The Beginner’s Guide to Adaptogens

fit woman in lounge cloths doing a side stretch on the floor of a living room

Before there were hundreds of controlled studies about the efficacy of individual plants, Indian Ayurvedic medicine, Chinese medicine, and herbal traditions around the world used adaptogenic herbs to calm the mind and help heal the body.

Thousands of years later, science is catching up. We’re learning that many adaptogens can help lower stress hormones, balance the endocrine system, and even help with endurance and post-workout recovery. Not only are adaptogens effective, but they’re also gentle enough for most people to take every day.

In this article, you’ll learn:

What are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are natural substances, usually herbs or fungi, that help your body adapt to physical and mental stress. Adaptogens have been used for thousands of years by a number of cultures to help calm the body and mind, balance hormones, and even improve your workouts. Adaptogens work with your body, helping to balance and regulate hormones and support your immune system.

Adaptogens are unique in that they seem to offer a cumulative affect. That means, the more consistently you take them, the better they work to modulate stress, help your brain, and help you recover from hard workouts.

Dosage varies and like any herb, it is possible to take too much. Work with a qualified practitioner to find the right adaptogens and dosage for you.

4 Common Adaptogens

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a powerful herb used for anxiety, fatigue, and stress relief. Its soothing properties can also help with insomnia and other sleep issues. As ashwagandha helps soothe stress, it also supports healthy hormone function and is especially useful for those with underactive thyroids. More recent studies are looking to ashwagandha for its ability to improve endurance and boost muscle strength and recovery.

Rhodiola

An antidepressant and nerve tonic, Rhodiolais often used to increase brain function and protect your body from chronic physical and mental stress. It can also help support healthy hormone function in both men and women.

Another adaptogen to start using alongside your workouts, Rhodiola was found to support immune function in hard-training athletes and may also help balance blood sugar levels and protect your heart from stress-related damage.

Cordyceps

Cordyceps is a mushroom-like fungus and one of the most prized compounds in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Cordyceps can decrease fatigue and improve physical endurance by about 10%. It’s also shown to reduce your stress response and decrease inflammation. It’s the perfect adaptogen for high performers.

Cordyceps are also used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to support kidney health and sexual dysfunction. 

Maca

Maca is a root grown predominantly in Peru and treated as an adaptogen because of its hormone-balancing properties. Maca can increase libido, fertility, and boost overall hormone health in both men and women.Maca may also improve your mood and increase focus and energy.

Make sure to get the gelatinized (cooked) version; that’s the way Peruvians have always prepared maca, and most studies use maca in its gelatinized form. Raw maca can cause major stomach upset.

Where to Start with Adaptogens

Adaptogenic herbs are blowing up in the health and wellness scene. With maca powders lining your grocery store shelves and medicinal mushrooms on coffee shop menus, it’s easier than ever to get a dose of adaptogens into your day. However, adaptogens are still powerful herbs. Check with your doctor before using any herb or supplement, especially if you’re currently taking any medications.

We talked about some of the benefits above, but if you’re still unsure of where to start, here are a couple of ways to try an array of stress-fighting adaptogenic herbs at once:  

Use an adaptogenic blend

If you’re looking for an adaptogen to help with stressful days at work, followed by hard workouts, or generally want to support a stressful lifestyle, try a cordyceps blend. Our Cordyceps Pro is a combination of cordyceps and several of the other adaptogens, including ashwagandha, that will help you stay calm under pressure and improve your post-workout recovery.

Natural Force Organic Pre-Workout is another option for a blend of potent adaptogens that can help increase your energy while decreasing your stress response. Think that pre-workout drinks are just for before the gym? Think again: this powerful drink is excellent for almost any time of day.

Start With Small Amounts

Adaptogenic herbs aren’t just available in drinks and powders. They’re powerful supplements that you can take at much higher therapeutic doses. But more doesn’t always mean better! Consistently large doses of adaptogenic herbs may do more harm than good. Unless you’re working with a qualified practitioner, the best way to dose adaptogens is in smaller amounts, preferably in a blend.

Natural Force Raw Tea is an excellent way to get a healthy dose of energy- and libido-boosting maca, plus a blend of 14 other high-octane herbs and superfoods.

Have you ever tried adaptogens? We’d love to hear your experience in the comments below!