What Are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are a class of intelligent herbs that help the body defend against stress, maintain balance and improve overall well-being. The exceptional properties of these plants enable them to adapt their function based on whatever the individual needs, restoring the body to a state of homeostasis (equilibrium). Instead of providing ‘fake’ energy surges, the way sugar or coffee does, adaptogens work to improve the health of your internal energy system. Interestingly, they work bi-directionally - meaning they can work to either provide an energy boost if you’re feeling flat and lethargic or slow the body down, offering a calming effect if you’re anxious and frazzled.

In a testament to their ability to combat stress, many adaptogenic plants survived the Ice Age and often grew (and still do) in some of the harshest conditions around the world. They’ve evolved to be resilient under stress and thrive in the face of it - something they can help us with!

A (brief) History of Adaptogens

For thousands of years, traditional medicine has revered and utilized herbs. Ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic texts reference adaptogenic herbs, which improve health, endurance, and longevity. Modern science is now validating this ancient wisdom. In the 1940s, Soviet scientist Nikolai Lazarev partnered with pharmacologist Israel Brekhman to find the most potent substances to enhance performance, prevent illness, and strengthen the mind and body. Lazarev and Brekhman conducted over 3,000 clinical trials on adaptogenic flora and fungi, which provided the first scientific evidence of the profound properties of these plants and led to the definition of Adaptogens.

What Makes An Adaptogen?

To be considered an adaptogen, a plant or fungi must meet the 3 N’s:

Non-Toxic - No ill side effects and safe for long-term use in average therapeutic doses. (Please note that bio-individuality plays a role, and a healthcare provider should be consulted when taking any new supplement).

Non-Specific - They have a broad range of effects. Rather than targeting one symptom or condition, they produce a state of resistance to all forms of stress in the body.

Normalising - They help balance and restore the body’s physiological function by working bi-directionally, gently bringing you back to centre.

Why We Need Adaptogens

We all lead busy lives, trying to meet work deadlines while dealing with constant distractions and daily exposure to environmental toxins. Incorporating adaptogens into your daily routine can upgrade your energy, sleep better, and improve your performance. Adaptogens prevent us from entering a heightened, frenzied stress state and prevent the crash that follows. They give you more time and energy to focus on what really matters. However, it is important to note that adaptogens are not a magic cure and take time. Consistent use is key to unlocking their benefits, whether taken in tea, coffee alternative (wink wink), tincture, or supplement. In other words, you’re unlikely to become a Zen master after one shot.

The term adaptogen is thrown about a lot nowadays. Hence, it is worth reiterating that adaptogens are a very specific class of herbs that consist of a handful of plants (see below for examples). As adaptogens become Insta-famous, much mislabelling is occurring. Be aware that super herbs and functional mushrooms such as Tumeric, Cacao, Goji Berry, Chaga and Lion’s Maine, while incredibly beneficial in their own right, are not Adaptogens.

Adaptogens to Know

Ashwagandha - Calming, Anti-Inflammatory, Libido Booster 

Astragalus - Immunity Booster, Healing 

Cordyceps - Energy Booster, Antioxidant, Immunity Support 

Eleuthero - Performance, Strengthening, Focus 

He Shou Wu - Immunity Booster, Vitality 

Holy Basil (Tulsi) - Vitality, Mood, Soothing 

Liquorice - Anti-Inflammatory, Fatigue Fighter, Belly Soother 

Maca - Hormone Balance, Fertility, Mood, Libido 

Panax Ginseng - Mental Performance, Memory, Focus 

Reishi - Calming, Immunity Support, Calming 

Rhodiola - Clarity, Strength, Performance 

Schisandra Berry - Skin, Detox, Adrenal Health 

Shatavari - Hormone Balance, Fatigue Fighter, Women’s Adaptogen 

The herbs in bold are adaptogens you can find in our first blend Chic & Dandie

Self-Care With Each Sip...