What Are Adaptogens, and why you should be taking them

by Dr. Shivani Gupta 02 March 2022

What Are Adaptogens, and why you should be taking them

“Adaptogen” has become a buzz word in the wellness community. But what are adaptogenic herbs and when should you take them? 


Adaptogens are a class of plants (edible plant extracts such as herbs and roots) that modulate the body’s stress responses, promote healthy immune function and stimulate energy. In other words, adaptogens help our body to adapt to external stressors. They have been used to treat a variety of ailments over several millennia, particularly in parts of Asia and India. Some adaptogens are commonly found in ayurveda, a medical system that originated in India over 3,000 years ago, but not all adaptogens are ayurvedic.

Adaptogens are known as ‘smart plants’ for their ability to seek out imbalances in the body and treat them.

what are adaptogens


The term adaptogen is used to describe an herb that's supposed to be able to adapt to exactly what the body needs and protect it against stressors. Adaptogens are herbs that bring the body into balance by treating the root of the problem. 

Adaptogens are healing herbs that are meant to bring the body back to homeostasis - something many of us need support with now more than ever. The past year had seen a 30% rise in stress and anxiety levels as a result of the pandemic and the economic recession. This has taken a tremendous toll on our health as well our our gut health, and hormone systems.

Adaptogens are characterized such that they can resist stressors of all kinds, whether physical, chemical or biological. But what differentiates them from other herbs is they work in a non-specific way — they don’t only target one system or symptom, but also enable the body in addressing environmental or physical stressors by working with stress-regulating functions in the body.

There are three stages our bodies go through when facing a stressor: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. The idea behind adaptogens is that they help us stay in the resistance phase longer. Utilizing simple adapotogenic supplements like a potent curcumin supplement or hormone rebalancing tea can make a world of difference in how supported your body feels. 


Be sure to follow instructions on the packaging for the adaptogens you have purchased so that you don't exceed recommended doses of these powerful plants.

Adaptogens, unlike other herbal remedies, can be taken for longer periods of time without having had a negative impact. In most cases, adaptogens are made of the dried or fresh leaves of plants but in some cases, they can be made of roots or even minerals. In Chinese medicine, mushrooms are also used as adaptogens. 

While adaptogens can be taken long term, most experts recommend taking breaks every so often: a day off per week, a week off every few months, and a month off every year.

Individuals should feel free to vary their adaptogenic formulas as they choose.

Some days you might pick your favorite flavor profile and use it multiple times. Other times you may look at what your mood or your day needs to accomplish and select a few different ones.

That said, in certain high-stress scenarios, you may wish to supplement with something extra. I know if I’m walking into a month or season when I’m going to be pushing myself twice as hard and burning the candle at both ends, I guarantee that I am taking my adaptogens consistently twice a day to ensure I have their support. I double down on Turmeric Gold and what I know will bolster my system on all levels and give me immune support as well as all-system support. 

There are specific situations that you would have a specific short term protocol for a health challenge you might be facing, speaking to an Ayurvedic practitioner can allow you to make the best decision for you.

You can find the herbs as capsules, or powders which you can add to teas, smoothies, or soups. Pay attention to the dosing instructions on the package, but feel free to get creative with how you take them. According to researchers, there isn’t much evidence to suggest that adaptogens can cause health problems (unless you’re allergic to them). 

Which adaptogen is right for me? These groupings are general, truly every adaptogen has multiple benefits fitting into multiple categories. But this will give you an idea of what they help with: 

Memory boosters

Energy boosters

  • Cordyceps
  • Astragalus
  • Jiaogulan
  • Maca
  • Panax ginseng - Peruvian ginseng
  • Panax quinquefolius - American ginseng

Stress reducers/Balance Mood/Hormonal reBalancing

Immune Supportive/Rejuvenative

How do you know if it’s working?

It's different for everyone. For some of us changes happen immediately and others it takes a while. Many of us don't notice at first and then look back and notice big improvements have occurred. 

I hope this article was helpful. Adaptogens are some of my favorite herbs next to all the anti-inflammatory herbs and spices Ayurveda gives us. I consider them another reason why the new (or old-school ancient proven) Superfoods on the block are SuperHerbs and SuperSpices.

If you have any questions on what Adaptogens are right for you, please feel free to reach out to me at hello@shivanigupta.com

One beautiful way to get your adaptogenic support in daily is to take:

Turmeric Gold - curcumin from turmeric is a potent adaptogen, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune support. 

Hormone ReBalance Tea - shatavari and three types of holy basil work together to cool menopause symptoms, reduce PMS symptoms, increase libido, and support hormone rebalancing overall. 

Deep Sleep Tea - ashwgandha, brahmi, multiple adaptogens blend together to reduce mental stress and relax the digestive system and all systems to ease you into a better nights sleep