By Lindsay Cohn
Step aside, regular old supplements, and make way for adaptogens. Though these natural herbal stress-relievers, such as maca, ashwaganda and rhodiola rosea, aren’t new—they’ve been used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine for centuries—they are having a moment, popping up in drinks and powders as well as the Instagram feeds of wellness gurus. What do they do? Help your system to adapt to stress.
Before you assume this is just another flash-in-the-pan health trend, know this: Studies show that adaptogens help reduce the mental, emotional and physical effects of stress, along with combating fatigue and other benefits.
“In addition to the benefits of incorporating adaptogens into your daily routine, they can be particularly helpful during periods of increased pressure, environmental changes and increased physical exertion,” says Dr. Nada Milosavljevic, MD, founder of the Integrative Health Program at Massachusetts General Hospital and author of Holistic Health for Adolescents.
Ready to explore adaptogens? Here are some of the most popular ones and how to get your daily dose:
ELEUTHERO (SIBERIAN GINSENG)
What It Is: Perhaps the best-known adaptogen in the ginseng family, eleuthero is a staple in Chinese and Russian herbal medicine. This potent root is prized for its stamina- and immunity-boosting abilities.
How To Try It: Dr. Frank Lipman Adaptogens Adrenal Health Dietary Supplement ($46 for 180 capsules)
ASHWAGANDA (INDIAN GINSENG)
What It Is: Native to northern India, this root has long be used in Ayurvedic medicine to calm the mind, energize the body, ease anxiety and boost immunity.
How To Try It: Moon Juice Ashwagandha ($17 for a 4-oz. jar); or Living Intentions Activated Superfood Popcorn, Tandoori Turmeric with Probiotics ($5.97 for a 4-oz. bag)
What It Is: One of the most studied adaptogenic herbs, rhodiola rosea helps enhance physical performance, lessen mental fatigue and improve mood. In fact, one UCLA study found that patients who took rhodiola rosea for 10 weeks had significant improvement in generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) symptoms.
How To Try It: Hum Uber Energy ($25 for 60 capsules)
What It Is: Often referred to as “Peruvian ginseng” (although it’s not related), maca supports healthy endocrine function and hormonal balance. Bonus: Research shows this cruciferous root may help boost libido.
How To Try It: Navitas Organic Maca Powder ($8.99 for a 4-oz. bag)
What It Is: This staple of Eastern folk medicine is used to relieve stress, boost immunity and aid digestion.
HOLY BASIL (TULSI)
What It Is: According to an article published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, tulsi helps protect the body against stress from environmental pollutants, heavy metals, pathogens and bacteria.
How To Try It: Organic India Tulsi-Holy Basil Vegetarian Capsules ($14 for 90 capsules)