How Do Adaptogens Work BLOG HEADER


How Do Adaptogens Work?

Adaptogens help the body manage stress responses associated with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathetic-adrenal-medullary (SAM) system. These intricate systems regulate nervous, immune, and endocrine functions. The SAM system initiates immediate “fight or flight” reactions to stressors, while the HPA axis manages longer-term stress and strives to restore balance once the stressor diminishes.


The physical manifestations of the fight-or-flight response include accelerated heartbeat and breathing, tense muscles, sweating, and dilated pupils. This response constitutes the initial stage of the general adaptation syndrome (GAS), a concept introduced by endocrinologist Hans Selye, which outlines the body’s reaction to stress in three phases: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. This framework illuminates how the SAM system and HPA axis function during the body’s stress response, highlighting their roles in stress management and adaptive resilience.


The HPA axis temporarily increases stress hormones like cortisol to restore balance and keep your body functioning. Cortisol helps regulate inflammation and stress. Excessive cortisol levels can lead to health issues such as anxiety, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune response. The coordinated action of the SAM system and HPA axis involves the release of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream, facilitating a surge of energy and strength to confront imminent threats.


Adaptogens interact with the HPA axis to help balance and reduce the release of cortisol. Upon consumption, adaptogens’ natural properties and compounds synergize with the HPA axis to restore balance within the body’s systems. They exert their stress-protective effect during the Alarm and Resistance stages by moderating the intensity of stress reactions. The stimulating effects of adaptogens help to prolong the Resistance phase, providing a boost in energy and mental performance that delays the onset and reduces the severity of the Exhaustion stage. Additionally, adaptogens aid in lowering hormone levels if they are too high and replenishing them if they are too low.


Adaptogens work dynamically, meaning they respond to the body’s needs and adjust accordingly. They can regulate various bodily functions depending on what the body requires at any given time.

  • Calming the System and Boosting Energy: adaptogens have the unique capability to both calm the body’s stress response and increase energy levels. When the body is under stress, adaptogens help reduce the production of stress hormones like cortisol, which promotes a sense of calmness. At the same time, they support energy production mechanisms within the body, providing a natural boost without causing overstimulation or jitteriness. Unlike quick fixes such as sugar or caffeine, adaptogens support the body’s internal systems in building resilience for long-term wellness. While stimulants may offer temporary relief from fatigue, they can ultimately deplete energy reserves over time.
  • Normalizing Imbalances: One of the key roles of adaptogens is to restore balance within the body. If certain hormones or bodily functions are out of equilibrium, adaptogens help bring them back into a more optimal range. This balancing act supports overall health and well-being.
  • Facilitating Detoxification: adaptogens aid in the body’s natural detoxification processes by assisting in the elimination of harmful byproducts generated during metabolic activities. 
  • Interaction with the Immune System: Studies suggest adaptogens also interact with the immune system, aiding the body in regulating energy utilization and maintaining robust immune defenses.


Potential Risks and Side Effects of Adaptogenic Herbs

Before incorporating adaptogens into your routine, it’s important to consider a few factors despite their gentle and nontoxic nature.


  • Interactions with other medications are a concern. If you’re on prescribed medication, it’s advisable to consult with your doctor or seek guidance from a naturopath or herbalist before introducing adaptogens. Your chosen adaptogen could interfere with the effects of your current medications.
  • It’s important to note that adaptogens aren’t universally suitable for everyone. Just because a friend benefitted from a particular adaptogen doesn’t guarantee the same outcome for you. Due to individual variations, it’s advised to research which adaptogen(s) may align best with your health needs. Additionally, if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or immunocompromised, and contemplating adaptogen use, consult a healthcare professional.
  • Lastly, optimal usage entails moderation. Health experts recommend a gradual intake of adaptogenic herbs over six to twelve weeks unless otherwise advised by a healthcare provider. Consuming large doses in one go may lead to unpleasant side effects such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or headaches.


To wrap it all up, adaptogens offer a holistic approach to stress management by harmonizing the body’s intricate systems. Their dynamic nature allows them to adapt to the body’s needs, whether it’s calming the system, boosting energy, normalizing imbalances, or facilitating detoxification and immune function. As with everything we put into our bodies, we should always act with caution, considering potential interactions with medications, individual suitability, and the importance of moderation. By understanding these factors, we can harness the benefits of adaptogens effectively.


At Harmony Craft Beverages, we’re excited to harness the power of adaptogens to create innovative products. If you’re interested in joining us on this journey, reach out to our team.

Next week we will explore the benefits of adaptogens, stay tuned and we hope you enjoyed learning about adaptogens. Remember, research on adaptogens is ongoing, and as new developments arise, our insights and educational materials will evolve too.