Last Updated on March 8, 2023 by Jamie
What are Adaptogens?
Have you ever experienced abundance of stress at any point in your life? There can be many causes behind it, for instance, trouble at work, home, or school.
Situations like financial or health crisis also aid in increasing the stress that people generally experience.
After experiencing any kind of stress, have you ever wondered about something which can aid you in reducing the stress? Well! Adaptogens are exactly what you are looking for.
Adaptogens refer to ingredients, which are present in mushrooms and plants, and they aid in curing conditions like stress, fatigue, and anxiety. Some food items also contain adaptogens, for instance, turmeric, holy basil, and maca.
It is, however, a reality that all plants cannot be regarded as adaptogens. That is because a plant must contain three qualities to be graded as an adaptogen.
First, it should be non-toxic when consumed in normal quantities. Second, it should help your body deal with stress. Third, it should aid in returning your body’s balance. The third quality is also known as homeostasis.
Many forms of adaptogens exist in food items, supplements, or even in liquid form.
It is important to understand that adaptogens cannot be used to cure someone who has experienced chronic or long-term stress.
That is because they are proven to work well only for a short amount of time, which is generally less than six months. The reason behind it is when you regularly consume adaptogens, your body gets used to them and then they stop providing their adaptogenic or de-stressing effects over time when the body adapts to them.
What is Hormonal Imbalance?
Have you ever felt as if your body is not functioning to its full potential? Or that it is lacking in some way? Well! That feeling arises from your body’s hormonal imbalance.
This term implies when you have too much or too little of a hormone present in your body.
Now you might be wondering what do hormones do and why are they so important? Well! Hormones play a huge role in the smooth functioning of our bodily functions.
This means that they aid in many different functions of the body, for example, the metabolic function. The function of hormones is not limited to that; they help in our development and growth as well whether it is our reproductive or sexual health or our mood and sleep cycle.
Since hormones are so important, it is essential that you keep them in check and visit your doctor if you feel that something is not functioning correctly, because it might happen when the hormones become imbalanced, which makes them harmful to you because they can hinder the way your body performs growth and repair functions.
Hormone imbalance can lead to many harmful conditions such as an irregular menstrual cycle in women.
This means that normally, girls are supposed to menstruate for 5-7 days every month; however, girls, who suffer from a hormone imbalance, like PCOS or amenorrhea, report not menstruating every month or report menstruating for longer or shorter durations than what is considered normal.
Furthermore, hormonal imbalance can lead to infertility in some cases. That happens because hormone-related problems like PCOS or other anovulation cause infertility. It is not just true for women but also for men, who suffer from a hormonal imbalance. Infertility in men occurs because of low testosterone levels in their bodies, which a hormonal imbalance may cause.
Hormonal imbalance can also lead to issues like acne because hormones in your body affect how much oil your skin produces. If the oil is excessive or more than normal, it can lead to acne.
Furthermore, hormonal imbalance may lead to diabetes because it hinders the process of insulin production in pancreas. This later leads to diabetes.
Problems like thyroid and obesity can also arise from hormonal imbalance because the imbalance distorts the signal that your body sends regarding how your body should use the available energy. This distorted signal further leads to hypothyroidism, which leads to weight gain and obesity.
Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance
Various symptoms practically exist, which indicate the possibility of a hormonal imbalance in your body. The most common symptoms are those, which affect your metabolism, for instance, tachycardia.
This refers to when someone’s heart beats for more than 100 beats per minute. This is dangerous because the normal heartbeat that an adult should have ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute.
This indicates that heartbeat during a tachycardia episode is more than the normal heart rate; therefore, it is dangerous. On the other hand, a slower-than-normal heartbeat may also be a symptom of hormonal imbalance.
Moreover, weight gain or weight loss, which occurs without an explained reason, such as eating more than usual or actively working out or dieting to lose weight, is also a sign of hormonal imbalance.
That happens because the weight changes do not occur because of any external factor(s) but because of the hormones present in the body. This indicates that a few hormones are in an imbalanced state.
