Adaptogenic Herbs and Spices 101


Adaptogenic Herbs and Spices 101

Stress is a buzzword these days. Everyone is talking about the stress they are experiencing or have experienced and the impact it has on their lives. Fact is, stress is a real thing and even medical doctors are beginning to realize that!

Stress really does have an impact on your life and especially on the way that your body functions. Stress is unavoidable for many of us. But, there is help around the corner!

Have you heard about adaptogenic herbs and spices? They do what their name states. They help our bodies adapt. Adapt to the stressors in our life! They help the body respond to stress, increase energy and minimize fatigue ( They may also have other actions, that help improve general health and wellbeing. What’s not to love?

There are many different adaptogenic herbs and spices. Below, is a short summary of some of the more commonly known ones:

  • Ashwagandha – An ancient herb, used for thousands of years to relieve stress and improve mood, energy and concentration. Ashwagandha has been found to block the stress pathway, so that stress and anxiety is not experienced, as well as lowering chronically elevated levels of cortisol – the stress hormone (
  • Rosemary – Not only is rosemary an herb that has a distinct pungent aroma and taste, it is a powerful adaptogen. It contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, which can help to balance many bodily functions, including digestion and memory and concentration ( Also, it helps hair growth (
  • Licorice – Licorice root is well-known as a soothing herb. It comes in many forms, tea, syrup, pastilles, candies etc., and is easy to obtain. Not only does it soothe all types of inflammation (present in stress), it also helps balance cortisol, hence its soothing action in stressful times (
  • Milk thistle – Perhaps a more indirect adaptogen, milk thistle is known as the “liver” herb, as it supports liver metabolism and detoxification ( A well-functioning liver aids in the management of hormones correlated to stress.
  • Rhodiola – found in many places around the world, rhodiola has been used for centuries to relieve stress, induce relaxation and boost energy and immunity ( It may be one of the most powerful known adaptogens.
  • Panax Ginseng – Not to be confused with the many other types of ginseng out there. It is used as a tonic to help people cope with stress and for improved general well-being (
  • Maca Root – An extremely nutritious root, maca is well-known for its hormone balancing effects. This means it can improve male and female health, as well as boost performance and energy ( A word of caution – maca is not for everyone, due to taste and possible potent side effects!

What to know when choosing herbs:

Herbs are very personal to the individual person and their life circumstances. What works well for one may not work for another. There are many different adaptogenic blends out there, from many different brands. You need something from a reputable brand which actually works. Some suggestions for finding a suitable herbal product:

  • Do some research on the herbs in the blend – is there enough of each herb? Can these herbs be used together? Are the herbs easy or difficult to obtain (herbs which are rare are not usually found in the quantities that one would need that they could be put into herbal products)?
  • Is the herb organic, and is it sourced from its natural habitat (i.e. if it’s a Peruvian herb like maca, it should be sourced from Peru)!
  • Often overlooked, but extremely important, does the herb interact with any other supplements, herbs or medications you are taking? Consult your healthcare practitioner.


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