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The Top 7 Most Powerful Adaptogenic Herbs

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Do you feel like your stress levels are at an all-time high? Have you noticed that your mood swings are becoming more frequent and way more intense than usual?

Do you suspect that your anxiety and stress may be impacting your ability to fall asleep, messing with your diet, and causing you physical pain in addition to mental anguish?

If so, then it sounds like you need to make adaptogenic herbs a part of your diet.

These herbs actually help boost your body’s overall adrenal system, which is what controls your body’s cortisol production and other hormonal reactions to stress.

They work overtime to help your body to more consistently and more effectively regulate its response to anxiety and sudden, unexpected stressors.

Read on to learn more about the best adaptogens and adaptogen herbs and supplements for you.

1. Holy Basil

When it comes to the best adaptogens, this herb heals.

You may also have heard of it referred to as Tulsi, and it’s a native herb of India that’s present in tons of Ayurvedic practices. In addition to helping to relieve anxiety and fatigue, it’s even used to help you to heal from infections and skin problems like itching and redness.

Many people also use Holy Basil to help them ward off the common cold and reduce fevers. So, if you’re feeling run-down, and as though your immune system hasn’t been fighting as hard as it could be lately, give Holy Basil a try.

But how does this class of adaptogenic herbs work to reduce stress levels in the body?

Through the phytochemical compounds, it contains. Ocimumosides compounds A and B have been proven to work as a cortisol blocker.

Cortisol, commonly referred to as “The Stress Hormone,” is the hormone that your body releases in response to fear or anxiety. It’s that “rush” of panic you get in a bad situation. It has been shown to increase your levels of depression, cause you to gain weight, and even raise your cholesterol levels in addition to your anxiety.

READ THIS: Understanding the Link Between Stress and Health

The third compound in Holy Basil also works to control your body’s cortisol production, as well as helping you to fight off the development of the physical signs of stress, such as canker sores.

Holy Basil also helps you keep your blood pressure levels in check and boosts your immune system by helping your body to fight off more bacteria and eliminate disease-causing fungi you may ingest.

2. Asian Ginseng

Also known a Panax Ginseng, this is one of the most popular adaptogen herbs on the market today. It’s incredibly potent, meaning that you won’t need to consume a lot of this herb in order to get the results that you want.

If you struggle with racing thoughts and have noticed that your anxiety and stress levels often interfere with not only your focus but also your memory? Then this herb may be the solution you’ve been looking for.

In addition to leading to serious consequences like rapid weight gain, high blood glucose levels are also a serious indicator of stress.

Ginseng also helps your body to manage its production of what’s called the kinase enzyme. When your body’s levels of kinase spike, it’s a sign that you’re stressed out, and that the high-stress levels in your body have started to impact your circulatory system.

The kinase enzyme production in your body also kicks into overdrive when you’ve suffered a physical injury or severe pain and stress.

Unlike some of the other adaptogenic herbs on this list, Ginseng doesn’t actually work as a cortisol blocker.

Instead, it works to manage the other stressors in your body. This includes things like your adrenal gland and your neurotransmitter levels.

3. Licorice Root

This form of adaptogen may share the name of some of your favorite pieces of candy, but trust us when we tell you it’s a much healthier option. And btw… black licorice is disgusting! IMHO

Plus, it will help you to finally tackle those feelings of tiredness that don’t go away, even after you’ve gotten a full eight hours of sleep.

If you’ve been feeling lethargic, if you’ve noticed that your workouts are getting shorter and less strenuous, or if your energy levels are at an all-time low?

Reach for licorice root as soon as possible.

It works as a cortisol blocker and also lowers your body’s levels of androgen, one of the major signs of stress in the body. This also means that you’ll be at a much lower risk of developing ulcers.

It’s important to note that once you’ve made the decision to start taking licorice root, there are a few specific guidelines that you’ll need to follow to ensure that you’re doing it safely.

Keep in mind that if you take an excessive amount of licorice root, it can begin to impact the overall levels of potassium in your body. It can also cause a temporary increase in your blood pressure levels.

So, for best results, don’t take licorice root consistently for cycles longer than twelve weeks at a time. Or, simply choose to take DGL licorice, which is safe to take for as long as you see fit.

4. Cordycep Mushrooms and Herbal Supplements

Think that the foods and herbs you eat can’t help your body to better manage its response to stress?

Think again.

Cordycep mushrooms — which include things like shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushroom groups — are great on their own or effective when taken as a supplement.

They also work overtime to help your body to boost its immune system naturally, thanks in no small part to the high level of antioxidants that they contain.

In addition to working as a cortisol blocker, it’s also important to note that cordycep mushrooms and herbal supplements help to control what’s known as oxidative stress in the body.

