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Adaptogens for a Stressful World

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Today’s hottest-selling botanicals fall into the category of adaptogens. These include the likes of ashwagandha, Rhodiola rosea, schisandra, eleuthero, ginseng, maca, holy basil, Cordyceps, amla, shilajit and a few others, including one that’s been trending steadily—curcumin.

And business is booming, which may be due to the influence of two completely different consumer targets showing interest in ingredients like adaptogens.

“There is current growth in this segment," said Kristen Marshall, marketing coordinator at ingredient supplier Verdure Sciences. “We see two market segment trends for two different types of consumers, typically based on age. There are those associating stimulant-type effects—wanting an increase in energy—versus those who associate health with calm, well-being and relaxation."

The modern use of Ayurvedic-oriented adaptogenic herbs for energy began in the 1970s when the Soviet Union began experimenting with adaptogenic botanicals as a performance aid for soldiers, cosmonauts and Olympic athletes.

One herb stood out: Rhodiola rosea. Other researchers have validated Rhodiola’s beneficial effects.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) remains the principal ingredient in the adaptogen category. Traditionally, the roots of ashwagandha have been used throughout India as a rejuvenative tonic. The botanical has been used for emaciation, enhancing reproductive function in men and women and for inflammation, according to the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP) monograph. Today, herbalists extract the withanolide phytochemical compoundfor its beneficial effects.

In recent years, curcumin (Curcuma longa) has been among the top-selling nutritional ingredients in the U.S. market. Derived from the golden yellow turmeric plant, curcumin is most renowned as an anti-inflammatory agent. This is an important health benefit because most chronic degenerative diseases have a root in systemic, low-grade inflammation. Despite its popularity, many people are unaware of curcumin’s adaptogenic properties.

One of the lesser-known adaptogens is tongkat ali (Eurycoma longifolia). Also known as Malaysian ginseng, it was historically used for everything from dysentery and complications during childbirth to an antibacterial and aphrodisiac.

Learn more about the research behind these herbs, as well as tips for marketing unique botanicals in INSIDER’s Adaptogens Digital Magazine.

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