Today on the Tea Blog, we’re continuing our “Healing Herbs (& Spices!)” series with a spotlight on adaptogenic tea. Here, we investigate the science behind herbal “medicines.” Are the miraculous claims about adaptogens true? Let’s find out!
By definition, adaptogens reduce stress. They have a wide-ranging, re-balancing effect on the whole body. Technically, the criteria is very strict, so few herbs make the cut. (For more about adaptogenic tea, check out this page.)
Some of the herbs that consistently do make the list:
- Ginseng (“True” ginseng)
- Eleuthero root (Siberian ginseng)
- Schizandra (Schisandra)
- Holy Basil (Tulsi)
Time to get real.
I always try to look skeptically at the scientific evidence. So when I started researching, I was convinced that adaptogens were a fad. Sure, they’re good for you, but soon enough, people would find the next “amazing” thing.
(Like with kale. At one point, errrrybody was eating kale like there was no tomorrow. Currently, not so much.)
But now, I’ve seen the science! Now, I think adaptogens are truly impressive. Allow me to show you the evidence for adaptogenic tea. You be the judge…
It’s a lot. So for starters, we’ll focus on just two adaptogenic tea ingredients: ginseng and eleuthero.
Ginseng Adaptogenic Tea: The Science!
Ginseng has been used for thousands of years throughout Asia as a medicine and tonic. And, it’s an adaptogen!
Indeed, I found scientific studies suggesting that ginseng may:
- protect the mind.
- It can slow neural degeneration and improve age-related memory and cognitive deficits.
- It’s helpful for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s patients. It may even be beneficial for Huntington’s disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), and multiple sclerosis (Cho, 2012).
- increase endurance and exercise recovery.
- In fact, Soviet and Russian athletes have used ginseng for strength and stamina.
- A recent Chinese study of ginseng demonstrated significant anti-fatigue effects. These scientists suggested it works by suppressing oxidative stress and improving muscle function (Bao et al., 2016).
- However, other evidence is mixed (Bahrke and Morgan, 2000).
- boost the immune system (Scaglione et al., 1996; Im, Kim, Min, 2016).
- help fight cancer (Yun and Choi, 1998; Xie et al., 2017).
- treat obesity (Zhang, Virgous, and Si, 2016).
- improve sexual issues, including erectile disfunction in men and low arousal in women (Chan, 2012).
- reduce inflammation in general, caused by various inflammatory diseases (Lee and Lau, 2011).
Ginseng Adaptogenic Tea: The Conclusions
I found the results of these studies to be super exciting! However, I don’t want to get carried away…
Some researchers have issued a word of caution, saying it’s too early to draw conclusions (Unlu et al., 2016). They also bring up an excellent point: ginseng can interact with other substances, including alcohol and stimulants, plus medicines that affect blood sugar, depression, diabetes, the immune system, and blood clotting, as well as others.
So please use good sense and talk to your doctor before adding ginseng (or any other adaptogenic tea) to your regimen!
Eleuthero / Siberian Ginseng Adaptogenic Tea: The Science!
Eleuthero (or “Siberian ginseng”) is a woody shrub originally from northeastern Asia. It’s in the same family as “true” ginseng, and both are both really important in traditional Eastern medicine, as well as modern herbal medicine.
I found studies demonstrating eleuthero’s potential to:
- fight certain types of cancer, including lung and liver cancer (Cichello et al., 2015; Li et al., 2016)
- guard against cardiovascular issues (Li et al., 2017).
- protect against lung problems (Zhang et al., 2016).
- help prevent and treat neurodegenerative diseases (Załusk and Kuźniewski, 2016).
- promote lymphatic function (Fukada et al., 2016).
Eleuthero / Siberian Ginseng Adaptogenic Tea: The Conclusions
Like with ginseng, the eleuthero research is very encouraging. But still, it’s early in the game. There are even fewer studies with eleuthero than with ginseng.
As with any herb, eleuthero may interact with other substances and medications, including (but not limited to) alcohol, lithium, or sedatives, plus medications that affect the heart, liver, diabetes, or blood clotting.
Life is beautiful. But stress can be pretty overwhelming sometimes. If you think you might need a little help coping, then an adaptogenic tea might be beneficial.
There seem to be quite a few advantages of ginseng and eleuthero, as long as you have no underlying health issues or take any substances with potential interactions. Definitely talk to your doctor to see if an adaptogen would be good for you!
If you’d like more adaptogenic tea in your life, then please check out CommuniTea Center’s offerings:
- Power Up: pu-erh tea with eleuthero, schizandra, and ashwagandha
- Ginseng Detox: Thera-TeaTM with ginseng and schizandra
- The Incomparable Holy Basil: Thera-TeaTM with holy basil
- Holy Chai: Thera-TeaTM with holy basil
A word of caution…
We can’t say it enough! Please consult a doctor before using any nutritional product, including adaptogenic tea. The statements in this Tea Blog post have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
And if you enjoyed this Tea Blog post, you may also enjoy…
… More on Adaptogenic Herbs: Tea Ingredients to Reduce Stress
…10 Healthy Resolutions for 2017: Plus, How Tea Can Help!
…More in our Healing Herbs (& Spices!) Series, including: