Adaptogens are some of the the best way to balance the daily stress our bodies experience— both physically and mentally. Adaptogenic herbs, also known as adaptogens, are substances that enhance your ability to resist stress, anxiety, trauma and fatigue – slowly and gently. They’re called adaptogens because of their unique ability to “adapt” their function according to your body’s specific needs and help keep your body in a state of homeostasis. They contain biologically active compounds, including phytochemicals, that can benefit the body.

The term “adaptogen” was first coined in the 1940s by a Soviet scientist named Dr. Nikolai Lazarev. He was studying the body’s resistance to stress, and he found that certain herbs and plants could help the body to adapt to stress and improve overall health.

According to the original definition, they had to meet three Trusted Source criteria:

  1. They must be non-specific and help the body in various adverse conditions, such as physical or environmental stress.
  2. They must counter the physical impact of stress.
  3. They must not harm the usual working of the body.

This definition of adaptogens has evolved to the current standard, “Adaptogens are natural bioregulators that increase the ability to adapt environmental factors and avoid the damage caused by those factors.” They enhance the body’s ability to respond to stress and changes, strengthen the immune system, and increase a general sense of wellbeing.

It is said that an adaptogen must meet three criteria:

  1. The substance is relatively non-toxic to the recipient.
  2. An adaptogen influences many organs or body systems (non-specific) and acts by increasing resistance of the organism to a broad spectrum of adverse biological, chemical, and physical factors.
  3. These substances help modulate system function and maintain homeostasis.

Adaptogens are incredibly helpful for creating equilibrium from within; promoting restful sleep, boosting energy, improving athletic performance and recovery, and aiding concentration. Adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms work by interacting with the HPA axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis), which controls the release of many of hormones. One such hormone is cortisol, a primary “stress hormone” that also contributes to symptoms associated with aging. When cortisol levels rise, you experience the “fight or flight” response, which stimulates your sympathetic nervous system and your adrenal glands. When you experience fight-or-flight often, or are in a constant state of stress, there is increased pressure on the adrenals, digestive system, and can cause issues such as chronic fatigue, weight gain, low libido, and acne.

Other ways Adaptogens help the body to adapt to stress:

  • Protecting the body from damage: Stress can damage the body’s cells and tissues. Adaptogens can help to protect the body from damage by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.
  • Improving the body’s function: Adaptogens can help to improve the body’s function by increasing energy levels, boosting the immune system, and improving cognitive function.
  • Reducing stress and anxiety: Stress and anxiety can be caused by an imbalance of hormones and inflammation. Adaptogens can help to reduce stress and anxiety by balancing hormones and reducing inflammation.
  • Improving mood: Adaptogens can help to improve mood by increasing levels of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine.
  • Boosting energy levels: Adaptogens can help to boost energy levels by increasing the body’s production of ATP, the body’s main source of energy.

Fortunately, most of our products at Plantae + Fungi contain at least one, if not many adaptogens. Some of our favorite adaptogens and their benefits include:

  • Ashwaganda (Withania somnifera): Ashwagandha is an adaptogen that is native to India and Africa. It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat a variety of conditions, including stress, anxiety, fatigue, and insomnia. Ashwagandha is thought to work by helping to balance the body’s hormones and neurotransmitters.
  • Eleuthero Root (Eleutherococcus senticosus): Eleuthero root is an adaptogen that is native to Asia. It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat a variety of conditions, including fatigue, stress, and low immunity.
  • Schisandra Berry (Schisandra chinensis): Schisandra berry is an adaptogen that is native to China and Korea. It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat a variety of conditions, including fatigue, stress, and respiratory problems. Schisandra berry is shown to help improve the body’s cognitive function and energy levels.
  • Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum): Reishi mushroom is an adaptogen that is native to Asia. It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat a variety of conditions, including fatigue, stress, and cancer. Reishi mushroom helps to boost the immune system, protect against infection and prevent the growth of cancer cells.
  • Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum): Holy basil is native to the Indian subcontinent, and is widely cultivated throughout Southeast Asia. It has been shown to be effective in reducing stress and anxiety. It can help to improve the immune system, sleep quality, and cognitive function. And has even been shown to lower blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Want to to start getting adaptogens in your life? Start with some of our favorite adaptogenic products: