You’ve heard about superfoods, but what about super herbs? Make way for adaptogens: the miracle herb you wish you knew about sooner.
Adaptogens are a unique class of herbs and roots used to improve the health of your adrenal system; the structure in charge of managing your body’s hormonal response to stress. These natural substances work by regulating the hormones of your adrenal system, helping you fight stress, cope with anxiety, and put fatigue to rest.
Adaptogens have also been shown to boost your immune system, increase your energy levels, and help you maintain a healthy weight, balance your moods, and enhance your mental performance. Adaptogens get their name from their unique ability to “adapt” to your body’s specific needs. There are just over a dozen adaptogens. These include:
- Leuthero, also known as Siberian ginseng
- Panax or “true” ginseng
- Reishi mushrooms
- Sea buckthorn
- Tulsi, also known as Holy basil.
To be effective, adaptogens need to be taken daily for six to eight weeks to see true results.
How to take your adaptogens
Take an extract.
These are readily available in natural food stores or online. You can also make your own extract using fresh, whole herbs and roots.
- In a quart-sized jar, mix 30ml of dried, powdered herbs of your choice with 145ml of vodka, vinegar or water. Give it a good shake each day for two weeks.
- After two weeks, allow the jar to rest for a day so that all the herbal material sinks to the bottom of the jar.
- Strain the liquid over a bowl. Spoon the herbal material into a clean muslin cloth. Gather the edges of the cloth together to make a bundle. Twist the bundle to squeeze out as much of the extract as possible.
- Pour the extract into a glass bottle and store in a cool, dry place away from heat or light.
How to use it: Add a tablespoon of the extract to a cup of water and sip. You can also mix it into a glass of juice or a smoothie if you struggle to get it down.
Make a broth.
One of the best ways of getting the maximum benefits from adaptogens is to cook them long and slow in a broth.
“When you warm foods over low heat, you gently leech out the energetic and therapeutic properties of the foods, preserving the nutritional value of the food and making it easier for your body to use the nutrients,” says Rachel Drori, founder of Daily Harvest, a superfood smoothie company.
Try this simple recipe:
- 50g adaptogen herbs of your choice
- 5kg beef or lamb bones
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped
- 4 gloves garlic, crushed
- 6 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
- Enough water to cover (about 2 litres).
- Place all the ingredients in a large pot or slow cooker.
- Cover with cold water and bring to a boil.
- Simmer or slow-cook on a low heat for about 12 hours.
- Once it’s done cooking, strain the liquid and store in a container.
- Drink one or two cups a day. You can also use the broth as a basic stock for stews.
- The broth can be kept in the fridge for up to five days.
Brew some tea.
Another way to reap the benefits of amazing adaptogens is by enjoying them as a tea. You can easily make your own adaptogen tea with whole herbs or roots. You can also find adaptogen herbal tea blends online or at a tea trader.
To find out which adaptogens could work best for you, talk to a functional nutritionist, or get hold of one of our doctors via the app.