What are Adaptogenic Herbs?
If you have an autoimmune condition, struggle with healing symptoms outside of the standard pharmaceutical realms, or you are interested in keeping symptoms of adrenal fatigue at bay then you’ve probably heard of adaptogenic herbs.
Adaptogenic herbs can possibly be really good for us. I personally am not able to use them as they do not fair well for me, but I cannot ignore the hype they have produced for others. There is not a ton of scientific data on adaptogenic herbs but their presence in Chinese and Eastern medicine has allotted them a positive reputation. I have gone ahead and compiled the alleged uses for each of the most popular herbs below. Please note that because the scientific data is not fully present for all of these, that you should consult with a doctor before introducing them into your wellness regime.
These herbs have been used in Chinese and Eastern medicine for thousands of years. Recently they have gained momentum amongst the paleosphere because of their medicinal, natural properties that have minimal side effects. Adaptogenic herbs are most commonly known for their role in aiding and helping eliminate adrenal fatigue. (What is adrenal fatigue? Check out my thoughts on this condition here) They have been making headlines consistently for their cortisol lowering properties, in turn, supporting positive hormonal health.
To meet the qualifications, an herb must be nontoxic, the benefits of the herb must be nonspecific, meaning it has an overall positive effect on the bodies resistance to stress, and lastly all bodily functions are being balanced not just the areas causing inflammation or distress. Adaptogens, nonetheless, are called so because of their ability to help the body adapt to stressors.
Commonly, people seeking these adaptogenic herbs often are looking for relief from the following:
Maybe these herbs can aid in these conditions. BUT – if you haven’t tried healing your gut, eliminating processed foods and the Standard American Diet, or taken additional steps for long-term better health, then adaptogenic herbs will not be the cure-all. When used responsibly, these are apart of an entire regime of well-rounded health, rather than just a band-aid.
Well Known Adaptogenic Herbs
Adaptogenic herbs are well studied in the herbalist communities for their variety of uses. As noted by the Paleo Mom, adaptogens have either a stimulating or relaxing effect, so it is best to know where your cortisol levels are at before selecting an herb.
Maca – This well-known root is known to increase stamina, libido, sexual function, improve mood, energy and strength. There are three distinct types, red, black, and yellow maca. Black maca has been found to have the highest increase in sperm production. Maca contains a large quantity of Vitamin C but also contains phytonutrients.
Holy Basil – Holy Basil is known most for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, being on the stimulating end of adaptogenic herbs, but only mildly stimulating. Holy Basil is used to help combat brain fog and improve concentration. Holy Basil also supports blood sugar regulation and improves digestive issues such as gas.
Ashwagandha– A well-known Ayurveda medicinal plant, Ashwagandha is best known for treating adrenal fatigue. Being the most relaxing of the adaptogenic herbs, Ashwagandha carries anti-depression and anti-anxiety effects. Ashwagandha is a nightshade though, so those on the autoimmune protocol should be wary.
Golden Root – A more stimulatory adaptogenic herb, golden root or Rhodiola Rosea increases endurance, reduces fatigue and has been used to help aid depression. Those who are dealing with a stressful job or daily activity could consider this as an option. It has been known to support those that have cancer, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, type II diabetes, and heart issues.
Golden root is a stimulating adaptogen. It has been known to cause insomnia in those who are sensitive, and can be drying on the body. Use with caution if you have constipation or dry mouth.
Asian Ginseng – Considered the most stimulating, this herb supports cortisol production. It contains more than 35 Ginsenosides which produce anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer, and immune modulating effects in lab research. One study indicated Gingko Bioba and Panax Ginseng possess anti-stress properties in rats. Healing properties vary based on root age, species of ginseng, and where and how it was harvested. This adaptogenic herb can increase anxiety and insomnia.
Siberian Gingseng or Eleuthero–Another mildly stimulating adaptogen, Siberian Ginseng is used to improve mood, increase the performance of physical activity and assist in resistance to stress and infections. This is a great herb to supplement with during times of chronic stress. Different than other versions, Siberian Ginseng has less impact on increasing anxiety and insomnia. Eleuthero can also raise low DHEA levels.
