What Are Adaptogenic Herbs – And Do Mushrooms Count?

What are adaptogenic herbs? Well, their name kind of gives it away. Adaptive herbs are a group of herbs (and, yes, some mushrooms) that support your body’s natural ability to adapt to occasional stress — both physical and emotional.* Stress is a normal part of life and has been around for as long as humans have. people . Your adrenal glands are responsible for managing stress. (We’ve all heard the story of “outrunning a tiger” about our built-in fight-or-flight response.) Adaptive herbs — including mushrooms — offer support to your adrenal glands and other body systems and structures during times of occasional stress.* They can help support mental concentration and focus and promote a balanced response to occasional physical or emotional stress.* Adaptogens, as they are also known, can even promote endurance, energy, and stamina.*(1) While adaptogenic herbs seem trendy right now, they have been used for hundreds of years in herbalism. Ashwagandha, Holy Basil, Amla and Shilajit came out of the Ayurvedic tradition of India, while Rhodiola and Rhaponticum have long been used by Russian folk herbalists. And, Schisandra, Reishi and Asian ginseng have a rich history of traditional use in China.

What are adaptogenic herbs?

When it comes to health, the term “herbs” isn’t just limited to plants. To be in the club, an herb simply has to have phytochemicals that support body structures or functions.* Some mushrooms, lichens, and algae are also considered “herbs.” While adaptogenic herbs have been known and used for centuries, they were first defined in 1957 by Soviet physician and scientist Nikolai Lazarev. To be classified as an adaptogen, an “herb” must:

  • Help the body’s natural ability to adapt to both occasional environmental and psychological stressors.*
  • Offer non-specific support to major systems — including the nervous, endocrine and immune systems.*

By 1985, researchers learned what herbalists in Russia, China and elsewhere already knew: that adaptogens support adrenal function and the natural stress response.* While you may have an idea of ​​what stress is, your body classifies all kinds of things in life as “stress.” A fight with your partner, running a marathon, exposure to unusual substances, even excessive noise or light when you’re trying to sleep can be considered occasional stress. Beyond occasional stress, adaptogenic herbs can support your immune system and balance your endocrine system so it can do the important work of maintaining your natural defenses.* (Remember that all of your body’s systems work together .) These herbs can be taken when feeling tired or fatigued to support well-being and promote balance.* Adaptive herbs can also be taken to maintain healthy energy levels.* This is why they are popular with athletes and working people long hours or physically demanding jobs.*

List of adaptive herbs

So which herbs are considered adaptogens? While there is some debate about herbs (including mushrooms). truly adaptogens, here is a list of 13 adaptogenic herbs.

  1. American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
  2. Amla (Phyllanthus emblica)
  3. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
  4. Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng​)
  5. Cordyceps mushroom (Cordyceps militaris)
  6. Free (Eleftherococcus senticosus)
  7. Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum)
  8. Maca (Lepidium meyenii)
  9. Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum)
  10. Rhaponticum (Rhaponticum carthamoides)
  11. Rhodiola ((Rhodiola rosea)
  12. sisandra (Schisandra chinensis)
  13. Shilajit (asphalt asphalt​)


(1) https://doi.org/10.1186/s13020-018-0214-9

(2) https://doi.org/10.3390/ph3010188

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