Can Adaptogen Herbs Help Stress?

Choosing the right Adaptogen Herbs for Stress

Adaptogen Herbs
Adaptogen Herbs

Natural medicine has long appreciated herbs as natural sources for treating stress.  One such example of this is adaptogen herbs.  This is especially true when your body is  supported

emotionally and nourished physically by wholesome food and select herbs.

For numerous people contending with daily anxiety and frazzled nerves, long-term stress has become a widely common occurrence. Adaptogens work through hormonal regulation of the stress response, by fortifying the body’s immune system as they decrease cellular sensitivity to stress.  Adaptogen herbs include panax  ginseng, holy basil (ocimum sanctum), astragalas root, ashwagandha (withania somnifera), rhodiola (rhodiola rosea), Licorice Root  and reishi (ganoderma lucidum), mushroom.   Today I will discuss the seven I believe to be the most beneficial as part of a stress relieving lifestyle.  I have used most of these herbs and found them to be very helpful.

Top 7 Adaptogen Herbs for Stress

Panax Ginseng

Panax ginseng is one well known adaptogen and considered by many to be the most potent.  In humans, Panax ginseng has been shown to improve calmness and some aspects of working memory in healthy young adults.

Panax has also been observed to reduce ulcer index, assist the adrenal glands, lower blood glucose levels, triglycerides, and reduce damage of the circulatory system and other parts of the body.

This red ginseng also has antioxidant effects and has been found to improve mood and mental performance in small studies, may reduce fasting blood sugar levels.

What does all this mean?  It means that there are some promising results about the way this adaptogenic herbs may affect stress responses in humans.

Holy Basil

Also call tulsi, holy basil is known in India as the powerful anti-aging supplement.  It has also been a Avurvedic medicine to treat a large number of conditions, such as “infections, skin diseases, hepatic disorders, common cold and cough, malarial fever and as an antidote for snake bite and scorpion sting”.

Holy basil has also been studied as a use for anti-stress benefits.  One reason is the presence of three phytochemical compounds that lower stress parameters in lab studies.

In addition to these stress-related benefits, holy basil may potentially help to lower blood pressure, reduce seizure activity, fight bacteria, kill certain fungi, combat viral infections, protect the liver, promote immune system function and reduce pain response.


Ashwagandha is often referred to as Indian ginseng.  It’ s effects on cortisol, stress tolerance and internal stress responses have been studied for decades.

In addition to stress relief, reviews have shown potential benefits on various types of tumors, cognition and memory, neurodegenerative diseases and brain health, inflammation and arthritis.

Astragalus Root

Used in Chinese medicine, astragalus has been known to boost immunity and potentially buffer the effects of stress.

Astragalus root may actually temporarily increase cortisol levels to allow the body to positively respond to certain types of stress.  This quick boost in temporary cortisol then lets the hormone level out as soon as the stressor has been removed.

There are studies that astragalus improved physical performance, helps the body get rid of disease-promoting free radicals, improve the use of glucose in the bloodstream and protect the liver.


Rhodiola, or golden root, is a potent adaptogen that has been the focus of much research.  Like the other adaptogens, rhodiola provides a biological defense against stress.  In a human trial conducted in 2009 by scientists in Sweden they test the impact on people “suffering with stress-related fatigue”.  They found the rhodiola “exerts an anti-fatigue effect that increases mental performance, particularly the ability to concentrate, and decreases cortisol response to awakening stress in burnout patients with fatigue syndrome”.

Reishi Mushroom

Cordyceps, reishi, shiitake and maitake mushrooms are fungi with antioxidant properties.  That means nutrition-rich mushrooms have all the benefits of antioxidant foods.  They may not be adaptogens in the classic sense, but each has adaptogenic, anti-tumor and immune-enhancing properties.

It seems that the adaptogenic effect of reishi involves a temporary higher boost in the cortisol when exposed to stress, followed by a large drop during non-stress periods when compared with no treatment.

Licorice Root

Licorice root can increase energy and endurance, boost the immune system, and protect the thymus from being damaged by cortisol.  If may affect blood pressure and potassium levels, so traditional licorice root is typically recommended in cycles of 12 weeks, although this isn’t the case when taking DGL licorice, which is considered safe for long-term use.


As always you should discuss any new supplements or medications with your doctor before beginning a regimen.  This is especially true with apoptogenic herbs, as several of them interact with prescription medications and are not recommended for people with certain conditions.

Be sure to do your research on any supplements you are considering finding out if they may conflict with any medications or conditions you may have, and use only high quality, organic varieties from trustworthy sources.

For further research on plants, herbs and natures remedies here is a resource that I found to be helpful.  The Healing Plants Bible, The Definitive Guide to Herbs, Trees and Flowers by Helen Farmer-Knowles.

I’m Shirley Noah, I teach the 9 pillars for health.  A step-by-step approach to good health.  Let’s connect to see how I may best serve you in the near future.



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