Adaptogenic Herbs (aka Adaptogens): What Are They and What Are Their Benefits?

adaptogenic herbs

Adaptogens could revolutionize the way you approach personal health.

The newest trend in the world of wellness in 2018 are adaptogens.

Adaptogenic herbs help the human body be able to resist stress.

Biological, chemical, or physical stressors can all be treated by adaptogens.

Adaptogenic herbs are not new.

The Ayurvedic and Chinese healing traditions of old included these herbs as part of their individualized treatment plans.

Now adaptogens are experiencing a comeback because they can provide wonderful health benefits without a change in a personal lifestyle approach.

The concept of adaptogens was first adopted as a concept in the early 1960s by Israel Brekhman.

Although their availability has been present in Western societies for more than 50 years, the medical incorporation of them has been sporadic at best.

There are three common ways to use adaptogenic herbs: within meals, ​in tablets and capsules, or brewed into a tea.

If you’re just curious about adaptogenic herbs then feel free to skim and learn whatever you like. However if you want to quickly learn more about a “magic potion” that helps overcome stress and anxiety, check out Claridream Peace at the end.

How Do Adaptogenic Herbs Work?

adaptogens rhodiola rosea

The human body was meant to absorb stress in short bursts.

With the evolution of the modern lifestyle, many people find themselves under high stress loads that never really go away.

Stress is not something that is reserved for busy professionals.

Parents dealing with hectic schedules experience stress. It can be stressful to be unemployed.

Even the news provides people with high levels of stress on a regular basis.

When humans encounter stress, it triggers the “fight or flight” response.

You can choose to run away from the stress or you can choose to fight it.

This response is hormonal. It was designed to offer people an instinctive form of protection during an unexpected dangerous situation.

Far too often, the fight or flight response is triggered for extended time periods daily.

When that happens, the actual balance of hormones within the body is affected.That is why you can be extremely resilient to stress when it occurs right away.

It is also why chronic stress is able to cause numerous physical and emotional symptoms.

You are physically out-of-balance when you are exposed to stress.

How each adaptogenic herb works depends on the profile of the adaptogen being used. Each one is a little different.

Adaptogenic herbs, in general terms, help to mitigate the responses your body creates when it encounters a stressful situation.

They can encourage adrenal recovery, reduce the effects of cortisol on the body, and boost immune system responses.

Should I Take Adaptogenic Herbs for My Health and Wellness?

adaptogens panax ginseng

If you are not taking any adaptogens right now, then do not start until you’ve discussed your medical history with your doctor.

Adaptogenic herbs may interfere with certain medications that are necessary for personal health.

Because each adaptogen serves a function that is slightly different, the one you need to take for better health could produce different effects on the body.

Many common adaptogens may interact negatively with prescription medications. Always tell your doctor what adaptogenic herbs or over-the-counter medications you take on a regular basis.

Individuals who have chronic issues with gastrointestinal distress should be careful when introducing adaptogenic herbs into their nutritional profile.

Like any plant-based product, there is the possibility of enhancing that distress with adaptogens.

Anyone with a history of allergies to foods or environmental exposures should consult with their doctor or an allergist before proceeding with a new adaptogen as well.

It is important to remember that adaptogens do not treat specific medical conditions.

Adaptogenic herbs are designed to boost the overall wellness you feel in a specific area of life.

For those in the United States thinking about adding an adaptogen, it is important to remember that they have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.That means any claims to promote specific areas of wellbeing have not been evaluated by a government-approved agency or entity.

Some people may not even need to take adaptogenic herbs. If you are sleeping well, have consistent energy levels throughout the day, and your sex drive feels normal, then adaptogenic herbs may not be right for you.

If you are struggling with sleep, low energy levels, or a poor libido, then taking an adaptogen could help you deal with those bothersome symptoms.

How Do I Take Adaptogens?

adaptogens indian frankincense

Adaptogens are available in several different forms today.

