Adaptogens are a select group of herbs (and some mushrooms) that support the body’s natural ability to deal with stress. They are called adaptogens because of their unique ability to “adapt” their function according to the specific needs of the body. This may refer to physical, chemical or biological needs.

Adaptogens are herbs and mushrooms known for their ability to help your body better handle physical and emotional stress, but there are only about nine well-researched adaptogens:

  • Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng)
  • American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
  • Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus)
  • Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis)
  • Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)
  • Shilajit (Asphaltum bitumen)
  • Rhaponticum (Rhaponticum carthamoides)
  • Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinesis)

There are a number of other herbs that can be classified as “probably adaptogenic”, including:

  • Holy Basil
  • Suo Yang
  • Tienqi Ginseng
  • Shatavari
  • Ba Ji Tian (Morinda)
  • Aralia elata (Angelica Tree)
  • Alnus Mandshurica

While this list is rather short, the truth is that there are many more herbs that could be adaptogenic, but no research has been conducted on them.  It is thought that many mushrooms are also adaptogenic, including:

  • Chaga
  • Maitake
  • Reishi
  • Shiitake

In fact, mushrooms are considered exceptional immune boosters, due to their high levels of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.

Chaga is thought to have the highest amount of antioxidants and melanin of any substance on the planet. It also contains a high amount of zinc, all of which support immune function. Chaga is regarded by the Moscow Medical Institute as an effective immune booster. Russian folklore tells of the fungus growing on birch trees with the ability to treat various cancers, supporting our modern day usage of chaga.

Chaga is one of our favorite mushrooms to boost immune system!

In a 2010 study by the Swedish Herbal Institute Research & Development, researchers concluded that “Adaptogens have a significant, beneficial and specific effect on stress-induced symptoms under fatigue.” 

Many people take adaptogenic herbs almost every day, while others will take them several times a day based on their needs. Check with a medical professional for guidance about what is best for you.

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