If you have had the pleasure of taking an adrenal adaptagens during times of stress, you know the positive benefits they can have. But have you ever consider whether they may be also helping your gut?
For those who do not know, an adrenal adaptagen is a type of herb known for its ability to balance and support functional aspects of our adrenals, the two glands that sit on top of our kidneys and manage how our body responds to all kinds of stress.
By balancing our adrenal response, adaptagens help us with all the symptoms of stress such as blood sugar issues, headaches, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, weight gain and sleep issues to name a few.
The relationship between stress and gastrointestinal function is well-established. Stress can affect stomach acid secretions, movement of food through the GI tract and can affect the health of the gut lining , including playing a role in developing leaky gut. Stress can also play havoc with our good bacteria levels.
With researchers now recommending treatment of the gut for brain and nervous system issues such as depression, anxiety and other stress-related conditions , it is perhaps fitting that we look at supplements that are typically recommended for stress and their potential benefits for the gut. After all, the brain-gut connection goes both ways.
Is it really such a stretch to think that supplements that help regulate our stress response may also have a positive effect on the GI tract?
It was this in mind, I looked into the research of adrenal adaptagens to see if researchers were thinking as I was. This is just a snap shot of the information but it shows that taking supplements for stress may have benefits for the GI tract, which means one supplement can have more than one benefit.
Here is the information based on the current research for some of the adrenal adaptagens:
Ashwagandha may reduce the incidence of stress-induced ulcers. It also has antibacterial , anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant abilities.
Astragalus is primarily known for helping the immune system fight colds and flus. However, research has found that much if its regulation of the immune system occurs in the gut with astragulus having a direct effect on the enteric gut mucosa. It has also shown some protective ability for preventing damage to the intestinal wall lining.
Schizandra Berries are adaptagenic not just for the adrenals but for stomach acid as well. Stress is known too cause too much stomach acid in some people and too little in others. Schizandra regulates the process, helping those with too little make more and it can reduce excessive acid in those who produce too much.
Rhodiola is also antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and has shown some anticancer properties
Licorice is well-known for it ability to help with heartburn, gastritis and ulcer but it may also help with leaky gut. It’s known as a demulcent which means it can soothe both the stomach lining and the intestinal lining and lower inflammation for both. It is also anti-spasmodic so it can help with intestinal cramping and it is a natural laxative.
Cordyceps is a type of caterpillar fungus – that’s right, it is a fungus found in a caterpillar – makes you wonder who discovered it’s valuable properties and how. It is , of course, another adaptagen and it aids the protection of the gut lining. It promotes the health of the intestinal wall lining cells and restores the tight gap junctions between the cells of the lining, which is essential for keeping the gut closed.
Asian Ginseng, also known as panax ginseng, is metabolized by good bacteria to produce metabolites of its phytonutrients. It is these metabolites that gives ginseng its adatagenic qualities. This includes the ability to help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels. Ginseng is also known to aid digestive upset and prevent the formation of ulcers. It has not been studied as much as some of the other herbs for it’s intestinal properties.
Holy Basil is best known for helping with anxiety and depression but it also has some key GI tract benefits. It is anti-fungal, antibacterial and can help prevent and heal ulcers.
The exact mechanisms that allow these herbs to help the GI tract are not known. More research is needed. The good news is that since adaptagens have multiple benefits, it makes them an easy choice especially if you want to limit the amount of supplements you take.
Adaptagens also come in formulas. You can thank the supplement companies for combining several of these herbs into one supplement. Just ask at the health food store to see the different ones available. And don’t be surprised if you see an adrenal adaptagen in an intestinal formula.
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- An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda, Narendra Singh, Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2011; 8(5 Suppl): 208–213.
- Immunomodulatory and CNS effects of sitoindosides IX and X, two new glycowithanolides from Withania somnifera Ghosal S, Lal J, Srivastava R, Bhattacharya SK, Upadhyay SN, Jaiswal AK, et al. Phytother Res. 1989;3:201–6.
- Bioactive compounds from Rhodiola rosea (Crassulaceae). Ming DS1 et al, Phytother Res. 2005 Sep;19(9):740-3.
- Antiulcer activities of liquorice and its derivatives in experimental gastric lesion induced by ibuprofen in rats, A.R. Dehpour et al, International Journal of Pharmaceutics, Volume 119, Issue 2, 9 June 1995, Pages 133–138
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- Protective effect of Astragalus membranaceus on intestinal mucosa reperfusion injury after hemorrhagic shock in rats, Zi-Qing Hei et al, World J Gastroenterol. 2005 Aug 28; 11(32): 4986–4991
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- Chemical composition and antifungal activity of holy basil oil against Pestalotiopsis palmarum, Chinara, N.; Dash, S. N.; Swain, N. C.; Sahoo, S., Journal of Plant Protection and Environment 2011 Vol. 8 No. 2 pp. 110-111
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