Gotu Kola – This herb is relaxing, and may have cognitive benefits. Gotu Kola is a well-known treatment for varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency. It has been used to aid psoriasis symptoms also. Gotu Kola contains Triterpenoids, which strengthen skin, increase blood flow, and stimulate antioxidants in open wounds. There is some speculation that Triterpenoids have anti-anxiety effects as well.
Adaptogenic mushrooms – Mushrooms including Reishi have become a popular adaptogenic herb for those looking for alternate medicinal properties. They are known to reduce inflammation, can promote sleep, and contain antioxidants. They include the following:
- Lion’s Mane
- Turkey Tail
So How Do You Take Them?
Adaptogenic herbs can be found in pill or powder form, typically.
Adaptogenic herbs may increase blood flow and bleeding, so those with anti-clotting diseases must be advised. They can also lower blood sugar levels which may be dangerous for those on diabetic medication. Women who are breastfeeding or pregnant, those on medications, or with autoimmune conditions should consult with their doctor before ingesting.
Adaptogenic herbs have been used in traditional healing techniques for thousands of years. Their natural healing properties are being studied more and more today, as assistants to pharmaceutical medications. Their healing properties cannot be denied, however before you consider using any type of adaptogenic herbs contact your physician first. Side effects vary for each herb, and drug interactions may occur.
What is your verdict? Would you consider using adaptogenic herbs as a supplementation?
Surprise – It’s the holiday season! If you’re like me, you probably put off holiday shopping until last minute. Every year I use Black Friday as a benchmark; if I haven’t started holiday shopping by then, I am probably in hot water. But time and time again, LIFE HAPPENS. And it always will.
Somethings different this year. I am actually feeling extremely prepared for the holiday season (despite my unfortunately long list of gifts to purchase still). With this awesome collection of tools to maintain my chill, and this FANTASTIC gift guide I have compiled, you will feel caught up, relaxed and ready for the holidays in no time.
This post features items for the foodies in your life, the athletes, the beauty fanatics, and more.
I hope this list will help streamline your holiday shopping and save you some time this year. All of these items are available online, so you don’t even need to leave the house! Stay in those slippers and pajamas, pour yourself a cup of tea, and check out the 2017 Paleo for Women Holiday Gift Guide.
For the Foodies:
The queen of the instant pot is at it again. Michelle Tam and Henry Fong recently released this cookbook with over 150 new recipes including options to make meals ahead, right now, or make-over!
This updated version of the “Paleo Bible”- Practical Paleo, is stock full of meal plans, cooking tips, and brand new recipes.
Primal Palate has many different gift sets, including a Sweet Set, Grill and Griddle, and an Everyday AIP Blend. The Signature blend happens to be my favorite.
This Taza Chocolate sampler is really a stellar gift for anyone on your list. Did I mention this Taza set is gluten free, soy free, organic and kosher?
Thrive Market has had a lot of buzz on the Well-Fed Woman podcast recently, and for a good reason. You basically never have to grocery shop in person again. Our $60.00 of free groceries offer is still a current promotion, click here to check it out. This would be a great gift for a partner or a new parent!
I couldn’t leave out ButcherBox on this list. I have several relatives in mind that would love this as a gift AND you get $10 off and free bacon with your first order.
With Ava Jane’s membership program, you can choose to have two or four bottles delivered quarterly instead of worrying about grabbing it while you are out. — may remove this one, this is the strange affiliate
The Instant Pot has been gaining momentum for years. It can be used as a pressure cooker, steamer, and so much more.
I gifted one of these to my friends last year and it has been a mutually beneficial gift. I have been receiving copious amounts of dill and basil from her as a result. She is able to grow fresh herbs, all year long!
For the Athlete:
I have had a Fitbit for about two years now, and I love it. Having a Fitbit is a great benchmark for daily activity, and the bands come in a wide variety of colors. This particular one monitors sleep quality and movement.