You will find them as tinctures, powders, and beverages.

Some are even available as liquid extracts, though taking an extract should be reserved only for the adaptogens which have been traditionally taken that way.

You can take your adaptogens in almost any way that is comfortable for you or suits your personal taste.

Many are available in pills or capsules, making them feel like you’re taking a vitamin.

Just take your favorite adaptogenic herbs as instructed with a glass of water and that’s all you need to do.If you have adaptogens that are in tincture form, then you must usually mix them with water to achieve the best possible results. Some tinctures may be permitted in juices.

Powders, however, are one of the best ways to take your preferred adaptogenic herbs.

In powder form, you can put your adaptogens into almost anything. Pop them into a smoothie. Use them with your cooking. The options are numerous.

Extracts can sometimes be put into tea. You can also purchase some adaptogens already brewed into tea or coffee.

It is important to remember that adaptogens take time to create the desired effect within the body.

Some adaptogens may require 8-12 weeks before their effects will be noticed. Most, however, will begin to offer positive changes within 4-6 weeks.

Some adaptogenic herbs are designed to be taken on a daily basis. Others may be designed to be taken when they are needed.

Because adaptogens can interfere with certain medications, you should always speak with a doctor before purchasing one.

Adaptogens can sometimes be taken multiple times per day.

Some may only need to be taken once per day. It all depends on the adaptogen chosen and what your personal needs happen to be.

If you’re unsure about how often to take a specific product, you’ll want to check-in with a medical professional about what would be right for you.

Gaia Herbs recommends that everyday users of adaptogens take at least one day off each week from taking a preferred product.

They also recommend taking a week off after every 6-week series is complete. Some users may also wish to take 30 days off from taking adaptogens after a 6-month series is complete.

What Are the Best Adaptogens to Take?

Adaptogenic herbs can be placed into three generic categories of wellness.

Some are good for acute stress. Others work better to provide help with chronic stress. Then there are some adaptogens which provide a boost to the immune system.

Here are the best adaptogens to consider taking within each category.

Adaptogens for Acute Stress: Tulsi, Asian ginseng, and ashwagandha.

Adaptogens for Chronic Stress: Siberian ginseng, rhodiola, and schisandra.

Adaptogens for Immune Health: Ginseng and reishi.

Each of these adaptogens offer a specific benefit when taken on a regular basis.

Tulsi, or holy basil, has been in use for more than 5,000 years. It is one of the most sacred plants found in India.

There are three varieties of this herb available: Rama, Vana, and Krishna. It can be infused into tea, used as an herb in food, and even be placed around the home to “purify” the energy found there.

Ginseng comes in multiple varieties, some of which may not be classified as adaptogenic.

Look for ginseng from Southern China, the Korean Peninsula, or Russia for the best benefits.

Ginseng may promote relaxation, lower blood sugar levels, and boost personal energy.

Ashwagandha has been used historically for everything from constipation to rheumatism.

It can strengthen the immune system, lower anxiety, and improve concentration and memory.

It is part of the Nightshade family, however, so care must be taken when using this product for some individuals.

Another option to consider is rhodiola. This adaptogenic herb is also called “Golden Root.”

It provides a boost to personal energy levels, which may improve memory and stress adaptation.

Schisandra, or the “Five Flavor Berry,” is native to Northern China and Eastern Russia.

It works to balance blood sugar levels, improve blood pressure, and stimulate the immune system by improving liver function. It also provides help in preventing motion sickness in some individuals.

Then there is reishi. These are mushrooms that may also be called Ling Zhi.

The red reishi helps to restore the body to its natural state when taken daily. It modulates the immune system to improve its functionality as well.

It is one of the few adaptogenic herbs which contain ganoderic acids, which may help reduce the amount of histamine which is released during an allergic reaction.

There are several other adaptogenic herbs that you may find in your ​dietary health aisle that may provide specific health and wellness benefits.

