As we enter a new year (and a new decade) we are inevitably inundated with information about new diets, new products, new practices and new treatments that all promise to work miracles in our search for a healthier mind and body. But what if the key to all of this is something that’s not new? What if the key to sustained wellbeing is, in fact, something ancient — something that has been known about, used and practised in the Eastern world for thousands of years. Welcome to the world of adaptogens…
What Are Adaptogens?
An adaptogen is essentially a botanical that adapts to your body’s needs by reducing the effects of stress on the body – like fatigue, jitters, and inflammation. These adaptogenic ingredients have been used for centuries in eastern modalities like Chinese Traditional Medicine and Ayurveda. Today’s wellness trend has made people much more aware of the wisdom of these ancient practices
Adaptogens come in various forms of plants and herbs, which, when eaten, rebalance the body’s stress responses. They effectively help the body adapt to stress, be it work stress, the changing of the seasons [which can affect the immune system] or emotional stress. They have been shown to be nourishing for the adrenal glands, can stabilize blood sugar, and aid with immune system regulation, as well as helping to restore blood pressure to a healthy level and even rebalance hormones. But how do these stressors affect our largest organ — the skin?
How Stress Impacts The Skin
The growing field of psychodermatology is all about the mind-skin connection. It addresses the apparent link between our emotional state, the body’s physiological response to our emotional state, and the outcome of this response on our skin, body, health, and well-being.
Stress hormones can wreak havoc on skin. As a result, stress can lead to breakouts, dark circles, irritation, redness, wrinkles and fine lines — and one study in mice even demonstrated how a stress-triggered hormone called glucocorticoid can lead to, or worsen, psoriasis and eczema.
Other research links chronic bursts of cortisol in the system to elevated blood sugar. Unfortunately, these spikes damage the collagen and elastin that keep skin smooth, firm, and supple. Cortisol also increases oil production in the skin, creating an environment prone to breakouts.
Here are a few of our favourite clinically researched adaptogens that support your mind, body and ultimately your skin health.
Clinically Researched Adaptogens
1. / Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola has been found to support collagen and elastin production in the skin, which are the building blocks of young, plump skin. The Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of California Irvine reported promising anti-ageing benefits when they investigated the effects of Rhodiola on the life span of fruit flies. It has been proposed that Rhodiola could extend longevity and improve healthspan by alleviating oxidative stress.
2. / Triphala
In Ayurveda, triphala is known as “three fruits” and is made from the combination of three myrobalans, fruit-bearing trees: amalaki, bibhitaki and haritaki. The benefits of this adaptogen are hugely amplified when the three are combined. Dr. Michael Tierra, LAc, OMD, researched triphala and reported that it improves the digestive and liver function. Amalaki is said to contain 20 times the vitamin C of an orange, which is essential for collagen synthesis. Triphala can also be applied topically to the skin to speed the healing of bruises and sunburns.
3. / Maca
Native to Peru, Maca is one of the more popular adaptogens on the market, largely thanks to its energy-enhancing effects, however, studies have also shown how Maca can benefit skin health, too. According to the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru, Maca can act as a protectant against the sun and has also been shown to increase collagen synthesis in the skin.
3. / Schisandra
A type of medicinal berry, Schisandra has multiple healing properties. It is a powerful natural skin tonic that can protect the skin from sun, wind, other environmental toxins, allergies and prevent dermatitis. In 2015, the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health published studies that determine the anti-inflammatory effects of Schisandra. The study observed the effect on ear swelling by lowering skin dermatitis, immune cell filtration and cytokine production, which are all markers of inflammatory skin disorders in humans.
In an era where 24-hour digital connectivity and overpacked workloads can easily result in burned-out adrenals and stressed-out complexions, the Eastern approach to ancient powerhouse adaptogens offers one way to help restore balance to mind and body.
At The Wild Together, we believe in the power of adaptogens, which is why we include the powerful botanicals in every product in our range, for their role in helping to regulate the skin. And if you’re new to our range, you can try the full range at home in through our set of minis, The Experience Collection.