Adaptogens: A Beginners Guide


Adaptogens have made their way to western culture and are here to stay.  Whether you’re scrolling through the gram, or walking into your local health store, you’re bound to see supplements with adaptogens in them.  You’re probably wondering “is all the noise worth the hype” ? Keep reading and decide for yourself.  In this beginner friendly adaptogen guide, you’ll find out what adaptogens are, what they can do for you, and how to properly take them.

What are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are healing herbs and medicinal mushrooms that improve your stress tolerance. Their main function is  to adapt to any type of internal or external stress in your body or environment, helping you to better handle physical and emotional stress.

Because we’re living in such anxious times, — burnout from our jobs, worrying about another lock down, the fear of losing a loved one due to Covid 19 etc.–these herbs’ promise to alleviate stress explains why they are gaining so much recognition.  Don’t be mistaken though, these herbs might be new to the U.S  but they have been used for hundreds of years in eastern medicine and are proven to be effective.

Where do Adaptogens Grow?

Adaptogens grow wild in highly adverse environments. When these plants thrive under these harsh conditions, they are simply adaptogens for themselves as they experience a lot of tension under their lives. By ingesting them, we ingest their stress reduction hormones and are then able to better manage our stress.  –Pretty cool huh?

Adaptogen Benefits

The key word is “adapt.” They balance the body’s chemicals released during a stress response, helping  to bring your body back to equilibrium.  When ingested, they interact with our adrenal nervous system (HPA axis) and regulate our response to hormonal triggers and  internal/external stress.

Symptoms associated with long-term chronic stress include: fatigue, frustration, irritability, insomnia, frequent headaches, chest and back pain, weakness, and weight gain or weight loss.  These symptoms of stress are associated with depression, anxiety, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and even cancer. 

These magical sources help combat insomnia, muscle pain, allergic reactions, anxiety, depression, and the list continues. Consuming adaptogens helps your body function properly– from your mind, to your immune system, to your energy. If that wasn’t enough to convince you of their healing properties, then you probably  don’t need them in your diet. 

How to Take Adaptogens?

Adaptogens can be consumed as a capsule (pill), extract, or in powder to be added in smoothies, teas, coffee etc.  Many manufacturers have caught on to the trend and have even begun making powdered blends for popular adaptogens.  A few of my favorite brands are : Moon Juice, Sun Portion, and Four Sigmatic. They make blends for lattes, chocolates, and teas making them that much easier to consume. 

Are Adaptogens Safe?

Adaptogens are non toxic plants therefore making them safe to ingest. However, even though they’re safe you should always be mindful that not everyone reacts the same when it comes to supplements. What works for you might not work for someone else. 

If you are interested in trying these medicinal supplements, I’d recommend doing your research on a specific herb that helps  that helps you combat something specifically.  For example, struggling with anxiety, look up adaptogens for anxiety and start from there. 

 Another thing to keep in mind,  if you are pregnant or breastfeeding  you should always speak with your primary physician prior to taking any supplements as they can interfere with pregnancy. Additionally, if you have any underlying health condition, you should also consult with your primary physician, as certain adaptogens can interfere with medications. 

Common Adaptogens and Their Benefits
  • Rhodiola: Facilitates: Creativity, stamina, immune strength.
  • Ashwagandha: Reduces stress/anxiety. Helps with insomnia.
  • Chaga: Lowers cholesterol/inflammation, fights cancer.
  • Reishi :balances blood sugar and mood, boosts immunity.
  • Lions mane: Boosts energy, reduces brain fog, reduces anxiety
  • Maca: Boosts energy, sex drive.
  • Ginseng: Boosts energy, lowers blood sugar.
  • Cordyceps: Supports sexual energy, muscle tone, and immunity.
  • Tocos: Promotes healthy skin.

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