Looking for the best way to get fit this holiday season, or maybe starting in the New Year? Check out Noelle’s Strong From Home program. You get a workout library, motivational guide, and SO much more.
I have gone through so many water bottles that at a certain point I stopped buying them. However, S’wells double insulated bottle keeps water cool and tea hot for an insane amount of time. And the bottle design is unique, beautiful, and durable.
These headphones are great for working out, and they are bluetooth and EMF radiation free.
Okay so the name isn’t super appealing but this stuff is worth it. It smells like lavender and is the longest lasting natural deodorant I have tried. (and I have tried a lot.)
This sports bra is no joke. It literally does what the name states, taming the ta ta’s. It is amazing and supportive for women with a larger bust, especially during high intensity or cardio workouts.
The Beauty Lover:
Make 2018 your best skin year ever. With my new program Clear Skin Unlocked, clear skin for good can now be a reality!
We have talked about breathing and meditation a lot on the Well Fed Woman podcast. If you’re interested in getting your feet wet, this mediation set is for you. This set contains Palo Santo wood White Sage and Artisanal Incense Sticks, all thought to cleanse the air and atmosphere around you. The set is a perfect addition to a hot bath.
I recently discovered this line of mineral skincare from Annmarie, and the variety of colors and coverage are really what kept me coming back for more. Try the sample kit, here.
This fantastic line of all natural, gluten-free, paleo and vegan hair care treatment is a step by step system customized to give you healthy, clean and shiny hair.
These colors though! This set truly is a perfect range of nudes. If nudes aren’t your cup of tea, there are so many other options to try including bright reds and pinks.
Good Luck and Happy Shopping, Loves!
I recently tested a full line of paleo hair care from Morrocco Method. I was pretty hesitant about taking this on; I haven’t had luck with any of the natural hair care methods (don’t even get me started on the NO ‘POO movement).
I was pretty pleasantly surprised with Morrocco Method’s product. It didn’t leave my hair greasy or stringy like most natural products and it also didn’t overly dry my hair.
So when I was approached by Morrocco Method to give their styling gel a try, I decided to do it.
I know what you’re thinking! Hair gel was a disaster movement of the 90’s, loved by prepubescent boys and girls with hair that always looked wet.
I STAND CORRECTED. This is not the hair gel of the past. This stuff is multifaceted and can be used not only as a styling agent but as :
- Sunburn relief
- To soften cuticles before a mani or a pedi
- Combine with water in a spray bottle to replace chemical hairspray
- Provides itch relief caused by bug bites and mild skin irritation
While being multifaceted, it also isn’t full of crap. I can have beautifully styled hair without feeling like I dumped chemicals all over my head! This is a paleo, gluten-free and vegan product. The styling gel also has this primal, earthy smell to it which I love.
The gel actually left beachy waves in my hair, which is pretty unheard of even for the chemical filled products. And the waves weren’t crunchy at all. It should probably be noted that I have finer hair, but a lot of it.
So how to use it?
You can apply to wet or dry hair. I found that applying to wet hair and then letting my hair air dry resulted in the best beachy waves. When I applied while dry it offered more hold, but it seemed to work best when I was styling my hair as straight.
So maybe you’re on the fence about trying hair gel. With its history, I don’t blame you! I think if you are curious about trying a styling gel, then this is absolutely the one. It probably won’t be an everyday type of product for me, but it definitely is great for days and nights when you need a stronger hold.
PfW followers can get 15% off using this coupon code – PFW15
Check it out, here!
If you are a PfW frequenter, you know how much of a fan I am of ButcherBox. ButcherBox delivers 100% grass fed beef, free range organic chicken, and heritage breed pork straight to your door. Their meat is also 100% grass finished, and raised free from antibiotics and hormones.
ButcherBox just hooked up PfW followers with an amazing Black Friday deal. Sign up for your first box and you pick between 6 free steaks, or $100 of free wine.
