How Adaptogens Work

To give you a clear idea about how adaptogens really work in the body, let’s take a look at what happens when stress occurs.

First, something alarming happens. This can be an unexpected deadline, a speech you have to make, someone almost hits your car while barreling down the road. Whatever the stimulus is, they body has critical metabolic responses that happen. As a reaction to this alarm, your body releases cortisol and adrenalin.

These hormones are extremely valuable in the short term, but these hormones become disruptive to cellular function over a long period of time. Cortisol for instance, has a wide range of effects in the body. One of the more well known effects is that cortisol suppresses the immune system and has a negative impact on energy regulation. Cortisol decreases the movement of glucose from the bloodstream into muscle cells (and several other types of cells). This is meant to be a protective response, conserving blood glucose for essential functions, such as brain activity. However, during any prolonged stress, complex molecules called beta-lipo-proteins build up and inhibit the passage of energy through the cell walls. The key enzymes (hexokinase) which transform glucose to be used by the cells for energy are blocked by these stress-induced beta-lipo-proteins. As a result of this physiological response to stress, cells do not receive enough energy and their ability to perform many of their critical functions is greatly hindered.

In the next stage, your body reacts to the physical stress. When the adaptation occurs, the individual returns to “homeostasis” or normal equilibrium. However, each individual’s capacity to adapt is limited and completely unique. Overwhelm the individual’s adaptive capacity, and you risk illness or injury. That’s when you enter the final stage: exhaustion. This leads to fatigue, injury or illness.

When adaptogens are added to the equation, these stages of stress response are handled very differently. The biologically active substances that are found within adaptogenic plants modify the alarm phase and increase the resistance phase. This is done by preventing the formation and accumulation of the harmful beta-lipo-proteins caused by stress, allowing the hexokinase enzymes to more readily convert glucose into usable energy for the cells. Adaptogenic substances also increase the capacity of the cells to build mRNA (messengers) and tRNA (transporters). This is critical, as these benefits provide protection to a stressed person by helping to maintain optimal cellular function as long as possible before the onset of exhaustion. With adaptogens, the person still mounts an appropriate response to a stressful event, but the changes in cell function that result are more moderate and have less of an adverse effect on the entire body.

The general action of adaptogens is well demonstrated by looking at the effect of stress on blood glucose levels. Shortly after a person becomes stressed, the stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) cause a rapid increase in blood glucose. Once it peaks, the blood glucose rapidly falls to lower than normal levels. Adaptogens moderate this response, conserving valuable energy in the alarm phase for use in the resistance phase. In other words, adaptogens do not block the stress response; rather, they smooth the stress response to help prevent adrenal exhaustion by increasing the function of healthy immune systems.

Why Adaptogens are Superior to Stimulants

Adaptogens like Schizandra work completely different than stimulants. To explain this, we need to first look at what is happening with a stimulant like coffee, tea or energy drinks.

As you drink your energy drink, the stimulant molecules travel through your body and their way to the brain where they bind to receptors of the particular neurotransmitter, adenosine. Stimulants act as a competitive inhibitor of adenosine, which is actually a calming neurotransmitter. This binding produces a cascade of events to occur which culminate in the activation of the fight or flight response. This is the response that is activated inside your body that responds to DANGER. This fires up the production of adrenaline which cause your eyes to dilate, your blood vessels in your brain to constrict and to open up your breathing tubes. To accommodate all of this, more energy needs to be produced to compensate for the “increased danger.” Therefore your metabolism is sped up via your organs working harder to produce and release more sugar that can then be converted into energy to meet the “danger” that is present….in your home or office.

This is why we feel that jolt when we take stimulant based products. They force our bodies to quickly produce energy in the event of an imminent danger. It is almost as if the stimulant molecules are tricking ourselves into thinking we need to be careful or on the lookout for something.

Adaptogens, on the other hand, work in a completely different way. They regulate and optimize cellular functioning and allow us to better deal with naturally occurring stress.

There are three main qualities that a substance must have to be called an adaptogen:

1. They must be non-toxic to the body and exhibit no negative side effects, no matter what the dosage.

2. They must come from nature and must catalyze responses in the body that increase performance, both mental and physical, in addition to resisting stress responses.

3. They must balance and normalize the functioning of the body’s organ systems leading to general homeostasis and good health.

Why We Need Adaptogens

We all deal with some degree of mental, emotional, and physical stress on a regular basis. Having adaptogens like Schizandra in our diet is essential to living a long and happy life. They are the quintessential substance that is our best herbal ally in living longer and thriving under stressful circumstances. In my experience and opinion, they are a must for everyone who wants to optimize their body and mind and feel great all the time.

Schizandra is in our opinion, the king of adaptagens because it exudes a non-specific response in multiple systems of the body, not just the immune system, or endocrine. Since schizandra benifits our bodies in numerous ways besides the adaptogenic qualities, it truly stands out as a superior, super tonic herbal berry capable of radically enhancing our total body health.

Try Lucidera’s 100% organic, American grown Schizandra today!