I briefly spoke about adaptogens in a previous post on natural energy boosters. The herbs and roots in that post were, no surprise, purely for the increase of the energy benefits they naturally provide.
But did you know Adaptogens can do so much more than that? AND there are many more adaptogens than the few I mentioned.
In this post you can find out all the different adaptogens and what each of their benefits are.
What are Adaptogens?
In case you aren’t already aware of adaptogens, or you’ve heard of them but don’t know what they are, here’s the lowdown.
Adaptogens are natural medicines, herbs and roots from plants that have been used for millennia in Eastern medicine. Many are also important steps in Ayurvedic medicine traditions.
Adaptogens all have the ability to adapt the body’s response to stress. They can alter hormone production and your psychological responses to ensure that your body functions as it should.
These balancing properties work with something called the HP axis which enables the delicate balance between you brain and hormone system, ensuring they work in harmony so you have a healthy immune system, energy level, metabolism, mind, mood, and sex drive.
Any imbalances can lead to adrenal fatigue, thyroid problems and much more.
As well as helping your body deal with stress each adaptogen has slightly different properties of its own, meaning they can help with much more than stress.
Depending on your ailment(s) or the benefits you want most, you can choose from the adaptogens and decide which ones are right for you. It is ok to take more than one adaptogen at once, and you can take them throughout the day to complement each other and work for what your body needs at that time.
For example energy and brain function on a morning, and relaxing or to help you destress on an evening.
Maca is most commonly known for its great energy boosting qualities, so it is good at fighting fatigue as well as increasing physical and mental stamina, and athletic performance.
It is a good one to have in your arsenal if you are fighting chronic fatigue or M.E. symptoms of brain fog and exhaustion/fatigue.
Maca is also used to help anaemia sufferers. You can take it to help reduce anxiety and depression, and it is a high in a number of important vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, iron and copper. Because it is high in vitamin C it also works to help boost your immune system too.
Ashwagandha or Indian ginseng is traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to help boost the immune system after being sick. It is as the best of the adaptogens for balancing your cortisol levels, aiding that delicate balance between your brain and hormone levels.
Because it is so good at balancing your body Ashwagandha is also great for balancing thyroid problems. In particular boosting any sluggish thyroid hormones.
It is also an anti inflammatory making it good to take for chronic pain relief, and helps to relieve stress, anxiety and depression.
Liquorice root can be used for many aspects of wellness. It is antiviral and antibacterial so is good for your immune system, helps to alleviate stress and heal adrenal fatigue with its cortisol balancing effects.
It is also anti inflammatory and helps to boost your metabolism.
Cordycepts is a mushroom. It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to treat fatigue, sickness and a low sex drive.
Take Cordycepts to help increase and sustain your energy levels throughout the day. Cordycepts are an energy booster, but not a stimulant so they are much better for you to take than coffee!
Cordycepts are also good for their anti-ageing antioxidant properties, they help to balance blood sugar levels, and can help fight inflammation in the body.
Asian ginseng or Panax ginseng is another great energy booster used to improve thinking, concentration and memory. You can take it to help support physical endurance and for improving your mental clarity.
Native Americans took ginseng as a stimulant and headache remedy, as well as treatment for indigestion and fevers.
It is known for boosting the immune system and to help you fight infections. It is also good for improving heart health and to help with depression and anxiety.
Schisandra is a berry and a powerful antioxidant and anti inflammatory. Traditionally Chinese medicine uses Schisandra for longevity and vitality. It is also very good to take to support your adrenals and can help fight adrenal fatigue.
It can also be taken to help you increase energy and fight fatigue, and reduce both mental and physical stress symptoms.
Schisandra is good for balancing your blood sugars and to help protect your liver against damage and liver disease.
You can use Schisandra to help improve coordination, your concentration and endurance. It has been scientifically proven to improve accuracy and quality of work, and prevent mental fatigue.