This is often ignored, but it can have serious consequences on neurotransmitters and the overall health of your cells.

In men, it even works to increase your body’s natural production of testosterone. This means that, in addition to helping you to keep your stress levels low, it may even be able to help you to improve your overall sexual performance. You’ll definitely see a difference in how you work out at the gym, as well!

Though as of this writing, not too much research has been done to provide concrete evidence, many medical professionals feel that these mushrooms may also be used as a way to treat cancer.

In addition to pain management, they may even be able to decrease the size of tumors in some patients.

5. Rhodiola Rosea

Looking for adaptogen herbs that will help you to fight off stress before it has a chance to set up shop in your body and start messing with your hormone levels?

If so, then make rhodiola rosea a part of your diet plan and supplement strategy.

Interestingly, rhodiola rosea actually works to temporarily spike your body’s level of stress. Think of it as a kind of vaccine against stress. By exposing you to tolerable levels of stress, your body will actually learn how to better work against it and fight it off.

It’s called Hormesis and is like a sort of exposure therapy for your body that’s used to treat all sorts of ailments and even mental conditions.

Rhodiola rosea is especially helpful as a part of a treatment plan for those who feel like their high levels of stress are preventing them from being able to fall asleep at night. You might even have noticed that these levels of constant exhaustion are impacting your work performance — or your relationships with others.

It works to keep your cortisol levels in balance, but it also provides a seriously high dose of antioxidants. This means that not only the length of your sleeping hours will increase, but you’ll also notice an improvement in the overall quality of the sleep that you’re getting.

It’s also completely safe to take with sleeping pills and other, more traditional medications that may help you to better stabilize your mood.

6. Astragalus Root

Next up on our list of some of the most effective adaptogenic herbs? The astragalus root, which has long been a staple within traditional Chinese medicine.

When your body responds to the sudden stress of even just more long-term levels of anxiety, the white blood cell lymphocyte proliferation reaches high levels of inflammation.

In addition to increasing your cortisol levels and causing your blood pressure to skyrocket, inflamed lymphocyte proliferation can cause you to feel tired, crave sugar, and even notice serious mood swings. In short, it’s your body’s way of telling you that you’re way too stressed out.

Interestingly, the astragalus root actually momentarily increases your body’s production of cortisol. We know that this sounds like a bad thing, but what it actually does is help you to respond to stress in a more effective, manageable way.

Once you have handled the stress, or once the threat has disappeared, your cortisol levels will return to normal. Think of it as a more positive and effective version of the “fight or flight” response.

You’ll be able to focus on the task at hand and think clearly — without feeling overwhelmed by the situation you’re dealing with.

This root also gives you a seriously healthy dose of antioxidants, which can help you improve your circulation. In addition to giving you a serious boost of energy (hello, better and longer workouts) antioxidants can also help to improve your immune system.

7. Ashwagandha Root

Earlier in this post about the best adaptogens, we discussed the healing properties of Ginseng.

The Ashwagandha root should be thought of the Indian, not the Asian, version of Ginseng. Unlike Ginseng, however, it does actively work as a cortisol blocker.

In addition to this, it’s especially celebrated for its ability to work to curb your body’s process of lipid peroxidation. Essentially, lipid peroxidation is a fancy way of saying cell damage that happens when bacteria caused by stress start to leak into your blood cells.

If this damage is left untreated, you can expect to have to deal with painful ulcers, embarrassing weight gain, and above all, a dangerously high level of cortisol production within the body.

In short, it’s not something you want to mess around with. Interestingly enough, the Ashwagandha root doesn’t just help with stress, fatigue, and depression.

It has also been used as an experimental form of cancer pain management. It’s also been used to help patients to manage the symptoms of arthritis, as well as to improve mobility in tired joints and aching muscles.

In short, making this root a regular part of your diet will give you a wide variety of both physical and mental health benefits.

Make Adaptogenic Herbs a Part of Your Diet

Whether you want to try the Ashwagandha root or Rhodiola Rosea (or other combinations) we hope that this post has helped you to better understand the power of adaptogenic herbs.

The seven powerhouse herbs and supplements on this list won’t only help you to manage your stress. They’ll also lower your levels of fatigue, give your body a boost of much-needed antioxidants, and a whole lot more.

Looking for additional information about how to take your diet to the next level? Want to understand which supplements and recipes are right for you?

Remember, what we offer at Our Paleo Life is our opinion and should not be construed as medical advice.

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Anabela Nunes

Friday 18th of May 2018


Thank you so much for the much needed information on the 7 adaptogenic herbs. Do you know of any supplement that combine most of these herbs? I can’t think of any store where I can get those herbs. I live in Canada and I haven’t seen much of those herbs yet.

thank you,