Some symptoms are easily identifiable, for example, having higher blood cholesterol levels than usual or what is considered normal for someone, or symptoms like sensitivity to cold or warm temperatures and tingling or numbness in your hands.
Frequent urination and extreme thirst also indicate that hormone imbalance may exist in your body. The mentioned symptoms are easily identifiable because they affect the daily lives of people suffering them.
Some physical symptoms are easily identifiable, for instance, irregular fat distribution in the body.
This refers to a condition when your physical shape is asymmetric and contains more fat deposits in some parts of the body and less or no fat deposits in the others.
Similarly, dark armpits or dark skin present on the side or back of your neck may also be a symptom, which stands out and indicates the presence of imbalanced hormones.
Some other symptoms of hormonal imbalance have also been reported so far, such as constipation, fatigue, diarrhoea, depression, and anxiety, but they are difficult-to-identify as symptoms of hormonal imbalance because they may be symptoms of some other diseases, or they may be standalone conditions the body is temporarily experiencing.
This means that since these symptoms can occur without hormonal imbalance, for example, being tired is possible after working more or harder than usual or experiencing diarrhoea may be a consequence of eating something inappropriate.
Hence, it is difficult to relate them as a hormonal imbalance present in the body.
How do adaptogens help with a hormonal imbalance?
Now, you may be wondering how adaptogens, which are mere natural substances in the form of herbs or mushrooms, can aid in balancing hormones. The answer is: It is quite simple how adaptogens work.
Adaptogens work in three stages, which are known as: Alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. The body may experience them when someone undergoes an extremely stressful situation or event.
The first stage, alarm, refers to the condition when the body initially experiences stress and also when the body goes into the flight-or-fight response.
Then, there is a resistance stage, when the body repairs itself from the damage caused by the stressful event during the alarm stage. This is when the heart rate and blood pressure start going back to normal. There are ways, in which, the body indicates that it is in the resistance stage, and the indicators include feeling irritable, frustrated, and reporting having lower concentration than usual.
This is where adaptogens come into play. What the adaptogens do is when your body is experiencing stress? In fact, the use of adaptogen lets your body stay in the resistance stage. This means that rather than moving on to the exhaustion stage, which leads you to panic because of your stress.
Staying longer in the resistance stage helps you continue providing you with the necessary support. This teaches you to not let your performance get affected because of stress.
During stress, the hormone cortisol is released. Even though it’s frequent release is dangerous for the body and can lead to illnesses like cortisol dysfunction, which further leads to inflammation and pain. Sometimes, the body’s cortisol release is okay.
That is okay because sometimes cortisol provides you with the energy that is necessarily needed during stress, so you can face the emergency head on, and survive.
The third or the last stage is called the exhaustion stage. This occurs if the stress is prolonged, because experiencing stress for too long can physically and mentally drain you.
This means that you may feel weak and restless during this stage because your body is tired as a consequence of fighting against stress. This is when the symptoms of stress start showing up, which include fatigue, burnout, and depression.
The Best Adaptogens for a Hormonal Imbalance
There are various adaptogens which can be used for a hormonal imbalance. Hence, you should experiment with a few and then decide which one works best for you.
For instance, the American Ginseng Adaptogen aids in calmness which means that it can prevent you from tachycardia because it won’t let your heartbeat increase and makes your body calmer. It also works towards improving the overall immune system.
Its benefits are not just limited to that, because Ginseng acts like an energy booster as well and can help in fixing a jetlag and fixing the sleep schedule of someone who has recently travelled.
Another herb ashwagandha aids in reducing stress and anxiety because stress leads to the production of cortisol in the body, which is harmful for the body, and it is a symptom of a hormonal imbalance. It also helps in the functioning of thyroid gland.
Astragalus is another herb that improves the immune system and helps in combating fatigue. This also prevents hormonal imbalance from occurring.
Furthermore, adaptogens like Eleuthero and Rhodiola Rosea help in combatting mental fatigue. Since we know that emotions also play a part in making the hormones imbalanced, the mentioned adaptogens are very important for that condition.
