Posted by Starwest Botanicals on 22nd Jul 2022
A Complete List of Adaptogens and Benefits: What to Know
Traditional medicine in many cultures focuses on a whole-body approach to wellness. For example, traditional Chinese medicine is centered upon the idea of yin and yang—two opposing forces that need to be unified and balanced. On that premise, if someone is feeling overtired or stressed, their yin and yang may be out of balance.
We now have modern science to help us understand ourselves, but the holistic principles of traditional medicine still hold true. For centuries, humans have understood that certain plants and botanicals can have restorative effects on a human body that’s out of sync.
While these remedies have been in use for thousands of years, modern medicine only recently gave them a name: adaptogens.
What Are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens are commonly defined as naturally occurring substances that help regulate the body’s systems. They are active ingredients in plants and mushrooms that may positively impact specific stressors when consumed. The benefits of adaptogens are different depending upon the plant.
According to doctors, there are three key qualities that botanicals must have to be considered adaptogens:
- They must be non-toxic at normal doses
- They must help the body cope with some kind of stress
- They must allow your body to return to homeostasis, meaning, the body’s natural, healthy equilibrium.
How Do Adaptogens Work?
As mentioned above, adaptogens work to restore your body to homeostasis. That’s not so different from traditional Chinese medicine of yin-yang balance. Basically, adaptogens work to either increase or decrease certain chemical reactions within the body, thus allowing you to center your mind and body.
Adaptogens can be consumed by:
- Swallowing them in pill form
- Adding them to a meal (like a spice)
- Drinking them in a beverage (like a smoothie)
- Brewing them in a tea
- Taking them in tincture form
As with any medicine, it’s important to consult with your doctor before taking adaptogens. Also, be sure to adhere to each adaptogen’s recommended dosage and to immediately stop taking them should an allergic reaction occur.
Adaptogenic Herbs List
Now that we understand a bit about the history of adaptogens and how they work, we thought it would be helpful to provide a list of adaptogens and benefits that might potentially occur.
Adaptogenic ginseng comes from the root of the organic ginseng plant, which grows naturally in many mountainous areas in places like China, Korea, and even the United States. The roots are typically hand-picked and then processed.
This adaptogenic herb is one of the most versatile adaptogens. Studies have suggested that consumption of ginseng can have the following health benefits:
- Reduced inflammation – Ginseng has been shown to have antioxidant properties.
- Decreased fatigue – Ginseng may battle tiredness by reducing oxidative stress.
- Improved brain function – Ginseng may improve focus, calmness, and mood. It has also been shown to have positive effects on brain function to support memory health.
- Boosted immune system – While the studies remain inconclusive, ginseng may help boost our bodies’ immune function to common illnesses and improve the performance of vaccines.
- Can act as an aphrodisiac –By promoting muscle relaxation and increased blood flow, ginseng can potentially be helpful for men.
Sometimes referred to as “Peruvian ginseng,” maca isn’t actually in the same botanical family as ginseng. The maca vegetable resembles a radish in appearance and grows exclusively in the Andes region of Peru.
The root of the maca plant has long been used as an adaptogen and maca root powder can have the following health benefits:
- Improved mood – Researchers have found that taking maca root may support good moods, especially in women.
- Reduced SSRI or SSNI side effects – For those taking antidepressants, maca root may help limit side effects, especially those related to libido.
- Increased libido – Those who take maca root have reported increased sexual desire in some cases.
- Improved thyroid performance –Studies suggest that maca root may stimulate the thyroid gland. Thus, taking maca root may lead to improved general health.
- Healthy blood pressure –Research has shown that those who regularly take maca root may experience healthy blood pressure levels. This was especially true amongst older women.
Reishi is an adaptogenic mushroom native to warm parts of China, Japan, and other Asian countries. The mushrooms are known for their woody exterior and shiny tops, almost like they have been polished.
An organic reishi mushroom can be consumed whole or ground into a powder and the best way to consume reishi mushroom powder can be in forms such as capsules, teas, smoothies and more. There are many health benefits of reishi mushrooms including:
- Boosted immune system – Reishi may affect the genes in white blood cells, which are our bodies’ first line of defense against illness.
- Heart health – Taking reishi mushrooms may increase levels of HDL cholesterol, better known as “good” cholesterol.
Known as “Indian Winter cherry” or sometimes as “Indian ginseng,” ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub native to India, the Middle East, and Africa. While the bush produces flowers and berries, it is largely the plant’s roots that are coveted for their adaptogenic properties.
