What Are Adaptogen Supplements? Everything You Need To Know (+How To Use!)


Written by: Liz Brown - Oct. 25, 2019

What are adaptogen supplements?  

Adaptogens are a huge buzz word in the health and wellness industry as of late. They’re not only known for being some of the best natural remedies for common ailments, but people everywhere are flocking to get their hands on these so-called miracle supplements in hopes to experience the life-changing benefits for themselves.

Adaptogens are known for having a wide range of benefits and can naturally heal issues that are common in our society today, from stress, anxiety, and depression, to adrenal fatigue, weight gain, and more. It’s crazy to think that these types of impairments can be treated and improved with something as simple as adaptogen supplements so it’s no wonder they are so appealing!

But, if you’re unfamiliar with adaptogens or their supposed benefits, this article will cover everything you need to know about adaptogens so they can improve your overall health and boost vitality.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What are adaptogen supplements

What Are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens, or adaptogenic herbs, are pharmacotherapeutic substances found in certain plants that are known to support the body’s natural ability to deal with stress—including physical, chemical, and biological stress. [1] Many of these stressors can be the result of common problems our society faces each and every day, like environmental pollution, climate change, various forms of radiation, and even infectious diseases. 

Adaptogen supplements get their name for their unique ability to “adapt” their function to the specific needs of the body. Think of adaptogens like a thermostat—they are able to moderate the body’s stress response the same way a thermostat controls the temperature of a room. When your body is under stress (this can be any form of stress), adaptogens kick in and help your body return to a healthy, stable state. 

A brief history of adaptogens

The use of adaptogenic herbs as a form of natural healing can be dated back to ancient Ayurveda in India and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in China. The term “adaptogens”, however, wasn’t used until it was coined in 1940 by a scientist and toxicologist from the USSR named N. Lazarev. [2

In the early 1960s, the study of adaptogens developed into a field of biomedicinal research in its own right in the USSR. The extent of the research carried out was enormous with 1,009 studies (primarily pharmacological and clinical) published in Russia up until 1982. [2] So, needless to say, there is a ton of research to support the use of adaptogen supplements as a natural remedy to bodily stress. 

Adaptogen supplements

How Do Adaptogens Work?

According to a study on the effects of adaptogens on the central nervous system, adaptogens increase the state of resistance in stress and decrease sensitivity to stressors, which results in stress protection. You see, when our body is under stress it activates the fight or flight response. This response triggers the amygdala, the area of the brain that contributes to emotional processing, which sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus. This area of the brain functions like a command center, communicating with the sympathetic nervous system and the adrenal-cortical system to either fight or flee the stressor. [3] On a molecular level, adaptogens balance the hypothalamic, pituitary, and adrenal glands as they move through each phase of the stress response. When we’re stressed, our bodies go through three different stages of stress:

  • Alarm phase
  • Phase of resistance
  • Phase of exhaustion

The alarm phase is when we first encounter the stressor. Let’s say, for example, that you suddenly realized that you missed a loved one’s birthday. You gasp and are immediately filled with emotions like stress, guilt, and regret. In this moment of panic, your body releases a hormone called adrenaline. Adrenaline is a neurotransmitter produced by the adrenal glands that trigger the physical responses of stress–increased blood pressure, elevated heart rate, expanded air passages in the lungs, enlarged pupils in the eye, and more…

Adaptogen supplements come into effect during the phase of resistance. They boost our body’s ability to resist and fight the stressor and help us stay in this heightened state for longer periods of time—before we fatigue and enter the exhaustion phase. [4]

Relaxed woman on couch drinking an adaptogen supplement

Benefits Of Adaptogens

Adaptogen supplements are known for assisting with many bodily impairments but primarily helps stabilize your body’s response to stress. Different types of adaptogens can help your body navigate through different types of stress–whether it’s physical, chemical, or biological. Stress can have physical side effects on the body and adaptogens help counteract the harmful effects. These are some additional benefits of adaptogens you can expect:

  • Reduces stress & anxiety
  • Reduces symptoms of depression
  • Assists with weight loss
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Improves mental focus 
  • Reduces mental fog
  • Boosts immunity
  • Reduces fatigue
  • Revitalizes skin
Benefits of adaptogens

List Of Adaptogens (26 Different Types)

