Adaptogens… whats the deal? They’ve become all the buzz in the health industry, and for good reason!!! This is the question I get asked the most, so I wanted to lay it all out for you with my top 10 adaptogens.
First off. What are they? Adaptogens are compounds that greatly improve your body’s ability to adapt to stress. Stress doesn’t necessarily mean that crazy, hectic schedule you’re trying to balance, job/financial stress, or relationship stress. While these are definitely major stressors for the majority of us, there are inevitable stressors we don’t really think about. Think: your body’s ability to adapt to the temperature (this is why we get sick when the weather fluctuates); workouts (your ability to recover); fighting off a flu, illness, or injury. Our adrenals (the two little glands that produce/regulate our hormones) are constantly taxed. I’m sure you’ve heard of adrenal fatigue; that’s where the name comes from. Our era is all about go-go-go, and it definitely takes a toll on the body.
That’s where adaptogens come in. Different from a stimulant like caffeine (which will automatically, well, stimulate you) adaptogens are unique in that they sense your body’s stress level, and work to bring you back to a balanced state. The herb ashwagandha for instance, works for people with both hypo– and hyper-thyroidism. Whether your levels are too high or too low, it works to bring your body back to balance. There are so many different adaptogens, which serve different purposes. So don’t go run to the store and buy them all! (I mean you could.. they’re all pretty great) I suggest finding a few key adaptogens that are right for you and your needs.
Just to preface, I know these products can be a little pricey… but also keep in mind they last a LONG time. I have a few little tricks that help me save money when it comes to purchasing adaptogens. I usually buy my adaptogens from Thrive Market. They are significantly discounted, and carry most products!! (If you are a new member, you can use my link for 20% your first three purchases!!) For the products that aren’t on Thrive Market, I see them as an investment for my health. I also usually cut down the “recommended serving size”. I typically use 1/2 tsp as a daily serving size per adaptogen, which will have your adaptogens lasting for months! So think of it as a down payment, where you will make your money back down the road.
Ashwagandha :: If you’re wondering where to start, I’d say Ashwagandha is a pretty safe bet. It has so many stress-reducing benefits, and is definitely one of my daily staples. A little goes a long way with this herb! My favorite way to get it in is by adding 1/4-1/2 tsp into my morning coffee or matcha, and again in my nightly turmeric latte. This potent adaptogenic herb is most commonly known for:
- Balancing thyroid hormones
- Reducing adrenal fatigue (caused from emotional, physical, and/or psychological stress)
- Increasing stamina and endurance
- Reducing anxiety and depression
- Lowering cortisol, stabilizing blood sugar
- Strengthening immune system
- Anti-inflammatory (ex. reliving symptoms associated with arthritis)
Cordyceps:: For all you athletes and workout-aholics, this one is for you!! This is a great adaptogen for someone who is constantly active. Cordyceps kind of hides under the radar, but has profound benefits –especially in terms of athletic performance. It is a medicinal mushroom, which has been used for years in Chinese Medicine. It’s best known for:
- Improving Stamina, Energy, Endurance and Athletic Performance (by increasing both oxygen intake + energy production)
- Strengthening Immune Function (stimulates production of Natural Killer Cells which help fight against infection)
- Improving libido
- Reducing stress and promoting adrenal balance
- Managing blood sugar levels (by increasing insulin sensitivity)
- Heart Health (due to anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmotic properties)
I recommend taking this adaptogen in the morning or before your workout! One of my favorite companies, Four Sigmatic, makes single serve/to-go elixir packets of this amazing adaptogen. They have several different elixirs, such as coffee and hot cacao varieties! They taste amazing and are so convenient. You can use my code: mindbodyblueprint for 10% off!
Chaga:: *THE* most potent medicinal mushroom with so many healing properties. This is one of my favorite adaptogens to add to my morning coffee or latte! Named “King Healer” as it’s PACKED with nutrients + adaptogenic/healing properties:
- The most potent anti-oxidant on the planet!!! Bet ya didn’t know that! Yep, even more than matcha
- Increases Natural Killer Cells by 300%
- 50x more Super Oxide Dismutase than any other medicinal mushroom (enzyme that cleanses liver, protects cell-membrane and promotes longevity)
- contains 215 Phytochemicals
- Increases immune function
- Reduces inflammation
The incredible benefits speak for itself. Four Sigmatic also makes some of my favorite Chaga blends. If you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, I recommend Chaga.
Rhodiola:: Just an honest warning, rhodiola is amazing, but the taste…. not so much! I either mix it with water and just gulp it down for the health benefits, or make a latte using coconut butter, maca, and steamed coconut milk. But the benefits are definitely worth it. This is a great adaptogen for someone who feels like they’re stuck in a rut, and needs an energy boost.
