Most often used in Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, adaptogens promote homeostasis to help the body adapt to stress and resist fatigue.
People have been using adaptogenic herbs for more than 2,500 years, and plenty of today's medical research confirms their healing power. Different herbs can help the body counteract the adverse effects of stress by supporting the adrenal glands and helping cells eliminate toxic by-products.
Traditional medicine is making a serious comeback. Today, you can easily find powdered adaptogens to add into your teas, smoothies, and baked goods at your local grocery store. Here are four of my favorites:
Like most adaptogens, rhodiola restores your normal physiological response to stress and protects against stress-induced depression. However, the herb is growing in popularity thanks to recent evidence that it can also help prevent stress-induced heart attacks and promote new cardiac blood vessel growth after a heart attack.
And if that's not enough, the herb also packs impressive beauty-boosting benefits. It can reduce the liver's natural antioxidant stores, stimulating an appropriate immune response to inflammation. It has been linked to weight loss as well!
Ashwagandha is a potent root that calms the body’s physiological and nervous systems. This mineral-dense adaptogen aids the thyroid, soothes anxiety, improves sleep, and contributes to virility. Rich in antioxidants, ashwagandha stimulates the thyroid gland and secretion of thyroid hormones, boosts immunity, and increases the production of blood. It should come as no surprise that increased blood flow and relaxation results in a positive effect on libido and sexual health.
Holy Basil (Tulsi)
Referred to as the “Mother Medicine of Nature” and “The Queen of Herbs” in Ayurveda, holy basil contains several anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-stress properties. Tulsi contains chemicals that help fight chronic stress by strengthening the immune system. Often consumed as a tea, it's the perfect way to get your feet wet with adaptogens.
Cordyceps are powerful antioxidant-packed mushrooms with adaptogenic, anti-aging, and anti-inflammatory properties. There is a still a debate as to whether these mushrooms are technically “adaptogens,” but their benefits are certainly worth mentioning nonetheless.
Cordyceps can help control insulin and lower blood sugar levels—two factors important for protecting lean muscle mass and burning fat for energy. Cordyceps have also been associated with increased libido by restoring sexual hormones. Cordyceps naturally fight both physical and mental fatigue by increasing the production of our body’s major energy source, ATP.
Kelly LeVeque is a holistic nutritionist, wellness expert, and celebrity health coach based in Los Angeles, California. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California and completed her postgraduate clinical nutrition education through UCLA and UC Berkeley. Be Well By Kelly grew out of LeVeque's lifelong passion for health, the science of nutrition and overall wellness. Guided by a practical and always optimistic approach, she helps clients improve their health, achieve their goals and develop sustainable habits to live a healthy and balanced life. She parlayed her passion for health, wellness, and nutrition into her first book, Body Love (Harper Collins) published June 2017.
LeVeque is passionate about the science of human nutrition. Driven by the desire to help her clients, and her own intellectual curiosity, she studies the latest research, evaluates competing theories and reads everything. Most importantly, she uses that knowledge to make individualized recommendations for her clients. She also loves to cook. LeVeque believes in real food, real ingredients and a clean diet. The Be Well kitchen is constantly buzzing, and loves creating tasty, clean, nutrient-dense recipes and dishes.
Before starting her consulting business, LeVeque worked in the medical field for Fortune 500 companies like J&J, Stryker, and Hologic, eventually moving into personalized medicine, offering tumor gene mapping and molecular subtyping to oncologists. She is a regular contributor for numerous health, wellness and lifestyle publications. LeVeque rounded out her education with a number of other certifications including being certified as a Health Coach through The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, her RYT-200 training though the American Yoga School, and NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer® (NSCA-CPT)® certification through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.