While spending more time at home can mean more time for self care, it can also present new challenges. Living, working, and exercising in the same space for multiple months on end is no easy task. Staying calm and centered during it all? Even harder. To help out, we’ve put together this list of the best adaptogens for stress so that you can be as calm on the inside as you are on the outside. After all, for some of us, next year will naturally be more relaxed than usual as we’ve likely figured out a good routine by now, cook at home more often, and generally have more time to do the things that we love. So sit back, relax, grab your mushroom hot coco, and enjoy our list of the best adaptogens to help you de-stress in 2021.
How Adaptogens Support A Healthy Stress Response
Not a silver bullet or cure-all by any means, adaptogens play more of a supportive role in our calendar-driven lives. When taken regularly, adaptogens can help bring the body into balance and help it better handle the stress life throws our way. Some adaptogens, like maca and ashwagandha, take up a lot of the herbal limelight, but other, lesser known, stress supporters such as holy basil, ethleuro, and rhodiola have also earned a spot on our list.
Ashwagandha is a revered herb of the Indian Ayurvedic system. In Ayurveda, Ashwagandha is used as a Rasayana (rejuvenator) and is widely used to relieve stress, improve cognitive function, and increase energy. Generally, the roots or leaves of this small shrub are harvested to make medicinal tinctures or powder supplements.
In one study, aiming to “evaluate the safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of Ashwagandha roots in reducing stress and anxiety…”, researchers found that: “a high-concentration full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract safely and effectively improves an individual’s resistance towards stress and thereby improves self-assessed quality of life.”
In the study, 64 participants with a history of chronic stress took two 300 mg capsules of high-concentration full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract, twice a day.
Read more about the health benefits of ashwagandha, here.
How to Take It: You can take ashwagandha in powdered form (great for adding to smoothies and lattes), supplement form, or tincture form.
Adaptogen Stack with Ashwagandha
Reishi, Queen of the mushrooms, is often the fungi that herbalists point to as ‘the perfect place to start’ if you’re new to medicinal mushrooms. Why? It could be because reishi helps you to chill out, but will not make you drowsy. As an adaptogen, it helps your body adapt to stress and, when taken consistently in small doses, may help support sleep cycles.
While reishi ranges in color from red to purple, to white, to black to green, the most well-known is the glossy, red reishi that grows out like a saucer on Hemlock trees. This log grown reishi is found in some of our favorite shroomy beverages such as Mushroom Cacao with Reishi.
How to take it: you can take reishi in powdered form, supplement form, or tincture form. Our favorite? Hot Coco form.
Cacao with Reishi
Used since the first century A.D., Rhodiola has been used for thousands of years to support mental and physical stamina. Rhodiola encourages a healthy response to physical, emotional and mental stress by supporting cortisol levels and other stress-related hormones. When used regularly, Rhodiola may support the body’s natural stress response and has been shown to have a positive effect on a healthy mood.
How to take it: The Rhodiola root is generally taken in supplement form.
Adaptogen Stack with Rhodiola Root
Maca is native to the highlands of the Peruvian Andes and has been used since the days of the Inca warriors. Due to its compatibility with chocolate, Maca is securely on our list for essential stress-fighting adaptogens. We love it for its ability to act as sustainable energy source, boosting mood and resilience throughout our day. By nourishing and stimulating the adrenal glands, Maca can also help balance hormone levels.
How to take it: Maca is wide-spread these days and you can find it at your health food store in various forms: in chocolate bars, peanut butter cups, as a powder, or also as a supplement.
Organic Maca Chocolate
If your to-do list is daunting these days, and you need an energy boost, Cordyceps may be able to help. Like the other adaptogens on our list, cordyceps helps to support a healthy stress response. However, it may also help to boost athletic performance, reduce fatigue, and combat inflammation.
Mushroom Coffee with Cordyceps
Holy Basil (Leaf)
Not to be confused with the basil found in your average pesto, holy basil and basil are different plants; whilst both are members of the mint family. Like most of the adaptogens on our list, holy basil, when taken regularly over time, may help to normalize the body’s stress response. It may also boost cognitive function. Furthermore, polyphenols (rosemarinic acid), triterpenes (ursolic acid), and flavonoids found in its leafs act as anti-oxidants and can support normal levels of inflammation.
How To Take it: Holy Basil can be found in prepared tea bags, as a supplement, and in tincture form.
Holy Basil Leaf
If there’s one herb you haven’t heard of before on our list, it’s probably Eleuthero, also referred to as “Siberian ginseng” (although not in the same family as Asian ginseng and American ginseng). Eleuthero is generally taken as a dietary supplement and may help improve mental performance in people with mild, stress-induced fatigue. While Eleuthero’s ability to support a healthy stress response is promising, the exact mechanism of action of Eleuthero and the significance of each of its various constituents is not yet fully understood.
How to take it: The prepared root of Eleuthero is generally taken in supplement form.
How to take adaptogens safely and effectively:
- Adaptogens are most effective when taken regularly and in small doses. They should also be taken in accordance with the specific dosage recommendations.
- To increase effectiveness, herbal supplements should be taken at approximately the same time every day.
- Always consult with your physician or nutritionist before incorporating herbal adaptogens into your routine. If you are pregnant, nursing, or have a pre-existing medical condition, you should check with your doctor before incorporating the above herbs into your routine as many are not for use during pregnancy or lactation.
Important Information To Read Before Using Adaptogens
Please note that the information in this article is intended only as a general reference for further exploration. It is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.