Adaptogens: An Introduction by Glow Bar Founder Sasha Sabapathy
Every other month a new superfood is ‘discovered’ and hailed to be a miracle cure. Adaptogens entered the health and wellness space a few years ago but they are anything but new. Ancient Indian and Chinese systems of healing have long been centred around the healing powers of these herbs, focusing on preventative health care and healing from the inside out.
Western science is now proving what was discovered and practised through the Eastern world for centuries, which is that these humble plants and foods are nature’s potent antidote to the overwhelming pressures of modern life. The morning commute, traffic, late nights, work pressures, emotional stress, means that our bodies natural stress response is being triggered daily.
You may not realise that you’re living in a constant state of stress but the effects can range from digestive issues to anxiety to insomnia. So how can adaptogens help you to manage stress better? We asked Sasha Sabapathy founder of London’s newest wellbeing destination Glow Bar for an intro to these incredibly powerful herbs.
Why did you decide to create Glow Bar?
The idea of opening a physical space for Glow Bar came about after realising that there weren’t many places in London that served as an escape from modern living in the city. I wanted to create an environment that promoted a 360 approach to health and wellness in a space that was both relaxed but fun and cool. I find traditional spas to be too stuffy, and most other wellness spaces are quite sports focused.
Glow Bar is essentially a space that you can come to with a friend to catch up while sitting in a private sauna, or over an Ashwagandha spiked lavender latte. It’s a place where you can find all the coolest natural beauty brands and amp up your shelfie game without compromising on the ingredients. And it’s a place where women can come together every few weeks to discuss issues in mental, physical and spiritual wellness. It’s an answer to self-care in this crazy, digitally obsessed new age.
What are adaptogens?
Adaptogens are essentially herbs used originally in Chinese and Ayurvedic traditions to help the body adapt and function better in reaction to stress, hormonal unbalancing, anxiety, skin regulation, and other bodily processes or distresses that we can encounter in our daily lives.
How do they work in the body?
Adaptogens work as regulative mechanisms. They sense the levels of different chemicals in the body and help bring said levels up or down to normalise them. Adaptogens help to normalise body imbalances by interacting with chemicals such as cortisol, by stabilising cortisol levels, adaptogens can help manage stress levels. Or when they sense that your immune system is down they help in boosting it up. Different adaptogens work for different imbalances, so it is important to know what you may need help with and understanding which adaptogens can work for you.
Why do you think they are now gaining popularity in the western world?
The whole idea of holistic wellness has gained increasing attention in the past couple of years. I think generally, people are becoming more conscious of what they consume – we see this in the popularity diets from paleo to veganism but also in the increased demand for natural skin care and other approaches to holistic wellbeing. More than that however, adaptogens have gained popularity because they really do work. They are not quick-fixes but a lifestyle, including them into your everyday routine does help to improve your overall wellbeing over time.
What is the best way to take adaptogens?
The easiest way to take adaptogens is in the powder form, like we sell at Glow Bar, you can include them in almost any food or drink! They are pretty much tasteless and the dosage is very small so it does not have an impact on taste. We infuse our ‘moon milks’ with adaptogens, but you can have treats such as chocolates, cakes, smoothie bowls or even porridge infused with adaptogen magic!
How do we ensure that we are getting the best quality pills or powders, are there certain things to look out for, i.e organic?
We do believe sourcing is important, the more natural, the better! However, adaptogens themselves are herbs and they are almost always from natural sourcing.
How often should you take them?
You can take them everyday, the more often you take them, the more your body reacts to it. To really see a change, it is best to take them continuously and over long periods of time.
How quickly can a person expect to see results?
I think this depends on individual bodies and how they work, so it is hard to give a specific time frame. However, change should be visible within a couple of weeks.
Can you take more than one at a time?
Yes, some of our moon milks have eight different ingredients which all work harmoniously together.
What are your favourite adaptogens and why?
Ashwaghanda, as this is one of the first herbs that I started experimenting with when I lived in New York, I was burning the candle at both ends and pushing my body to the limits which gave me a serious case of anxiety and depression. After taking Ashwaghanda for a month I found that it really helped with my anxiety and dealing with stress got easier.
Here are 5 more adaptogens to stock up on…
He Shou Wu – also know as Fo-Ti, this root is known to aid everything from hair growth to a healthy immune system and sexual drive. It contains potent antioxidants and is hailed as an anti-ageing remedy.
Rhodiola rosea – also known as golden root, Rhodiola has been used in ayurvedic medicine to treat anxiety, depression and help with concentration and boosting energy levels .
Cordyceps – is an adaptogenic mushroom that fights free radicals and is a powerful immune booster. It’s also energy boosting and can be used to enhance athletic performance.
Reishi – a multitasking mushroom used to regulate cortisol levels and help the body cope with stress. It also helps to promote a healthy immune system, mental sharpness and enhance moods.
Lion’s Mane – is used to support cognitive function and health and can be beneficial to those suffering from anxiety and depression.
Although these herbs have been used for centuries the way they interact with modern medicines may vary, as with all alternative medicines and supplements you should always consult your doctor if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking any prescription medication.
Words: Abisoye Odugbesan