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    Posted June 29, 2009 by
    Columbia, South Carolina
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Vital Signs


    What are Adaptogens?


    In the 1980’s the “buzzword” for the health and wellness community was “anti-oxidants”; today there is a new movement sweeping the community, “adaptogens”.


    The benefits of these plants now classified as adaptogens are not new. Many have been used for centuries by herbalists and heath practioners. What is relatively new is the grouping of these 30 beneficial plants into a category and given the term adaptogen.


    For the non scientist, the best way to understand why adaptogens are creating such a stir is to look at what they do. Simply put, adaptogens help the cells of your body “adapt” to stressors. Let’s take a quick look at “stressors”. Stress can come in many shapes and sizes. Most commonly thought of as an emotional response to a stimulus, whether that is traffic, kids, a nasty boss, whatever; it is really much more. Stress to your body can also be physical (lack of sleep, improper nutrition, response to injury, sedentary lifestyle and even the opposite overexertion in exercise) as well as environmental (toxins in health care products, pollutants in the air, water and foods, artificial ingredients in nutritional supplements and foods). The tricky part is that these three can be interrelated. For example, the body’s natural chemical balance could be thrown off due to lack of sleep that comes from worrying about the economy which in turn is exacerbated by overeating of chemical and toxin ridden junk food or over consumption of alcohol which in turn throws off our body chemistry and causes us to overreact emotionally to life which in turn causes us to lose energy levels and while sitting around worrying we overeat, under exercise and worry more.
    Does that cycle sound familiar? It is way too common when things get so out of balance and we begin to notice negative effects in our health. That is why the American Medical Association has stated numerous times that stress causes over 80% of all non emergency trips to the doctor’s office or hospital. Stop and think about that a minute – over 80%! Well meaning, main stream physicians have been trained that natural remedies are something to be smirked at, and have all too ready pharmaceutical companies ready and waiting with medications to treat one isolated physical issue or another.


    The compounded results of years of this disjointed view of health has resulted in a population that seem to feel that we were born into a state of "unhealthy" and thus need to take pills daily! Does that sound extreme? Stop for a minute and consider how many people over age 45 that you know that are NOT on a daily medication either to prevent something from happening later in life or to correct for something else. I would guess that the majority are taking something and that those that are not on any medication are the minority. Luckily, it is becoming more and more widely accepted (albeit grudgingly) that emotional, environmental and physical factors are interrelated in terms of our overall health. People and wellness practioners are looking for natural remedies to help rid us of these stressors, no matter where they originate.
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