Adaptogens are a group of plants, herbs and roots that can help increase bodily resistance to stress, trauma, anxiety and fatigue. They don’t necessarily make you feel more energized or relaxed – rather, they help your body adapt to stressors by boosting its own internal resources without affecting emotions or thought patterns.
How Adaptogens Work
Adaptogens are not stimulants or drugs. Adaptogens are a class of herbs that help the body cope with stress by increasing its resistance to the harmful effects of stress while promoting stamina and resilience. Unlike stimulants like caffeine, which cause an immediate energy boost but then leave one feeling tired afterwards, adaptogens work with the body to increase stamina and resilience.
One way in which adaptogens work their magic is by regulating cortisol levels, the main stress hormone secreted by your adrenal glands when you’re under pressure, by slowing down its production so that it stays at healthy levels rather than shooting up too high (which could cause anxiety) or crashing too low (which would leave you feeling fatigued).
Meet the Top 8 Adaptogens
Unlike many other herbal supplements, adaptogens don’t just target one symptom or condition. Rather, they’re designed to promote overall wellness through increased energy levels and enhanced mental clarity. In addition to helping you feel more relaxed under stressful circumstances, adaptogens can also be used as natural remedies to support anxiety disorders such as panic attacks and depression by helping the brain regulate moods more effectively.
With so many adaptogens to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start.
Adrenal glandular extract provides an alternative, non-prescription means to support the healthy functioning of the adrenal glands during times of stress or other stressful events. Adrenal glandular can be found on its own or in combination formulas with other nutrients and herbs (like licorice and Siberian ginseng). There is currently not a lot of research on concentrations and dosing, so it is recommended to take the suggested dose on the product label. It is also worth pointing out that the adrenal glandular should only be used to deal with stress in the short term. When looking for an adrenal glandular supplement, Adrenal Gland by Life Choice is a popular choice because it’s bovine sourced and non-GMO.
Ashwagandha is also known as Indian ginseng. It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for anxiety, insomnia and low energy. Ashwagandha adaptogen can help improve memory and concentration. In addition to its traditional uses, ashwagandha has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety while improving physical vitality under stressful conditions such as physical exertion (for example athletic performance). The recommended dose of ashwagandha is between 300 and 600 milligrams per day. Harmonic Arts Ashwagandha is favoured by many for it’s organic formula and best farming practises. Harmonic Arts is an eco-certified, non-GMO company so people trust they’re getting quality with their supplements.
If you normally feel like you come down with a cough or cold as soon as you are feeling stressed or run down, astragalus may be for you. Astragalus is a herb that is used in Chinese medicine as a remedy for upper respiratory infections. Chinese herbalists have been using it to treat these conditions for thousands of years, but it has gained popularity in Western medicine as well. Astragalus can be taken as tea or in capsule form. People often feel calm after using it because it has a mild sedative effect. Typical doses of astragalus range between 250 milligrams and 1 gram. Astragalus by Botanica is an excellent choice when deciding upon an astragalus supplement because it’s gluten-free, soy-free, vegan and non-GMO so you know you’re getting quality.
Licorice root has been used as an anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety agent, and muscle relaxant. Some research suggests that licorice root may also help lower blood pressure. It does this by acting in similar ways to your steroid hormones (also known as stress hormones like cortisol), which helps to give your body’s own steroid hormones a break when you are stressed. Licorice supplements are available in two formulas: licorice root and deglycyrrhized licorice root (also called DGL). While DGL is typically easier for most people to tolerate, it is more beneficial to stick with the non-DGL format for optimal benefits from this herb. There is also some research to suggest that is beneficial to take periodic breaks from licorice every three months.
Wondering which licorice supplement is best? Licorice Liquid by St. Francis Herb Farms is a tincture format that’s organic and non-GMO so you can trust that you’re getting a quality supplement that’s also highly bioavailable.
Rhodiola is an adaptogen that can provide physical energy and support mental clarity. It’s used as a treatment for depression, burnout from too much stress, or fatigue caused by physical overwork. The optimal dose of rhodiola is between 400 and 700 milligrams per day, taken in divided doses. Unlike some other adaptogens, rhodiola is safe to take for long periods. A highly respected rhodiola supplement is Rhodiola Alive from Living Alchemy. This formula also includes other adaptogens and turmeric to provide a well-rounded supplement. Not only does it work as an adaptogen, but the turmeric helps combat inflammation that can be brought on by stress.
Long used in Asia to manage stress and its effects on the body, Siberian ginseng has been shown to increase levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that helps regulate mood. It also increases dopamine levels, which can improve memory, attention span and cognitive function. Siberian ginseng does not cause sleepiness or excitability. In fact, it is often considered a stimulant, although its effects are milder than those of caffeine and other traditional stimulants like coffee or tea. The optimal dose of Siberian ginseng is 300-400 milligrams per day. Because of its energy-boosting properties, it should not be taken near bedtime.
Choosing a trusted supplement brand can be difficult in the sea of natural health brands on the market. Luckily, Natural Factors is a reputable brand that many know and love. Their Siberian Ginseng 250mg is an excellent option if you’re looking for a ginseng supplement as Natural Factors is known for making pure, highly absorbable supplements.
Schisandra supports the body, especially during times of stress. Unlike other adaptogens, schisandra has been shown to have sedative properties thanks to its high concentration of flavonoids—a class of antioxidants found in fruits, veggies and herbs that help fight free radicals that can damage cells. This makes it particularly good at easing stress-related insomnia when taken before bedtime because it improves sleep quality while reducing anxiety levels throughout the day. However, these benefits are only as good as the supplement you take. That’s why choosing a quality formulation is important.
Schisandra by St. Francis Herb Farm is one of the top natural health products available. It’s in a tincture format and St. Francis Herb Farm is well-known for quality, purity and bioavailability.
Vitamin B5 is considered an adaptogen because it increases resistance and resilience by helping the body respond better to stressors. Studies have shown that people who take vitamin B5 report a greater sense of well-being. Although the adequate intake for adults is 5 milligrams per day, practitioners often recommend higher doses, between 10 and 100 milligrams per day. But you may be wondering, how do I know which supplement to buy? Finding a high quality formula is half the battle when taking supplements, with all the options available it can be hard to decipher which ones are best.
New Roots B5 Calcium d-Pantothenate is an excellent choice. New Roots is known for making quality natural health care products that are absorbable and offer pure ingredients; their B5 formula is no exception.
Lastly, when you are stressed, it helps to combine the right adaptogen with a healthy diet. Your adrenal glands thrive when you consume plenty of vegetables and healthy lean proteins. Avoid taking too many stimulants, as well as sugar and alcohol, when you are working to restore your vibrant health.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your practitioner prior to taking herbs or nutritional supplements.