The holistic approach towards achieving optimal health has been a growing topic in modern wellness culture, as more individuals begin to recognize the all-encompassing benefits of nature-derived medicine.
With a seemingly endless array of cutting-edge supplements flooding the wellness market, it can be overwhelming to discern which one is truly worth your time and investment. So, how does one decipher a flourish from a flop?
Today, we will break down some of the most powerful and appraised plants that have been proven to be effective supplements for a variety of health demands, from mental health to sex drive.
If you’re seeking to elevate your mental well-being and enhance aspects such as focus and mood, you may consider embracing the power of one or more of these medicinal ingredients as an integral part of your supplement regimen, for a range of beneficial purposes.
- Maca Root (Hormone Health, Adaptogenic, Energizing)
Amongst the powerful group of adaptogenic herbs, is the robust superfood native to the Andes of Peru called maca root.
At first glance, the maca root may blend seamlessly in the produce section as a generic root vegetable, but let it be known that the maca root hosts more power than the average cruciferous dinner side.
Maca root is generously packed with vitamins and minerals, exceeding over 50 health-boosting phyto-chemicals known to support and promote optimal health.
The powerful root is also a potent adaptogen, aiding in proper hormone production by supporting the entire endocrine system. Because of maca root’s effectiveness on hormone health, the plant has become utilized to manage symptoms in areas such as menopause, PMS, and fertility issues in women.
The root has also been analyzed as an aphrodisiac, thought to enhance libido and improve sexual function in both men and women. Because of its aphrodisiac qualities, maca root is thought to be an effective supplement for those who have undergone libido depletion as a result of hormone imbalance.
Looking for a midday energy boost without caffeine? Look no further. Preliminary evidence suggests that maca root may host energy-boosting qualities, acting as a gentle stimulant which may be connected to its ability to stabilize blood glucose levels. Unlike caffeine, maca root won’t adversely impact the nervous system, giving you a surge of energy without the anxious jitters or afternoon crash.
- Ashwagandha (Mental Health Support, Stress Management, Immune Function)
Formally addressed as Withania Somnifera, is a highly-recognized adaptogenic herb native to the dry regions of India, North Africa, and the Middle East — most commonly known as ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha has garnered significant attention in recent years, due to its rising popularity as an effective supplement for managing symptoms associated with common mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.
The appraised herb has a rich medicinal history in Ayurvedic medicine, belonging to a subgroup of Rasayanas known as Medhyarasayanas. Medhya in Ayurveda commonly refers to mental function/capacity, meaning ashwagandha has often been used to enhance intellect and improve cognitive function in individuals with cognitive impairment.
In wellness culture today, Ashwagandha is best-known for its stress-lowering and anxiolytic effects.
The herb has been shown to reduce cortisol levels — a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Daily doses of ashwagandha has been shown to lower cortisol levels significantly, making it an effective supplement for those seeking to manage stress levels and/or mitigate anxiety.
A study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in 2020, reported that ashwagandha supplementation improved depressive symptoms in individuals with major depressive disorder.
While the exact antidepressant mechanisms of ashwagandha should be addressed further, it is thought that ashwagandha has the ability to block certain nervous system activity associated with anxiety, depression, and insomnia. This, in conjunction with ashwagandha’s potent adaptogenic qualities, would suggest that the herb may improve mental health and manage stress through multiple pathways.
Ashwagandha’s impact on mental health may also be associated with its modulation of neurotransmitters, including happy hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, and GABA. An increase in these neurotransmitters may allot for feelings of energy, focus, uplifted mood, proper sleep, lower stress, and more. Because of this, ashwagandha is thought to be an effective mood-boosting herb when taken regularly.
Aside from its many beneficial effects on mental health, ashwagandha has been shown to improve immune function thanks to its immunomodulatory properties. Studies show that ashwagandha may stimulate certain immune cells, which play a vital role in immune defense against pathogens.
The herb’s high anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity may also assist the immune system, by reducing chronic inflammation and protecting immune cells from oxidative damage.
- Guduchi (Antioxidant, Digestive Health, Anxiety Reduction)
Also known as Amrita in Sanskrit, guduchi has coined the name “nectar of immortality,” in relation to the plethora of expansive health benefits the plant has to offer.
In Ayurveda, which is a well-known alternative medicine system in India, guduchi is considered an adaptogenic herb hosting a range of immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.
Guduchi remains a staple in ayurvedic medicine as it is believed to be a safe and effective method toward enhancing health and well-being, to which its health benefits may also have a positive effect on daily life when integrated in a well-balanced regimen.
Free radicals, aka unstable molecules that can damage cells, are implicated in various health conditions as well as illness and aging. The high-antioxidant properties of guduchi can protect the body from free radicals, preventing unwanted tissue damage and improving skin health.
Additionally, guduchi’s anti-inflammatory effects may help alleviate respiratory issues like recurring cough and asthma, caused by inflammation in the airways. Furthermore, guduchi may also aid in reducing chronic pain associated with inflammation, making guduchi a great supplement for alleviating discomfort caused by inflammatory conditions.
Guduchi is believed to strengthen and stimulate digestion, helping to promote smooth bowel movements and reduce abdominal discomfort. Additionally, guduchi is thought to balance intestinal flora, supporting a healthy gut microbiota. Guduchi’s effect on digestive health may correlate with its anti-inflammatory properties, as inflammation in the gut is a common factor in various gastrointestinal disorders.
Research has explored guduchi’s anxiolytic properties also, which suggest that it may enhance the body’s resilience to stress while promoting a sense of calm in both the mind and body.
These studies indicate that the adaptogenic properties of guduchi may possess the ability to modulate the body’s response to stress, potentially offering support in the management of anxiety and depression symptoms.
As adaptogens become the leading form of supplement in wellness culture, there truly are an endless number of nature-bound gifts to choose from.
While mostly all adaptogenic herbs are considered safe and non-toxic, it is important to consult with a qualified healthcare professional if you are currently prescribed other medications to ensure safety and success.