Seriously! The last thing I need to fit into my holiday and finals schedule is grocery shopping. And, I definitely haven’t started my Christmas shopping yet, so this deal came at the PERFECT TIME.
ButcherBox is insanely helpful throughout the year, but even more so while things get busier around the holidays.
Check out the details below!
This deal scores you
- 2 Ribeyes
- 2 NY Strips AND
- 2 Filet Mignons FOR FREE.
This is a ridiculous amount of protein. You are stocked for at least a week with just this bundle of free steaks.The Filet Mignons (2 x 6oz) are one of the most tender, well-known, and expensive steaks. Ribeye Steaks (2 x 10oz) are often called the Crown Jewel of the Steakhouse—they’re so tender you can cut them with a fork. NY Strips (2 x 10oz) are a steakhouse favorite with good marbling, a strong flavor and great texture.
Click here to get the Ultimate Steak Bundle.
$100 of FREE wine from Dry Farm Wines – Yes. You read that right. This is good for three bottles from Dry Farm Wines. The best part is that you get to pick your free bottles, they’re not a pre-selected.
Dry Farm Wines is an awesome company with a good mindset and mission. They curate only the highest quality natural wines from small, organic family farms that meet strict standards of health. Unlike today’s commercialized and processed wines, this is real wine. Nothing added, nothing removed. They are friendly to all diets (including Paleo and Keto), and are the perfect complement to your grass-fed meat.
Click here to get the free wine bundle.
So keep in mind, this deal is only good starting today, Friday, November 24th until midnight on Tuesday, November, 28th.
Personally, I am most interested in this obnoxiously large quantity of meat for such a good deal. What about you? Are you more of a wine lover, or steak fan?
I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving!
MCT oil has been a big deal in the paleosphere since bulletproof coffee surfaced as the new wellness trend.
While I’m not a huge fan of dosing myself with caffeine and fat while fasting (in fact, I never do it), I do really believe that MCT oil can have some great benefits. I use it while cooking sometimes (this is my fave). This is because MCT Oil may be able to surpass coconut oil for its nutritional, physical and cognitive benefits.
What is MCT Oil?
MCT’s, or Medium Chain Triglycerides, are a form of fat that is digested differently than an LCT (long chain triglycerides) or SCT (short chain triglycerides). (For more detail on the molecule content, click here.) They’re unique because short chain and long chain triglycerides are metabolized in the digestive system. MCT’s are metabolized in the liver for faster, cleaner conversion to energy or ketones. Ketones are the highly valued component in the ketogenic diet.
While I am not the biggest fan of ketosis, ketones can be wonderful.
4 types of MCT
There are four types of MCT’s, distinguished by carbon content.
C6 – Caproic Acid : is one type of MCT, the shortest of the medium chain triglycerides. This MCT is known as the MCT behind “disaster pants” or a negative digestive side effect resulting in immediate bouts of diarrhea.
C8 – Caprylic Acid : This MCT contains 8 carbon molecules. Because of the smaller amount of carbon content, C8 is easily transferred metabolized into ketones in the liver resulting in instantaneous bursts of energy.
C10 – Capric Acid : This MCT contains ten carbons. The addition of two extra carbons means the MCT reaction is more delayed in the body than C8, but still faster than C12.
C12 – Lauric Acid : The longest of the medium chain triglycerides, C12 is also closest to resembling the molecular structure of an LCT. Like C10, C12 is digested in the liver the slowest, and ketone production can only occur if you are on a low carb diet.
Why are people using MCT oil to begin with?
- Eliminating Brain Fog
Because the carbon content of these triglycerides is less than that of their shorter and longer cousins, they are digested faster and more readily resulting in a more immediate release of energy and clarity. In addition, MCT’s do not require additional energy to digest or be metabolized in the body, so the energy you receive from consuming MCT’s can immediately turn over into a clean form of energy.
