I have spoken about adaptogens a lot but it is one of my most asked about topics. I know it can be overwhelming to think about which adaptogen you need to use and then before you know it, it seems like you have to spend hundreds o’ dollars and get every single one. No. Do not do that. Pick one to start with and build from there.
Lets back up. What even is an adaptogen? I have written a bit here if you are interested but I will also go over everything here. Adaptogens have been used in traditional medicine for centuries, and honestly, they are all the rage right now in the wellness community for fighting anxiety and insomnia; working directly by improving your adrenal system. This system is responsible for the body’s hormonal response to the S word. Stress…not shit, but yeah you could use that interchangeably.
Adaptogens help your body copy with anxiety and stress, naturally and slowly, no crashing here. They’re called adaptogens because of their unique ability to “adapt” their function according to your body’s specific needs. Though their effects may initially be subtle, but they are real and scientifically proven.
Think of Adaptogens as an air conditioning unit set to automatic. Just like your A/C, when it gets is too hot, it brings it down the temperature, and when it starts to get chilly, it warms up. Sorta genius right? Adaptogens can soothe and fight stress while simultaneously boosting your energy naturally, without stimulation (like caffeine). By supporting adrenal function, these little powerhouses counteract the negative effects of stress and balance your body.
I have put together a list of my 6 must haves to start with. I would recommend picking one or two to start with an going from there.
Cordyceps – We have spoken about medicinal mushrooms a touch with my post on Chaga here. However, there are many amazing medicinal mushrooms and cordyceps is another. Prized for their natural ability to fight free radicals, infections and inflammation, cordyceps are impressive disease-fighting mushrooms that have been used for centuries to reduce symptoms of respiratory disorders, coughs, colds, liver damage and much more. Considered an adaptogen, they’re a true “superfood” in the way that they fight the effects of aging and stress, help keep the body free from disease, and also increase energy levels. Considered a type of natural “immuno-potentiating drug,” cordyceps are now used to bring the immune system back to normal following life-threatening infections or illnesses. Additionally, research shows that cordyceps can act like mild stimulants or “adaptogen herbs,” fighting stress or fatigue and naturally increasing energy levels.
Ashwagandha – This one definitely needs its own post as this baby does so much, this is an adaptogen superstar. Ashwagandha is best known to combat stress and anxiety. Ashwagandha is a vital herb in Ayurvedic Medicine with a long history of therapeutic use and is sometimes referred to as “Indian Ginseng.” Ashwagandha is reputed to help support emotional balance and brain function, and acts as a potent antioxidant to boost the immune system. In a recent study conducted by the U.S. National Library of medicine, it was reported that this tonic herb may help with asthma, arthritis, chronic fatigue, anemia, infertility, depression and blood pressure. It is also thought to support the endocrine and nervous system functions as well. This “Indian ginseng” is an excellent herb for stress relief and supporting an inner sense of well-being. You can find many brands here. This is the one I use and I like it a lot.
Schiandra Berry – I have spoken about this beautiful adaptogen berry here. As an adaptogen, Schisandra is a potent general tonic, decreasing fatigue, enhancing physical performance, and promoting endurance. The berry counters stress by reducing the levels of stress hormones in the blood. Additionally, Schisandra offers great benefits for athletes. Other uses for schisandra include treatment of high cholesterol, coughs, asthma, sleep problems (insomnia), nerve pain, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), chronic diarrhea, dysentery, night sweats, spontaneous sweating, involuntary discharge of semen, thirst, erectile dysfunction (ED), physical exhaustion. It really is a multi-tasker.
He Shou Wu – He Shou Wu has a history of use as a longevity, anti-aging, blood-building, beauty, & rejuvenation food. This is a well known adaptogen and said to strengthen and nourish the blood, hair, skin, nervous system and sexual center. It also may help reduce cholesterol, help resist the common cold, promote red blood cells, enhances immune function and helps to increase antioxidant function. People have reported the reversal of grey hair from using He Should Wu! Woah! Find your favorite here.
Rhodiola – It’s adaptogen superpower is the ability to improve oxygen absorption. This product is mildly stimulating in nature. Rhodiola improves mental clarity, may promote creativity and stamina, helps immune strength and may support weight balance, longevity, and focus. I like the sun potion brand, but tons are available here. I use this as an addition to my morning coffee routine. I only use a pinch as I find the taste quite strong. Not bad, just strong.
Mucuna Pruriens – I have spoke about Mucuna a lot. You can read here if you want to know all about it. It is an absolute must have in my routine. Just to touch on it really quickly, it is a major mood booster. I recommend this one or the Moon Juice brand.
Which one do you think you would like to try first?