what adaptogens are & how to add them into your diet

Wow, this post was a long time coming. I've had it as a draft since October 15 of last year...

I've been using adaptogens for a long time. I started with maca powder my senior year of college, back in 2017, because I was struggling with anxiety and panic attacks.

Fast forward a year later, and they've suddenly become all the rage. Companies like Moon Juice are making BANK selling adaptogenic "potions" and "dusts," because everyone's obsessed with wellness and feeling like the best version of themselves.

There's a wide variety of adaptogens you can use, all for different purposes. So before you drop major $$ on them, take a gander through this post and see which ones suit your lifestyle:

What are Adaptogens?

They're kind of like superfoods. You can think of them as super herbs or super shrooms. A lot of these have been used as herbal medicine for centuries (a lot of old Chinese medicine my grandpa practices uses them!). They have all sorts of healing properties when added to one's diet.

They're called "adaptogens" because they help your body adapt to physical and emotional stressors.

P.S. Let me just tell you right now my mom has made me take a more potent and less palatable version of many of these and they do work (in my belief) but that version does not taste great at all...

For a more scientific definition, here's one from TIME Magazine:

Adaptogens are non-toxic plants that are marketed as helping the body resist stressors of all kinds, whether physical, chemical or biological. These herbs and roots have been used for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions, but they’re having a renaissance today. Some, like holy basil, can be eaten as part of a meal, and some are consumed as supplements or brewed into teas.

Your Ultimate Guide to Adaptogens


Other Names: Indian ginseng
Recommended Brand: Sunpotion (powder form)

Ashwagandha is one of the most well-known adaptogens; its use dating back to centuries ago in India. If you're feeling stressed, fatigued, anxious, or have frequent illnesses, this herb is a good one to add to your regime.

Lion's Mane

Recommended Brand: Om Mushrooms (powder form)

Rather than turning to coffee for mental clarity, go for some shrooms (or add it to your coffee!). Lion's mane helps improve memory, concentration, and focus. Plus, it helps support gut health!


Recommended Brand: Sunpotion (powder form)

Cordyceps has been used in Tibetian/Chinese medicine for years; it helps regulate sexual function (improve libido) and support your immune system.


Other Names: Ling Zhi mushroom (Chinese name)
Recommended Brand: Sunpotion (powder form), Om Mushrooms (their "fit" blend has reishi and cordyceps)

This medicinal mushroom is popular in Asia for promoting longevity. It has anti-cancer, antioxidant, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties.


Recommended Brand: Navitas Organics (gelatinized form)

This one is from the Incan empire. It's "traditionally used to promote energy and vitality, and support a healthy libido for men and women," according to Gaia Herbs. It's a caffeine-free way to get a little energy boost, though if you're sensitive to supplements, I'd stay away from taking this near bedtime.

Pine Pollen

Recommended Brand: Sunpotion (powder form)

Pine pollen not only helps regulate hormones and sexual imbalances, but it is also a nutrient-rich food = double win!


Recommended Brand: Nature's Bounty (tablet/capsule form), any Asian store (natural form)

The most popular amongst Chinese herbs, ginseng is often seen sold in its "natural" (it looks like a large, dried twig) form in Asian herbal stores. It's an all-around star: it can be used to replenish energy and improve digestion, as well as promote overall longevity.

Holy Basil

Other Names: Tusli
Recommended Brand: Organic India Organic Tulsi Tea (tea form)

Holy basil is used in some Hindu holy ceremonies but as a tea can be likened to "the regular practice of yoga (Cohen 2014)." It promotes mental clarity, relaxation, and stress-relief.


Other Names: Golden Root
Recommended Brand: Gaia Herbs (tablet/capsule form)

Like its sister adaptogen Maca, Rhodiola increases energy and decreases stress and anxiety.

Astralagus Root

Other Names: Huang Qi (Chinese name)
Recommended Brand: Sunpotion (powder form), any Asian store (natural form)

Astralagus is similar to ginseng in that it's a root used in traditional Chinese medicine (often in combination with ginseng and other herbs). It's been used to help treat a myriad of illnesses, including diarrhea, fatigue, anorexia, and heart disease.

P.S. My mom brewed this into her various medicinal soups when I was recovering from food poisoning. This Herbal Chicken Soup recipe from the Omnivore's Cookbook is the closest to what she made! If you want to be extra specific, you can use black (silkie) chicken instead of a normal chicken.

My Favorite Ways to Use Them

  • In smoothies
  • In cauli oats
  • In collagen coffee/matcha
  • In baking
  • In pancakes
  • In warm drinks

P.S. Have no idea where to start? Four Sigmatic and Moon Juice have a ton of blends you can use that make it easy. Not sponsored; I know it can be super overwhelming and a little expensive, so I wish I had a discount code for you guys! I like the Four Sigmatic Chaga & Lion's Mane instant coffee or the Moon Juice sampler box.


Want more info about adaptogens or how different people use them? Check out these blogs:

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