The Matcha Alternatives Blog

Your new favorite source of information about antioxidant-rich teas and tisanes

Adaptogens Part 2: What Foods and Teas Contain Adaptogens?

Posted by Stephany Morgan on

Adaptogens improve the adaptability of the body, regardless of the origin of the stressor (physiological, psychological, environmental, or situational), and increases its resistance threshold. In doing so, they improve organ function and hormone regulation. A brief breakdown would be to consider the Ginsengs as stimulating, Tulsi is calming, and Ashwagandha and Moringa can act in both ways (while also replenishing a deficient and depleted system).

Read more

Adaptogens Part 2: What Foods and Teas Contain Adaptogens?

Posted by Stephany Morgan on

Adaptogens improve the adaptability of the body, regardless of the origin of the stressor (physiological, psychological, environmental, or situational), and increases its resistance threshold. In doing so, they improve organ function and hormone regulation. A brief breakdown would be to consider the Ginsengs as stimulating, Tulsi is calming, and Ashwagandha and Moringa can act in both ways (while also replenishing a deficient and depleted system).

Read more


Adaptogens Part 1: What Are They and How Do They Work?

Posted by Stephany Morgan on

What are They?

Adaptogens might be a funny sounding word, but they are relatively straightforward. In short, Adaptogens are a relatively new class of herbs that help us “adapt” to stress, regardless of the origin of the stressor. Now, don’t get me wrong, adaptogenic herbs have been around for ages, and the old herbals likely would have referred to their adaptogenic action as being “amphoteric”, meaning they have normalizing effects on the body.

The term was coined in the late 1950’s by a Russian toxicologist named Nikolay Lazarev. He based this off of the famous work Hans Selye had been doing on stress and something called the “general adaptation syndrome”, which is the sum of the three response phases to stress: alarm, resistance and exhaustion.

During this time, the Russians began looking at what herbs could help improve the endurance and stamina of athletes. Their research resulted in the recognition of adaptogenic plants.

How do they Work?

Buckle up folks, because we are about to science! Yes, I used “science” as a verb… Poetic license, am I right? Eh? No? Okay, moving on…

So, how exactly do adaptogens work? Well, after much research it has been established that they effect two main stress-regulating systems: The HPA axis and the SAS.

The HPA axis is the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. In short, the hypothalamus maintains homeostasis and is responsible for multiple bodily functions such as regulating hormones, sleep and wake cycles, and body temperature. It interprets information from bodily signals and responds in a modulating fashion, keeping our bodies functioning optimally.

The pituitary gland sits below it, and is considered to be the “master gland” (although one could think of it more as the pituitary gland is king but the hypothalamus is its appointed royal advisor). It regulates vital body functions, commands the production of hormones and ultimately regulates and maintains an appropriate internal environment.

Lastly, the adrenals produce steroidal hormones which regulate salt and water balance, sex hormones and stress hormones.

When this system is impacted by long-term stress, the function can become overwhelmed and the system will struggle to maintain homeostasis (adrenal fatigue, anyone?).

The SAS is the sympatho-adreno system. It regulates our fight, flight (or freeze) response. Think of this as the reaction you might have if you turn around and see an angry bear. Your body responds with a flood of hormones designated to save you from the threat in any way possible. It slows down or stops unnecessary functions and focuses solely on getting you out alive.

Great system, right?

Well, yes, if it isn’t abused. Unfortunately, with our modern lifestyles many of us  are in a constant state of fight or flight. Eventually it begins to wear us down. Fight or flight is meant to be short term. Chronic stress results in exhaustion, lethargy, weight-gain, digestive issues, blood pressure problems, irritability, even frequent illness and infection. When chronic stress is present, the regulation of those bodily processes and hormone production breaks down and we ultimately suffer.

Matcha Alternatives Adaptogens Chronic Stress


So, now to the point: Adaptogens act on those systems to aid them in their modulation and maintenance of homeostasis *insert applause here*. In addition, they also act on a cellular level to prevent dysfunction of the mitochondria (the cellular “engines”) due to cortisol. Adaptogens increase the cell’s sensitivity to specific proteins and peptides to the effect of maintaining proper mitochondrial function. This is hugely important because mitochondria provide the body with 90% of its energy! And when dysfunction sets in, chronic illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease, diabetes and even cancer can occur.

In summary, adaptogens regulate and modulate hormone production, organ function, cell health and immune function. These plants are “intuitive” and it is said that the more you need them the more they will work, the less you need them the less they will work. For example: A person with low blood sugar and a person with high blood pressure could both take therapeutic amounts of adaptogens and see their blood sugar balance out!

To learn more about what foods and teas contain adaptogens, you'll have to wait until next week for Adaptogens Part 2: Health Benefits & Which One is Best for Me? ;-)

References

Panossian, A; Wagner, H. 2011. 'Adaptogens: A Review of their History, Biological Activity, and Clinical Benefits'. HerbalGram. Issue: 90 Page: 52-63; American Botanical Council.

'Hypothalamus'. You and Your Hormones, Society for Endocrinology. 

