Every day we are exposed to a variety of stressors, and whether we are conscious of them or not, they can overwhelm us and our physiological systems. When we experience stress our adrenal system increases production of cortisol, which triggers the release of glucose into the system for a boost of energy. Stress and cortisol production are useful when we need to kick into action, but continually high levels of cortisol due to sustained stress can be damaging to the body and mind. This can leave us in a state of constant stress, burning out our adrenal glands, and leading to illness and fatigue.
What Can Be Done?
Herbal remedies have been used for hundreds of years by various indigenous communities globally for overall health and wellbeing. A group of traditional remedies known as ‘adaptogens’ have become more widely used in the West due to evidence of their widely documented health benefits. Adaptogens, as their name suggests, are able to adapt to the conditions of the body, upregulating and downregulating stress hormones, and essentially balancing energy levels and mediating the effects of hormonal changes. Using adaptogens can increase your capacity to deal with stress and improve your mental and physical performance.
This article looks at a few of these incredible adaptogens and how best to prepare and consume adaptogens in under 20 minutes when you are feeling exhausted, overwhelmed or stressed. The process of preparation and taking a moment out to address your stress levels will go a long way to initially alleviate your stress, and the more you use these adaptogens over time, the greater the positive impacts will be to your mental and physical health.
Types of Adaptogens
Most individual adaptogens have multiple benefits impacting mood, stamina and focus. They can also be put into two broad categories of stimulants and anxiety-reducing groups: it must be noted that many of the stimulant adaptogens can also reduce anxiety symptoms.
Body stimulants that affect mental and physical stamina include Asian Ginseng, Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng), Rhodiola Rosea and Maca.
Anti-anxiety adaptogens include Reishi, Ashwagandha, Holy Basil, and Astragalus, which soothe the adrenals.
Adaptogens come in lots of different forms being various parts of plants including roots, leaves and berries. In supplement form they can be found as capsules, tinctures, powders and teas.
Adaptogens can be taken every day but it is recommended that the effects of the herbs and supplements are monitored along with taking breaks to determine the impact on your system.
NOTE: As with all supplements, it is important you look for a high quality product and carefully understand its properties to ensure it is safe for you to consume, especially if in conjunction with other medications or supplements. Many adaptogens aren’t suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
7 Key Adaptogens and How Much To Take
Adaptogen tonics and teas can be prepared generally in under 20 minutes, and you can use a combination of the below supplements for greater impact.
1. Panax ginseng (Asian ginseng)
Regulates the immune system, overcomes fatigue, sharpens and calms the mind, stabilizes mood. Panax ginseng is available as a powdered root extract. Doses as low as 40 mg can be effective but for the most cognitive and noticeable benefit between 200 to 400 mg daily is suggested.
2. Eleuthero (Siberian ginseng)
Addresses physical stress symptoms, soothing muscles and joints, also aids with fatigue, memory and mood.
Also available in powdered root form, the standard dose is 300-1200 mg, but a larger dose of 2-4 g is recommended for more noticable impact.
3. Rhodiola Rosea
Adapts cortisol to healthier levels, supports energy production, brain function, mood and heart health. Rhodiola Rosea is available in tea, tablet supplements, capsule, powder, liquid extract or tincture forms.
Usage of Rhodiola for stress is recommended in 288-680 mg doses. Rhodiola Rosea is best consumed 30 minutes before eating for better absorption.
Increases energy, libido, balances hormones and boosts endorphins. Also a source of absorbable nutrients including protein, fiber, calcium and magnesium among others. Maca is recommended with food and the standard recommended amount is between 1.5 - 3 g.
Significantly reduces cortisol concentrations and immunosuppressive effects of stress. Ashwagandha also stabilizes blood sugar, reduces anxiety and depression while maintaining energy levels, improves memory and learning, and protects the immune system. Ashwagandha is available in powder, tablet, capsule and liquid extract forms and is recommended in a 300-500 mg dose.
6. Holy Basil
Also known as Tulsi, Holy Basil is commonly used for stress relief. Holy Basil regulates cortisol levels, improves memory, energy levels and improves sleep. 500 mg of the leaf extract is recommended for noticeable effects.
Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, stimulates immune system and regulates energy levels (increasing for action and calming for rest). Available as a dried root extract, 6 g of dried Astragalus root per half cup of water is suggested. Also available in capsule and powdered form.
Teas and Tonics in 20 minutes!
Adaptogenic supplements and herbs can be infused individually or together in a pitcher or jar (check to ensure your supplement forms are heat tolerant).
- Place your combination of herbs and powders in a jar or pitcher. A large pyrex jug works well for this.
- Boil around 1 litre of water and pour over the adaptogenic herbs and powders (alternatively you can brew a green tea or other tea of choice before pouring over the adaptogen mix).
- Let the combination brew for 20 minutes.
- Strain and pour yourself a nourishing tea or tonic to prepare you for the day.