Adaptogens have been a buzz word in the wellness community lately. They seem elusive and exclusive, like something only yoga teachers and health-food gurus use. But they are worth learning about, and they are not as inaccessible as they sound.

What are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are specific herbs that help the body and mind deal with stress. Some are familiar, such as, ginseng and licorice, while others are not so common such as, ashwagandha and astragalus root. Adaptogens have the ability to help keep the body and mind balanced and calm. According to an article on Healthline, when the body faces stress, there are three phases it goes through: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. Adaptogens keep the body in a state of equilibrium or in the resistance phase for longer, keeping exhaustion, cortisol, and other negative effects of stress at bay.

Dr. Brenda Powell, co-medical director of the Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute, told Time, “Adaptogens may do for your adrenal glands what exercise does for your muscles.” Adrenal glands are responsible for responding to stress and release stress hormones, such as cortisol. The consumption of adaptogens help adrenal glands to regulate stress without overreaction or an extreme stress response.

Which Adaptogens Are Best for You?

There are many adaptogens, all with slightly different uses. Ashwagandha has been used to treat arthritis, anxiety, insomnia, memory loss, stress, and many other ailments for centuries in eastern medicine. Medical News Today discusses a study published by Phytomedicine  that found ashwagandha to have similar effects to lorazepam (Ativan) in its ability to reduce anxiety levels.

Some other common and popular adaptogens are astragalus root, Siberian ginseng, and holy basil. Eleuthero, or Siberina ginseng, is described as a stimulant which helps support the nervous system and manage stress. Tulsi, or holy basil, has been used in Chinese medicine dating back 2,000 years. It has been used to treat bronchitis, malaria, digestive issues, eczema and contains high levels of Vitamin A, C, Calcium, Zinc, Iron, and Chlorophyll, according to Healthline.

They also report that holy basil’s nutritional content is strong, with high levels of Vitamin A, C, Calcium, Zinc, Iron, and Chlorophyll.

Those are just a few of the more popular adaptogens, but there are plenty more to explore and learn about. No need to be intimidated by these helpful herbs! With the ability to help energize and focus both mind and body when faced with stress and fatigue, plus the natural antidepressant, anti-anxiety, and even anti-aging qualities, adaptogens are a natural herbal powerhouse! Remember to always consult your doctor before adding any kind of supplement to your diet.