I first heard about adaptogens a couple of years ago via Instagram, when a LA-based health nut I love following was making these foamy, creamy morning drinks out of crazy mushroom herbs. Thinking at the time a turmeric latte was pretty out the box, I did a little research but couldn’t really get my head around the idea of what they were, why I’d use them, and if they were even illicit! Herbal mushrooms sound...illegal. Now though, I’m finding adaptogens are starting to be a lot more commonly talked about, with the likes of Glow Bar helping bring them more to the masses, and early-adopting smoothie bars offering all sorts of quirky concoctions.
After doing a super interesting, inspiring workshop with Sasha Sabapathy from Glow Bar, which involved learning about the different properties these herbs offer, why we would use them, and even making my own bespoke blend, I feel like I’ve finally got to grips with adaptogens, and have actually started incorporating them into my daily routine. I’m going to let them do their thing for a bit and then I’ll do a post on my experience with them soon, but in the meantime, I’ve roped in Sasha to help give a more of an intro to exactly what adaptogens are…
IN SHORT, WHAT ACTUALLY ARE ADAPTOGENS?
Adaptogens are healing herbs that derive from Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Shamanic Healing. In a nutshell, they help the body to cope with stress from a mental and physical perspective.
WHAT'S THE HYPE AROUND THEM?
We are leading increasingly stressful lifestyles, thanks to everything from longer commutes to the dreaded social media comparison game. Our generation in particular is now craving more holistic practices to help them find a sense of calm. Adaptogens have been around for centuries but they’ve become a hot topic because they don’t only calm you down but also help with various ailments that can be caused by stress and rising cortisol levels, like brain fog or low energy.
SO, SHOULD I BE TAKING THEM?
Yes, everyone should be taking them! We are all super stressed from a physical perspective even if we think mentally we are fine - mainly because our bodies are constantly in flight or fight mode. The beauty of adaptogens is that they are both curative and preventative so there is no harm in giving your system a helping hand in fighting stress. If you’re fit and active your body is even more “stressed” which means as a runner you definitely need to be taking them.
HOW SHOULD I TAKE THEM?
There are a few ways of taking adaptogens: powders, capsules and tinctures. I’ve been taking them for eight years now and I’ve found my favourite form is the powders. I find a lot of joy in creating different drinks and snacks which incorporate them — it normalises the experience, and lots of us already add all sorts to smoothies, oats and the like. Capsules are great if you’re good at remembering to take them, but can feel a bit medicinal, whilst tinctures aren’t that great from a taste perspective! If you’ve got some powders or are thinking about purchasing some, the easiest way is putting them into smoothies, shakes, porridge or (dairy free) milky drinks.
AND JUST TO BE SURE, THEY'RE LEGAL RIGHT?!
Yes they are totally legal as a food supplement!
ANY STRANGE SIDE EFFECTS?
Everyone’s body is different and responds differently but personally I have never experienced anything negative or strange. If you take more stimulating herbs like Maca or Shilajit (both in our Super Sexy blend) you’ll definitely feel a burst of energy but that’s as wild as it’s gonna get.
SO WHERE SHOULD I START?
I always call Ashwagandha the gateway drug of adaptogens. It’s great for everyone, and will calm the body and mind, so if your curious I’d start by taking 1/2 tsp a day. If you’re wary and want to know more, we do workshops at Glow Bar all the time too, so you can make your own blend and see how you feel as a result.
Get your fix at Glow Bar. I made my own blend (which I'll talk more about soon) but they have some great 'starter' options on the site.