Most Powerful Adaptogenic Herbs
Stress can be lethal to your happiness, health, and productivity. After all, it disturbs the balance you need to juggle work, relaxation, and relationships. However, there’s something you can do before it ultimately affects your physical and mental health - add adaptogens to your diet.
What are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens are over 70 herbs or mushrooms that can help your body against the effects of stress. They stimulate the body’s stress-protecting response to help you return to a balanced state known as homeostatis.
Adaptogens enable individuals to adapt to external stressors while strengthening internal systems. As a result, they effectively promote vitality, stabilize mood, and boost focus. Moreover, they help the body build resilience to stress, limiting its effects.
The Most Powerful Adaptogens
If you’re reading this line, kudos on considering adding adaptogens to your diet. To help you make the right choice, here’s a quick look at the top 12 adaptogens.
American ginseng (panax quinquefolius) is an herb native to North America. Not to be confused with Asian ginseng (panax ginseng), it stimulates the body’s resistance to stressors.
American ginseng contains chemicals that can lower blood sugar. This is important considering stress releases hormones that increase blood sugar. Therefore, the herb can help you avoid the complications of long-term high blood sugar like heart disease.
American ginseng may also improve mental function by boosting short-term memory and enhancing cognitive function and alertness. The herb is further known for increasing working memory, especially in middle-aged individuals.
Finally, American ginseng can strengthen your immune system. Studies show that individuals have a 35% higher chance of living disease-free after curative surgery. They also have a 38% higher survival rate. Other studies indicate that the herb can enhance the effect of vaccinations.
Ashwagandha (withania somnifera) is an important Ayurvedic herb that Indian healers have used for centuries.
As an adaptogen, it can control mediators of stress. It’s also known to reduce the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity. This is the system responsible for regulating the stress response.
Numerous studies indicate ashwagandha’s ability to relieve anxiety and stress. This is possible because the herb reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This, in turn, can also improve sleep quality.
Another renowned Asian herb, astragalus (astragalus membranaceus) has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for years.
As an adaptogen, it curbs stress levels while helping calm the mind and body. It may also help individuals suffering from mood swings and nervous tension.
Consuming astragalus can further help with sleep issues such as insomnia and interrupted sleep. Therefore, it can improve overall health and balance hormones for a healthier body.
Moreover, astragalus boosts the immune system. In fact, this is the main benefit that healers and researchers agree on. The herb has natural antibiotic properties, is rich in antioxidants, and provides compounds that strengthen the body.
Another popular ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine, cordyceps (cordyceps militaris) is an adaptogenic mushroom harvested from caterpillar larvae.
It helps the body create and maintain balance during times of stress. It also acts as a stimulant to reinvigorate the neuroendocrine system and counter physical exertion.
Cordyceps may further boost the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is what the body uses for energy. That’s why consuming this mushroom ensures higher athletic endurance and enables you to perform better during high-intensity exercise.
Finally, the mushroom can help reduce inflammation, positively impacting the immune system. Especially since it helps reduce the risk of chronic inflammatory diseases.
Native to Tibet, Nepal, and China, goji berry (lycium barbarum) is one of the strong adaptogenic herbs for several reasons.
It’s rich in antioxidants, fiber, iron, and vitamins A and C. It can support immune function and promote longevity and overall wellbeing.
Consuming goji berries can also improve depression and anxiety-like behaviors. Several studies prove this berry can enhance mood and feelings of calmness and contentment. It may even improve the quality of sleep without negative effects.
Moreover, you can expect to enhance your athletic performance and energy levels. To complement your improved physical health, the berry will enhance your ability to focus and mental acuity.
A woody shrub, eleuthero root (eleutherococcus senticosus), or Siberian ginseng may not be a true ginseng. However, it’s a very effective adaptogenic herb that you should include in your diet.
Eleuthero acts as a stimulant, boosting energy levels and helping you overcome exhaustion. It’s also known to increase muscles’ ability to do work, especially during long periods of intense physical activity.
It further improves cognitive function by increasing blood flow to the brain. So, you won’t have to worry about mental fog, and other effects stress has on your memory and concentration.
Several studies are underway to determine the effect of eleuthero on anxiety, depression, and stress burnout. Most of these have been quite positive. However, they’ve only been done on animals. So, more research is needed for humans.
