It’s common to experience countless stressors in our daily life from our environment, relationships, emotional stress, physical stress, etc. Though stress isn’t always a bad thing when short-lived, prolonged stress is more challenging to cope with overtime and is hard on us both physically and mentally. Thankfully, there are multiple ways to manage stress, including meditation, yoga, music, art, and adaptogens!
What Are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens are a group of plants that work with the body’s stress response system to adapt to our needs. They are herbs, roots, and fungi that have gained popularity recently in the wellness culture and can be found as supplements, powders, or in juice bars, tonic beverages, and food. Though some of us have just recently learned of all the benefits, it has been used for thousands of years in both Chinese and Aryurvedic medicine to help support the body to cope with stress and other health goals.1
What Do Adaptogen Herbs Do?
Clinical trials have found that adaptogens support our mental and physical health by combating against fatigue and stress.2 Adaptogens aid the body to restore homeostasis both physically and mentally by adjusting the release of our stress hormones from the adrenal glands. It can help influence and adjust different organs and tissues in the body to reach balance. Some adaptogens help boost energy, immunity, stamina, the ability to focus, while others may help to support calming anxiety and depression.1,2
The Different Types of Adaptogen Herbs
Though there are numerous different types of adaptogenic herbs, we’ll go over four different ones – Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Panax ginseng (Asian ginseng), and Cordyceps.
Ashwagandha is a versatile adaptogenic herb that adapts to your needs to help regulate balance – it is known as one of the most important herbs and has been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine to support immunity, vitality, stamina, and energy, but also supports overall calmness and sleep if needed. It helps reduce inflammation, manages cortisol and can help stabilize your whole hormonal system, while supporting the function of your thyroid and adrenals.3
Rhodiola helps enhance physical and mental endurance and is popular among athletes to support performance and ease their recovery. Like all adaptogens, Rhodiola works to help reduce stress and lower cortisol levels. It supports mental alertness and clarity and can provide a boost of energy.4
Panax ginseng (Asian ginseng) is a root that is known as one of the most stimulating adaptogens. It supports the ability to concentrate, improve memory, enhances physical stamina, and immunity. Panax ginseng also helps prevent age-related cognitive decline, ease anxiety and depression and supports hormonal health.5
Cordyceps is a medicinal mushroom that supports the body in multiple ways. It provides support in immunity, reduces inflammation, and is known to support normal blood sugar levels. Cordyceps is also known to increase both physical and mental endurance.6
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- Panossian A, Wikman G. Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress-Protective Activity. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2010;3(1):188-224.
- Liao LY, He YF, Li L, et al. A preliminary review of studies on adaptogens: comparison of their bioactivity in TCM with that of ginseng-like herbs used worldwide. Chin Med. 2018;13:57.
- Singh N, Bhalla M, De jager P, Gilca M. An overview on ashwagandha: a Rasayana (rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2011;8(5 Suppl):208-13.
- Li Y, Pham V, Bui M, et al. an herb with anti-stress, anti-aging, and immunostimulating properties for cancer chemoprevention. Curr Pharmacol Rep. 2017;3(6):384-395.
- Available at: http://nccih.nih.gov/health/asianginseng/ataglance.htm. Accessed February 1, 2020.
- Tuli HS, Sandhu SS, Sharma AK. Pharmacological and therapeutic potential of Cordyceps with special reference to Cordycepin. 3 Biotech. 2014;4(1):1-12.