Do you need to take adap­to­gens? Liz Krieger in­ves­ti­gates.

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - The Beauty Bazaar -

How do you feel? Per­haps you’re a bit tired, slightly stressed, even a bit hag­gard. Well, you’re in good com­pany. Our faster, more con­nected world is tak­ing its toll, and sud­denly ev­ery­one from your holis­tic doc­tor to your per­sonal trainer is talk­ing about how adrenal ex­haus­tion may be the rea­son you’re run-down – and tout­ing new herbal sup­ple­ments known as adap­to­gens as a mir­a­cle treat­ment. The adrenal glands, which sit atop the kid­neys, pro­duce a num­ber of key hor­mones – in­clud­ing oe­stro­gen, cor­ti­sol, adren­a­line, and al­dos­terone – that help the body deal with stress, reg­u­late me­tab­o­lism, and con­trol blood pres­sure. So while the med­i­cal com­mu­nity is in agree­ment on how crit­i­cal the adrenals are to over­all health, the idea that the glands can be­come over­worked to the point of ex­haus­tion be­cause of the day-to­day stress is a mat­ter of se­ri­ous de­bate among main­stream physi­cians. It’s mainly the prac­ti­tion­ers of Ayurvedic and Chi­nese medicine (and med­i­cal doc­tors with a foot in both worlds) who have in­ves­ti­gated herbs as a treat­ment. Chronic stress, along with poor eat­ing habits, de­hy­dra­tion, not enough sleep, and even over­tax­ing fit­ness rou­tines, can cause your adrenal glands to fail to work ef­fi­ciently, says Su­san Blum, a func­tional medicine physi­cian and founder of the Blum Cen­ter for Health in Rye Brook, New York. “For a long time your adrenals will keep up, pump­ing out hor­mones such as cor­ti­sol and adren­a­line that help the body cope with stress,” she ex­plains. “But over time – and this pe­riod can vary from per­son to per­son – they be­come de­pleted,” mean­ing they can’t keep up with the body’s de­mand for hor­mones. Cer­tain adap­to­genic herbs, in­clud­ing gin­seng and rho­di­ola, when com­bined with a healthy diet, life­style, and ex­er­cise reg­i­men, can change ev­ery­thing for those look­ing for help, says Frank Lip­man, an in­te­gra­tive and func­tional medicine doc­tor in New York (Gwyneth Pal­trow and Donna Karan are fans). To eval­u­ate adrenal func­tion­ing, Blum of­ten uses saliva testing, which mea­sures how much cor­ti­sol, a.k.a the stress hor­mone, is cours­ing through your body at four crit­i­cal times dur­ing a 24-hour pe­riod. When your body is out of whack, she notes, cor­ti­sol lev­els can be­come chron­i­cally low dur­ing the day, then spike at night, dis­turb­ing much-needed sleep. “Your adrenal glands are a sum of how you’re tak­ing care of your­self,” says Lip­man. “Burn the can­dle at both ends, and this is where it can show up.” Robert Viger­sky, a Mary­land en­docri­nol­o­gist and for­mer pres­i­dent of the En­docrine So­ci­ety, has a dif­fer­ent opin­ion. “There is no ev­i­dence that your adrenals conk out be­cause of stress,” he says. As for the saliva tests, alone they have very lit­tle di­ag­nos­tic value, says en­docri­nol­o­gist and stress re­searcher Ge­orge Chrousos of Greece’s Uni­ver­sity of Athens Med­i­cal School, who be­lieves that at­tribut­ing symptoms only to adrenal is­sues may mean miss­ing out on un­der­ly­ing con­di­tions, such as de­pres­sion or sleep ap­nea. When peo­ple speak about adrenal ex­haus­tion, it’s just an­other way of say­ing “brain ex­haus­tion”, says Chrousos. Doc­tor de­bates aside, pa­tients have seen benefits. An­drea Burke, 39, of Los An­ge­les, went to sev­eral doc­tors to pin­point the cause of her weight gain, fa­tigue, sleep prob­lems, and no­tice­ably dull skin, but they all came up empty – or pre­scribed med­i­ca­tions that just masked her symptoms. Burke also tried acupunc­ture and cup­ping but to no avail. She fi­nally turned to an East West Essen­tials clinic, which counts celebri­ties like Jen­nifer Lopez as clients, and was told that her adrenals had been de­pleted. A key part of her treat­ment: a few tea­spoons of pow­dered adap­to­genic herbs, mixed with wa­ter, twice a day. The for­mula prom­ises to help the adrenals bet­ter adapt and re­gain strength. Fol­low­ers of Chi­nese and Ayurvedic medicine have long re­lied on th­ese herbs (in­clud­ing gin­seng, ash­wa­gandha, liquorice, holy basil, rho­di­ola, and schizan­dra berry) to help the body han­dle stress, says Heather Wil­son, a holis­tic nutri­tion­ist and a co-founder of East West Essen­tials. Within a month of start­ing the herbal reg­i­men, Burke says, she felt an im­mense change. “My skin was the first thing; it was glow­ing,” she says. Adds Lip­man, who has his own line of adap­to­gens cap­sules called Be Well, “We don’t re­ally un­der­stand how th­ese herbs work, but clin­i­cally we see how ef­fec­tive they are.” And believ­ers are res­o­lute. “Many doc­tors just don’t know about this stuff,” says Burke. “I’m try­ing to think out­side

the box. And it changed my life.”

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