Adaptogens, despite gaining lots of media attention recently, have been used for centuries – so why all the fuss now? We have sold and used these potent herbal helpers since CONTENT opened in 2008, but rather than just showing up in our practitioner prescribed tinctures and tablets, now they are being blended into over-the-counter mixes that you can add to your day easily. But which ones should you look for? It really depends on how stress and ‘life’ is treating you.
What are adaptogens?
Adaptogens have been used in many forms of medicine from Ayurvedic to Chinese. They are a unique group of herbs (medicinal mushrooms and spices have some adaptogenic properties too but often not as their main function) used to improve the health of your adrenal system; the system that manages your body’s hormonal response to stress, whether it be the result of illness, deadlines, lack of sleep or overzealous exercise.
In supporting your adrenals, adaptogens assist in regulating your hormones to help your body cope with anxiety and fatigue. They adapt their function to your body’s needs, diving in to lend help as and when needed.
They come in different forms, from pills to tinctures and powders, ideally taken once or twice a day – remember they don’t work if you don’t take them, so set a time or keep them on your desk as a visual reminder. As with all things in life, don’t give up if you don’t see a difference straight away. Adaptogens are powerful but ‘adapt’ gently, unlike the ‘great now, crash later’ approach of caffeine and sugar. It may take a few weeks to feel the benefits.
Which adaptogen is for you?
There are different types, but these often appear together in a blend:
Thought to restore and strengthen the body’s immune response and stimulate mental and physical activity. Find it in Biocol Labs ‘Something For The Knackered’, Ukiyo Blueberry Ginseng Matcha and WunderWorkshop Golden Glow Blend.
May improve memory, feelings of wellbeing and is thought to be helpful for mild depression. Find it in Grown Morning Energising Adaptogen, Four Sigmatic Mushroom Hot Cacao Mix and The Nue Co Defence Drops.
May help increase vitality, energy, endurance and stamina. Find it in the Wild Nutrition Ashwagandha.
Helps turn down an overproduction of “stress hormones” like cortisol. In turn it may help with better mental capabilities, physical endurance and metabolic health. Find it in Grown Morning Energising Adaptogen and The Nue Co Defence Drops.
The above adaptogens are available in various forms over the counter at our store or online. But if you think you may require or like to try a bespoke tincture blend to meet the specific needs of your body and lifestyle, our medical herbalist Jennifer Derham often uses them if your case requires. You can read more about Jennifer here.
What’s your favourite adaptogen?
We asked brand founders and wellbeing experts which adaptogens they love to take.
Wunderworkshop co-founder Zoe says: “I use our Golden Balance (containing both Ashwagandha and Liquorice) every evening to unwind from a busy day. Ashwagandha in combination with turmeric, liquorice and ginger helps to lower cortisol and inflammation, two things that can be raised by stress. Liquorice is also an adaptogen that helps to balance oestrogen levels.”
“Tom loves using Golden Shrooms (containing both Reishi and Cordyceps) in his coffee for the synergetic effects. Coffee helps for the adaptogens to enter the bloodstream faster and the mushrooms help to prolong the caffeine high without causing a crash.”
Grown founder Domingo Rodriguez says: “My favourite adaptogen currently is Cordyceps Mushroom (Cordyceps sinensis.) It’s known for its natural ability to fight free radicals, inflammation and support exercise by helping blood oxygenation. It can be found in both our Grown Morning Adaptogen and Grown Mushroom Tonic formulations, which are great dripped into your morning coffee as an easy way to incorporate adaptogens into your diet.”
Wild Nutrition co-founder Henrietta Norton says: “My passion for Ashwagandha started when I met an Ayurvedic doctor in Sri Lanka. The praise he gave this traditional herb inspired me to start using it myself in my KSM-66 Ashwagandha Plus.”
The Beauty Chef founder Carla Oates shares: “My favourite adaptogen besides herbs and medicinal mushrooms are bio-fermented foods. Lacto-fermented foods found in The Beauty Chef products are bio-active and have immune modulating properties, and therefore anti-inflammatory benefits. They help the body cope with stress. They also offer a form of bio-available nutrition. It is purported to support many a symptom but its most impressive is its ability to support resilience to stress, both physiological and psychological. Both the clinical trials on this magnificent plant to date, coupled with my experience in clinical practice, have meant that this has become my ‘adaptogen’ of choice when it comes to supporting a return to balance.”