Coffee is a stimulant and, like many other stimulants (such as cocaine, amphetamine, ephedrine and nicotine), releases stress hormones (and chronic stress), boosting the energy and work capacity for a short period of time. This moment of acute stress is usually followed by fatigue and many side effects. Adaptogens, on the other hand, help the body to perform to its highest standard, taking advantage of its own natural vital energy.
Adaptogens should not have to be confused with stimulants. Stimulants are nervine substances directly providing a nutritive element while releasing chronic stress. A nervine works with the pituitary gland (“the main assistant to the hypothalamus”) directly. Stimulants trigger the release of stress hormones, particularly adrenaline and cortisol, and give a quick rush. They also increase the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. Stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine and amphetamines increase a person’s energy and work capacity after a single dose and can increase alertness and the ability to concentrate on mental tasks. The use of stimulants is usually followed by fatigue and long-term use can impair mental function. Stimulants of the central nervous system can also have side effects like insomnia, nervousness, or anxiety. Adaptogens instead enhance our natural body balance without provoking energy depletion and do not causing insomnia or side effects.
The following graph is a good illustration of the difference between an adaptogen and other stimulants like caffeine, sugar, or performance enhancing drugs.
|Provide a high recovery process after an exhaustive physical load||Consume energy and provide a low recovery process.*|
|Increase energy and improve the overall performance.||Arouse energy depletion|
|Increase the performance in stress||Cause stress themselves|
|Increase the performance in stress||
Cause stress themselves.
Provide additional potential for a short period of time, but they also lead to numerous side effects like insomnia, anxiety, headaches, stroke, dependence, loss of appetite, increased heart rate.
*Alexander Panossian and Georg Wikman, Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress—Protective Activity