Adaptogens: What Are They & How to Combine Them With CBD
by HelloMD Staff
October 16, 2019
When it comes to wellness trends, both cannabidiol (CBD) and adaptogens are having a big moment in the spotlight. Hearing promises of reduced stress, improved energy and more active immune systems, many are starting regimens of adaptogens or CBD.
But now a new trend is taking off: combining CBD and adaptogens together. Curious if this stress-busting combination is right for you?
Let’s explore this new trend, the science behind it and how to start taking CBD and adaptogens yourself.
What Are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens are plant-based medicines that people primarily take as a way to help the body become more resistant to all kinds of stressors.
Chinese and Ayurvedic traditions have used these plants for centuries, but the term adaptogen originated in the 1950s and ‘60s as a way to describe compounds that would increase our resistance to stress.
While each adaptogen has slightly different effects, they’re all praised for their ability to reduce the impact that stress has on the body. People turn to them for their ability to keep us grounded and resilient to life’s ups and downs.
Research on adaptogens, while limited, does support these claims. Studies show that many adaptogens’ effects include combating:
Adaptogens also appear to increase people’s capacity to work in the midst of stress and fatigue.
These studies suggest that adaptogens are so effective because of how they regulate homeostasis, ir balance, via the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the sympathoadrenal system—both of which are involved in the body’s stress response.
But which adaptogens are best for specific needs?
Experts suggest that for long-term stress and related hormone imbalances, the best adaptogens are:
- Holy basil
- Asian ginseng
Meanwhile, for acute stress, anxiety and increased energy, you should go for:
- Siberian ginseng
And if you’re looking to give your immune system a boost, the best adaptogens for you may be:
- Reishi mushrooms
Folks usually take adaptogens in the form of supplements or they work them into their diet. You can:
- Drink adaptogen tea
- Add tinctures into your drinks or food
- Buy adaptogen powder to mix into all kinds of foods like soups, sauces, dressings and smoothies
Adaptogens are generally considered safe and without major side effects. Still, some research suggests that there’s potential for otherwise safe herbal supplements, like adaptogens, to interact negatively with other medications.
These products are still active chemicals and may impact other aspects of your health regimen. So, it’s best to work with a doctor when adding in adaptogens to your wellness plan to ensure it’s the right choice for you.
Combining CBD & Adaptogens
Interestingly, CBD shares many of the same effects attributed to adaptogens, such as:
- Bringing homeostasis to internal systems
- Reducing anxiety
- Easing depression
- Combating fatigue
- Boosting the immune system
Research shows that CBD can have a big impact on stress resilience. One 2011 study demonstrated CBD’s effect on stress by testing subjects’ anxiety (and related factors) during a public speaking stress test.
The people taking CBD reported significantly reduced anxiety, as well as:
- Less cognitive impairment
- Reduced discomfort in their speech
- Increased feelings of anticipatory alertness
CBD is so helpful, in part, because of how it boosts serotonin signaling, much like SSRIs, a common pharmaceutical option for treating anxiety. CBD does this by enhancing the serotonin receptor 5-HT1A, thus relieving anxiety and depression.
So, both adaptogens and CBD increase our resistance to stress. In fact, you may say that CBD itself is an adaptogen. For this reason, some now believe that combining CBD with other adaptogens may produce synergistic effects, increasing the overall impact of both substances. It makes some sense to pair these. After all, if you’re looking to improve your stress response, why not use both options?
But skeptics point out that we have little reason to believe that CBD pairs with other adaptogens in a synergistic way. There has been no scientific research on the outcome of such pairings, so we have very little to go on, other than anecdotal accounts from those experimenting with the combination. Still, we also have no reason to think the combination would be particularly harmful—so it may be worth experimenting with this combination for those who haven’t found relief from other options.
Tips for Taking CBD & Adaptogens
When it comes to actually taking CBD and adaptogens, you may want to start by working with a trained herbalist. Adaptogens can bring your body back into balance but they may also be able to throw it off balance if you’re ingesting the wrong herbs for your needs. An herbalist can help make sure you’re on the right track, and help you adjust your regimen as needed.
You should also consult your doctor to ensure that neither CBD nor any other adaptogens you may be taking interact with your other medications.
Once you get the all-clear from your medical and herbal advisors, you’ll need to decide how to take your adaptogens and CBD. Mixing adaptogens into your food can be helpful, as many aren’t the most palatable things on their own. There are also capsules for those who don’t want to taste them at all.
Some brands are now combining multiple adaptogens and CBD into a single product. If you can find one with a blend that works for you, this can really simplify things.
On the other hand, it can be helpful to get isolated versions of each adaptogen (including CBD) that you want to try. When you’re just getting started, it can be hard to tell which herbs are causing which effects. So, starting with one at a time to find the right dosage for each can help you to hone in on the best adaptogen regimen for you more easily and accurately.
Herbalists recommend allowing for three to nine months of regular intake before evaluating how an adaptogen is affecting you.
Photo credit: Sebastian Duda/Shutterstock.com
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