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.”

photo via hello glow

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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Comments (5)
  1. 1
    Karin Pereira February 21, 2018 at 9:17 am

    My niece in Germany highly recommended this last year for being tired and put me up to this Proanthenols 50 from Lifeplus. Must say I do have more energy and honestly better thinking process since then. Happy to see your article today that this is something fairly new but worth taken a look at.

  2. 2
    Meaghan Danielson February 21, 2018 at 11:22 am

    For anything in pill form that people might want to take I would recommend looking for manufacturers who don’t use Magnesium Stearate in their products – research has shown that it may block absorption. Thorne has a great Rhodiola that is actually cheaper than the one you recommended. You can find it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Thorne-Research-Rhodiola-Botanical-Supplement/dp/B0009DTKJU/ref=sr_1_4_s_it?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1519234224&sr=1-4&keywords=thorne+rhodiola

  3. 3
    Rose Sta Ana February 22, 2018 at 7:50 am

    This local place in Houston has these AMAZING energy bite truffles with cacao and maca, and they help me A TON with energy, mental acuity, stress, and balancing out my hormones while I PMS. I never thought about putting it in my chia seed pudding though. Thanks for sharing!

  4. 4
    Eme February 26, 2018 at 8:22 am

    Interesting and informative post, thanks for posting tis it’s lovely to learn a bit more about adaptogens, I’ve only just started incorporating some cordyceps into my diet so I am waiting to see what results I get.

    Eme x | http://www.peoniesandpassionfruit.com

  5. 5
    Amy February 27, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    I’m not one to be specific about brands but the NOW Foods Rhodiola is the only Rhodiola that has worked well for me. It helped me through grief when 5-HTP and Melatonin made me too tired and didn’t help me focus during the day. I don’t take anything to sleep now and I’m able to get through the day while staying present again. I love adaptations. Thank you for sharing all these amazing options. I would love to try the Ashwaganda golden milk cocoa:)