Robb Wolf was talking about 'adaptogens' a few podcasts ago. As I understand, they are supposed to be herbal supplements that normalize hormonal levels. Any experiences with these?
I am not a fan of the term adaptogen. When you read about what it actually means, it seems a bit hippie-ish. But I am interested in people's experiences with various things like the different types of ginseng, etc.
Ideally I would like to lower my cortisol and increase T over estrogen. I'm a dude, and I have a sometimes stressful occupation.
I bought several from 1fast400.com many years ago--vinpocetene, piracetam, rhodiola, etc. Many did nothing, some made me sleepy, some effects were likely placebo.
A friend of mine was doing his medical residency at the time, and gave me wise advice: if you are tempted to take something to adapt to stressful situations that are bound to come up often, it might be better to address the issue itself. Especially since nobody knows the full effects of adaptogens, which are essentially drugs. If I would have taken all the time I spent researching possible effects of these pills, and used it to meditate or hang out with friends, that might have been a better option in retrospect. It's all about dampening the flight-or-flight hormones and nurturing the rest-and-digest hormones!
Since most of us no longer consume brains, we no longer receive as much phosphatidylserine (PS) as paleolithic humans did. There is a little in eggs but not much. This substance is important in that it helps to mediate cortisol response to stress - e.g. helps to adapt to increases in stress.
I've been taking a few hundred mgs per day and no longer feel tired in the early afternoon. One issue is that bovine brain extracted PS is no longer sold due to mad cow disease fears. All PS is now soy derived and thus does not have the added faty acid chains present.
If you look carefully you can find the supplement conjugated with fish derived DHA thus looking on the molecular level resembling the bovine PS used in most of the earlier studies. Italy based Chemi Nutra is supposed to be coming out with a PS conjugated to both DHA and EPA, as is Isreal's Enzyomatic (maker of the soy PS/DHA conjugate).
One other interesting supplement is acetyl-L-carnatine, I take this sometimes during intermittent fasting, as it helps to reset the body's insulin response system; helps to control hunger pangs.
The most used adaptogen is Ginseng. Chinese Red and White, Korean Red and White, Japanese, American and Siberian. They are divided into yin and yang. Chinese and Korean being the most yang. When my wife takes these 2 she gets sleepy. When I take them I am compelled to fight...anything...except her. She is very yang, more than me and I have to borrow the pants if I want to go out. American, which is the most yin, gives her great energy. It is good for me too. Siberian is not a true ginseng yet has many of the same properties. They have given rats the equivalent of 250lbs of Siberian and they can't kill them. You can drink 44 cups of coffee and that amount of caffeine can kill you, if your bladder doesn't burst first. Point being, try them all to see what works for you. Then, as you age, reasses the type and dosage. Best to pick 2 or more adaptagons so you don't build a tolerance. Schizandra, Withania, Ashwaganda are all effective. If yo are diabetic, ginsengs can lower BS. If you are hypertensive, they can raise or lower BP so pay attention. Go to http://www.consumerlab.com/. They are an independant lab that tests most supplements. When I first investigated Ginseng, consumerlabs broke the story that of the top 10 Gnseng supplements, 8 had no ginseng, and the of other 2. one had 9% and the other 10%. Best, go to a Chinatown, buy Ginseng whole root. Slice it, rest overnight in water and chew a tiny piece. Nothing like gettin back to your roots. Just remember, the Chinese say...if you take Ginseng when you are young, what will you take when you are old? I second the reduce your daily stress first, then supplement...or my wife will kick your ass.
an adaptogen is a particular class of medicinal herb that is naturally intelligent. this means if your body is under or over, hypo or hyper, the herb will begin to balance you out. since all nature is interconnected, certain plants have these effects in us. if you think thats "hippy" you are selling reality short and limiting yourself. herbal systems are ancient, but still neolithic. why? because the more we got civilized the more dysfunctions emerged, but nature provides and centuries of experiments have borne out the results, which are the herbal extractions and formulas we see today. when trying herbs, see a qualified practitioner and learn all you can with an open mind. depending on your individuality, herbs will react differently with you. if you want to just try some trusted adapotogens, pick one of these 5 and buy the highest quality you can. like food, quality and processing is everything. reishi, chinese mountain ant, he shou wou, schizandra, deer antler velvet. these can be expensive. if you want lower tier: ginseng, eleuthero, cordyceps.
Ashwagandha is a cool adaptogen, it helped reset my body clock in just a few days when I needed to start going to sleep earlier for work. I'm notorious for finding reasons to stay up late, but after taking it I would get really sensitive to light and I would run around the house turning lights down/off, and then easily crash within 45 minutes.
Siberian Ginseng was a godsend for dealing with postpartum fatigue. I still use it here or there when I feel worn out. It can take a week or two of taking it daily before you really notice the difference in energy though.
Several year ago I tried Vitex for a few months and later Maca for a few months. I did this on the theory that out of balance hormones were possibly causing or contributing to migraines. Alas, taking the above supplements had no noticeable effect whatsoever.
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