  • Amla / Amalaki / Indian Gooseberry—Amla, or more commonly known as Indian gooseberry, has been used in traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years and is arguably one of the most important medicinal plants in the practice. It’s packed with antioxidants, B-vitamins, and phytochemicals that can improve digestive health, prevent ulcers, reduce inflammation, and has even been linked to cancer prevention. [5]
  • Ashwagandha—Ashwagandha is a powerful antioxidant that has major benefits on the cardiovascular, nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. It’s been shown to fight symptoms of depression, stress, arthritis, inflammation, and has been useful for different types of diseases like Parkinson’s, dementia, memory loss, and malignoma. [6
  • Astragalus—Astragalus contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and has often been used for wound care. It also strengthens the immune system and may contain antiviral properties as well. [7]
  • Bacopa—Bacopa, also known as brahmi or water hyssop, is another plant used in traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine and is known to regulate cortisol levels during stress. It may also improve cognitive performance for those suffering from anxiety and depression. [8]
  • Bilberry—Bilberries, or occasionally European blueberries, have been used since the Middle Ages to treat a variety of conditions such as diarrhea, burns, infections, and scurvy. Today, it’s primarily used to improve cardiovascular conditions, treat diarrhea, urinary tract infections, eye problems, and diabetes. [9
  • Cordyceps—Cordyceps is a type of medicinal mushroom used in traditional Chinese medicine and Tibetan medicine and has been shown to enhance immune function, boost exercise performance, prevent tumors, fight inflammation, and reduce the signs of aging. [10]
  • Dang Shen—Dang shen, also known as the poor man’s ginseng, is said to be one of the best adaptogenic herbs for stress, anxiety, trauma, and relief. It’s even been known to help reduce inflammation in the colon, enhance cognitive function, and improve memory. [11
  • Elderberry—There are different varieties of elderberry but the most common in adaptogen supplements is that of the European elderberry. It’s packed with antioxidants and is effective at boosting your immune system and controlling cold and flu symptoms. [12]
  • Eleuthero—Eleuthero, also known as Siberian ginseng, is a shrub found in Northeast Asia. It’s used to improve athletic performance, fight fatigue and stress, and boost immunity. [13]
  • Ginseng—Ginseng is one of the most popular adaptogen supplements and best adaptogenic herbs out there. It’s a type of root that contains anti-cancer, anti-fatigue, and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s commonly used to improve general well-being, physical stamina, concentration, and even slow the aging process! Ginseng has also been linked to treating respiratory disorders, cardiovascular disorders, depression, anxiety, and even symptoms of menopause. [14]
  • Gotu Kola—Gotu kola is a staple herb in traditional Chinese, Indonesian, and Ayurvedic medicine. It’s known to boost brainpower, heal skin issues, and promote liver and kidney health! Studies also show that it can boost cognitive function, reduce stress and anxiety, improve circulation, and so much more. [15]
  • Guduchi—Guduchi, also known as heart-leaved moonseed, is an herbaceous vine commonly found in the tropical areas of Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka. It has been found to boost antioxidant defenses, regulate cholesterol metabolism, and improve liver function. When it comes to detoxification, guduchi is one of the best adaptogenic herbs for the job. In fact, it actually helps the liver fight alcohol toxicity! [16]
  • Holy Basil / Tulsi—Holy basil is an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial adaptogen supplement and has been used for thousands of years to treat circulatory, immune, and nervous systems. Holy basil may also improve memory concentration and helps the body stabilize the stress hormone, cortisol. [17]
  • Jiaogulan—Jiaogulan is a plant that grows in the wild parts of Asia and has been commonly used throughout central China. This “immortality herb” helps lower low-density lipoproteins, or LDLs (which is the bad kind of cholesterol), stabilize blood sugar, and boost immunity. Studies show that it’s medicinal properties are similar to that of ginseng. [18
  • Licorice Root—Licorice root is used to treat gastrointestinal issues, stomach ulcers, heartburn, and even food poisoning. It’s also been shown to increase energy levels and endurance, improve the immune system, and reduces stress. Licorice root helps protect the gland responsible for producing T cells (immune system cells) from being damaged by cortisol—the hormone that becomes elevated during stress. [19]
  • Lion’s Mane—Lion’s mane is a medicinal mushroom that is packed with brain, heart, and gut benefits. It gets its name because it looks like the mane of a lion. And just like a lion, it’s the king of neuroprotective mushrooms. Lion’s mane is known to improve memory and help with “mental fog”. It may also help reduce anxiety, depression, inflammation, and oxidative stress. [20]
  • Lycium / Wolfberry / Goji Berry—Lycium is a type of berry that is rich in antioxidants and amino acids. In fact, it contains all eight essential amino acids and is a great source of fiber and protein. Lycium is known for its anti-aging benefits as well as its ability to boost energy levels, improve cholesterol, control blood sugar, and even help you lose weight. [21]
  • Maca—Maca is a root plant that grows in central Peru, high in the Andes mountains. Studies have found that maca can boost strength, libido, stamina, and memory function. [22]  
  • Moringa—Moringa contains a ton of essential amino acids, carotenoids, and components with nutraceutical properties. It contains a wide range of vital antioxidants, antibiotics, and tons of vitamins and minerals. This popular adaptogen has been used for nourishing skin and hair, treating stomach issues, protecting the liver, fighting bacterial diseases, and even boosting mood! [23]
  • Reishi—Reishi mushrooms are one of the most well-known types of medicinal mushrooms with health benefits that range from treating infertility, respiratory issues, heart disease, liver problems, and even cancer. Reishi mushrooms can also help strengthen your immune system and fight fatigue and depression! [24]
  • Rhodiola—Rhodiola is a type of plant but the root is primarily used for medicinal purposes. Like many adaptogen supplements, it can boost immunity and restore balance in blood sugar levels. However, rhodiola may also boost alertness, reduce fatigue, and fight the symptoms of depression. [25]
  • Schisandra—Schisandra is a type of berry that has incredible adaptogenic properties. Studies show that it contains anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, anti-cancer, and detoxification properties and can help improve the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. It can also help with memory and cognitive function. [26]
  • Shatavari—Shatavari is the ultimate adaptogen for women. It’s been used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to treat infertility and improve the female reproductive system. It may also help reduce inflammation, prevent free-radical damage, relieve coughs, treat diarrhea and ulcers, and can even act as a diuretic. [27]
  • Shilajit—Shilajit is a natural energy booster that contains various health benefits. Studies show that it can help with cognitive disorders associated with aging and cognitive stimulation. It contains a whopping 84 minerals and antioxidants to help flush your body of excess fluid. [28]
  • Suma—Suma, also known as Brazilian ginseng, is commonly used to boost energy and immunity and prevent fatigue. [29]
  • Turmeric—Turmeric, also known as curcumin, has been used in Ayurvedic medicine in South Asia for many years. It’s packed with antioxidants and can reduce inflammation, boost brainpower and cognitive function, lower your risk of heart disease, ease joint pain, and is helpful for treating age-related memory issues. [30]
Best adaptogen supplements

