Functional Medicine Approach: 5 Stress-Busting Adaptogens for Toronto Patients

Between deadlines, family care, and jobs, stress can take a toll on the mind and body of a Toronto patient. But if you’re seeking a new stress buster, the functional medicine approach could help you out.

According to the integrative functional medicine view, adaptogens may support your response to chronic and acute stress. This clan of herbal ingredients helps encourage the body to “adapt” to stress and increase resilience. Think of adaptogens as “herbal helpers” that contribute to balancing cortisol levels by supporting the adrenal glands.

According to research, there are surprising benefits to supplementing with adaptogens: “Studies on animals and isolated neuronal cells have revealed that adaptogens exhibit neuroprotective, anti-fatigue, antidepressive, anxiolytic, nootropic and CNS [central nervous system] stimulating activity,” stated an article from Pharmaceuticals.

Adaptogens have existed for many centuries in eastern medicine. So what can we learn about them? Here are key facts about adaptogens and how five of them may promote a less-burdened lifestyle in Toronto.

Key Facts About Adaptogens

  • There are three responses to stressors in the human body: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. Adaptogens encourage the body to extend its stay at the resistance response. In turn, this helps prevent you from moving towards the exhaustion response, which is when that tiring “crash” kicks in. (This is the same “crash” some people may experience after drinking caffeinated coffee.)
  • Suffering from workplace stress? Adaptogens may provide some relief. As reported by a Pharmaceuticals article, “a number of clinical trials demonstrate that adaptogens exert an anti-fatigue effect that increases mental work capacity against a background of stress and fatigue, particularly in tolerance to mental exhaustion and enhanced attention.”
  • Adaptogens may indirectly help with physical symptom management, such as insomnia and pain. They may also indirectly impact immunity, cognition and blood pressure, while helping to prevent chronic diseases.

Top 5 Adaptogens for Toronto Functional Medicine Patients

Numerous adaptogens can be considered for reaching optimal health. Based on recommendations from our integrative care practitioners, here are our top choices:

Type of Adaptogen
What It Does
1. Ashwagandha

May help equalize cortisol levels and reduce stress. In a study on stressed patients who were also overweight or obese, ashwagandha improved “mental well-being, eating behaviors and [reduced] stress…maintaining the normal endocrinological balance.” Cognition also improved in participants with mild cognitive injuries.

2. Ginseng

May aid with regulating the immune system and hormones; could help reduce stress related to physiological disorders; known for easing erectile dysfunction and preventing/treating diabetes and other diseases related to chronic inflammation.

3. Rhodiola

Helps with relieving fatigue and depression and improving immunity; anti-inflammatory, anti-aging effects; shown to fight stress, though further research is needed: “The stress-protective effects of Rhodiola rosea extracts have been shown to be engaged with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and several key mediators of stress responses…” explains an article from Current Pharmacology Reports.

4. Shilajit

Recognized by Ayurvedic medicine for anti-aging properties, shilajit may also be effective for upping both sperm count and sperm motility; also known to help augment testosterone levels; may have the potential for improving cognition and for preventing cognitive decline.

5. Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus)

Studies have shown that Lion’s mane may assist with easing anxiety and depression; has been used in naturopathic medicine for assisting with cognition and memory improvement and helping treat Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Lion’s mane also acts as an antioxidant with anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory features.

Understanding Adaptogens at our Center for Functional Medicine in Toronto

For centuries, adaptogens have been touted for their therapeutic elements. We’re here to help you see which adaptogens may fit your daily life.

Our clinic is currently welcoming new patients – and you’re invited! Our integrative medicine practices focus on naturopathic functional medicine. Some of our integrative treatment plans may include: allopathic/western medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture for pain relief, medically-supervised IV therapy, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, and functional medicine testing. Our functional medicine programs are suitable for various concerns: chronic conditions, infertility, fatigue, blood pressure issues, understanding lifestyle influences, hormone imbalances, and others.

How can you add adaptogens to a bespoke health care program? Leave a message and we’ll get back to you about meeting our functional medicine practitioner in Toronto. A related article about how functional medicine may help cope with anxiety can also be read here at our blog.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. This information should not be used to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting a doctor. Consult with a health care practitioner before relying on any information in this article or on this website.

References:

Biswas, T. K., Pandit, S., Mondal, S., Biswas, S. K., Jana, U., Ghosh, T., Tripathi, P. C., Debnath, P. K., Auddy, R. G., & Auddy, B. (2010). Clinical evaluation of spermatogenic activity of processed Shilajit in oligospermia. Andrologia, 42(1), 48-56. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1439-0272.2009.00956.x

Chong PS, Fung ML, Wong KH, Lim LW. Therapeutic Potential of Hericium erinaceus for Depressive Disorder. Int J Mol Sci. 2019;21(1):163. Published 2019 Dec 25. doi:10.3390/ijms21010163

Li Y, Pham V, Bui M, et al. Rhodiola rosea L.: an herb with anti-stress, anti-aging, and immunostimulating properties for cancer chemoprevention. Curr Pharmacol Rep. 2017;3(6):384-395. doi:10.1007/s40495-017-0106-1

Liao LY, He YF, Li L, et al. A preliminary review of studies on adaptogens: comparison of their bioactivity in TCM with that of ginseng-like herbs used worldwide. Chin Med. 2018;13:57. Published 2018 Nov 16. doi:10.1186/s13020-018-0214-9

Lee S, Rhee DK. Effects of ginseng on stress-related depression, anxiety, and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. J Ginseng Res. 2017;41(4):589-594. doi:10.1016/j.jgr.2017.01.010

Panossian A, Wikman G. Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress-Protective Activity. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2010;3(1):188-224. Published 2010 Jan 19. doi:10.3390/ph3010188

Salve J, Pate S, Debnath K, Langade D. Adaptogenic and Anxiolytic Effects of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Healthy Adults: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Clinical Study. Cureus. 2019;11(12):e6466. Published 2019 Dec 25. doi:10.7759/cureus.6466