- Relieves stress – due to its natural calming properties, inducing relaxation
- Increases energy levels – some of the compounds in rhodiola have been associated with increased metabolism + circulation of blood/oxygen in the body
- Boosts cognitive health, aiding in mental clarity/memoryStrengthens immune by increasing production of Natural Killer Cells
*Keep in mind, this is one of those herbs you will need to take on a consistent basis to start seeing the results!
Pine Pollen:: Another great adaptogen for those looking to increase energy production, balance out their hormones, and improve athletic performance
- anti-inflammatory (helping you recover faster after workouts)
- supports hormone production in both men and women and has shown to have an increase on metabolism, endurance, and libido
- supports and detoxifies the liver
- contains 250+ micro-nutrients, including: vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, D2, D3, E and Folic Acid
- promotes cardio-vascular health
- anti-fatigue, increases libido, and enhances mood
* Ensure you’re purchasing a wild-crafted pine pollen that has been ethically sourced. My favorite brand is Sun Potion. This adaptogen has an energetic quality, so I suggest taking this in the morning, not before bed. I love adding it to my morning smoothie!
Maca:: Another one of my daily staples! Especially when you need that energy boost. Maca is a superfood that’s been consumed for thousands of years, and is best known for its adaptogenic properties, ability to balance hormone levels, and improve energy/mood. If you cut the caffeine but need a pick-me-up, this is for you.
- Rich in anti-oxidants
- Increases energy/mood (if you’re not an avid coffee drinker or are avoiding caffeine, give maca a try! It gives you the same energy boost as caffeine without the jittery feeling/ afternoon crash)
- Boosts libido in both females/males
- Contains amino acids, vitamins B, B1, B2, C, D and E, fiber and essential fatty acids
* Unlike some adaptogens, maca works immediately! Try adding it to your breakfast elixir or smoothie for that morning or mid-day pick-me-up
Reishi:: Also known as “Queen Healer of Mushrooms”. This potent medicinal mushroom is known for its calming properties. Unlike cordyceps or maca, this is a great adaptogen to use when you just want to chill out and relax. I love incorporating reishi into my nightly elixirs, or homemade chocolate treats (which lets be honest, I always have at night). It is one of the most potent adaptogens available and is known for:
- anti–inflammatory, anti- viral, anti-tumor, anti-oxidant, anti-stress and anti-fatigue properties (basically anti- everything… you can see why its called Queen Healer!)
- ability to lower blood pressure
- potent immune system and longevity tonic
- supports mental clarity
Reishi is another staple in my cabinet and part of my nightly routine. My favorite brands are Sun Potion and Four Sigmatic’s Reishi hot cacao elixirs.
Holy Basil :: Not to be confused with sweet basil (used in cooking), holy basil is an adaptogen that’s known as one of the most sacred plants in India. Also known as “Tulsi”, this herb is a potent anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial (making it great for the immune) — but the real star is its stress reducing abilities. Holy basil also:
- balances hormones and lowers stress by regulating cortisol
- cures respiratory disorders, treats asthma, and prevents lung disorders
- Normalize blood sugar by regulating insulin + glucose sensitivity
If you’re looking for a wide spectrum adaptogen, Holy Basil is your girl. It’s also great for anyone with respiratory troubles and a weakened immune system.
Lion’s Mane:: If you have trouble with brain fog or memory, give this medicinal mushroom a try! It is known as one of the best brain foods, as it stimulates NGF (nerve growth factor). Without getting too sciencey on you, stimulating NGF increases brain function by reducing inflammation + increasing neural growth and overall brain health.
- Powerful neuroprotectant
- Increases memory, cognition, and overall brain health
- Reduces inflammation
- Improve anxiety and depression
- Boosts immune while aiding detoxification
- Improves digestive help by aiding liver
* When choosing a Lion’s Mane supplement, make sure it is dual-extracted to ensure you’re getting all the benefits. Four Sigmatic makes my favorite blends, which are all dual-extracts! The most desirable benefits are seen with regular supplementation of Lion’s Mane over several months!
He Shou Wu (also known as fo ti) is a great adaptogen for anyone looking for overall health whole-body function. It is known as a blood-tonic, making it a great option for anyone like me who “runs cold”, or weight lifters looking to naturally increase circulation. This adaptogen is great for glowing skin, hair, nails and overall whole-body health! My favorite brand is Sun Potion
- anti-aging properties
- increases energy levels and mental clarity
- increases libido and adrenal function
- anti-oxidant and neuroprotective properties
- blood tonic — where increased circulation may support growth and recovery, also helpful for those resistant to the cold
Just a reminder, most adaptogens don’t elicit an immediate response! So don’t think its a magical powder that will immediately work! They take time for your body to reap the benefits. With regular use, you will start to see the profound benefits (2-6 months). I incorporate them into my diet on a daily basis, and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon!! As always, you should consult your physician as I am not a Doctor, just sharing my personal experience and what has worked for me!