With all the commotion regarding ketogenic diets these days, MCT’s have been put in the spotlight as commonly seen as an important partner for those on the ketosis diet. Many people who try to do ketosis focus on MCT oil because it further helps their body build up ketone levels in the blood. Interestingly enough, eating a low or zero carb diet, contrary to popular opinion, is not necessary to have ketones in the blood, exactly because you can achieve the same effect from MCT oil. To read more about this ‘shortcut,’ check out this post.
- Gut and Skin health
MCT’s containing Lauric Acid (from coconut oil) are known to be antiviral and antibacterial. This has led researchers to believe that MCT’s can contribute to healthy gut flora by stabilizing the bad bacteria. The derivative of Lauric Acid, Monolaurin, has shown antimicrobial activity against bacteria, fungi and viruses. Lauric Acid is also known to have anti-inflammatory properties against acne. This combined with its antimicrobial properties make it a great supplement to promote a healthy gut reduce inflammation.
- Weight Loss
This is a debated topic amongst MCT consumers. Many believe that MCT aids in weight loss, and several studies conducted contribute to this mindset. This study compared individuals using LCT vs MCT and in the course of 4, 8, and 12 weeks demonstrated that those ingesting MCT’s “lost more subcutaneous fat than their counterparts using only LCT.” A lot of this can be attributed to the satiety produced by consuming MCT’s resulting in less consumption of food overall. This inhibits our leptin receptors which also may lead to increased overall satiety. Curious regarding the other ways leptin affects us? Check out this post here.
(I happen to have a program for healthy and sustainable weight loss if you’re into that sort of thing, which you can check out here!)
How to use it
MCT can be found in coconut and palm oils and high fat dairy products, but is most commonly used in a liquid form, like this one that I have been using. Mixing with coffee or tea in the morning is a common and effortless way to ingest the MCT’s. Start small first, and work your way up to the recommended dose. My friends say a good way to start is by putting a teaspoon in coffee, but I mainly stick to using it in food as that can have less digestive effects. If you do use the coffee method, I recommend consistently stirring or whisking your coffee or tea, as the oil can congeal towards the top of your beverage.
MCT oil can be used in :
- Teas or Coffee
In food sources, MCT is most highly concentrated in palm oil, and then coconut oil. High quality cheese also contains a substantial amount of MCT’s. Goat’s milk total percent fat content of MCT’s is 19.8%, however it is barely near the 79% found in palm oil. For a full chart of foods containing MCT’s, click here.
MCT oil really has no drawbacks, so long as you’re using a high quality source.
MCT’s ability to be metabolized in the liver and immediately make ketones creates a clean instant burst of energy that lasts. This is perhaps my favorite part – the long energy and satiation.
Also, because of the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties found in Lauric Acid, MCT oil can also be an excellent way for those with autoimmune conditions to metabolize fat and boost immune systems. MCT can stray leptin cues however, so ensure you are listening to your body and feeding it the proper amount of food while supplementing, especially carbs!!
I would love to know about your experiences. Have you tried MCT oil? If so, what was your experience like?
We all know and have lived the madness of fall, a season quickly becoming known otherwise as Pumpkin Spice season. I find it difficult to look anywhere and not be bombarded by Pumpkin Spice EVERYTHING.
Seriously. Everything comes in pumpkin spice flavor these days.
While enticing, so many of the Pumpkin Spice products are highly processed and don’t contain even a small bit of the nutrients found in pumpkin (the amount of nutritional goodness in pumpkin and pumpkin seeds is mindblowing!)
BUT, that does not mean you have to miss out on Pumpkin Spice season. Luckily, so many of our paleo friends have experimented with healthier recipes that are delicious, great alternatives.
Below I have gathered a few of my favorite pumpkin spice treats, including a paleo Pumpkin Spice Latte. The recipes are great because they enhance the cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice flavors instead of masking them with artificial ingredients and yucky chemicals.
Basically – these are the least basic pumpkin recipes you can find. If baking isn’t your thing, check out this post with some of my fav pre-made paleo pumpkin spice goodies.
Check out my favorite pumpkin recipes below – and find even more on my Pinterest page.
I would love to know what recipes you try! Leave a comment with your favorite recipe.
Lots of love,