What are Adaptogens and Do I Need Them?

Adaptogens for stress

Adaptogens is a hot term this year and while I am not a BIG pusher of supplements I will say adaptogens became apart of my routine last year and I have seen a significant improvement on my cortisol levels, my thyroid levels and just my overall energy. I talked about what I did to lower my cortisol levels naturally and adaptogens were apart of that formula, you can read more about that here.

But before you add another supplement to your already growing arsenal let us talk about them.

What Are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are considered nature’s miracle anti-stress and fatigue cure but before we crown them anything let’s break down exactly where they come from. Adaptogens are herbs, compounds/substances, according to dictionary.com “a natural substance considered to help the body adapt to stress and to exert a normalizing effect upon bodily processes. A well-known example is ginseng.”

How to Naturally Bring Down Cortisol

What Do They Do?

Basically they help balance, restore and calm levels of cortisol down and helps you to respond to life’s stresses in a different way. They support adrenal function, help eliminate toxic cell by product and help utilize oxygen in the body more efficiently allowing the bodies cells to access energy quickly. In other words, they help balance you out.

The world we live in is always asking something us, placing pressure on us and begging us for our attention. The environment we surround ourselves with, heavy caffeine, low calorie yo-yo dieting, constant social media changes the way our bodies respond to stress. Whether you think you lead a stressful life or not, if you lead your body. mind and soul down this wicked path then you may be experiencing high cortisol. In my own case I was not eating enough carbohydrates, working out two times a day, doing fasted cardio and pushing myself mentally every single day. I started working on myself the better part of last year through Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic principles and can happily say I lead a much calmer life, am in tune with who I am in and know when I need to put down the phone and chill out to some music. Part of this self discovery I learned about adaptogens and have yet to look back. I would like to say the Serenity formula I take is kind of like natural Xanex without the side effects and addiction.

High Cortisol can cause anxiety, auto immune diseases, hormonal imbalances, IBS, thyroid problems and weight loss resistance especially in the stomach area. I find that people who have a hard time losing fat in the stomach region either eat too much sugar, don’t get enough quality sleep or have high cortisol or combination of all three.

Stress Reducing Herbs

What is classified as an Adaptogen?

It is best to take a combination like Serenity of these adaptogens as they work best together and each contain different properties that will help keep the balance within your body.

  • Ginseng: Out of all of these you have probably heard of ginseng as its quite common in the sports/fitness industry as a natural energy and stamina booster. When I lived in South East Asia almost every one I knew that was from the region took Ginseng in some form or another and I commonly saw ginseng drinks being sold on the side of the road. If I had known what I knew now, I would have been drinking those on the daily as it restores and strengthens the bodies immune system, promotes vitality and helps you push just a bit harder without pushing your cortisol through the roof.
  • Rhodiola Rosea: Funny to say, but it is pronounced Road-i-ola Rose-a. It acts as a hormone thermostat as it connects to lower cortisol when need be. When your body falls out of its normal rhythm it will either raise cortisol or lower it depending on how your body needs to be so it is in its natural state of homeostasis.
  • Ashwagandha: I personally started with ashwagandha after my Ayurvedic doctor recommended it to me to ease my anxiety. Ashwagandha is kind of like the Indian medicine form of ginseng and has been used for 1,000’s of years to promote longevity, lower stress and provide energy. After the discovery of this powerful herb and seeing how I was able to calm down no matter what I started to take a look into the other herbs that were classified as adaptogens.
  • Licorice Root: Unfortunately I am not speaking of Twizzlers, but the powerful Licorice Root which has many benefits other than lowering your stress. Phytoestrogens in licorice make PMS easier to tolerate and can even reduce bloating. Relating to cortisol reducing, licorice root reduces the symptoms sensitive to cortisol levels like chronic fatigue and naturally increasing your energy.

Adaptogens for Cortisol

  • Cordycep Mushrooms: Known to dilate the lung’s airways providing oxygen to the blood which in turn helps everything in your body flow easier. A lot of times we do not breathe properly, we take quick short breathes, we don’t use belly breathes we breathe and put our bodies into panic fight or flight. (For more info on breathing, I wrote a post here that explains how to breathe properly.) This might sound gross but cordycep mushrooms aren’t just mushrooms they are a combination of parasitic fungus and the larvae of a caterpillar. Of course you would just take this as a supplement..haha.
  • Astragalus Root: Used in Chinese medicine as a tonic, astragalus root is used to improve energy, normalize disturbances in the body and help the body to balance itself out. The other cool thing is this root helps with anti-aging as it helps to slow down the aging of cells.

