How adaptogens can help with stress management and performance optimization

May 16, 2024
Wie Adaptogene bei Stressmanagement und Leistungsoptimierung helfen können
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How adaptogens can help with stress management and performance optimization  

Adaptogens, a fascinating group of plant-based substances, have had a place in traditional medicine for centuries to help the body better cope with stress. Their popularity has increased in recent years, not least because of the potential benefits for health and wellbeing, including enhancing athletic performance and promoting a healthy diet. Although adaptogens have been used for centuries, their effects and promise for future applications are a subject of ongoing scientific research, highlighting their promising potential for wider use in the future.  


What are adaptogens?  

Adaptogens have a deep-rooted history in traditional medicine systems around the world . They have been used for centuries in Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine to promote the body's balance and protect against stressors.  

Adaptogens, whether natural substances such as herbs and mushrooms or synthetic compounds such as bromantanes, levamisole, aphobazole and bemethyl, play a central role in restoring the body's balance and modulating the stress response. They support the hypothalamic - pituitary - adrenal axis ( HPA axis ) or stress axis and other stress response systems of the body, improving resistance to physical, chemical or biological stressors without increasing oxygen consumption. Meta-analyses have shown that adaptogens can offer numerous benefits in the treatment of chronic fatigue, cognitive impairment and for protecting the immune system. Given these findings, there is great potential for future approval of medical products containing herbal adaptogens for therapeutic purposes.  

Biochemical mode of action  

Biochemically, adaptogens support homeostasis in the body through a variety of mechanisms. They affect the production and secretion of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline by acting on the HPA axis. Some adaptogens also increase the activity of antioxidant enzymes, thereby improving the body's ability to fight oxidative damage and inflammation that can be caused by stress. Compared to other stress management techniques such as pharmacological approaches, adaptogens offer a natural alternative that supports the body , without the need for medication.  

Fig1 : Adaptogens act as a shield against stress: they strengthen the body's resistance, make us less vulnerable to stressors and help us to last longer before we get tired. Instead of quickly becoming exhausted, the body reaches a more stable equilibrium - a type of improved well-being known as heterostasis. The more pronounced this equilibrium, the better the body can adapt to stressful situations. (Panossian, A., & Wikman, G. 2010)  


Main benefits of adaptogens  

Adaptogens offer several health benefits:  

  • Stress management: They help modulate the body's response to stress, resulting in a reduction in overall stress levels. Adaptogens have a stimulating effect without the risk of addiction, tolerance or mental impairment that can occur with traditional stimulants. Their invigorating effect is particularly helpful in cases of fatigue and stress and is based on a stress-protective activity, without negative long-term consequences.  
  • Energy and stamina: Many people report an increase in energy and stamina when taking adaptogens regularly.  
  • Immune support: It is believed that some adaptogens can strengthen the immune system and reduce the incidence of disease.  
  • Mental health: Taking it may also help improve cognitive function and reduce anxiety and depression.  
  • Improve athletic performance: Adaptogens can improve athletic performance by increasing energy production, improving oxygen uptake, and reducing fatigue. They contribute to improved endurance and faster recovery after exercise. Plants such as Rhodiola rosea and Panax ginseng are known for their performance-enhancing properties.  


Here are some of the most popular adaptogens, their main functions and uses:  

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Main functions: reduce stress, improve sleep quality, increase energy and concentration.  

Uses: Commonly used to relieve stress and anxiety, improve cognitive function, and support athletic performance.


Rhodiola Rosea

Main functions: Increase physical and mental endurance, reduce fatigue.  

Uses: Popular for increasing athletic performance, working on challenging projects, and during times of increased stress.  


Ginseng (Panax ginseng)

Main functions: Increase energy, improve cognitive function and the immune system.  

Uses: Commonly used to improve mental clarity and focus, increase energy, and support immune function.


Schisandra Chinensis (Wu Wei Zi)

Main functions: Support liver function, improve endurance and stress management.  

Uses: Used for its antioxidant properties, to support liver health and to improve stress resistance.  



Main functions: increase energy, improve oxygen uptake, support libido.  

Uses: Often used by athletes to increase performance and energy; also popular for its supposed libido-enhancing effects.  


Holy Basil (Tulsi)

Main functions: stress reduction, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  

Uses: Used for stress reduction, immune support, and general health promotion.  


Dosages and intake  

Recommended dosages for adaptogens vary greatly depending on the type and form of the preparation. It is important to start with a low dose and increase it gradually to assess individual tolerance. Intake should be done in cycles, with periods of intake followed by breaks to maximize effectiveness.  

Adaptogens can rarely have side effects or interactions with medications, depending on the type and individual situation. Before taking them, it is advisable to consult a doctor, especially if you have bleeding disorders, high blood pressure or are pregnant.  

Extraction and quality  

The quality of adaptogens is crucial to their effectiveness. They should be sourced from sustainable sources and extracted through standardized extraction processes to ensure the purity and potency of the active ingredients. It is important to choose products from reputable manufacturers who test their products for contaminants and guarantee the effectiveness of the ingredients.  


Adaptogens offer a promising natural way to improve well-being, manage stress, and enhance athletic performance. Their biochemical mode of action, combined with the ability to support the body's balance, makes them a valuable tool in modern nutritional science and wellness. When used correctly, adaptogens can be a safe and effective addition to a healthy lifestyle.  



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