Rhodiola is the herb that’s best for stress and dealing with complete adrenal fatigue and burn out. It supports regular energy levels, helps your body fight that ‘fight or flight’ induced by stress, as well as physical and environmental related stress. Relieves anxiety, and encourages normal cortisol levels and brain function.
Because it helps regulate cortisol it also helps to balance your mood and deal with symptoms of depression.
You can also use Rhodiola rosea to help relieve altitude sickness.
Mucana is a vine growing seed that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. It is a natural source of levodopa (the precursor to dopamine) so has a profoundly balancing, restorative, and revitalising effect on the whole nervous system, helping your body to handle stress, as well as improving your energy and both metal and physical endurance.
You can also take Mucana for improving physical balance and posture, and improving motor skills and coordination.
It can also help with proper digestive function and promote proper elimination, support healthy blood sugar levels, and support normal fertility in both males and females.
Chaga is another mushroom adaptogen. It is not only loaded with antioxidants that fight free radicals and keep your skin looking youthful, but also has powerful antiviral and immune boosting properties making it good to take if you have a low immune system or need to fight off viruses.
It is also rich in a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and nutrients including vitamin D, potassium, selenium, copper, zinc, iron, and amino acids.
Lions mane is a mushroom that contains bioactive substances that have beneficial effects on your body, in particular the brain, gut, and heart. It had the ability to stimulate the growth of brain cells, improve memory loss and mental function, and recreate and protect brain tissue. Buddhist monks use lions mane during their meditations to increase concentration.
It is anti inflammatory and has therapeutic benefits for your peripheral and central nervous system, as well as helping relieve anxiety and depression.
Lions mane also helps aid digestion and it protects against ulcers.
Holy basil is a member of the mint family and is very soothing in its properties. Take holy basil to help you relieve stress and anxiety, as well as calming digestive issues and if you suffer from bloating and gas.
It also helps with increasing cognitive function and relieving brain fog.
Holy basil has anti inflammatory properties that make it good to take if you suffer from joint pain. It can also lower blood sugar if you suffer from diabetes.
Astragalus is a herb with strong immune boosting properties as well as being antiviral and antibacterial. This makes it very good to take after a long illness. It is mostly used to help restore the immune system of cancer patients or those suffering with a chronic illness. But would be beneficial for you to take after any long illnesses.
It can increase the count of white blood cells, and stimulate the production of antibodies.
Traditional Chinese medicine has used Astragalus for thousands of years to strengthen the bodies resistance to disease, fight colds and flus, stomach ulcers, and to help diabetes.
Astragalus is also full of powerful anti-aging properties, and helps to build and restore overall health throughout your body especially the nervous system. It is good to take if you are dealing with adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome(CFS) / M.E, and fibromyalgia.
You can also take it to help you lower your blood pressure.
Reishi is also a mushroom. It has powerful healing properties, and unique polysaccharide molecules that promote longevity by boosting your immune system function and preventing abnormal blood cells. As well as being an anti inflammatory and works to boost your immune system.
Scientists have shown that reishi is able to improve liver function, improve your memory, promote healthy neurological function, and protect your brain against disease.
Reishi is a mood booster too.
What I’m currently taking
I thought it might be useful to share my own journey with adaptogens. So if you’re interested in what I take personally this bits for you!
When I was first diagnosed with my M.E I was referred to a specialist. The specialist suggested taking Rhodiola rosea because, and I quote “it sometimes works for some people”.
I gave it a go , but hadn’t done much of my own research at that point. I was just trying to get through each day… didn’t feel much benefits and moved on.
Fast forward to a couple of years ago and as I started my spiritual/herbal journey and started doing my own research into alternative ways to treat M.E. I’m currently taking Liquorice root twice a day (morning and evening), Maca in my morning smoothies, plus Ashwagandha and Rhodiola rosea on a morning in capsule form too.
And if you would like to know more about how to incorporate adaptogens into your meals and daily routine you can check out this article here for more info, as well as some recipes.