Adaptogens sound like the stuff of action movies, but in actuality, they are herbs, plants, and funguses which have been traditionally treasured for their medicinal properties. They have been around for a long time, too with Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine practitioners passing their knowledge down over thousands of years. While adaptogens aren’t new, they are having a serious moment in the spotlight as a major health trend with their purported benefits of stress relief, hormone balancing, and more. With the wellness world abuzz about adaptogens and the many elixirs and powders showing up at juice counters, health food stores, and on Instagram, we thought we’d take a closer look to see if they live up to the hype.
What does the research say? Research shows adaptogens can provide stress relief, decrease anxiety and depression, and help lower cortisol levels, reducing the impact of chronic stress and daily stressors, and even boosting immunity, among an impressive list of other benefits. Amazing, right?
The truth is, as much as we all want to practice #selfcare, sometimes dropping into downward dog just isn’t practical or accessible in the moment. Thankfully, adaptogens can help to bolster your wellness efforts and are super easy to incorporate them into your existing daily routine. Many adaptogens also make delicious teas and ingredients in other dishes, so your adaptogens can adapt to your life, especially when you aren’t feeling so… adaptable. Here are a few common adaptogens and their benefits you may want to try:
Ashwagandha is a super talked-about adaptogen, with research backing benefits such as easing anxiety and helping replenish fatigued adrenals. Ashwagandha powder is excellent in these stress and hunger fighting vanilla bean bites with white chocolate drizzle.
Reishi is a mushroom used for its immune boosting, calming, and inflammation fighting properties. Add a teaspoon of one of these powdered mushrooms to a mug of creamy vegan vanilla hot cocoa for a deliciously earthy and comforting drink.
Astragalus is another immune booster with an earthy, slightly sweet flavor. Add a strip of this woody adaptogen to your hot tea or throw a couple into bone broth or a white bean and kale soup to boost your immune system during seasonal transitions.
Adaptogens have been around long before the beautifully strange moon milks and adaptogenic lattes took over our social media feeds. But with the current pace of modern life and its accompanying stress, it looks like there has never been a better time to try these stress-busters. Just note that certain herbs and plants, like ashwagandha, should not be used when breast feeding or pregnant and some, like rhodiola, can be overstimulating for folks sensitive to caffeine. Enjoy experimenting with the many recipes, powders, and flavors to see which adaptogens work best for your body and your life… some of them are pretty delicious.
*As with adding any new supplements, herbs, or changes to your diet, be sure to consult your doctor or health care provider to discuss whether any of these adaptogens could work for you.