Whether you’re after more energy, less stress, a stronger immune system or a better disposition overall, adaptogens may be able to help.
Feeling constantly tired? Have jangled nerves? Or just feeling off? Us, too. That’s why adaptogens—healing plants that are ingested or applied to the body to help it find balance by adapting to a variety of stressors—are all the buzz in wellness right now. Read on for a primer on adaptogens, and to learn whether they’re right for you.
It may seem woo hoo now, but people around the world have been using herbs to heal and restore the body for thousands of years. And many of us, too, have tried out some sort of herbal remedy, whether its peppermint tea for soothing an upset stomach or sniffing lavender to mellow out.
Adaptogenic herbs are one of the oldest forms of medicine, having been used by Indigenous peoples, in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, which originated in India 3,000 years ago. It wasn’t until 1969 that Russian scientist I.I. Brekhman published a study that defined specific criteria for the adaptogens (and coined the term), including being nontoxic in therapeutic doses and restoring normal function to the body after it’s exposed to physiological or psychological stressors. Some of the herbs are energizing (red ginseng); others promote relaxation (reishi and ashwagandha); and some benefit immune health (rhodiola).
Social media and the current obsession with self-care have taken healing herbs one step further, making this a billion dollar industry. Since there isn’t enough scientific research to prove every claim made about adaptogens, from decreased anxiety to clear skin to an improved sex drive, it’s important to exercise caution when taking these supplements. Check with your doctor if you have any health concerns that may be affected by taking them.
If you’re curious to see whether adaptogens will work for you, here are four ways to experiment and explore:
1. Read up on herbs in this definitive guide, Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief.
Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief$23, indigo.ca.
2. The most recognizable brands in adaptogenic herbs, Sun Potion, Four Sigmatic and Moon Juice, have plenty of options to choose from. Or visit your local health food store to browse its offerings and consult with the staff.
Sun Potion Ashwagandha, $56, purefeast.com.
3. To turbocharge your coffee, add this blend of superfoods—including ashwagandha, ginseng and cordyceps—to your cup.
Four Sigmatic Adaptogen Blend, $42, well.ca.
4. Possibly the most delicious way to get an immunity boost: in the form of this dark chocolate sea salt Superfood Bar, powered by Reishi, the “Mushroom of Immortality.”
Purely Elizabeth Grain Free Superfood Bar, $3.45, purefeast.com.