Everything You Need to Know About Adaptogens Including How and Why You Should Take Them

Adaptogens — sounds scary, but they’re the hottest wellness trend.

By: Ashley Brewer

Thanks to influencers on social media and the ability for information to spread in an instant, wellness trends and buzzed-about crazes are constantly bombarding our newsfeeds and inboxes. One of the trendiest topics right now is adaptogens.

But, what are adaptogens? What are they used for? And, are they really worth the hype?

We’ve got the answers to all of your questions.

And adaptogens are…what now?

Adaptogens are plants, usually mushrooms, herbs, and roots, that decrease our body’s reactivity and sensitivity to stress. These ‘magical’ plants help improve the functioning of our adrenal system – the system that manages our body’s hormones in relation to stress. They basically are known to help us cope with whatever chaos is thrown at us throughout the day.

Think of these herbs and plants as little healers that have the ability to adapt themselves (hence, adaptogens!) to certain areas and parts of the body to either boost them up or calm them down. By assisting our adrenal glands, adaptogens reduce anxiety and stress, boost immunity, slow down the aging process, lower inflammation, and increase libido. They’re natural ‘helpers’ that are there to help our bodies and brains reach a state of homeostasis – or stability.

Adaptogens might be gaining traction recently, but they’ve actually been used for centuries in practices like Chinese and Indian medicine. Different plants and herbs offer different benefits for the body. Certain adaptogens help fatigue while others can help with cognitive function. So, choosing which adaptogen is right for you simply depends on which area of the brain or body could use a little boost.

How do you take them?

Each adaptogen will have its own ‘instructions’ on how they should be taken. Some are ingested while others are applied topically. Even then, some are fat-soluble which means that you’ll need to eat or drink them with a fat source to reap the benefits. Doing your own in-depth research will go a long way if you decide to start incorporating adaptogens into your routine.

Another thing to keep in mind is that adaptogens are not fast-acting. With research and studies still being performed, the findings so far have shown that the benefits of adaptogens are quite impressive. What people need to know, however, is that they are very slow-acting. They’ll take time to build up in your body and people will have the most powerful response if they continue taking adaptogens over a long period of time. It could take anywhere from six to 12 weeks for you to notice results.

Do your research to find out which adaptogen would fit nicely into your daily life. Then, start getting creative! Add them to smoothies, create your own teas, or find recipes online that show you how to incorporate them into meals.

As far as some basics go, though, keep reading. We’ve listed some of the most commonly used adaptogens and what benefits they provide.

Commonly used adaptogens and what they can help with

  • Panax Ginseng. Also known as Asian ginseng, this is probably one of the most potent adaptogens. It’s known to improve calmness while also enhancing focus and memory.
  • Holy Basil. In Ayurvedic medicine, Holy Basil, or tulsi, is known as the “elixir of life.” It is used to reduce blood sugar, heal skin issues, and prevent the occurrence of canker sores or ulcers. It is also great for promoting a sense of calm while also giving the body a nice non-jittery energy boost at the same time. Holy basil tea makes a great alternative to that third cup of coffee you reach for in the afternoon hours.
  • Ashwagandha. A very commonly used adaptogen is ashwagandha. It’s known to have amazing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Wonderful for reducing stress levels and cortisol, which is responsible for leading to extra weight in the mid-section.
  • Maca. This adaptogen is actually a root. It belongs to the tuber family and has been used for centuries to increase libido and enhance fertility.
  • Reishi. Reishi is, in fact, a type of mushroom. What makes this adaptogen so amazing is that it has been known to calm nerves and regulate blood sugar. It helps decrease stress and even increase ‘good’ cholesterol.
  • Rhodiola. Also known as Rhodiola Rosea, this adaptogen can help boost mental performance and focus, as well as decrease your cortisol response. It is also commonly used among fitness enthusiasts and athletes. So, if you are interested in trying adaptogens, give rhodiola a try to see how it can help boost your FitOn workouts. It may give your body that added mental focus you need to power through your workouts.

The Bottom Line

Of course, eating well, staying active, and getting the proper amount of rest is crucial to your well-being. But, adding adaptogens to your routine could help make you even more resilient to stress and give your body the extra nudge it needs to protect itself from the harmful effects of stress.