Power of Adaptogenic Herbs


Adaptogens are a powerful classification of herbs, identified by the following set of characteristics:

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  1. non-toxic: safe for minors, during pregnancy, elderly, non-threatening in macro doses. and no contraindication with known medications. 

  2. long-term acting tonic: herb can be taken for extended periods of time without diminishing use and/or stressful to any specific organ system. 

  3. endocrine support: proven research has shown supportive functioning for one or more of the following glands/organs: brain, thyroid, pituitary gland, adrenals, pancreas, thymus, testicles, and ovaries. 

  4. relieves acute symptoms: proper herbal dosage will sub-set present symptoms.

  5. Inherently balancing/harmonizing (not heating/cooling) to all 11 systems of the body: supports #2 from above. Herb does not tax any specific system of the body and can be taken long-term for support.

One of the most notable adaptogenic influences is that of endocrine support (i.e. hormonal + stress support). In our current society, most of us operate in a consistent state of mild-stress. Consequently, stress triggers our sympathetic nervous system (aka, our Fight or Flight response), leading to high-level secretions of Cortisol. Cortisol is extremely important, allowing our adrenaline and energy to spike in times of emergency. However, a constant state of cortisol release ultimately leads to chronic inflammation, which further contributes to a whole host of modern day health ailments. 

Additional health benefits:

  1. lowers cortisol levels

  2. regenerates brain cells

  3. alleviates depression + anxiety

  4. supports cardiovascular health

  5. supports liver functioning

  6. defense against cancer cells

  7. lowers cholesterol

  8. defense against radiation

  9. immunity balance

  10. increases energy

Integrative medicine master, Andrew Weil, MD, explains adaptogens as herbs that tone the body and bring them back to homeostasis. They carry a special affinity for reducing stress in the body + mind

How to Use: Tips + Tricks w/ Adaptogens:

1. Ashwagandha 'strength of stallion'

  • Withania Somnifera: rejuvenating, stress-relieving, lowers cortisol

  • Part used: root

  • Available forms: dried root for tea, powdered for mixtures, tinctures, capsules

  • Traditional Intake: Rasayana (slowly cooking-down herbal parts)


Ashwagandha Milk Recipe

  • 1 c milk (cow's milk / substitute milk)

  • 1 tsp Ashwagandha root powder

  • 1 tsp Honey

  • 4 crushed cardamom pods

  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 tsp of powder

  • 1/4 nutmeg powder

Contraindications: none known

Favorite product: Ashwagandha Tablets from Banyan Botanicals (250mg taken 1-4x/day around meals)

2. Rhodiola 'golden root'

  • Rhodiola Rosea energy enhancing, brain boosting, nervine tonic

  • Part used: root

  • Available forms: dried root for tea, tincture, powder, capsules, fresh root for teas/tinctures

  • Traditional Intake: fresh root for tea

  • Click here to review clinical research: 'Rhodiola Rosea - An Overview of its Versatility, Effectiveness and Indications'

  • Contraindications: none known

  • Favorite products: Rhodiola Capsule from Herb Pharm

    • Begin by taking 100mg supplements 1x/day (around meals) and increase by 100mg every 2 days until 400mg/day or as advised by a healthcare professional.

3. Holy Basil (Tulsi) 'incomparable one'

  • Ocimum tenuiflorum - immunity booting, anti-bacterial, antioxidant

  • Part used: leaf

  • Available forms: herbal tea, fresh leaf, powder mixed with ghee.

  • Traditional Intake: For many years, Tulsi has been prepared as a tea with fresh leaves.

  • My Fav: Tulsi is not readily available for most of us... prepared tea bags will have to do! My favorite brand is Organic India - complete with 10+ variations of Tulsi Tea + flavors. I enjoy the Turmeric + Ginger Tulsi Blend.

  • Contraindications: not for use during pregnancy, except with supervision from a healthcare professional.

  • Click here to review clinical research: 'Holy Basil - An Overview of Research and Clinical Indications'

4. Shatavari kalpa '100 roots'

  • Asparagus racemosus - digestive aid, reproductive support, demulcent.

  • Part Used: root, rhizomes, and stem

  • Available forms: Infusion or tincture. You can also find the root candied or preserved into a sweet jam.

  • My Fav: 1/2 tsp of Shatavari powder cooked in 1 tbsp of ghee.

Traditional Intake: Shatavari Milk

  • 1 c milk (cow's milk / substitute milk)

  • 1 tsp Ashwagandha root powder

  • 1 tsp Honey

  • 4 crushed cardamom pods

  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 tsp of powder

  • 1/4 nutmeg powder

Contraindications: none known

5. Maca 'Natures superfood'

  • Lepidium meyenii - nutritive tonic, estrogenic, improves energy

  • Part Used: root

  • Available forms: root, powder, capsule

  • Traditional Intake: 1 tsp blended with 1 cup of quinoa and other ingredients of choice

  • My Fav: 1 tbsp added to smoothie.

  • Contraindications: none known

*This information is for educational purposes only. Please consult a healthcare practitioner before administering use, especially if pregnant, nursing, on medication. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not to be used for diagnoses, treatment, or prevention of disease.

Marina Zahran