'Pituitary Gland'. You and Your Hormones, Society for Endocrinology. 

'Adrenal Glands'. You and Your Hormones, Society for Endocrinology. 

'Adaptogen'. The Naturopathic Herbalist: Botanical Medicine for the Medical Student.

A note from the Herbalist...

All of the information regarding the herbs, botanicals, minerals, vitamins, etc., is information drawn from traditional use data or academic research and should be regarded as such. If you, the reader, has a health or medical concern, please consult your healthcare professional. The information found here is not meant to diagnose, treat, prescribe or cure and has not been evaluated by the FDA. The information here is for educational use only.

Read more

Adaptogens Part 1: What Are They and How Do They Work?

Posted by Stephany Morgan on

What are They?

Adaptogens might be a funny sounding word, but they are relatively straightforward. In short, Adaptogens are a relatively new class of herbs that help us “adapt” to stress, regardless of the origin of the stressor. Now, don’t get me wrong, adaptogenic herbs have been around for ages, and the old herbals likely would have referred to their adaptogenic action as being “amphoteric”, meaning they have normalizing effects on the body.

The term was coined in the late 1950’s by a Russian toxicologist named Nikolay Lazarev. He based this off of the famous work Hans Selye had been doing on stress and something called the “general adaptation syndrome”, which is the sum of the three response phases to stress: alarm, resistance and exhaustion.

During this time, the Russians began looking at what herbs could help improve the endurance and stamina of athletes. Their research resulted in the recognition of adaptogenic plants.

How do they Work?

Buckle up folks, because we are about to science! Yes, I used “science” as a verb… Poetic license, am I right? Eh? No? Okay, moving on…

So, how exactly do adaptogens work? Well, after much research it has been established that they effect two main stress-regulating systems: The HPA axis and the SAS.

The HPA axis is the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. In short, the hypothalamus maintains homeostasis and is responsible for multiple bodily functions such as regulating hormones, sleep and wake cycles, and body temperature. It interprets information from bodily signals and responds in a modulating fashion, keeping our bodies functioning optimally.

The pituitary gland sits below it, and is considered to be the “master gland” (although one could think of it more as the pituitary gland is king but the hypothalamus is its appointed royal advisor). It regulates vital body functions, commands the production of hormones and ultimately regulates and maintains an appropriate internal environment.

Lastly, the adrenals produce steroidal hormones which regulate salt and water balance, sex hormones and stress hormones.

When this system is impacted by long-term stress, the function can become overwhelmed and the system will struggle to maintain homeostasis (adrenal fatigue, anyone?).

The SAS is the sympatho-adreno system. It regulates our fight, flight (or freeze) response. Think of this as the reaction you might have if you turn around and see an angry bear. Your body responds with a flood of hormones designated to save you from the threat in any way possible. It slows down or stops unnecessary functions and focuses solely on getting you out alive.

Great system, right?

Well, yes, if it isn’t abused. Unfortunately, with our modern lifestyles many of us  are in a constant state of fight or flight. Eventually it begins to wear us down. Fight or flight is meant to be short term. Chronic stress results in exhaustion, lethargy, weight-gain, digestive issues, blood pressure problems, irritability, even frequent illness and infection. When chronic stress is present, the regulation of those bodily processes and hormone production breaks down and we ultimately suffer.

Matcha Alternatives Adaptogens Chronic Stress


So, now to the point: Adaptogens act on those systems to aid them in their modulation and maintenance of homeostasis *insert applause here*. In addition, they also act on a cellular level to prevent dysfunction of the mitochondria (the cellular “engines”) due to cortisol. Adaptogens increase the cell’s sensitivity to specific proteins and peptides to the effect of maintaining proper mitochondrial function. This is hugely important because mitochondria provide the body with 90% of its energy! And when dysfunction sets in, chronic illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease, diabetes and even cancer can occur.

In summary, adaptogens regulate and modulate hormone production, organ function, cell health and immune function. These plants are “intuitive” and it is said that the more you need them the more they will work, the less you need them the less they will work. For example: A person with low blood sugar and a person with high blood pressure could both take therapeutic amounts of adaptogens and see their blood sugar balance out!

To learn more about what foods and teas contain adaptogens, you'll have to wait until next week for Adaptogens Part 2: Health Benefits & Which One is Best for Me? ;-)

References

Panossian, A; Wagner, H. 2011. 'Adaptogens: A Review of their History, Biological Activity, and Clinical Benefits'. HerbalGram. Issue: 90 Page: 52-63; American Botanical Council.

'Hypothalamus'. You and Your Hormones, Society for Endocrinology. 

'Pituitary Gland'. You and Your Hormones, Society for Endocrinology. 

'Adrenal Glands'. You and Your Hormones, Society for Endocrinology. 

'Adaptogen'. The Naturopathic Herbalist: Botanical Medicine for the Medical Student.

A note from the Herbalist...

All of the information regarding the herbs, botanicals, minerals, vitamins, etc., is information drawn from traditional use data or academic research and should be regarded as such. If you, the reader, has a health or medical concern, please consult your healthcare professional. The information found here is not meant to diagnose, treat, prescribe or cure and has not been evaluated by the FDA. The information here is for educational use only.

