Whilst deep belly breaths, yoga, and guided meditation are some of the most commonly known ways to reduce stress (and for good reason), one of the most traditional stress reducers is adaptogenic herbs.
Adaptogenic herbs help change the way that the body reacts to stressors, whether they’re psychological, chemical, or physical, and rather than just simply reducing stress levels at a specific time, they help the body better deal with stress in the long-run. Amanda Chantal Bacon, founder of LA-based brand Moon Juice says, the best thing about adaptogens is that “they specifically work with your body”, so they support your individual needs.
However, with so many adaptogenic herbs out there it may be difficult to know which ones really are the best. But, fear not - here are the 7 most effective adaptogenic herbs to relieve stress levels and help you get back to your best self.
Ashwagandha is one of the most popular and well-known adaptogenic herbs on the planet, and it’s certainly one to consider consuming. Ashwagandha helps balance cortisol (the stress hormone) levels in the body and ensures that the cortisol levels never get so high that the body experiences chronic stress. This incredible medicinal herb also reduces anxiety levels, improves mood, and promotes sleep.
The recommended dose of ashwagandha ranges anywhere from 125mg - 5g for up to 3 months. You may want to incorporate it into your evening routine to help you wind down before bed for a restorative and restful sleep! However, if you have a thyroid condition or an autoimmune condition, you may want to choose from another adaptogenic herb on this list, as ashwagandha may not be suitable.
2. Holy Basil
Holy Basil, also know as Tulsi, is a powerful adaptogenic herb that combats stressors and can even heal the physical symptoms of stress. As well as reducing cortisol levels and reducing psychological symptoms of stress such as anxiety, memory loss, and low libido, Holy Basil also boosts the immune system and keeps all kinds of viruses and infections at bay.
Having a strong immune system is incredibly important if you are stressed due to the fact that stress can directly lead to physical symptoms and illnesses. Therefore, Holy Basil protects you from all angles! Holy Basil can be consumed at any point during the day, with recommended doses ranging from 300 mg to 2,000mg daily for up to 8 weeks. However, those that take anticoagulant medications should avoid this wonderful herb.
3. Panax Ginseng
Panax Ginseng, also known as Asian Ginseng, is an adaptogen that helps to regulate the immune, hormonal and psychological response to stress. So, although Panax Ginseng doesn’t directly alter cortisol levels like other adaptogens on this list, it helps regulate the body’s response to stress, which is incredibly important to maintain overall optimal health.
This potent herb reduces anxiety and depression, supports a state of calm, and improves mental clarity, and boosts energy levels and focus! Although Panax Ginseng supports a state of calm, seeing as it improves mental clarity, focus, and boosts energy levels, it should be consumed throughout the day and not before you head to bed. Recommended daily doses of the herb range from 200 to 400 mg, and it can be taken for up to 3 months.
4. Astragalus Root
Not the most spoken about adaptogen, Astragalus is underappreciated and should be talked about more! Astragulus was and still is a commonly used adaptogen in ancient Chinese medicine, and it helps to both rescue cortisol levels and help the body cope when cortisol levels are too high.
This adaptogen primarily relieves stress by protecting the immune system when it gets weakened by cortisol levels. It’s also powerful at reducing inflammation, decreasing anxiety levels, balancing hormones, and aiding restful, deep sleep. Although there isn’t a standard recommended dose of astragalus, doses of 500mg and above have been associated with health benefits.
5. Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola Rosea is a powerful adaptogenic herb that’s often associated with reducing physical, psychological, and environmental stressors associated with work. This herb supports brain function, mental clarity and improves focus, making it the perfect burnout prevention tool!
Rhodiola Rosea also reduces cortisol levels directly, decreases anxiety and reduces the likelihood of depression, reduces fatigue, boosts the immune system, and promotes high energy levels. The recommended dose of this efficacious herb sits between 400 - 600mg, and it can be taken for up to four months. Since it promotes high energy, focus, and clarity, it’s best to get your daily dose of Rhodiola Rosea in well before bedtime. Although, people with autoimmune diseases should avoid consuming this adaptogen!
6. Reishi Mushroom
The Reishi mushroom is, of course, a mushroom, but it’s also an adaptogen, and it’s an incredibly popular one. Research has shown that Reishi mushrooms help to regulate cortisol levels and support the functions of the nervous system, therefore reducing stress and anxiety levels.
Reishi mushrooms also help to combat stress by boosting the immune system, improving focus and mental clarity, improving mood, balancing blood pressure, and aiding restful sleep. Somewhere between 1 - 6g is the perfect amount to take in tea, and 1 - 1.5g as a powder, for optimal stress relief and overall supported health. However, those with low blood pressure should avoid this magnificent mushroom!
7. Licorice Root
Although commonly known as a sweet treat, licorice root is an impressive adaptogen that helps the body to react better to stressful situations by preventing the breakdown of cortisol, and in turn, balancing and regulating cortisol levels in the body!
Licorice root can also improve mood, reduce anxiety levels, boost energy levels, support the immune system, and support the digestive system (an area that often becomes irritated during a stressful period of time). There’s no standard recommended dose of licorice root, as it can be consumed in many forms, from tea and powders, to capsules and of course, in its raw form. You can take it at any time during the day.
Ready To Combat Stress With Adaptogenic Herbs?
There’s no doubt about it, adaptogens have burst onto the supplement market incredibly fast and courageously. But, like other nutritional trends that have gone before, they don’t seem to be going anywhere fast.
With research showing the powerful impacts of these herbs and A-list celebrities and wellness gurus such as Gwyneth Paltrow backing up these claims and swearing by them, it might be time to start consuming at least one of these stress-combating supplements today!