Why I Love Adaptogens (the daily routine I can't stop!)

There’s a daily routine I never veer from: an adaptogen tincture whipped up for me by my local acupuncturist. Every day, it’s like a gentle mood lift, more focus-enhancing than caffeine, and admittedly more convenient than exercise when it comes to feeling happy (and not sad).

Like most parents right now, I’m exhausted (looking at you, cute baby who’s not sleeping at night), but my daily dose of adaptogens are getting me through.

Photo by Taylor Kiser

What are Adaptogens?

Adaptogen is a recent term, developed by modern science 60-70 years ago (depending on who’s telling the story), but most of the herbs, mushrooms, algae, bark, and other plants that are considered adaptogenic have been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic health traditions for thousands of years.

Mini Stress Vaccines

Healthline calls adaptogens “mini stress vaccines” for how they help protect the body from stress. As we know, stress tends to impact women more severely than men--and our modern lifestyle only exacerbates its effects.

Adaptogens are normalizing--for example, if your immune system is depressed, adaptogens work at a cellular level to restore its function. If your immune system is overactive (allergies!), adaptogens help to bring things back into line.

Adaptogens work through the HPA axis in the body, which touches the adrenal, pituitary, and hypothalamic systems, as well as the sympatho-adrenal system, which regulates our flight or fight response.

Help at a Cellular Level

Adaptogens help our body at the cellular level, help our bodies not freak out at stress--or in other words, they help us not give way to fatigue, fuzzy-thinking, depression and/or anxiety, and even things like weight gain and out of control allergies.

Photo by Goldmine

How to Start With Adaptogens

Twenty years ago, you practically had to harvest the mushrooms yourself if you wanted adaptogens in your diet. Today, however, we are happily inundated with adaptogens for every need and taste!

If you, like me, prefer the convenience of a dropper, you can try Anxiety Ally, crafted in Appalachia by small-batch herbalists at Wooden Spoon Herbs.

Goldmine Adaptogen™ Powder was created by two women struggling with adrenal fatigue and burnout who wanted something tasty and natural for stress relief. Consistent use is key with adaptogens, and this powder is flexible and powerful enough to make you want to use it daily-- stir it into your coffee, tea, or smoothie.

Want to take a more DIY approach to adaptogens? Super Powders by Katrine van Wyk breaks down how to use 20 adaptogens and shares recipes like Unbeatable Brownies with ashwagandha, goji, and maca and Golden Good Morning Milk with astragalus and reishi.

Whatever adaptogens you choose, it’s important to select them from reputable dealers. And make sure you stick to the recommended doses! Otherwise, feel free to enjoy, switch them up, and try new ones (I’m eyeing this support blend for a healthy cycle!).

Sarah Guerrero
Sarah Guerrero is a freelance writer and contributor to Slow North. She has a degree in international business from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, and writes about sustainable business practices and ethical living.