Some products combine the best adaptogenic herbs for an all-around stress-resistance experience as well.

One of the best options ​for a product containing multiple adaptogens is called Claridream Peace.

Claridream Peace provides a unique collection of high-grade adaptogens and botanicals that are intended to provide a peaceful, calm mood throughout the day.

It contains rhodiola, ashwagandha, and ginseng, along with black pepper, Indian frankincense, and selenium.

For those looking for a one-stop solution that includes some of the best adaptogens for better wellness, Claridream Peace is an excellent option to consider.

You can also choose to take each adaptogenic herb on its own if you prefer.

Are There Any Side Effects with Adaptogens?

adaptogens schisandra

For most people, taking adaptogens is probably safe.

It is important to remember, however, that adaptogenic herbs are intended to help with the management of stress.

The best way to improve health and wellness in high-stress situations is to reduce your personal exposure to stress.

Adaptogens can help you to feel better and manage stress better from a physical standpoint.

It is not a “stress cure” for those who may require certain lifestyle changes due to high stress loads.

They treat the symptoms of stress that people feel.

It is always healthier to address the root cause of stress.

Like any plant-based product, there are common side effects which may be experienced by some people.

These side effects may be intermittent or occur every time an adaptogenic herb is taken.

The most common side effects are headaches, upset stomach, nausea, and dizziness. Some people may experience heartburn after taking an adaptogen.

There are some serious side effects that must also be considered.

Some herbs, especially rhodiola, can increase the risks of bleeding. They can also lower blood sugars to potentially dangerous levels, especially for those with a diabetes mellitus diagnosis.

Anyone taking medication for depression, immune health, or sedatives should speak to their doctor before choosing an adaptogen.

Women who are pregnant or may be breastfeeding should avoid all adaptogenic herbs, unless they have received a specific go-ahead from their doctor.

Even then, ashwagandha, tulsi, and schisandra should still be avoided at all costs.

What Adaptogenic Herbs Should I Take for My Symptoms?

adaptogens maca root

Adaptogens are designed to be taken in a proactive manner. Some, however, can be taken when uncomfortable symptoms are being experienced.

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, then here are the adaptogenic herbs you can take to find potential relief.

  • Anxiety: Lion’s ManeThe number of health benefits which are possible with this adaptogen is extensive. Published research lists this mushroom as containing heart-protective qualities, antibiotic qualities, and anti-aging properties. It is also known to be very effective in the treatment of chronic anxiety. A unique way to incorporate this adaptogen into your daily routine is to use it in your daily coffee. It may also help with inflammation and could improve digestive health.
  • Brittle Nails: Cordyceps Sinensis ExtractThis is another mushroom-based adaptogen. It decreases the inflammatory response while improving antioxidant counts when taken daily. In doing so, it helps to promote overall cell health with its high levels of amino acids. Those amino acids help to promote good health within your nails, your hair, and your skin.
  • Digestion Issues: Kawaritake Called the “Cloud Mushroom” or “Turkey Tail,” this adaptogen has a long history with Asian cultures. It is often brewed into a tea to strengthen air passageways, improve energy levels, and improve spleen health. Continued use of kawaritake is also known to support better digestive health. It contains prebiotics, which feed the “good” bacteria found in the digestive tract. For some, it may also enhance the removal of toxins from the body.
  • Fatigue: MacaThis adaptogen is root-based and available in black, yellow, and red varieties. All types help to boost personal feelings of energy without the jitteriness that a drug-based stimulant often causes. The red type tends to be the sweetest, while the yellow tends to provide the best overall flavor profile. The black type falls between the two in sweetness and flavor.
  • General Wellness: AstragalusThis adaptogenic herb works well for people who have a weaker immune system for some reason. It may even be recommended by some doctors during recovery from a cancer treatment or an extended illness. There are even anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties associated with this adaptogen.
  • Hormone Balance: Licorice RootThis adaptogen works to balance out adrenal fatigue you may be feeling. It can be extremely helpful for those who are used to taking stimulants to make it through their day. Expect 4-6 weeks of taking this adaptogenic herb daily, as part of a recovery and healing process, to experience the maximum levels of balance it provides.
  • Low Libido: ShilajitThis adaptogen is literally called “rock tar.” It is found primarily in the Altai Mountains in Central and Eastern Asia. It is also harvested from the Tibet and Himalaya ranges. Depending on the consistency harvested, it may contain 80+ minerals. It can also be used as a mix for potent adaptogenic herb blends.
  • Memory and Creativity: RhaponticumOften called Maral root, this perennial plant looks very similar to the large thistles which grow in the Americas. It lives primarily in the sub-alpine zones and the alpine meadows of Siberia. It provides feelings of strength when taken every day. It will also help with memory concerns and overall creativity by clearing out feelings of brain fog.

