You love coffee, but the caffeine is bothering your body? Don’t worry, you might not have to give up your favorite beverage.
The consumption of adaptogenic coffee is becoming increasingly popular. Manufacturers claim that this drink gives you all the benefits of caffeine without any of its adverse effects.
So, if you want to know everything about this coffee and the adaptogenic substances, read on.
Table of Contents
Effects of coffee on the body
Before we talk about adaptogenic coffee, let’s look at the effects one cup of regular coffee has on the body.
Coffee contains a substance called caffeine. Once caffeine is absorbed by the body, it enters the bloodstream and reaches our nervous system.
There, the caffeine binds to the brain’s adenosine receptors and acts as a depressant for the nervous system.
So, when caffeine blocks adenosine, it prevents drowsiness. That is why coffee makes us feel alert.
However, excessive levels of caffeine in the body can lead to the following symptoms:
- Lack of concentration
Coffee and the stress hormone cortisol
Every day our body produces cortisol, which is also known as the stress hormone.
Therefore, our cortisol levels are highest in the morning as it and other substances help us wake up.
Cortisol is good and necessary in small amounts because it gives you the urge to get things done and complete your daily tasks.
And if you then add a small dose of caffeine, you will certainly get an “extra boost” that will get you through everyday life.
What is adaptogenic coffee?
Adaptogenic coffee, also called “mushroom coffee”, is a traditional coffee to which dried herbal and mushroom products are added.
These products are called adaptogens and are currently in high demand, especially in countries like the United States.
Both consumers and manufacturers of adaptogenic coffee claim that it is a natural and healthy drink. They also claim that you can’t taste the mushroom.
There are basically 2 options for consumption:
- You can prepare the coffee according to your taste. After that, add the adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms.
- You can buy your coffee already mixed with adaptogens.
In other words, adaptogenic coffee is the same conventional coffee that has these substances added to it to purportedly regulate and/or mitigate the effects of caffeine.
But why are adaptogens so popular?
Manufacturers of adaptogenic products (including coffee) claim that their products can be used as a healthy alternative to coffee.
According to these entrepreneurs, adaptogenic substances produce the same beneficial effects as caffeine, namely:
- Increased energy (increased physical and mental performance)
- Increased concentration
They also claim that adaptogens do not produce the negative effects of caffeine, such as e.g.:
- Psychomotor restlessness (feeling of fear)
- Lack of concentration
However, there are people who make infusions with these adaptogens and don’t add coffee.
What are adaptogens?
Adaptogens are compounds found in various types of natural herbs and some wild mushrooms.
These substances are used to combat emotional and physical stress that can lead to anxiety and inflammation as they are said to lower cortisol levels in the body.
Adaptogens are therefore intended to increase the stimulating effects of caffeine while reducing its negative effects.
Adaptogens were discovered in the former Soviet Union in the 1950s and evolved into an alternative method of staying awake, especially in stressful situations.
A specific group of plants and fungi were used to simulate the beneficial effects of caffeine.
Research into the effects of these substances was then kept secret for decades until they were released to the general public after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Adaptogens and their mode of action
There are sedative adaptogens that should be taken in the evenings and others that are stimulants and are commonly added to coffee.
Do you remember cortisol?
This hormone does not only peak in the bloodstream when you wake up in the morning. Production is also stimulated by stressful situations, for example:
- Job interviews
The stress hormone cortisol ensures that you can adapt to and cope with the stressful situation.
Because of this, it’s normal for your heart rate to increase and you’ll feel more focused and energized.
However, when a person faces high levels of stress on a daily basis, their body becomes unable to control cortisol.
This is called chronic stress and it can be very detrimental to health.
People who suffer from chronic stress are therefore at a much higher risk of diseases such as:
- Heart diseases
- Metabolic diseases (diabetes, obesity)
- High blood pressure
- Increased occurrence of cancer
- Hair loss
- Constant headache
- Constant tiredness
This is where adaptogens come in, as they are designed to help the body regulate cortisol.
And that supposedly leads to:
- Improved Mood
- Increased energy
- Increased concentration
- Better adaptation to stressful situations
Adaptogens adapt to the needs of the body
Adaptogens are substances that adapt to the body. So if you have an imbalance in your body, these substances could help.
For example, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or tired, adaptogens give you energy and make you feel better.
