While eating a balanced diet is critical for healthy living, you need other non-nutrients to achieve wholesome health. I have often discussed the hormonal benefits of adaptogens in many of my articles. Adaptogens are some of the non-nutrients whose properties include balancing hormones such as testosterone and reducing stress. But, what are adaptogens? Well in this article I will finally go into more depth of the science of how adaptogens play a positive role on our hormones and how they can help increase testosterone production naturally.
What are adaptogens?
Adaptogens are plant based natural substances that help the body to adapt or deal with environmental and physiological stresses. They work by restoring the body’s physiological functions thereby supporting helping the body to respond to stress while enhancing production of energy and overall quality of life. And although adaptogens have a healing effect on the body, they cannot be classified as either sedative or stimulant. They are, therefore, not addictive and are safe for long-term use.
It is not exactly clear adaptogens work, however, studies show that they help overcome the negative effects of stress and hormonal imbalance. This support leads to increased energy production, recovery from hormonal imbalance and eliminates oxidants and other toxins.
Ayurveda and Chinese medicine has a long history of using plants with adaptogenic properties. Siberians also used them to help deal with the cold and stresses of life. But over the years, use of adoptogens declined as the importance of conventional medicine increased. However, recent research has led to renewed interest in adaptogens. Many study findings confirm that adaptogens have beneficial effects on health which include restoration of adrenal and other hormonal functions.
Because stress affects testosterone production negatively, reduction of stress can improve testosterone production. This further boosts overall health and sexual health in particular.
Benefits of adaptogens
Studies show that taking adaptogens regularly has many health benefits including resetting hormonal balance, improving sleep quality, improving cognitive functions and boosting immunity.
Adaptogens help to balance hormones
Lifestyle, poor diet and stress are some of the causes of hormonal imbalance. The results of this imbalance include high blood sugar levels, insomnia, high blood pressure, low testosterone, low energy and low libido. But Chinese and Indians were right all along. Studies have shown that adaptogens can help reestablish hormonal balance by first supporting the body to adapt to the prevailing conditions so that hormonal functions are regularized. Once this happens, balanced hormone production sets in.
As we all know, low testosterone is one of the effects of stress and the associated hormonal imbalance. Once these are dealt with and the body recovers its hormonal balance, testosterone production increases as stress hormone levels drop.
Adaptogens help improve mental functions
Imbalanced hormone and sugar levels can adversely affect mental functions including memory and cognition. It follows that balanced hormone levels and blood sugar levels have the opposite, positive effect. Because adaptogens help the body to recover from hormonal imbalance, they in effect help to adjust blood sugar levels. This ultimately helps improve mental clarity, memory and cognitive functions.
This study found that in most cases, adaptogens act on the hypothalamus – pituitary – adrenal (HPA) system that controls the body’s reactions to stress besides other related functions. The study found that even a single intake of a combination of adaptogens can increase mental activity as well as physical activity.
Improves health and boosts immunity
Hormonal imbalance, high blood sugar and presence of high levels of toxins and waste material contribute to the development of diseases and health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. But adaptogens help to stabilize hormones and blood sugar levels. They also reduce the levels of toxins and waste material and thereby protect the body from many chronic diseases. The resultant balance also boosts immunity.
Adaptogens have anti-aging properties
Aging, especially premature aging, occurs due to high amounts of oxidants in the body. Oxidation has many adverse effects on body cells which reduce their efficiency. When this goes on for a long time, many of the body’s functions including metabolism, secretion of hormones like testosterone, and proper maintenance of the body’s systems and tissues suffer. This deterioration leads to a weakened body and has the effects that are synonymous with aging.
But regular intake of adaptogens helps the body to overcome adverse conditions such as hormonal imbalance, wastes, toxins and oxidants. By removing oxidants, wastes and toxins, adaptogens help the body to optimize functions of its systems. And as we know, an efficient body with few toxins carries out its functions such as metabolism, repair and maintenance of cells and tissues more efficiently and is, therefore, more likely to remain active and healthy for longer than a body whose cells are soaked in poisons.
