If you’re into wellness trends, you’ve probably heard about the life-changing power of adaptogens. I recently started taking a couple of them in capsule form, and I’ve definitely noticed feeling more energetic and mentally sharp throughout the day, skipping right over the 2pm slump that always hit me post-lunch. Fans of adaptogens claim stress reduction, improved sleep, and even weight loss, and even though it sounds like a no-brainer to add them to your diet, turns out that no one actually knows what the eff they are. At this morning’s editorial meeting for example, Chanel asked if she should be using them, and then I reminded her that she’d been habitually taking ashwagandha powder every morning. So… yeah. If you’re clueless when it comes to the adaptogen craze, you’re not alone, and I thought it was time we broke it down by explaining what they are, what they can do for you, and how to easily incorporate adaptogens into your daily routine.

 

featured photo via bldg 25

photo via the chalkboard mag

What are adaptogens?

In a nutshell, adaptogens are natural substances that work with a person’s body and help them adapt to stress, either physical or emotional. They regulate important hormones that help the body deal with stress and fatigue naturally. The “adapt” part of the word means that they modify based on the specific stressor (internal or external) as well as the person taking them. If you’re into digging into the science, check out the studies that prove that “certain adaptogenic substances can activate the protective mechanisms of cells.”

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Yeah, but what ARE they?

Okay, adaptogens are mostly plants that have adapted to growing in stressful conditions, so they have an inherent strength and adaptability that gets transferred to the person ingesting them. Think harsh climates, high altitudes, and less-than-optimal growing conditions: these plants have learned to flourish. Some of the most common are maca, tulsi, ginseng, rhodiola, and licorice.

photo via style me pretty

Do I need them?

Well, if you’re a person who feels tired frequently or happens to have a lot of stress in your life (ahem, all of us), adaptogens can be incredibly beneficial in helping our bodies and minds deal with the burden. These herbal medicines have a restorative quality by helping the body achieve homeostasis, or balance.

Thanks to social media, lack of sleep, technology overload, and jam-packed calendars, we’re living in an age when maintaining any kind of balance can be a challenge. Adaptogens have been around for centuries, but thanks to our current fast-paced lifestyles, it’s obvious why they’re suddenly catching on in the mainstream!

photo via local milk

How can you take adaptogens?

Since adaptogens are currently all the rage, you’ve got a lot of options. Powder, tea, tincture, and pill – they all work about the same, so it really comes down to personal preference. Just make sure you get them from a high-quality brand to ensure that they’ve been properly sourced. Here are some of the best ways to get your adaptogens on, as tried by me or my wellness-minded friends:

 

photo via local milk

Maca: balances stress levels. Mix a tablespoon into chia pudding for a superpowered breakfast.

Reishi: soothes and relaxes. Try it (or any other medicinal mushrooms) in this delish drink recipe.

Ashawaganda: reduces mental and physical stress, boosts immunity. Try it in this golden milk cocoa that also includes health superstar turmeric.

Rhodiola: improves mental clarity and promotes focus.

Cordyceps: improves stamina, focus, and immune support. Mix it into your coffee!

photo via lean and meadow

What else do I need to know?

  • It can take a few weeks to really start to notice the difference, so hang in there.
  • If you take adaptogens daily, it’s recommended to take one day off a week for the body to get the max benefit.
  • Make sure to check with your doctor if you have questions about taking adaptogens since they haven’t been evaluated by the FDA.
  • It’s not  good idea to take adaptogens if you’re pregnant (or trying to be), since there hasn’t been much testing done on safety.
  • If you want to learn more, here’s a great guide to everything you ever wanted to know about Adaptogens!

I’d love to know: have y’all tried adaptogens? Which ones, and did you notice any effects?

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