In this blog, we’re going to dissect adaptogens and why they’ve been a buzzword in beauty marketing. Furthermore, we’ll explore if they’re actually beneficial and where they come from.
Adaptogens are plant-derived, and their use dates back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and ayurvedic medicine. But despite their longevity, the effectiveness of adaptogens has not been proven by scientific research. But, just because there’s a lack of research doesn’t mean that they’re ineffective. A lack of research might only imply that pharmaceutical companies haven’t felt compelled to fund the research. One of the potential reasons for this is that it’s much more difficult to patent a plant as opposed to a molecule or drug (i.e. a prescription). Thus, a pharma company might be less likely to invest in research for something like ashwagandha because it’s hard to patent plants as exclusive property.
So, even though adaptogens have been used for thousands of years, they weren’t brought into the limelight until Russia started working with them in the 20th century.
The government was looking for a way to make athletes and soldiers a bit stronger, and these adaptogens, specifically ashwagandha were found to have interesting properties that worked with human body. But contrary to what some influencers have been saying,adaptogens do not adapt to what your body needs. However, they do impact a lot of the different systems in your body by causing stress and influencing hormones. Adaptogens expose your body to little amounts of stress, and likewise, they help your body and your brain adapt better to big amounts of stress. For example, there’s a hypothesis that they can help with more significant, physical stresses like working out, mental stresses like test-taking, and even the flu.
There have been a couple of different studies that show this, but what’s weird is that different people have different reactions to ashwagandha, the most typical adaptogen. Some people get a sick stomach, some people get a watery stool, and some get constipation. For some, adaptogens are stimulating. They’ve been reported to keep you awake, wired, and energized. While on the other hand, some people fall asleep and become subdued upon taking them.
Moreover, some medical studies conclude that adaptogens reduce blood sugar and likewise have positive effects for those with blood sugar issues. There was even another study that gave people different amounts or no amounts of ashwagandha. In the end, those who had a higher level of ashwagandha intake had better test-taking abilities. So, the study deduced that ashwagandha could improve your mental function.
This is wonderful, but given all of this, why would adaptogens be called a beauty supplement when it seems to be an overall body supplement? Well, we think of our bodies as separate systems such as the heart and the lungs versus the skin, the hair, and the nails. In turn, marketing caters to this and calls things “beauty supplements.” However, everything works together to keep us protected. Of course, your body prioritizes organs such as the heart and brain over skin, hair, and nails, but all of these are connected. They are an integumentary system. So ultimately, adaptogens are not a beauty supplement. While they might lower stress, and therefore have a positive effect on anti-aging, it’s best not to call any of these adaptogens “beauty supplements”
So, at the end of the day, are adaptogens worth your money? Most importantly, you need to be aware of what you’re taking the adaptogens with and how your body will respond. You should talk to your doctor before using adaptogens, especially ashwagandha because it could dangerously impact other medications or render them ineffective.
For a video explanation from Cassandra on adaptogens, clickhere.