The connection between adaptogens and increasing testosterone
Hormonal imbalance especially when it relates to cortisol interferes with testosterone production besides other functions like growth and maintenance of muscles, libido and sleep. To understand this better, when you are stressed, the adrenal glands produce more adrenaline and cortisol as a means for the body to react to stress. When this happens, the endocrine system slows down production of those hormones that are not critical in preparing the body for fight or flight. When this happens chronically, functions such as repair and maintenance of muscles, production of testosterone, regulation of blood sugar and sleep are among the outstanding ones that suffer. The result is high blood sugar, low energy, chronic fatigue, insomnia and low libido.
With poor metabolism comes a constant need to eat in order for the body to get energy. Unfortunately, by eating constantly rises the danger of consuming more food than your body requires. The excess food is converted to fat and deposited as body fat especially within the abdomen in men. And as you may be aware, more fat in men means that your body has increased sites for estrogen production – in men, estrogen is produced within body fat cells.
When the male body produces high levels of estrogen, the relative levels of production of testosterone decrease. This leads to even more fat deposits and more estrogen production which causes a decrease in libido.
However, as we have discussed, adaptogens have a optimizing effect on hormone levels.
4 popular adaptogen herbs
Research has found that there are thousands of adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms with varying effects on the body. However, different adaptogens are more effective depending on the specific aim of taking them. Following are 4 popular adaptogen herbs that help the body recover from decreased testosterone production due to hormone imbalance and stress:
Ashwagandha is one of the best known and best studied adaptogens. It has compound effects on the body including reduction of the stress hormone, cortisol and increasing testosterone production. These properties help to calm the nervous system, reduce anxiety and improve virility. Ashwagandha acts on the pituitary gland to balance CRH, TSH and ACTH hormones. In Ayurveda, Ashwagandha is used as a treatment for many conditions including impotence, sleep problems, low energy, weak immunity, high blood pressure and chronic fatigue.
American ginseng which is closely related to other true ginseng herbs contains the active component, ginsenosides besides other phytonutrients. But there is a difference between the American ginseng and the Asian ginseng in that, while the Asian ginseng acts as a stimulant, the American ginseng has calming properties. However, in spite of this difference, both the American and the Asian ginseng increase the production of the growth hormone and testosterone. Ginseng is also rich in anti-oxidants. These properties support healthy hormone levels which contribute to improving general health, including lowering blood pressure and improving libido. The American ginseng also has positive effects on mental functions.
Rhodiola acts on the fight or flight, and stress hormones. It is an effective adaptogen for the control of adrenaline and cortisol among other related hormones. It works by raising or lowering levels of production as necessary. The active components of rhodiola are known as rosavins and salidrosides. Regular intake of rhodiola helps to reduce the effects of stress on the body by adapting to current stress levels. By resisting the effects of stress, fewer signals reach the hypothalamus gland such that less CRH is produced and by extension less ACTH is secreted by the pituitary gland. Once CRH and ACTH are stabilized, there are fewer signals to the adrenal glands so that less cortisol is produced. You can learn more about Rhodiola Rosea by vising this article (Sex drive hack – Rhodiola Rosea herb benefits).
Gynostema, also known as jiaogulan is an adaptogen herb that benefits various body systems. It improves blood flow besides boosting the immune system. It is also high in antioxidants and, therefore supports internal cleansing or detoxification, and increases disease fighting macrophages and killer cells. As a result of these properties, gynostemma helps to restore homeostasis and increases resistance to various diseases and conditions including heart disease, hypertension, high blood glucose and high lipid levels.
As the name suggests, adaptogens help the body to adapt to internal and external conditions. However, having adapted to its physiological, chemical or environmental conditions, the body then moves on to reestablish a balance of various functions. Adaptogens provide function regulating properties of multiple body functions including raising the levels of production of some hormones, lowering the levels of others and helping in the removal of waste materials and oxidants. This way, adaptogens help the body to claim back hormonal balance, reduce stress, reduce blood sugar levels as well as reduce toxins from the body. The overall result is balance and normalcy of bodily functions leading to a stronger, more efficient, potent and healthier body. For men, adaptogens support the increased production of testosterone which improves virility besides general health.