Best Adaptogen Supplements

By now I’m sure it’s pretty clear just how incredible adaptogens are. Their medicinal properties have made them a staple in herbal medicine for centuries and they continue to grow in popularity. But, which adaptogen supplements are the best? I mean, there are so many different types of adaptogens out there, where do you even begin to decide which are the best adaptogen supplements? Looking at the list of adaptogens, if you were to buy each of those adaptogens separately it would cost you a pretty penny. Not to mention taking 26 pills each day will get pretty old… 

When narrowing down your search for the best adaptogen supplements, look for one that contains a variety of adaptogenic herbs all-in-one. For example, SkinnyFit Beauty Juice, a red juice superfood powder, contains seven different types of adaptogens, like maca, lycium, reishi mushroom, cordyceps, turmeric, rhodiola, and holy basil, in just one scoop. But it’s not just the variety of adaptogens that make this one of the best adaptogen supplements out there. In addition to the seven adaptogens, it contains 30 other superfood ingredients! WOWZA! Beauty Juice supports overall vitality, improves energy, reduces stress, and so much more. To see all the ingredients and benefits of Beauty Juice, click here

Another one of the best adaptogen supplements is SkinnyFit Skinny Greens. This superfood green juice powder contains 34 powerful superfood ingredients including five of the best adaptogenic herbs! You’ll get a blend of moringa, ashwagandha, ginseng, rhodiola, turmeric, and 29 other superfoods, like chlorella, spirulina, alfalfa, green tea, and apple cider vinegar (to name a few) in every scoop! Skinny Greens is high in antioxidants and can help protect against free-radical damage, lower cholesterol levels and blood sugar, improve mood and focus, reduce inflammation, and boost immune function. To learn more about the ingredients and benefits of Skinny Greens, click here

What’s even better is that both Beauty Juice and Skinny Greens are in powder form which means you won’t have to take one pill! Imagine being able to take 60 superfoods and 10 powerful adaptogens at once? Talk about life-saving and time-saving.  

Skinny Greens and Beauty Juice Adaptogen Blend

How To Take Adaptogens?

People often wonder how to take adaptogens since there are so many different kinds. By taking them in powder form, all you have to do is mix them with water and you’re good to go! Unfortunately, not many adaptogen supplements are available in powder form, that is, with the exception of Skinny Greens and Beauty Juice. 

Simply mix one scoop of Skinny Greens and one scoop of Beauty juice with 8 oz of water once per day. That’s it! Skinny Greens comes in a delicious green apple flavor while Beauty Juice is a fruity acai berry flavor so there’s no need to mix them with anything. You can take them separately or mix them together for a flavor combination that is unparalleled! Save 31% when you buy Skinny Greens and Beauty Juice together!  

The Bottom Line On Adaptogen Supplements

Adaptogens have been used for centuries among a variety of ancient medicinal practices like Indian Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. In order for a plant to be labeled an adaptogen, it must meet three criteria: it must assist the body resist adverse conditions (such as stress), maintain homeostasis, and not harm the normal functions of the human body so extensive research is necessary. [31

Adaptogens can help with a variety of health issues like reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, boosting immunity, energy, and mood, improving mental focus and clarity, and assists with fighting inflammation, weight gain, and fatigue.  

The best adaptogen supplements will come in powder form and contain a variety of adaptogenic herbs in one serving. SkinnyFit Beauty Juice and Skinny Greens each contain multiple adaptogens in addition to 70 powerful superfood ingredients making them easily the best and most convenient adaptogen supplements out there. Not to mention cost-effective.

In the end, there’s a reason that adaptogen supplements have stood the test of time and studies and research continue to support the use of adaptogens as a dietary supplement to improve overall health. 

READ NEXT: How To Make Blue Moon Milk—A Miracle Nighttime Potion For Deep Sleep

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