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What Are Adaptogens?

Adaptogen turmeric and spices

Herbal medicine is having something of a moment. And why not? Between essential oils and medical marijuana, we’re getting more and more access to the natural, plant-based remedies people have used for centuries. And as we do, we’re having to develop something of a new vocabulary. Suddenly, words like “aquafaba” and “tisane” are getting thrown around willy-nilly. And there’s another new one you might need to add to your lexicon: adaptogens

What adaptogens are and what they do for your body

Adaptogens are specific herbs and mushrooms that people have been using for hundreds of years. They’re particularly prevalent in Ayurvedic and Chinese healing traditions. And the whole idea behind adaptogens is that they keep your body in balance — or, in other words, they help you adapt. 

Introducing adaptogens can help you manage stress, balance your hormones, improve your immunity, lessen feelings of anxiety, and boost your energy. Basically, if something is throwing you off-center, adaptogens can help you combat it. 

But it’s important to know that just because something is labeled as adaptogenic doesn’t mean it will do all of the above for you. 

Different adaptogens for different stuff

Like other herbal remedies, the way each adaptogen works depends on the adaptogen itself. It makes sense. Think of essential oils. You’re not going to use your lavender essential oil when you’re feeling tired or your peppermint when you’re trying to get some sleep. 

Similarly, there are a whole bunch of different adaptogens out there and it all comes down to picking the ones that will give you what you need. Some of the most popular adaptogens are:

  • Ashwagandha for stress management
  • Ginseng for improved mental acuity and memory
  • Goji berries for more energy, better sleep, and a greater sense of calm
  • Holy basil to manage physical and emotional stress
  • Turmeric for lessened anxiety, muscular soreness, and health risk

If you’ve been looking for a way to improve your wellbeing, bringing your body back to the center and balancing out whatever’s stressing it out, adaptogens could be for you. They do interact with certain medications, though, so if you take any prescriptions, talk to your doc before you add them to your routine. 

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