Adaptogens: What are they and which are best?

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Maybe you’ve heard of them; maybe you haven’t. Either way, adaptogens are beginning to creep more into Western health mindsets, but they’ve been around for much, much longer. Adaptogens, which are plants designated as having healing properties, have been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic (traditional Hindu system of medicine) healing practices for centuries. In particular, these are said to help with physical, emotional, or chemical stressors on the body, making for good boosts to our relaxation practices in a time when we get so much external stimulation as is.

While there are many plants that are categorized as adaptogens, here are a few that you can easily begin incorporating into your diet now to hopefully improve your everyday health.

Siberian ginseng

This plant isn’t ginseng at all, actually; however, it works in similar ways. The Journal of International Medicine published in 2014 that Siberian ginseng can help prevent fatigue, work burnout, and general stress (Jacquet et al., 2014).

Ashwagandha

Photo by Bankim Desai on Unsplash

We’ve mentioned this one as being a trendy ingredient before, but it’s not just trendy; it’s also powerful! As the most extensively studied adaptogen and most-used one in Ayurvedic practice, Ashwagandha has shown to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and even support brain function.

Maca

While this may not be directly related to stress, maca can help improve your life through its reproductive health benefits. People have also used it to help with anemia and other illnesses because of its high concentration of amino and fatty acids.

Lion’s Mane

This antioxidant-rich mushroom has been shown to have some promising medicinal properties. In animal studies, it has shown to reduce inflammation, boost immunity, and potentially help with ulcers, dementia symptoms, and anxiety. Though no human studies have been done using lion’s mane yet, animal studies demonstrate no adverse side effects even with high doses.

Photo by Timothy Dykes on Unsplash

Adaptogens are taking health food stores and restaurants by storm, making them easier to access and incorporate into your diet than ever before. Try some out and see how they work for you!