Adaptogens are natural substances that help your body adapt to and deal with different forms of stress. Simply put, they work to normalize you’re mood and energy levels, leaving you better equipped to handle whatever life decides to throw your way. Some are great for boosting energy and others are better at helping you relax or fall asleep. If you’ve taken a look at Instagram or the wellness blogosphere lately, adaptogens might seem like the newest trendy health craze. In reality, these natural substances have been used for hundreds of years in Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions. And there’s many reasons why.
Because there are so many options out there, adaptogens might seem a little tricky to navigate at first. We wanted to give you a quick introduction to a few of our favorites here at Little Barn. If you’re new to the adaptogens world, it might be helpful to start with a just a few basic ones so you’re body isn’t overwhelmed with a slew of unfamiliar substances. And if you have any hesitations or pre-existing conditions, it’s always a good idea to consult your doctor before introducing anything new in to your diet.
1. Ashwagandha —
This is a great starter adaptogen. Sometimes referred to as “Indian Ginseng”, Ashwagandha works to soothe your nervous system and adrenals when you’re feeling anxious. Great for balancing hormones and helping you get a restful night’s sleep. It’s also a rich source of iron which is super beneficial if you have a menstrual cycle. Adding about a half-teaspoon to your tea or morning smoothie could help you feel focused and elevated throughout your day. Taking it at night could also help to induce a restful night’s sleep.
2. Cordyceps —
A mushroom based adaptogen, cordyceps is great for boosting liver and kidney function along with energy levels. It’s super effective in fighting free radicals and has been used historically for reducing symptoms of coughs and colds, meaning it’s great for your immune system. Most noticeably though, cordyceps increases your energy levels, making it the perfect addition to your pre or post workout routine as it can also aid in oxygenation of the body and improving muscle tone.
3. Reishi —
Reishi, also a mushroom based adaptogen, is tied to longevity, brain and immune function, and is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Often referred to as the “Queen Healer”, Reishi is perfect for stress relief. Add Reishi in to your routine to feel more centered, balanced, and in control as you go about your day.
4. Tocos —
Tocos is a potent source of Vitamin E which helps promote healthy skin, hair, and connective tissues. Made from rice bran, this adaptogen is super easy to add to your coffee as a substitute for milk because it has a pleasantly creamy taste. Tocos also assists in the removal of toxins from your body and is great for everyday use.
5. He Shou Wu —
He Shou Wu is a powerful longevity herb that has tons of benefits. It has been used for centuries as an aphrodisiac to boost libido and encourage sexual health. Additionally, He Shou Wu supports the endocrine system and contains high levels of zinc, so many people use it to stimulate hair growth and maintain healthy locks. It’s classified as a longevity herb but it also aids in stress relief. You can think of it as a good way to help calm your nerves, leaving you focused and ready to take on any challenges you may be facing.
6. Chlorella —
Chlorella is a freshwater algae that has a beautiful and bright bluish green color. It’s also one of the most nutrient-dense superfoods out there. It’s highly beneficial for your immune system but Chlorella’s real claim to fame is in its detoxification properties. This adaptogen binds itself to toxins and heavy metals like lead and mercury that might be lurking in your body and helps prevent them from being absorbed. It’s also a great source of iron, so it’s especially beneficial for those with menstrual cycles and/or anemia.
7. Chaga —
Chaga is often used as a grounding herb. High in antioxidants, it’s a great addition for immune system support and energy balance. It works to reduce inflammation and boost physical endurance. Because it contains melanin, chaga has historically been used to treat various skin ailments like eczema and psoriasis, so it’s great for giving your skin a little extra support and helping to protect you from sun damage. It’s also a great adaptogen to use for aid in digestion.
If the thought of shoving a spoonful of bright green chlorella powder in your mouth makes you a bit nervous, here’s a quick and easy way to get those adaptogens in without having to deal with the bitter tastes. Try starting your day with an adaptogen-filled matcha latte. It’s super creamy and satisfying but chock-full of antioxidants and energy-boosting ingredients.
- 1 cup nut milk of your choice
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 tsp matcha powder
- 1/2 tsp Ashwagandha (or other adaptogen of choice)
- 1/2 tsp Chaga (or other adaptogen of choice)
- 1 tbsp coconut butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- Honey or agave to taste (optional)
If you don’t have or can’t find coconut butter, make your own by throwing unsweetened dessicated coconut into a food processor and blending for about 10 minutes.
- Bring water to a boil in tea kettle or pot and let it cool slightly
- Add all other ingredients into your blender
- Pour hot water slowly into blender
- Blend until thoroughly mixed and your latte has a frothy look
- Add any additional sweeteners, to taste
- Pour into mug and enjoy
Hopefully this helps you better navigate all the options out there. And if you’re an adaptogens expert, let us know if we missed any of your favorites!