Growing wild in parts of Asia, Jiaogulan (gynostemma pentaphyllum) is commonly used for high cholesterol, obesity, and liver disease. Also known as Southern Ginseng, this climbing vine is a great adaptogenic herb as well.
Jiaogulan helps boost endurance and stamina by increasing crude polysaccharides in the body. It also increases physical strength and muscle tone. Therefore, it can help improve athletic performance.
As an adaptogen, jiaogulan can effectively reduce mental and physical stress. It can also significantly recover depleting dopamine and serotonin levels to reduce anxiety and stress.
The herb further supports the immune system by protecting and cleansing the body from toxins. It also protects and strengthens your immunity through its antioxidant properties. Finally, it fights inflammation and protects the immune system from environmental toxins and the effects of stress.
Licorice root (glycyrrhiza glabra) is probably one of the oldest remedies, with its first use dating back to Ancient Egypt. Used heavily in Western Asia and Southern Europe, healers prescribed it for digestive issues and respiratory problems.
As an adaptogenic herb, licorice root can help individuals with low cortisol levels and adrenal insufficiency. It helps them experience less fatigue, especially when waking up in the morning.
Other reported health benefits include treating mood swings and alleviating depression symptoms.
Rhodiola rosea (R. rosea) is a traditional Eurasian medicine. Known as arctic root or golden root, this adaptogen can effectively improve both your physical and mental wellbeing.
Rhodiola is quickly becoming a promising treatment for stress, mild to moderate depression, cognitive deficiencies, and memory. When used with antidepressants, it can lessen the impact of their side effects, especially sedation fatigue and sexual dysfunction.
Clinical studies indicate that the herb is helpful in treating chronic fatigue syndrome. It can further treat physical deficiencies such as exhaustion, daytime sleepiness, sleep disturbance, and cognitive complaints like stress and irritability.
Mental stress aside, rhodiola can improve your sports performance by reducing physical fatigue. It further enhances muscle power and strength performance.
Schisandra Berry/Magnolia Berry
Schisandra or Magnolia berry (schisandra chinensis) is a vine bearing purple-red berries that taste sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and pungent. In traditional Chinese medicine, it’s known for benefiting the qi, or the life force of energy. This makes sense considering its current status as an adaptogen.
Magnolia berry can effectively lower the stress hormone to restore the balance of energy in the body. This, in turn, prevents symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
The berry can also improve the body’s resistance and adaptation to stressful influences while supporting mental endurance.
Consuming the berries can further support your immune system. They’re rich in natural antioxidants that prevent cells from deteriorating rapidly.
A popular ingredient in Indian medicine, holy basil (ocimum tenuiflorum) isn’t the same as the basil used in marinara sauce or pho. This tonic is used to treat bronchitis, eczema, and eye diseases.
As an adaptogen, holy basil can increase your endurance to physical stress. It can also help against sleep problems, forgetfulness, and exhaustion.
Moreover, tulsi has antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties. These will help you feel less anxious and stressed. Some people even report feeling more open to socializing.
Finally, holy basil is high in antioxidants and can help your body detox. It can further protect it against toxic chemicals. With the ability to boost wound healing speed and strength to add, your immune system will improve.
Turmeric (curcuma longa) is a commonly used spice for flavoring or coloring different dishes. It’s also a well-known remedy for pain and inflammation.
Turmeric can increase the body’s antioxidant capacity, protecting it from free radicals and their consequences. It can also increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels. This hormone delays brain diseases and may improve memory and attention.
Turmeric’s active component, curcumin, is also effective against depression. Studies are researching its use for depressed individuals as it boosts serotonin and dopamine levels. Both of these hormones are responsible for feelings of happiness.
Where to Buy Adaptogen Supplements?
You can easily purchase adaptogen supplements from your local pharmacy or online. The second option may be better since you can save more while accessing a larger variety of supplements.
Besides, you can find brands that combine several adaptogens into a single supplement. Therefore, you can maximize your chances of getting the benefits you learned about and more.
So, don’t wait any longer and add adaptogens to your day. Your mind and body will thank you for the added strength they’ll get to carry on despite stressful situations.