Adaptogens for Hormonal Balance and Stress: A No-BS Guide

Adaptogens for Hormonal Balance and Stress: A No-BS Guide

These vitamins are your go-to ally for getting through tough times.
Your calendar is full of deadlines, your bestie is having a nervous breakdown, your car is in the shop, and, yeah, you're out of toilet paper. Meanwhile, your heart is racing and you are unable to focus. Hello, anxiety! There's a better way to deal with stress than reaching for a comfort cronut or downing your fourth latte: adaptogens.

Adaptogens can assist your body in adapting to life's challenges. These herbs help our bodies respond to and recover from short- and long-term physical and mental stress. Some of them also help with immunity and general well-being. Adaptogens have been shown in studies to combat fatigue, improve mental function, reduce depression and anxiety, and help you flourish rather than just get by.

Adaptogens may be beneficial whether you're running for a marathon, surviving a marathon study session, or simply sprinting through a tough lunchtime meeting.

"We will have plenty of stress as women living modern lives," says Leslie Korn, PhD, "but if our body and mind have a biological boost, like adaptogens, to handle better with this stress, we will be less likely to get sick." Korn is a Harvard Medical School-trained traumatologist who treats the mind and body with integrative techniques. Adaptogens, she claims, aid our ability to rebalance.

Adaptogens work like this:

Our bodies go through a process known as general adaption syndrome when we are exposed to a stressor, whether physical or emotional (GAS). Alarm, resistance, and weariness are the three stages of the GAS response. Adaptogens help us stay in the resistance phase for longer by energising us and keeping us from becoming exhausted. We achieve homeostasis and can soldier on instead of crashing in the middle of a stressful situation, task, or event.

"Some adaptogens appear to inoculate us against stress and assist us in coping," explains Korn.

We perform better and feel better when we can adjust to stress, regardless of what is stressing us out. We can also improve our health and well-being as a result of this. When you're stressed, your adrenal gland releases cortisol, a stress hormone that energises you to deal with a crisis. However, eating too much, too often is usually harmful to our health.

"Cortisol is often the cause of weight gain, especially around the belly," says Tara Nayak, a naturopathic physician in Philadelphia who advises her patients to take adaptogens. "When you use adaptogens to relieve stress, you diminish stress hormones and their impact on weight gain."

Adaptogens have the potential to aid in the treatment of a variety of health problems, including pain, digestive disorders, sleeplessness, and more. "Stress triggers a chain of physiologic reactions that influence immune function, hormones, cognitive function, and our internal clock, or circadian rhythm," explains Korn. "If these pressures continue, chronic sickness will result."

Here's how to use adaptogens to your advantage:

  1. Find a creative way to incorporate it into your routine.
  2. Rotate type of adaptogen every six weeks.
  3. Follow product instructions - don't overdose.

Each adaptogen has a different effect on the body, so the choice of which one to take will depend on the result you seek. For example, if you’re both frazzled and fried, ashwagandha might be the ticket to both energize and relax you.

Adaptogen Potential benefit
American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) Boosts working memory, reaction time, calmness, and immune system
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Reduces stress and anxiety
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) Combats fatigue
Cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris) Boosts stamina
Goji berry (Lycium barbarum) Boosts energy, physical and mental performance, calmness, and sense of well-being, and can also improve sleep
Eluethero root (Eleutherococcus senticosus) Improves focus and staves off mental fatigue
Jiaogulan (Gynostemma Pentaphyllum) Reduces stress and boosts endurance
Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) Reduces stress
Rhodiola rosea (R. rosea) Staves off physical and mental fatigue
Schisandra berry/Magnolia berry (Schisandra chinensis) Boosts endurance, mental performance, and working capacity
Tulsi/Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum) Reduces physical and mental stress, stress-related anxiety, and depression
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) Boosts brain function and reduces depression


Carefully follow the dose directions.
Follow the dosing directions that come with the product. Specific adaptogens and recognised formulae or tinctures can be recommended by a naturopathic physician. Plus, depending on the effects you want to accomplish, an ND can alter your dosage up or down as needed. "Adaptogens are generally safe," adds Korn, "but everyone reacts differently, so start carefully and study your personal reactions."

To be thrilled, get creative.
Find an approach that is both enjoyable and practical to implement into your daily routine. Adaptogens can be taken as herbal supplements in capsule form, powdered and added to smoothies, or made into teas or soups.

Korn enjoys making a stimulating tea that she may drink hot or cold. One part licorice root, one part fennel seed, one part fenugreek seed, and two parts flax seed make up this mixture. She cooks a tablespoon of the mixture for 15 minutes in 2 cups of water. In her book, she provides other recipes, such as a "fruity turmeric smoothie."

Adaptogenic foods are something that Nayak enjoys experimenting with. In soups and stews, she utilises the dried root astragalus. She describes it as a "excellent immune supporting adaptogen with an earthy flavour." "Because of its complex flavour, Schisandra is also a fantastic herb for cooking." It's delicious in berry compote or chai spice tea."

Adaptogenic meals are one of Nayak's favourite things to try. In soups and stews, she utilises the dried root astragalus. "It's an excellent immune-supporting adaptogen with an earthy flavour," she explains. "The rich flavour of Schisandra makes it a fantastic herb for cooking." It's delicious in a fruit compote or in a chai spiced tea."

Calming adaptogens, like holy basil, can be taken both in the daytime and before bed, however. They aren’t strong enough to have a sedative effect.

You can use adaptogens for a few days or weeks to get through a busy time at work. Or take them for a stretch of chronic chaos, when life just keeps handing it to you. Korn recommends rotating the type of adaptogen you’re using after six weeks, though, so that your body can benefit from the subtle differences among herbs.

Remember that adaptogens aren't a cure or a replacement.
Adaptogens aren't a terrific way to log pillow time or take care of oneself. Use them to cope with stressful situations such as holidays, finals, and taxes, as well as to stay gently invigorated throughout time. "I'm a huge fan of adaptogens!" According to Nayak. "Without them, I don't feel the same. In fact, I don't think I realised how much tension I was carrying until I was brought back into balance."

Adaptogens, like any other medicine or supplement, have side effects, interactions, and contraindications. So do your homework, especially if you have any present health issues. It's also a good idea to check with your doctor before starting a herbal regiment.