November 3, 2018

Guest Post: ADAPTOGENS 101 with Carlene Thomas, RDN, LD

POSTED IN:

On Saturday, November 10 from 10-11am, we will be hosting an exciting event with special guest Carlene Thomas, RDN, LD: All About Adaptogens! Adaptogens are everywhere, it seems! From tonics and capsules to lattes and tinctures, it can be hard to figure out what you need and how to use it. Beyond the traditional adaptogens like mushrooms and herbs, we’ll also discuss the mysterious world of CBD! Walk away knowing what’s worth adding to your routine to deal with holiday stress. We are THRILLED to partner with Carlene Thomas (@ohcarlene) on this class. Carlene was recently named ‘America’s Next Great Nutritionist’ by MindBodyGreen. In 2016 she was named one of Loudoun Business Journal’s 40 under 40 and she’s a past president of the Virginia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This gal knows her stuff! We will have plenty of tastings and special promotions for all class attendees.

Seating is very limited so get your tickets here!

To get in the adaptogens spirit, we wanted to share an awesome blog posts from Carlene Thomas, adapted from the post she shared on her blog here.

ADAPTOGENS 101: HOW DO I KNOW WHAT I SHOULD TAKE?

What are adaptogens? Do they work? What do I take?

Supplements have always been confusing but I don’t know that they’ve ever been this mainstream. Which is a problem. Over the past two years, adaptogens in particular have made their way into a wide array of products from single herb supplements to granola and lattes. Many people have seen the word and have started to ask “Should I be taking an adaptogen? Which one?…Wait what IS an adaptogen?” Because let’s be honest: adaptogens are talked about often, but rarely defined. And I think it’s kind of important you know the details of what you’re ingesting.

WHAT ARE ADAPTOGENS? WHY DO PEOPLE TAKE THEM?

Adaptogens are natural substances that fight stress on the mind and body and work to return systems back to ‘normal’. They are stress response modifiers. People most often seek out adaptogens to add to their wellness routines if they feel stressed or anxious or feel that they need an energy boost on the regular.

Adaptogens aren’t new. They have been used for centuries, typically in Eastern medicine practices, but we are only now fully looking at them in Western culture and studying their benefits.

But here’s the thing about adaptogens. Right now they’re very trendy and they’re very wellness oriented. Which to be honest, means that the marketing surrounding products with adaptogens is…flourishy (which is fine- but I’m just saying all adaptogens as defined work to normalize so be aware you may be paying for marketing along with quality). For example, a product may be said to ‘align you with the cosmic flow for great achievement’ or bring you ‘peaceful awareness’. What it means is, as an adaptogen, it’s working to even things out period. The descriptors are extra.

DO ADAPTOGENS WORK? ARE THEY REAL?

True question. I actually see this on Instagram a lot. With some well branded adaptogen containing products, I see commenters doubting if something works. And I love me some skepticism. But truly, scientifically some adaptogens work. In this 2010 Pharmaceuticals journal publication, research found

“In summary, adaptogens may be regarded as a novel pharmacological category of anti-fatigue drugs that:

  1. Induced increased attention and endurance in situations of decreased performance caused by fatigue and/or sensation of weakness.
  2. Reduce stress-induced impairment and disorders related to the function of stress (neuro-endocrine and immune systems) “

The article suggests adaptogens help with stress, and the effects of stress, but also impact the quality of life of people when paired with standard therapy of many chronic diseases or pathological conditions.

Some adaptogens have more solid studies than others but if I was to pull a line from my nutrition training “We could always use more studies”. This is also the time I say, there are also adaptogens that have few to no studies, and some with studies also contain reviews that say evidence is conflicting. Do your research on the specific adaptogen you’re considering. I highly recommend the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health as a starting point.

Now is it worth the price you’re paying for every adaptogen product? Probably not. Marketing that requires an element of consumer education and dope AF packaging all take money. There’s user experience to consider to sell a product. It’s a business after-all!  So I would say many adaptogenic blends that contain other ingredients likely have somethings that also aren’t studied for their intended uses inside. But if you enjoy the specific product and it’s not causing harm, spend the money if you want to!

DO YOU TAKE ADAPTOGENS? 

Yes. I started dabbling in the adaptogen world last year with ashwagandha. It’s highly studied and clinically proven to help reduce stress and anxiety. And it totally works for me. Since then, I’ve also taken cordyceps and holy basil, but still prefer ashwagandha because I find it more effective for my body. We’ll talk about how to decide what works best for you later.

HOW DO YOU TAKE ADAPTOGENS?

Adaptogen delivery can occur in several ways. If it’s a powder, add it to a beverage, smoothie, yogurt or whatever floats your boat. They can also be taken straight up in tincture or capsule form.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO WORK?

Unlike CBD oil which can begin working within 20 minutes (read my super in-depth CBD 101 post), many adaptogens require some time before they really kick in. Like multiple days of taking them. Which is frustrating for some people. We’re a culture that loves immediacy so taking some time to see results can be disheartening. For me (and Chris), ashwagandha began working after about two days.

I like to always track my results when I’m trying something new, because if there’s limited evidence and you’re not seeing results either…meh. Save your money.

I’ll also say, sometimes taking things that are a blend can be tricky. With multiple ingredients at a time, you may be unable to find out which active ingredient is impacting you, for better or worse. I personally started out using single formulation adaptogens before taking blends.

WHAT ARE SOME ADAPTOGENS AND WHY WOULD I TAKE THEM?

Remember, always work with your medical professional before you add a supplement to your wellness practices. Herbs and adaptogens can interact with your current prescription medications or may not be appropriate for your current diagnosis.

I am currently researching and updating this section. Check back for details.

Ashwagandha: My personal favorite, it is known for stress relief and enhanced relaxation but it also supports cognitive function and you body’s endurance. To me, this might be a good option if you’re feeling stressed and burnt out.

Astragalus

Chaga

Cordyceps

Ginseng

Maca

Reishi

Rhodiola

Schisandra

Shiitake

Rhodiola

SHARE