Understanding the Power of Adaptogens
What are adaptogens and how can they help you unlock a deeper sense of wellbeing? Learn what you need to know to get started, including an adaptogens list, in this article!
by Stacy Mosel, LMSW
Adaptogens seem to be the new buzzword in the holistic world, and while you’ve likely heard of them, you might not know what they are or why people use them.
When you feel out of balance or notice increased tension and worry, your usual methods for coping might not always work. Sometimes you need a helping hand, and this is where adaptogens can step in.
Keep reading to learn more about adaptogens and how you can use them, including how we at The Root of It All use them in our tinctures for their balancing and restorative benefits.
What Are Adaptogens?
The term adaptogen is used to describe any plant (including herbs and roots) that is thought to have properties that can help your body adapt to and deal with stress and tension. Different adaptogens work in different ways; some are believed to have relaxing properties, while others can be stimulating and energizing.
The term adaptogen was first used by Soviet scientist Nikolai Lazarev in 1957. He explained that these substances could increase “the state of nonspecific resistance to stress,” meaning that they could potentially enhance your overall stress resilience and help normalize your bodily functions during stressful times. Adaptogens are believed to work by supporting your adrenal glands; by adapting their functions to your specific needs, they may help promote a normal, healthy hormonal response to stress.
While the use of adaptogens in the Western world may be fairly new, they’ve actually been used in ancient healing practices like Ayurveda for more than 3,000 years because practitioners believe they can protect against biological, physical and chemical stressors.
A List of Commonly Used Adaptogens and Their Benefits
There are thought to be at least 70 types of adaptogens, each with slightly different properties and benefits. The most commonly used adaptogens are:
- Holy basil. Also known as tulsi, this herb is traditionally used to ease stress and to support the body’s natural inflammatory response.
- Ashwagandha. Often referred to as Indian ginseng, this is one of the most popularly used adaptogens that’s believed to support the adrenals and ease tension.
- Chaga. This is a type of mushroom typically found in colder climates; it has traditionally been used to support the body’s innate immune response and to support overall well-being.
- Turmeric. Curcumin is one of the principal components of the turmeric root, with many traditional uses including increasing stress resistance and supporting the body’s innate antioxidant function. Turmeric can be found in our RECOVER tincture and REWIND topical to help soothe achy muscles.
- Maca. This Peruvian plant has been in use for more than 2,000 years by native people who believe it can enhance fertility; it’s also an age-old remedy traditionally utilized for increasing energy.
- Astragalus. Prescribed in Chinese medicine for a number of conditions, astragalus is believed to help your body’s normal immune response and combat fatigue.
- Ginger. This root has historically been employed for a multitude of uses, including supporting cognitive functioning and promoting a healthy, natural digestive response. Ginger can help balance the stomach in our SETTLE tincture and boost the mind in our GO tincture.
- Rhodiola. This herb is anecdotally believed to have energizing, stimulating and fatigue-reducing properties, which have actually been investigated and confirmed by several scientific studies.
- Siberian Ginseng. The root of this plant is used by holistic medicine practitioners to help treat a variety of conditions and is traditionally thought to help increase the body’s resilience to stress.
- Chamomile. There’s a reason this herb is commonly found in tea blends to promote natural sleep — chamomile is an adaptogen that is believed to help your body’s natural relaxation response. Chamomile is found in our STOP tincture to help promote restful sleep.
- Licorice. Holistic health practitioners maintain that licorice supports your body’s adrenal response by reducing levels of cortisol, one of the body’s primary stress hormones.
How To Use Adaptogens
You can use adaptogens in a variety of ways depending on the result you’re seeking.
Like with all health and wellness tools, adaptogens don’t always work right away, so you may need to be consistent and patient with their use.
As with exercise, the most important thing when considering adaptogens is to find a method that’s easy to use and implement. You can use certain adaptogens (like ginger, turmeric or maca root) in your morning smoothie, or infuse the roots in a cup of hot tea. With other herbs or supplements that you’d buy in a nutrition store, it’s best to follow the packaging guidelines.
The Root of It All’s CBD-infused tinctures are very easy to incorporate into your daily wellness routine. We combine adaptogenic Ayurvedic plants, herbs and spices with CBD (including turmeric, ginger and camomile) to help maximize their benefits for specific purposes. Take a look at our tinctures for sleep, relaxation, sport recovery, energy, a balanced stomach and more. While the dosage can vary per person, one serving of our tinctures is equivalent to one full dropper — all you need to do is hold it under your tongue for about two minutes to allow for full absorption.
Adaptogens are generally considered safe, but you may wish to consult a naturopathic doctor if you have any specific concerns or require advice about what adaptogens are best for your needs. As with most supplements, adaptogens also work best when they are combined with other stress-busting tools like calming habits and daily rituals - which you can learn more about by checking out our Wellness Insights blog!
Stacy Mosel, LMSW, is a health and wellness writer as well as a licensed social worker, yoga enthusiast, certified Reiki practitioner and musician. She received a bachelor’s degree in music from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1999 and a Master of Social Work from New York University in 2002.