Lastly, some apoptogenic mushrooms are beneficial, for instance, Chaga, Shitake, Turkey Tail, and Reishi, to mention a few.
Other Ways to Balance Your Hormones
There are ways (other than using adaptogens), through which, you can balance your hormones.
First, it is of utmost importance that you focus on your diet. That is important because the kind of products we consume significantly affect our body.
Food items, which contain important nutrients, like fatty acids, aid in the production of hormones and lead to a better overall metabolism. The examples of such food items include coconut oil, avocado, and salmon.
Furthermore, it is important to consume fewer refined carbohydrates such as cakes or ready-to-cook items and sugar in any form like desserts, mainly because they can lead to a hormonal imbalance because of their dangerous properties.
In addition, we know that in this day and age, we may not be able to receive all the nutrients which are important for human development.
This means that since most of the people are so indulged in work or school, they do not have enough time to take care of their diet.
Hence, it is important to consume the required nutrients through supplement intake. The examples of supplements include primrose oil, Vitamin D, bone broth, probiotics, mushrooms, herbal supplements, and most importantly, adaptogens.
Another aspect, however, is that we often ignore our emotions. Everyone needs to keep in mind that emotions can greatly affect our health. For instance, fear can lead to diseases of kidney and adrenal gland. Not managing our emotions properly can also lead to PCOS.
Hence, it is important that a person should work towards balancing emotions because leaving them unattended can lead to severe issues, which may lead to hormonal imbalances.
Essential oils also play a part when it comes to balancing hormones. This means that oils like coconut oil, shea butter, castor oil, and even essential oils can aid in balancing hormones.
For instance, clary sage is a product which helps in balancing oestrogen levels in the body. Fennel also works towards improving your gut health.
Lavender helps with emotional balance, sandalwood helps with problems regarding libido, and thyme helps with infertility and depression.
It is also important to get awareness about medications you are consuming. For instance, some medicines may have side effects, like fatigue or low libido, which can lead to hormonal imbalance.
The examples of these medicines include corticosteroids, stimulants, dopamine agonists, and glucocorticoids.
Birth control medication, which is especially designed to regulate your hormones, raises estrogen levels in the body.
There can be side effects to birth control pills, which include mood changes and weight gain.
Most importantly, the way you can regulate your hormones is by sleeping on time and sleeping for the advised amount of time.
We often disregard sleep as not much important, but a lack of sleep can distort our physical functions.
That happens because it affects our circadian rhythm, which leads to a hormonal imbalance. A lack of sleep can also aid in the production of cortisol which, we know, is harmful to the body.
To conclude, it is necessary that you monitor how your body functions. If you feel that there is something which is lacking or not functioning properly, you should get it checked.
You may surf the internet and presuppose that you have a hormonal imbalance and start working towards fixing it; however, before you think about consuming any product, it is essential that you consult your doctor.
That is a good strategy because some supplements may have side effects, even the adaptogens. This means that some of the adaptogens mentioned above may not be suitable for pregnant women. Some supplements may interact with drugs which can affect the immune system or interact with blood thinners, which may have various side effects.
Hence, it is essential that you consult your doctor before using any products or taking supplements of any kind.
Once your doctor allows you to use these products or supplements, products containing adaptogens are the most beneficial choices.
That is valid because first, they are natural which means that contrary to any medicines that are present in the market today, the mentioned adaptogens do not have any harmful artificial substance or a chemical.
It is a significant factor because we know that medicines can harm you because of excessive chemicals they possess.
Furthermore, adaptogens help removing the root cause of hormonal imbalance, and the most common root cause is stress.
This means that the mentioned adaptogens do not just cure the problems, they rather work for reducing the implications and side-effects of stress, which result in a hormonal balance.
Another thing that makes adaptogens stand out is that they have been used a lot in historical times in fields like Ayurveda (Indian medicine) and Chinese medicine.
This further proves that they are beneficial because they have been used in traditional medicine, and if they were not beneficial, some scientific study must have prohibited their use until now.