Found: The Best Adaptogens For Instant Anxiety Relief

Written by Katrine van Wyk

Image by Jeff Wasserman / Stocksy

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Stress and overwhelm are undoubtedly contributing factors when it comes to anxiety. That feeling of constant unease, nervousness, dread, and worry can be so debilitating and frustrating to shake! Rest assured—the stress-fighting plants known as adaptogens are here to help. Adaptogens can help decrease the secretion of cortisol (the stress hormone) and help our bodies better adapt and deal with a stressful environment.

These super plants with their balancing effect can help battle stress-related problems such as anxiety. When picking the right adaptogen to help with your anxiety, it's important to look to the ones with overall calming benefits that support your nervous system, help ground you, and make you more resilient to exposure to stress overall. I've listed a few of my favorites below, and you can read a lot more about these and other adaptogens, mushrooms, and superfoods in my just-released book, Super Powders. Although you may notice some immediate effects when ingesting adaptogens, they need to be consumed on the regular (daily) over a period of time (4-6 weeks) to really start noticing changes in your mood, energy and wellbeing. Sticking with it is the only way to know if it’s truly working. Always ask your doctor or health care provider if pregnant, nursing, on any medications, or have a diagnosis before adding any new herbs, including the adaptogens listed below:

1. Ashwagandha

Studies have found that this ayurvedic root helps reduce cortisol secretion and can lead to a noticeable less-stressed-out feeling. It's an overall stress-busting adaptogen with calming benefits that can help improve sleep quality and mental calmness as well as boost your productivity. And most importantly, consistent use (at least a month) has been found to lower anxiety in people who usually experience it! This root does have a bitter taste, so take ashwagandha in a capsule or add it to your homemade chocolate treat to balance the flavors.

2. Lion's Mane

This amazing mushroom has been found to have depression- and anxiety-lowering abilities. It also contains nerve growth factors, which help protect and regenerate brain tissue and can help improve the feeling of brain fog. Lion's mane mushroom has been used in Chinese medicine and in Japan for centuries and got its name because of its hairy appearance. I like to drink it as a mushroom coffee or add to a cup of broth.

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3. Mucuna Pruriens

Mucuna pruriens is often referred to as the dopa bean! This adaptogen contains L-dopa, a precursor to dopamine, the pleasure and motivation hormone. It's a great stress buster, mood booster, and motivator and can help decrease anxiety. As a neurotransmitter, dopamine's job is to calm the nervous system. Mucuna pruriens has a subtle pleasant taste and as a powder it can easily be added to your morning smoothie or matcha latté.

4. Reishi

Referred to as the Queen Healer, this incredible mushroom is the most studied plant in the world and has a range of benefits from improved immunity and sleep to seasonal allergy relief and glowing skin. It's overall calming to the nervous system and a good fit for the stressed-out and high-strung among us—including those for whom stress tends to lead to anxiety. I love adding it to an afternoon hot chocolate or a golden milk in the evening to unwind and calm down before sleep.

This chocolate spread, from my book, Super Powders, combines two of my favorite anxiety-alleviating adaptogens. It's great on toast, drizzled over a bowl of fresh berries or oatmeal, over ice cream, or, of course, straight out of the jar. It may remind you of a certain European chocolate spread, but this version is free of nasty oils and processed sugar and loaded with good fats, calcium, minerals, and antioxidants.

Tahini Shrooms Chocolate Spread

Makes about 12 ounces (1½ cups )

Ingredients

  • 1 cup tahini
  • ⅓ cup raw cacao powder
  • ⅓ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon chaga
  • ½ teaspoon lion's mane
  • ½ teaspoon reishi
  • ½ teaspoon cordyceps

Method

  1. Stir together all the ingredients in a medium bowl until well-combined.
  2. Store in a 12-ounce glass jar in the fridge. It could last for weeks in the fridge, but you probably will finish it way before then!

Ready to learn more about how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE web class with nutrition expert Kelly LeVeque.

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