Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), and Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) are herbs known for their adaptogenic and calming properties, as well as for mitigating the effects of stress and fatigue. Adaptogens induce stress-protective benefits facilitated through the regulation of homeostasis via several molecular networks, including modulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and expression of multiple stress-related proteins including neuropeptide Y.1-3 Ashwagandha has been found to limit the production of dopamine and other hormones in response to stress and also acts as a GABA receptor agonist, all of which have the effect of reducing the overall stress response.4-6 In controlled trials, it has improved memory and several markers of cognitive function among individuals with mild cognitive impairment, along with reducing cortisol, stress, and anxiety in stressed healthy adults.7-9 Siberian ginseng root contains eleutherosides, known to have anti-fatigue, anti-stress, and immunomodulatory effects, and has been shown clinically to have therapeutic efficacy for chronic fatigue and stress, as well as improving athletic performance.10,11 Lavender oil is thought to act on both the central and sympathetic nervous system, and clinically has been shown to have a calming and relaxing effect, promoting an improved sense of well-being.12,13 Rhodiola rosea has been clinically shown to improve attention, cognitive function, and mental performance, decrease the cortisol response to stress, exert an anti-fatigue effect, enhance anaerobic exercise performance, and improve the mood-elevating effect of SSRIs with a favourable safety profile.
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