Ashwagandha has long been used in traditional Indian medicine. Studies have shown that it may have the following benefits:
- Decreased stress – Ashwagandha may help with stress relief by moderating the production of adrenaline.
- Better sleep – Users of ashwagandha have reported improvements in their sleep quality.
- Improved stamina and athleticism –By increasing the amount of oxygen that the body can utilize at once, ashwagandha may lead to better and longer-lasting performance for some athletes.
- Improved mental health –Studies have shown promising results when it comes to ashwagandha and lessening the symptoms of poor general health.
- Increased fertility in men –Ashwagandha may increase testosterone production in men, which in turn could lead to increased fertility.
Everyone is probably familiar with licorice-flavored candies, but extractions from the same plant also have adaptogenic qualities. Today, the perennial herb is mostly grown in Greece, Turkey, and parts of Asia. While many believe it to be the same as fennel or anise, licorice root is actually part of a different botanical family.
Licorice root is more than just a sweet flavoring. As an adaptogen, it is thought to have the following potential benefits:
- Clearer airways – Licorice root may often be used as an expectorant to help improve breathing when a person is sick. It’s a common ingredient in throat lozenges.
- Supported immunity – Besides treating coughs, some studies have also shown that licorice root may be beneficial in fighting viral infections and even allergies.
- Reduced inflammation – Licorice root may reduce inflammation, especially in the stomach. These soothing effects can be especially beneficial for heart and gut health.
Much like ginseng, eleuthero is a plant that has been used in traditional medicines for thousands of years. Often called “Siberian ginseng,” although it doesn’t share any botanical characteristics with ginseng, this thorny shrub grows in the mountainous regions of Asia.
One of eleuthero’s other nicknames is “devil’s root,” but don’t be intimidated. This adaptogen has numerous potential health benefits:
- Increased energy –By lessening the build-up of lactic acids in the muscles, eleuthero may help to reduce fatigue.
- Better exercise –Put that increased energy to use by exercising. Eleuthero can potentially act as a stimulant, improving endurance and athletic performance.
- Healing time –By stimulating the immune system, eleuthero may improve healing and recovery.
- Managing menopause – Studies have shown that eleuthero may bind estrogen receptor sites, which in turn may help women who are going through menopause.
If you live between Maine and North Carolina in the eastern United States, you may have seen Rhodiola growing in the wild. The flowering plant is known for its yellowish-green blooms and is commonly called “golden root” or “arctic root.” Rhodiola also grows in northern Europe and the colder parts of Asia.
More than just a pretty flower, Rhodiola extract may have the following adaptogenic benefits:
- Reduced stress – Rhodiola has been shown to potentially help with stress relief in test subjects, particularly those with busy lifestyles.
- Improved concentration – Similarly, Rhodiola may help people focus on specific tasks.
- Healthy moods – Rhodiola may have a positive impact on our neurotransmitters, which can result in similar effects as antidepressant medications.
- Improved memory –Cognitive studies have shown that Rhodiola may improve learning and memory function.
Find Your Balance With Starwest Botanicals
Maybe you’re searching for a way to bring down your stress levels after a tiring day taking care of the kids. Or maybe you’re seeking an improved focus for your next big work project. Or perhaps you just feel out of sync—too much yang, not enough yin.
The adaptogens available at Starwest Botanicals could be the extra help you’re looking for.
At Starwest Botanicals, we’ve been sourcing quality herbs, spices, and natural products since 1975. From organic Chinese ginseng powder to organic reishi mushroom, we have the ingredients and the experience to help you on your journey toward homeostasis.
Wiley Medicinal Research Reviews. Evolution of the adaptogenic concept from traditional use to medical systems: Pharmacology of stress‐ and aging‐related diseases.
Cleveland Clinic. Adaptogens. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/22361-adaptogens
Healthline. 7 Proven Health Benefits of Ginseng. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ginseng-benefits
Very Well Health. What Is Maca Root?https://www.verywellhealth.com/ways-maca-may-benefit-your-health-89573
Herbal Medicine. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92757/
Healthline. 6 Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/reishi-mushroom-benefits#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2
African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines. An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252722/
University of Rochester Health Encyclopedia. Licorice Root. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=19&contentid=Licorice
Medical News Today. 12 Potential Health Benefits of Eleuthero. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319084
Mental Health America. Rhodiola Rosea. https://www.mhanational.org/rhodiola-rosea