosting energy. Cordyceps is thought to boost athletic performance and stamina, and you’ll often see it sold in blends that can be mixed into morning coffee or an energizing hot cocoa.
- Holy Basil: Holy Basil, which is also known and labeled as Tulsi, is prized in Ayurvedic medicine for its capacity to quell anxiety and stress. The plant is often added to teas, but it can also be purchased and incorporated into soups, stews, and stir-fry dishes, too.
- Rhodiola: Rhodiola is thought to enhance energy, stamina, strength, and mental capacity, and some studies show that it may help to ease joint pain. Native to Europe, it’s been used medicinally for centuries. You can purchase rhodiola in a capsule, or supplement, form. Rhodiola is also found in teas, though a supplementary dose may be more effective for medicinal purposes.
- Maca: Maca is a cruciferous vegetable that’s native to Peru, and it may even be sold under the name of “Peruvian ginseng.” In high doses it’s a good source of iron, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B6, which may explain why it’s thought of as an energy enhancer. Maca is also thought to aid in regulating hormonal function, though more research into these effects is needed. Maca powder can be found in most health food stores, and it can be added to smoothies, warm drinks, chia pudding, or even raw snacks and treats.
It’s important to remember that most studies on adaptogens emphasize the need for more research. And we haven’t yet determined a safe, effective, or standardized dosing for adaptogenic ingredients.
If you’d like to learn more about adaptogens, a licensed herbal medicine practitioner can guide you in incorporating these ancient ingredients into your contemporary lifestyle. You can check out the American Herbalists Guild for more information on finding a qualified herbal medicine practitioner who can be sensitive to your needs and goals.
What We Were Talking About in 2018: Salmon Burger, Wasabi Mayo
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