Conversely, adaptogens are said to reduce stress levels and provide relaxation in the case of anxiety.
According to which criteria is a substance classified as an adaptogen?
There are 3 main criteria for classifying a substance as an adaptogen.
According to the manufacturers and distributors of these substances, the first and most important criterion is their harmlessness. Adaptogens must therefore not be toxic or harmful.
Adaptogens must not cause any unwanted reactions in the body.
Adaptogens should normalize bodily functions.
Stimulating adaptogenic substances
You now know what adaptogens are and which requirements must be met. Therefore, we will now briefly describe the substances that are most commonly added or mixed into coffee.
This adaptogen is one of the most common in adaptogenic coffee because, in addition to its stimulating effects, it is said to help fight oxidative stress.
It is thought to help slow down the wear and tear of the telomeres (the ends of our chromosomes).
This telomere wear is primarily associated with the aging of our bodies, which is why this root is touted as an “anti-aging” ingredient.
Ginseng (Panax ginseng)
Ginseng is not a single plant, but a group of plants belonging to the genus Panax, which means panacea.
Ginseng is perhaps the best-known adaptogenic substance of all, having been sold as a product for many years. Effects are:
- Helps restore human energy
- Increases concentration
- Increases fertility
- Regulates the menstrual cycle
Ginseng is also a good addition to morning coffee as it is one of the most stimulating adaptogens.
Matcha is a Japanese green tea variety that is said to have a much higher level of adaptogens than any other traditional green tea.
Therefore, this tea is used to induce an increase in energy.
Matcha is also said to help with weight loss and elevate mood.
Known colloquially as “Andean ginseng,” this Peruvian root is used for its invigorating effects.
It is claimed that maca powder or maca supplements can:
- Stimulate the sexual appetite in both men and women
- Combat fatigue
Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)
This fungus is also a parasite on the American beech, a tree very common in America.
So, it’s pretty easy to find.
Preparations with this fungus are said to have the following effects:
- Improved concentration
- Improvement of memory
- Relief from digestive problems
- Mastery of fears
Other sedative or mildly stimulating adaptogens
While these adaptogens are said to have a mildly invigorating effect, their distributors recommend using them more as a pain reliever or as an after-lunch addition to coffee.
This is because they don’t raise cortisol levels as much as the more stimulating adaptogens are supposed to.
Thus, these adaptogens serve to sufficiently stimulate the nervous system.
Ashawandha (W. somnifera)
Ashawandha, also known as “Bufera” or “Indian Ginseng”, is a plant used to relieve stress; it is also used as a natural anti-inflammatory agent.
Ashawandha is also often used in traditional Chinese medicine to improve the following points:
- Help falling asleep
- Increases energy
- Stimulates the proper functioning of the immune system
- Regulates blood sugar levels
- Supports thyroid function
As a rule, the root and berries of the plant are consumed.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)
Also known as the “mushroom of immortality” in traditional Chinese medicine, Reishi is said to have the ability to boost the immune system and regulate metabolism.
The powder of this mushroom is also used in the manufacture of all kinds of dietary supplements.
Marketers claim that this mushroom can be used to combat insomnia.
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)
This parasitic fungus, which comes from some species of trees like the birch, is used for its purported ability to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and generally boost the immune system.
It should also have a high concentration of melanin. This substance is responsible for the pigmentation of the skin.
It is claimed that the fungus can protect the skin from prolonged exposure to the sun.
This family of mushrooms is commonly used in the natural treatment of anxiety.
Negative points about adaptogens
Adaptogens seem to be accepted by the general public.
There is not yet enough research to support all of the alleged benefits of these substances.
However, several advocates of adaptogens claim that ginseng has studies that have proven its effectiveness.
The problem is that the studies that have been done on this and other substances have been done on animals or single cells, not humans.
Despite this, adaptogenic products are widely available on the market today.
And so far, there is no evidence that they are dangerous in low doses.
However, it is important to be very careful when purchasing any products, especially dietary supplements, as these are rarely controlled by health authorities.
Therefore, if in doubt, you should consult your GP first before taking any substance, no matter how natural it may be.
Remember that just because a substance is natural doesn’t mean it can’t be harmful, especially when used as a medicine.
You should also keep in mind that none of these supplements can replace a healthy lifestyle, i.e. exercise and a balanced and healthy diet.