How to Enhance the Results of Adaptogenic Herbs

Adaptogens work to reduce the levels of stress being felt physically.

On their own, they can provide the supports some may need to handle the uncomfortable symptoms of acute or chronic stress.

The positive benefits of adaptogenic herbs can also be enhanced when certain lifestyle changes are pursued.

Here are some of the best lifestyle changes to consider if you believe adaptogens could help you to start feeling better.

#1. Meditation


Meditation is a powerful practice that requires just 15-20 minutes of your day.

Just finding a quiet space and doing some deep breathing can have profoundly positive impacts on personal health.

There are hundreds of different types of meditation that can be practiced. From mindfulness meditation to loving-kindness meditation, try a few options to see what works best for you.

By combining the stress relief that meditation provides with the symptom relief adaptogens offer, you can quickly reduce the health risks that chronic stress often create.

#2. Be Present in the Moment

Distractions are everywhere today. Texts, emails, social media notifications, phone calls, and much more all drive us away from being present in the moment.

Take a 5-minute break to focus on just one thing that makes you happy in that specific moment. Maybe it is the breeze gently blowing in your face. It could be the grass between your toes. Notice the feelings that these events cause.

Examine textures. If you’re eating something, then concentrate on the flavors you receive with each bite.

By spending more time with our senses exploring the world, the less time there is to focus on the presence of stress.

#3. Talk with Someone

Many today feel like they are personal islands. They do not seek out help in any way because they feel like there is no hope to be found.

If you are feeling stressed out, then talk with someone. Chat on your preferred social network. Sit down for a conversation over dinner.

Stress is often reduced when a fresh perspective can be explored. Visiting with family or friends allows you to take a break from stressful triggers as well.

#4. Listen to Your Body

Your brain is already telling you what you need. Are you willing to listen to what it has to say?

It may be impossible to quit a stressful job. What you can do, however, is evaluate how your body is feeling at any given time.

Try to lie down on your back. You could also sit in a position you find to be comfortable. Then evaluate each part of your body, starting at your toes. Work your way up to the top of your skull.

If any part of your body does not feel like it should, then imagine yourself placing deep breaths into that specific body part. Let it loosen up, then proceed to the next body part.

#5. Decompress

Stress can be damaging, both physically and emotionally. You would give yourself time to recover from an injury. Give yourself time to recover from acutely stressful days too.

Take a warm compress and place it around your neck, shoulders, or any other area of the body that feels tight.

Close your eyes. Concentrate on your facial muscles, encouraging them to relax. Then move to your neck. Go down your back. Allow your legs to begin relaxing as well.

If you feel muscle tension, then use a foam roller, a tennis ball, or a massage tool to remove it.

For back tension, an easy way to reduce the feelings of stress is to place a ball or roller between the wall and your back.

Lean into the spot that feels tight for about 15 seconds, applying steady pressure to the area.Then move to another spot and repeat.

#6. Laugh

Laughing naturally reduces the levels of stress-related hormones that are in the body.