There are also other adaptogens but these are the ones I personally use. I am not a Dr, so please do not take these recommendations as a reason to go out and buy supplements, I am simply sharing my results of reducing my cortisol using eastern medicine practices.

Another thing I started to combine with taking adaptogens is more self care and more self love. I adapted all of these things, writing in a gratitude journal with EMOTION (another post), imagining hearts and love surrounding me and myself at all times and just moving my body in different ways like yoga, breathing techniques and walking.

Herbs for energy

Have you done acupuncture or tried herbs from an herbalist?

Supplements I talk about: I currently use Relora and Serenity which I buy here and here.

Photos By: Sherrylnn:: Fly with Memories 

  • I loved this post! So informative and you know your stuff!! I need to start taking my serenity regularly again, I kind of fell off with it when I started taking all of the other supplements my Dr gave me, so this was a good reminder to get back on it 🙂
    xo Annie

    • Thank you Annie! I really love researching which is why I think I LOVE blogging it kind of goes hand and hand! Test the waters and see before committing for sure! Sending love <3

  • Don’t take these things – what I DO take though… Vitamin D, Resvertrol & Quercetin – along with lots of probiotics and digestive enzymes! THEY kick butt! 😀

    • Thanks for the comment Gigi! I am so happy those work for you, I will look into it 🙂

  • super interesting
    Im waaaay naturally laid back and nonanxious married to a very anxious man.
    Im lovingly sending this post to him.

    • How sweet of you Carla! I wish I were more like you but I think that’s what makes my husband and my relationship work too, we are total opposites in that way! Sending love and hope your husband finds this article useful!

  • Amazing post! Very interesting girl. Thanks for sharing! Have a fabulous Wednesday!
    Much love, Len
    http://www.lenparent.com

    • Thank you Len for stopping by 🙂 I love adaptogens and am so happy I discovered them so I could share them with other girls out there who need help! xo C

  • I had never heard this phrase before!!! Super interesting and I have to look into some of these more. Hugs, Kait

    • Thanks Kait for stopping through 🙂 Research these amazing herbs they rock! xo C

  • This was so interesting to read! I also totally relate to what you said about balance. People get pulled in so many different directions, it’s important to find ways to return to your center. Thanks for sharing!
    http://www.sprinklesandsaturdays.com

    • Thank you for stopping through Julia! Yes defiantly grounding yourself is KEY! I try to spend time outdoors everyday, toes in grass to get that grounded feeling as it is SO important for our health xo C

  • Great post, girl! I love Ginseng. I have a ginseng tea that I drink to detox every now and then!

    xo Mariam
    http://www.thepetitebijou.com

    • Ow nice! I miss Thailand that stuff was EVERYWHERE! Do you get yours on amazon? I need to find some STAT! xo C

  • This is the first time I’m hearing about adaptogens. Thank you for such an informative post. Although I don’t blog about fitness and such, I spend a lot of my time in it and all topics surrounding it, which is why I really enjoyed learning something new 🙂

    Gunjan | http://www.songbirdechoes.com

    • Thank you for stopping through Gunjan! I love sharing outside knowledge that many people don’t talk about but its funny to me because many athletes use ginseng to improve performance!! Thanks for the love and so happy I could teach you something <3

  • Ginseng is good stuff, I’ve used it for awhile on and off. I have heard of Ashwagandha, but since I’m on meds for depression/anxiety, I tend to leave that one alone. I am curious about Rhodiola Rosea. Might help me out, so going to look into that one.
    Licorice Root is another I am going to look into. Great post, thanks for the info.

    • Thank you for coming by Shannon! Take a look and do your research for sure 🙂 Let me know how it works out! xo C

  • I always learn so much from you. Add this to my list of things to try… I’d been thinking about licorice root for a while, actually. Time to get on it.

    • Yes maybe it is a sign that you need some of these magical herbs in your life 🙂 How was Thailand?! Sending love xo C

  • This post is so informative! I love your passion for working out and eating healthy. My fiancé takes a few natural supplements and I’m sure he will be very interested to read about adaptogens so I’m emailing him the link now 🙂 Awesome post girl!!!!
    http://stopdropandvogue.com/

    • Thank you Taylor, I am kind of a nutrition/wellness nut and I love sharing all my finds! Hope your love enjoys my piece!

  • Thank you for this! I am so glad I read it! I drink Shakeology, and know that there are adaptogens (ashwaganda for sure – but I didn’t even know that was an adaptogen) in there, but didn’t know what they were! I just knew they were good, and had focused more on the stuff I did know – about the vitamins and minerals, pre- and probiotics, and that I feel amazing when I drink it. Now I know a little more, and it is inspiring me to do more research on it. Thank you!