Stress can be detrimental to your health in more ways than one. Although stress is often a part of everyday life, there are ways to control it. Some may choose to practice meditation, while others use exercise as a form of stress relief. But another, less understood, way to relieve stress might come in the form of herbs called adaptogens.
These traditional herbs have numerous properties, from energy boosts, to improving immunity, to bolstering libido. But one of adaptogens’ biggest draws is their ability to reduce cortisol levels in your body and significantly reduce stress.
What are adaptogens, and how do they work?
Adaptogens are non-toxic herbs that were often used in ancient Chinese medical practices centuries ago. By reducing your cortisol levels and stimulating your adrenal glands to bring other hormones back into balance, adaptogens help your body “adapt” to stress. This can promote feelings of calm and alleviate numerous symptoms caused by high cortisol levels.
The individual properties of each herb can also produce other effects, including improved immunity, better sleep and reduced brain fog. Many adaptogens are available in supplement form, but they can also be used in their original states for teas or spices.
Today, many people are using adaptogens to help with stress and improve their health. However, finding the right adaptogen, can sometimes be a challenge. If you’re looking for the best adaptogens for stress relief, check out these six herbs first.
Maca, which is native to Peru, is an edible plant that many people have added to their diet thanks to its stress-relieving benefits. Specifically, the maca plant’s root is where many of its benefits come from. The root is often dried, then ground into a powder that can be added to many dishes including oatmeal, soups and more. Maca root is said to have a nutty flavor, which works well in smoothies, puddings and other sweet dishes.
Several essential vitamins are found within maca root, including vitamins C and B6. The plant is also an excellent source of potassium, copper, iron and manganese.
2. Holy basil
Not only is holy basil excellent for stress relief, but it’s also known to help with concentration. Native to southeast Asia, holy basil is used all over the world to treat a variety of different ailments, including bronchitis, malaria, stomach ulcers, nausea and much more. Most parts of holy basil can be used, with the leaves being particularly popular when added to chicken dishes.
Like maca, holy basil contains many vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, iron and zinc.
Ashwagandha, which is found all over the Middle East and India, is another popular adaptogen that helps lower stress and increase brain function. It’s also been known to help lower blood sugar levels and boost testosterone. The most commonly consumed parts of the ashwagandha plants are its root and berries. The plant is usually added to teas, smoothies, lattes and other drinks. It’s also commonly available in supplement form.
Ashwagandha supplements have been known to cause minor side effects in some people, such as an upset stomach and vomiting. It’s recommended that pregnant women not use ashwagandha.
Ginseng root is one of the most widely known adaptogens and can be found all over the world. Ginseng’s popularity is likely due to its many benefits, which can include stronger immunity, reduced blood sugar levels and less fatigue.
Ginseng can often be found in the produce section of most grocery stores and is an excellent addition to recipes. Ginseng teas and supplements are also widely available.
5. Rhodiola rosea
Found in parts of Europe, Asia and North America, the rhodiola rosea plant is often used as a treatment for stress, anxiety and fatigue. Also known as arctic root, rhodiola rosea has been known to help those experiencing symptoms of depression.
There are many ways one can ingest rhodiola rosea, but it’s usually available in tea and capsule form. While there may be some side effects to taking rhodiola rosea, they are usually minimal.
Schisandra is a plant that produces berries, which are often consumed for their stress-relieving properties. These little pieces of fruit have also been known to help increase energy, lower blood sugar levels, speed up the recovery process and much more. Schisandra berries feature five different flavors, which is why they are often called the “five-flavored fruit.”
Try a natural solution to your stress
If you are experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety, consider taking adaptogen supplements. The dosage of these adaptogens can vary based on several factors. Be sure to read any instructions available and consult your doctor before taking adaptogens on a daily basis.
Thankfully, these natural herbs are easily incorporated into a holistic stress-relief plan than can lighten your mood and improve your health.