WHAT’S AN ADAPTOGEN?
If you look closely at the word adaptogen, it contains “adapt” within it. Simply put: adaptogens help you adapt. They’re a specific group of healing plants. Phytotherapy refers to the use of plants for their healing abilities. So essentially, adaptogens are a unique class of healing plants: balancing, restoring and protecting the body.
“…an adaptogen doesn’t have a specific action: It helps you respond to any influence or stressor, normalizing your physiological functions.” -Naturopath Edward Wallace
Although they’re an all natural way to support your well-being, adaptogens should still be taken with caution. I am not a doctor, nor a nutritionist or anyone that can speak on behalf of what’s best for your body. So, definitely chat with your naturopath or primary health care provider before adding adaptogens into your diet. (Especially if you are breastfeeding or pregnant.)
MY FAVOURITE ADAPTOGENS + THEIR PURPOSE
Chlorella is a single celled algae that some scientists believe may be among the Earth’s oldest living organisms. Talk about cool!? But, it was only until the 1960’s that Japanese scientists began to study chlorella as a tool of good health. Most natural health enthusiasts know chlorella well as an excellent source of general nutrition. It’s known to support healthy hormonal function, promoting cardiovascular health, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. This powder can be added to drinks and smoothies, (my favourite is mixed with pineapple juice (pictured below) or a smoothie), but can also be made into capsules or extracts.
Cordyceps are a mushroom based adaptogen. Can you believe the use of Cordyceps dates back to the 15th century!? In traditional Tibetan and Chinese medicines to be exact. Traditionally, it was prepared in Chinese medicine as a broth, however it can be used as an extract, as a tea or in capsules. The wild form of Cordyceps is rare and expensive; but what Mountain Rose Herbs finds is a strain isolated from the wild form – it consists of the dried mycelium that is cultivated on organic oats. This adaptogen can increase immune function, improve stamina, is a natural aphrodisiac, improves liver function, detoxes and even has benefits on skin.
Ashwagandha (also known as Indian Ginseng due to its similarity to ginseng in its action)…the ever so talked about and loved adaptogen. For many great reasons though! It has a wide range of benefits such as reducing inflammation, arthritis, asthma, hypertension, stress, and rheumatism. It also boosts your antioxidant supply and helps regulate the immune system. Used in Ayurveda, this is a highly revered medicinal herb. It’s been praised for longevity and vitality, with herbal actions all the way from adaptogenic to sedative. Some of the tender leaves of Ashwagandha are eaten as a veggie in many Asian countries. It can be used for children, as well as the elderly.
Rhodiola promotes a healthy response to stress….and boy do I need that some days! This organic Chinese Rhodiola is wild harvested from organically certified lands. It is awesome if you’re needing a boost of energy and productivity! It will boost your immune system, balance blood sugar levels and kick your 3PM mid-day fatigue! Make sure you don’t take rhodiolia at night because you’ll be laying in bed staring at the ceiling…keep it for the morning or early-afternoon! (Think of it like coffee…)
Eleuthero Root, also called Siberian ginseng, has been well known amongst Chinese medicine thousands of years. It’s known to be a great everyday adaptogen – I love throwing this in smoothies, matcha lattes…tonics and teas. You name it! It increases stamina, enhances brain function, is known to ease anxiety, boost immune system and endurance levels…it is basically amazing for promoting overall health. I’d say it’s a pretty common adaptogen and can be found in most health food stores!
This strong tasting adaptogen is great for digestion. It’s also an awesome source of vitamin C. Usually found powdered or cut and is typically consumed in tea form – though it’s recommended to drink it with juice or to place honey on the tongue before swallowing. Can also be used as a capsule or extract, but the powder is definitely more effective. Triphala, as a digestive aid/laxative is best taken in the evening, two hours after eating and 30 minutes before you go to sleep. No food should be eaten for 1 1/2 hours after ingestion.
Chaga is one of the most potent adaptogens known, in fact it actually has one of the highest ORAC scores of any food (Oxygen Radical Absorbent Capacity)! Why is this a good thing? The higher the ORAC score the better a food’s ability to protect the body from all kinds of issues! This also means it’s super high in antioxidants! It’s so great for grounding yourself with – easing anxiety, nerves and stress. It contains numerous B vitamins, flavonoids, phenols, minerals, and enzymes. It’s also one of the world’s densest sources of pantothenic acid, and this vitamin is needed by the adrenal glands as well as digestive organs.
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So there you have it! Interested in how I implement these into my everyday? Well, I usually stick with two adaptogens per day..okay, maybe sometimes three. But I typically add them to my smoothies, or my matcha lattes. If I had to pick my absolute favourite one, it’d have to be Ashwagandha. Yeah…I know, many love this one and pick it too. But, seriously…there’s a reason! It works! It makes me feel super chill and less stressed! (WIN!)
Chlorella Pineapple Green Drink:
1/2 tsp Chlorella
1/2 cup purified water
1/2 cup organic pineapple juice* (or to taste – sometimes I add a bit more for sweetness)
(Option of organic apple juice (instead of pineapple)!)
Creamy Adaptogen Matcha Latte
3 tbsp of organic coconut butter (toasted or regular)
1 tsp organic matcha of choice
1/2 tsp Ashwagandha
1/2 tsp Pine Pollen*
1/2 tsp Maca
1 heaping tbsp of Tocotrienols
2 scoops Collagen Peptides (marine or regular)
(Optional) 2 small, softened dates for sweetening
Add 16oz of hot water (170-180F as to not burn the matcha) into your blender – I use my favourite Blendtec Total Blender (you can purchase them refurbished like we did and they work like a dream!- and blend on high for 1-2 minutes! Enjoy! x
(*Sometimes I’ll switch out the Pine Pollen for Cordyceps, or Triphala…honestly, it’s up to you! I usually do no more than 1/2 tsp of two to three different adaptogens at a time!)
This post is sponsored by Mountain Rose Herbs. As always, all thoughts expressed are honest and unique to my personal experience. FULL DISCLOSURE HERE.