Read more


Purple Tea: The Mega-Antioxidant, Anthocyanin-Rich Matcha Alternative

Posted by Stephany Morgan on

What is Purple Tea? This obscure tea is quickly gaining popularity. Purple tea was first discovered in India, and in Yunnan, China, initially cultivated in Japan and Sri Lanka, but Kenya is currently the lead cultivator. When the C. sinensis plant produced purple leaves, these were cultivated and bred so as to maintain that quality. In doing so, it was discovered that these leaves produce a rich violet colored tea, with a flavor reminiscent of green tea (though more earthy and a bit sweeter). The leaves from these cultivars are rich in purple and red anthocyanins, antioxidants which are also found in purple foods, such as blueberries, blackberries and acai. The concentration of these antioxidants are responsible for the unique purple color these leaves yield.

Read more

What is Purple Tea? This obscure tea is quickly gaining popularity. Purple tea was first discovered in India, and in Yunnan, China, initially cultivated in Japan and Sri Lanka, but Kenya is currently the lead cultivator. When the C. sinensis plant produced purple leaves, these were cultivated and bred so as to maintain that quality. In doing so, it was discovered that these leaves produce a rich violet colored tea, with a flavor reminiscent of green tea (though more earthy and a bit sweeter). The leaves from these cultivars are rich in purple and red anthocyanins, antioxidants which are also found in purple foods, such as blueberries, blackberries and acai. The concentration of these antioxidants are responsible for the unique purple color these leaves yield.

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Moringa: The Energizing, Caffeine-Free Matcha Alternative

Posted by Stephany Morgan on

Known as the “miracle tree” Moringa is listed as a cure for 300 ailments in Ayurveda. It is considered a superfood, due to its rich nutrient content. Moringa provides more fiber, vitamins A and C, and protein than Matcha. Matcha doesn’t provide any protein, whereas Moringa provides all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein - a rare thing for the plant world. It is also an adaptogen. Adaptogens are a class of botanicals that increase endurance, energy and concentration, aid the stress response, and regulate other systems and functions (i.e., blood pressure and blood sugar) without a single bit of caffeine!

Read more

Moringa: The Energizing, Caffeine-Free Matcha Alternative

Posted by Stephany Morgan on

Known as the “miracle tree” Moringa is listed as a cure for 300 ailments in Ayurveda. It is considered a superfood, due to its rich nutrient content. Moringa provides more fiber, vitamins A and C, and protein than Matcha. Matcha doesn’t provide any protein, whereas Moringa provides all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein - a rare thing for the plant world. It is also an adaptogen. Adaptogens are a class of botanicals that increase endurance, energy and concentration, aid the stress response, and regulate other systems and functions (i.e., blood pressure and blood sugar) without a single bit of caffeine!

Read more


What is Matcha?

Posted by Stephany Morgan on

Matcha is green tea that has been ground into a fine powder and blended into hot water, rather than steeped. But leaves for Matcha are subject to specific growing conditions: namely, shade. The plant is protected from the sun, and light is carefully controlled, leading to a unique production of plant chemicals (caffeineantioxidantsflavonoids, etc) which contribute to its unique flavor. Descriptions vary from sweet, creamy and full-bodied to vegetal, wheat-grass-like and bitter. This partly has to do with preparation, but in the end Matcha really is an acquired taste. Perhaps this bitterness is why Matcha lattes and desserts are so popular, but adding cream and sugar counteract its health benefits. So, you want something with Matcha’s health benefits but not a fan of the taste? Good news! There are plenty of Matcha alternatives! Purple tea and Yerba Mate are two caffeinated teas chock-full of antioxidants but lack the bitterness of Matcha. Moringa is caffeine-free, yet energizing alternative that also comes in a powder nearly identical to Matcha. Its flavor is reminiscent of Matcha, but with sweet undertones.

Read more

What is Matcha?

Posted by Stephany Morgan on

Matcha is green tea that has been ground into a fine powder and blended into hot water, rather than steeped. But leaves for Matcha are subject to specific growing conditions: namely, shade. The plant is protected from the sun, and light is carefully controlled, leading to a unique production of plant chemicals (caffeineantioxidantsflavonoids, etc) which contribute to its unique flavor. Descriptions vary from sweet, creamy and full-bodied to vegetal, wheat-grass-like and bitter. This partly has to do with preparation, but in the end Matcha really is an acquired taste. Perhaps this bitterness is why Matcha lattes and desserts are so popular, but adding cream and sugar counteract its health benefits. So, you want something with Matcha’s health benefits but not a fan of the taste? Good news! There are plenty of Matcha alternatives! Purple tea and Yerba Mate are two caffeinated teas chock-full of antioxidants but lack the bitterness of Matcha. Moringa is caffeine-free, yet energizing alternative that also comes in a powder nearly identical to Matcha. Its flavor is reminiscent of Matcha, but with sweet undertones.

Read more