2 MIN READ
The health and wellness world is losing its shit over adaptogens right now. But they're not exactly new. We asked Clinical Naturopath, Stephanie Hinton to give us the 411 on what, why, and how we can use them.
Adaptogens are herbs or mushrooms that can be taken in a powder, tincture, tea or tonic form. They're non-toxic to your body's physiological functions, offer widespread endocrine and adrenal support, and help your body maintain homeostasis (which essentially means bringing your body back into balance).
Adaptogens, well, adapt. They work with your body, adapting their function to what you need. Genius.
There are loads to choose from, but hold up – that's not an invitation to stock your shelves with one of everything. Like all herbal medicines, supplements or herbs can benefit your body in different ways. Some adaptogens can be stimulating, while others are calming. If you're a naturally anxious person going at a million miles an hour, you might want to avoid the overly stimulating herbs.
HEALTH FIRST, HERBS SECOND
It should be said: the first answer to health is always addressing the underlying causes of illness, like reducing factors causing stress or improving diet. But sometimes, a little extra support can help you feel better-er.
CRANK IT UP
Adaptogens like panax ginseng, siberian ginseng, licorice root, rhodiola, and maca are used for enhancing cognitive performance, providing energy, stimulating the body, and improving stamina. For some, these herbs can be like rocket fuel, so it's really important to get professional advice before taking them. They're generally prescribed to people who are burnt out and in need of a good nudge to get them fired up again.
SLOW IT DOWN
Ashwagandha, holy basil, chaga, and reishi are all soothing and calming herbs used to support your adrenals – the glands that manage your hormonal response to stress and help you cope with anxiety and fatigue. These ones will help gently nourish you back to feeling your best.
He shou wu, reishi, and astragalus all display tonifying and immune boosting qualities, while also supporting detoxification, balancing the nervous system, and improving organ function.
HOW TO ADAPTOGEN
These herbs are available from health food stores or online, but it's super important you seek out the advice of a qualified naturopath before choosing which to take.
Adaptogens can be used in tea form, by steeping the herbs over time and then sipping on the tea throughout the day. Chaga is a great tea to do this with.
Or if you're a smoothie or hot chocolate kind of person, adding a teaspoon or so of your chosen adaptogen to your drink before mixing is a great way to get them in.
PROCEED WITH CAUTION
Quality matters. These herbs are very potent, and when not sourced from a credible supplier, may have a negative impact on your health. Be cautious with how much you take and for how long. Many of these herbs have specific dosages to suit each individual.
Adaptogens are not for everyone and should be taken under professional supervision.
HAVE A BURNING QUESTION? ASK AND WE'LL ANSWER (as long as it's not itchy, too)
Written by Stephanie Hinton