It also increases endorphin levels. Read a favorite book. Watch a favorite movie. Just spend time with someone who knows how to make you smile.

Remembering moments that made you laugh in the past can also be beneficial.

Try putting on a favorite song that helps you to recall a fun time. Explore scrapbooks. Even going through old Facebook photo albums could reduce feelings of stress.

#7. Exercise

If nothing else seems to be working, some extra exercise can enhance the benefits of adaptogenic herbs as well.

You don’t need to be a world-class jogger to benefit from some extra exercise. Try walking around the neighborhood on a nice day.

Start taking a Yoga class. Dance to your favorite songs in the living room.

Even some light stretching could be helpful.

Exercise also releases endorphins that help you to start feeling better.

When you combine adaptogens with lifestyle changes like these, the benefits each provides can create a powerful impact on your daily life.

Do Adaptogenic Herbs Really Work or Are They Just a Scam?

adaptogens licorice root

Think of adaptogenic herbs as the exercise your adrenal glands require for daily health.

Dr. Brenda Powell, who serves as a co-medical director at the Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, describes how adaptogenic herbs work like this.

“When we exercise, it’s a stress on our body. But as we continue to train and exercise, our body becomes better at dealing with the stress of it, so we no longer get as tired or as high a heart rate. [Taking adaptogens] is training your body to handle the effects of stress.”

The herbs that are within the adaptogenic family interact directly with the body’s hypothalamic systems, such as the adrenal glands or the pituitary gland.

They may be able to change how hormone production works in response to environmental or emotional triggers, allowing the body’s immune system to function as it was designed.

Only a few formal research studies have been published about the effects of adaptogenic herbs, which is why some may feel these products are more of a scam than a benefit to personal wellness.

What has been discovered in adaptogenic herb research is quite interesting.

#1. The effects of adaptogens on the central nervous system have a proactive preventative effect at the molecular level.

#2. Adaptogenic herbs have a positive impact on feelings of mild fatigue or weakness.

#3. Traditional Ayurvedic Rasayana drugs show reductions in induced and biochemical abnormalities, creating a normalizing effect on the body.

​The long-term effects that adaptogenic herbs may have on human health has not been evaluated from a research standpoint.

Many of the published research regarding adaptogenic herbs involves studies on cell samples instead of people.

There is evidence that what a person chooses to eat can reduce inflammation within the body or reduce personal wellness issues, such as insomnia.

It is possible that including adaptogens in your daily routine could provide a positive effect. It is also possible that some people may not respond as positively to adaptogenic herbs as others.

Can Adaptogenic Herbs Help Me to Feel Better?

It is difficult to give all adaptogenic herbs an objective evaluation. Some of the items, such as ginseng, have gone through extensive research and show many promising benefits.

Other adaptogens have received little, if any, formal research. The benefits discussed often rely on personal experiences instead of documented benefits.

How the adaptogens are taken is another issue of concern which must be addressed.

Taking the purified extract of a single adaptogenic herb may change how it operates within the human body.

The traditional use of adaptogens involves the herb in its whole form, even when combined with other herbs.

As more products become standardized and provide whole-form adaptogen options in various forms, we can all experience the potential health benefits of each herb.

Will adaptogens restore your body? Possibly. It all depends on the personal lifestyle choices being made.

Do adaptogens cure disease? No.

Do adaptogens supercharge your cells? Probably not.

What you can achieve is balance. Adaptogenic herbs provide resilience against stress while you seek out a lifestyle that works to reduce chronic stress exposure.

Adaptogenic herbs may help you to feel better.

Talk to your doctor before taking them if you are not currently using them to avoid medication interactions.

Then choose a product which provides the specific benefits you’ll need.

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I'm interested in psychology & philosophy. I'm also an enthusiast of meditation & personal development. Thank you for visiting my blog and I hope that you'll find something interesting here.



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