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What are adaptogens?

Paola Spadaro Rodriguez

June 7, 2023
Supporting the immune system, Increasing physical endurance, Stress and stress resistance, Improving cognitive function

Adaptogens are a class of natural substances, mainly herbs and mushrooms, that are used in traditional medicine to help the body adapt to and resist physical, mental, and emotional stress. These substances are believed to help restore the body’s balance and enhance overall stress resistance. Each adaptogen has specific properties and benefits, but in general, they are believed to:

  • Help reduce stress levels and fatigue: Adaptogens have the ability to regulate the endocrine system and help balance stress-related hormones like cortisol.
  • Improve cognitive function: Some adaptogens can enhance concentration, memory, and mental clarity, which can be beneficial for those experiencing stress or mental fatigue.
  • Increase physical endurance: Certain adaptogens have been observed to improve exercise endurance, lung capacity, and post-exercise recovery.
  • Support the immune system: Some adaptogens have immunomodulatory properties, meaning they can help strengthen and balance the immune system.

Panax Ginseng:

Panax ginseng is the root of an Asian plant. Studies have shown that Panax ginseng has many health benefits as it can positively affect immunity, stress, inflammation, and aging.

How to consume: Panax ginseng can be consumed raw or lightly steamed, either on its own or in water to prepare an infusion.

Siberian Ginseng:

Also known as “eleuthero,” Siberian ginseng helps regulate body disorders, reduce mental and physical stress, improve the circulatory system, and promote blood circulation to eliminate stagnation and revitalize the stomach, as demonstrated in various studies.

How to consume: Similar to Panax ginseng, Siberian ginseng can be consumed raw or lightly steamed, either on its own or in water to prepare an infusion.

Rhodiola Rosea:

Also known as golden root, Rhodiola rosea can have an anti-anxiety effect when we feel under pressure. Findings from a study on fatigue during night work among a group of young and healthy doctors suggested that Rhodiola rosea can reduce general fatigue under certain stress conditions.

How to consume: The leaves and shoots can be consumed raw or cooked.

Cordyceps Mushrooms:

Cordyceps mushrooms (also known as “caterpillar fungi”) are common adaptogens that have shown to increase energy and reduce fatigue, according to research conducted by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the School of Food Science and Engineering at South China University of Technology.

How to consume: These versatile mushrooms can be added to almost any cuisine, whether raw or cooked.

Holy Basil:

Holy basil, also known as Ocimum sanctum, is commonly known as tulsi in India and has been an integral part of Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Studies have shown that this Ayurvedic adaptogen contains multiple phytochemical compounds that can help improve the stress response.

How to consume: Holy basil can be consumed raw or used in cooking similar to regular basil.


Ashwagandha is commonly known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry. It is a versatile herb that may have an effect on various systems in the human body: the nervous system, immune system, energy production system, endocrine system, and reproductive system. Studies suggest that it has antioxidant effects that can improve an individual’s resilience to stress and potentially enhance their quality of life.

How to consume: Ashwagandha is traditionally taken in powder form mixed with milk and honey.


The astragalus herb has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. Some studies have shown that its health benefits include boosting immune function, reducing stress levels, and possessing anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties


The fruits of the schisandra plant, magnolia berries, are more well-known than the plant itself. According to research from the Swedish Herbal Institute, this adaptogen has shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, promote immunity, and reduce physical and mental fatigue.

How to consume: One of the best ways to consume schisandra is by boiling the berries and drinking it as an herbal infusion.

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