Ultimate Guide to Adaptogens

Uniqua Hardy
6 min readSep 7, 2019

--

The human body is an incredible ecosystem and has an innate ability to maintain itself. However, injury, stress, poor diet, and toxic environments can whack our systems out of balance. This is where adaptogens come in to help. Adaptogens are restorative herbs, plants, and mushrooms that support the body’s adrenal functions, which affect our stress responses, immune health, sleep patterns, and mood. They help us thrive and bring us back to our natural state of health, balance, and happiness.

For a substance to be adaptogenic:

  1. It places no stress or harm on the body.
  2. It helps the body adapt to environmental and psychological stresses.
  3. It has a non-specific action on the body and supports balance in all the major systems including the nervous system, hormonal system, and immune system.

Adaptogens have been used for thousands of years in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. The beauty of them is that they support the mind-body connection and have a unique ability to adapt to our bodies’ individual needs. Additionally, they accumulate in benefits, for the most part, meaning that over time they will help restore your body’s own intelligence. That said, incorporating balancing, adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms into your routines helps your body remember to find and maintain homeostasis on its own.

ADAPTOGENIC SHROOMS

Chaga (for overall health)

Chaga mushroom has been used in folk medicine throughout Russia, Korea, Northern Europe, and North America for thousands of years. It is known for having a high antioxidant content and it can reduce inflammation, stimulate the immune system, and support liver health. It contains more anti-tumor compounds than any other medicinal mushroom and has the highest amount of antioxidants than any other herb in the world. It is usually brewed as a tea and can be used to replace coffee. In fact, during WWII chaga tea was the Finnish coffee substitute, due to coffee rations.

Cordyceps (for stamina and strength)

Cordyceps is a superstar mushroom known for improving strength and vitality. It is commonly used to enhance athletic performance as it increases endurance, stamina, and aids recovery. It tones the heart and lungs, reduces fatigue, increases libido, and boosts immunity.

Lion’s Mane (for creativity and cognitive function)

Lion’s Mane is classed as a nootropic, meaning its a shroom for the brain. It has been used for thousands of years in TCM as a brain, nervous system, and cognitive tonic. Buddhist monks used it traditionally to help focus during meditation, and it is known to be great for creativity and productivity.

Studies today indicate that the mushroom has high levels of antioxidants and that it may help in treating anxiety, depression, and improving cognitive health. It promotes good digestion and strength, stimulates nerve growth, promotes health in all 5 organs (liver, lung, spleen, heart, kidney), increases brain function and treats insomnia.

Reishi (for meditation and calming)

Reishi has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years and today it is one of the most studied herbs in the world. Often said to be a “bridge between Earth and Heaven,” it is a sacred herb that signifies longevity and spirituality. It has anti-aging properties and it balances the liver, heart, lungs, and kidneys. It regulates the immune system and has anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic, antiviral and antibacterial and antioxidant properties. It is best taken as part of your evening routine or as part of your meditation practice with raw cacao or tea.

Shiitake (for optimal nutrition and health)

Shiitake is a nutritional and medicinal powerhouse known as the ‘elixir of life’. It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. This mushroom is a nutrient powerhouse that contains large amounts of vitamin D, vitamin B, minerals, and all eight essential amino acids. It also is used to treat various ailments: it strengthens the respiratory tract, tones the heart, improves circulation, protects the liver and provides deep nourishment for the immune system.

Turkey tail (for a strong immune system)

Turkey tail has been used by herbalists for thousands of years as an immune stimulant. It is consumed as a tea and the compounds found in the mushroom help modulate the immune system to keep it strong and resilient. It tones the liver and contains prebiotics that improve gut health. Compounds found in the mushroom help modulate the immune system to keep it strong and resilient.

ADAPTOGENIC ROOTS

Ashwagandha (for balance and treating anxiety and stress)

Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb that translates to ‘strength of a stallion’. Known for its grounding and restorative properties, it is one of the most important adaptogens for stress and anxiety. It supports the nervous and endocrine systems and has a potent ability to treat anxiety, reduce stress, improve energy, combat aging, lower inflammation, and fight infection.

Astragalus (for the immune system and energy)

Used medicinally for centuries, astragalus is a Chinese herb known to build strong circulation. It protects the body by strengthening the immune system, promoting energy and improving heart function. Many use it for treating symptoms of the common cold and gastrointestinal issues. It is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and rich in antioxidants.

The wonderful thing about astragalus is that it doesn’t actually give you energy — it helps you to cultivate your natural energy and power for an ongoing and consistent ability to create your own long-term, sustainable energy.

Cannabis (for restoring balance in the mind and body)

CBD creates a bridge between our body and mind, protecting our brain cells from emotional trauma and inflammation. CBD naturally has the ability to fight inflammation, soothe sore muscles, relieve pain, reduce stress, aid in sleep, provide mental clarity, and aid in weight management. Read more about the benefits of CBD here.

Ginkgo (for the mind & memory)

One of the most well-known herbal supplements, gingko is commonly used to improve memory, cognitive function, and increase energy levels.

Eleuthero (for alertness and concentration)

Also known as Siberian Ginseng, Eleuthero is used to increase alertness, mental performance, and concentration. It also reduces stress and fatigue. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Eleuthero root is used to invigorate qi, strengthen and nourish the body, and to balance vital energy.

He Shou Wu (restores and regenerates)

He Shou Wu is an endocrine system balancer. It is restorative and regenerative and known to balance sex hormones and the nervous system.

Maca (increases stamina and regulates hormones)

Maca is a Peruvian root that has been used for over 2,000 years for energy, libido, and stamina. It is known to regulate hormones, improve memory, and overall improve the learning ability. This super root is also known for its ability to protect against depression and age-related cognitive decline.

Rhodiola (for depression and stress relief)

Rhodiola is a stimulating adaptogen known as an adrenal adaptogen. It is one of the most clinically researched adaptogens and used in many herbal remedies for depression and stress. It supports the body’s natural resistance and improves the functioning of the adrenal glands, encouraging a healthy response to stress. It helps with cognitive functions and has the ability to aid in regulating the production of cortisol.

Tulsi (anti-aging and elevating)

Tulsi, or Holy Basil, is a powerful balancing botanical that supports adrenal health and a state of equilibrium in the body. It works as an overall regulator and terpene-rich stress reducer that may protect organs and tissues from chemical stress. It has anti-aging and antimicrobial properties and nourishes the mind while elevating the spirit.

Schizandra (overall health and vitality)

Schizandra is a super berry that is known to promote overall health and vitality. Schizandra berries can enhance the body’s natural resistance and adaptation to stressful influences, support mental endurance, and promote overall metabolic efficiency. It can combat fatigue and weakness and enhance physical performance, promote endurance and provide stress-protective relief. In the mind, it can help prevent mental fatigue and improve mental concentration.

Turmeric (anti-inflammatory and beautifying)

Part of the ginger family, turmeric supports cell health and has long been used to combat fatigue, breathing problems, and inflammation. Native to Indian, turmeric is an Ayurvedic herb that is clinically proven by modern Western science to have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-neoplastic properties.

--

--

Uniqua Hardy

Articles and thought pieces, regenerative practices and tools to support optimal well-being of the mind, body, and soul.