How Adaptogens Ease Your Stress |

How Adaptogens Ease Your Stress

Sarena-Rae Santos June 7, 2023

Stress. Something is bound to have us stressed, whether it’s school, work, kids, relationships, or the neverending inflation. We all have stress, but the question is: are we coping with it appropriately to ensure it’s not building up and doing our body harm?

When the body is stressed, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) contributes to what is known as the “fight or flight” response (1). The fight, flight, or freeze response is an evolved survival mechanism that protects us from perceived threats (2). Unfortunately, the body can also overreact to everyday stressors, making many of us stuck in fight-or-flight mode. 

Aside from everyday stressors, we sometimes deal with particularly high-stress situations, such as the death of a loved one, long-term emotional abuse, chronic illness, or job loss. The variety of stressors can keep our cortisol levels up all day, resulting in difficulties calming down after high-stress situations, becoming easily stressed, or even more prone to stress and anxiety. That’s where adaptogens come into play.

What Are Adaptogens & How They Work

Adaptogens are a trending word lately, but what exactly are they, and how do they work? 

Adaptogens are herbal substances that enhance the “state of non-specific resistance” and support the body’s ability to deal with stress from anxiety, fatigue, trauma, infection, and so on (3). Adaptogens work by helping the body manage stress and promote healthy emotional responses, but they’re so much more than that.

Adaptogenic herbs work by supporting healthy metabolic function and restoring balance in one’s body, and studies back this. Studies on animals and isolated neuronal cells have revealed that adaptogens exhibit neuroprotective, anti-fatigue, antidepressive, anxiolytic, nootropic, and CNS-stimulating activity (4). Additionally, adaptogens ensure that everyday stressors are not causing bodily damage due to being stuck in fight-or-flight mode. 


Adaptogenic Herbs & Their Benefits

Herbalism was the first traditional or folk medicine practice based on plants and plant extracts. Written records about medicinal plants dated back at least 5,000 years to the Sumerians, who described well-established medicinal uses for such plants as laurel, caraway, and thyme. Archeological studies have shown that the practice of herbal medicine dates as far back as 60,000 years ago in Iraq and 8,000 years ago in China (5). 

Oddly, despite herbal remedies being successfully used all this time, the pharmaceutical industry has led many to believe their products are the only products that can successfully aid one’s medical journey, including stress, anxiety, and depression. The pharmaceutical quick-fix mentality has resulted in 10% of Americans being on anxiety and depression medications in 2022 (6).

More often than not, the side effects of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications leave the patient with more significant concerns than the patient’s initial complaint. Which, more times than not, leads to additional medicines being added to the patient’s daily regimen! But what if we first tried what has worked for centuries and used pharmaceutical options as a last resort? That’s where adaptogens come into play, so let’s discuss my six favorite adaptogenic herbs and their many benefits.


Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera, winter cherry, Indian ginseng, and poison gooseberry, is a short, woody plant. This perennial herb grows between 14-30 inches tall, with 4 to 5-inch elliptic sage-green leaves, a green bell-shaped flower, and a bright orange-red berry. It is a member of the nightshade (Solanaceae) family. Ashwagandha contains a lot of compounds known to aid the human system, including amino acids, flavonoids, glutathione (a powerful antioxidant), tannins, alkaloids, withanolides, and triterpenes. 

Benefits of ashwagandha include:

  • Lowers cortisol levels
  • May reduce anxiety
  • May help adrenal fatigue
  • Anticancer properties
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • May improve brain functionality
  • Fertility benefits
  • Regulates blood sugar and cholesterol levels
  • Thyroid support

Learn more about the benefits of ashwagandha in our ashwagandha herbal profile.


Astragalus is also known as goat’s horn, green dragon, locoweed, Chinese milkvetch, huáng qí, or its scientific name Astragalus membranaceus. Astragalus plants are 16 to 36-inch tall perennials with hairy stems and leaves made up of 12 to 18 pairs of leaflets native to the northern and eastern parts of China, Mongolia, and Korea

Benefits of astragalus include:

  • May support the immune system
  • May lower blood sugar levels
  • May improve allergy symptoms
  • May support heart health
  • May support kidney health
  • May alleviate symptoms of chemotherapy
  • Anticancer properties

Learn more about the benefits of astragalus in our astragalus herbal profile

Holy Basil

Holy basil, often referred to as tulsi or its scientific name, Ocimum tenuiflorum, is a relative of basil and a part of the mint family. In Hinduism, holy basil is considered sacred; the leaves, stem, flower, root, seeds, and oil are all used in Indian medicine to heal the body, mind, and spirit. Its glossy, oval-shaped leaves with smooth or slightly toothed edges can identify this adaptogenic herb. The leaves are attached to square stems with clusters of small flowers ranging from white to magenta.

Benefits of holy basil include: 

  • Rich in nutrients
  • Antimicrobial properties
  • Antifungal properties
  • May reduce stress and anxiety
  • May lower blood sugar levels
  • May lower cholesterol levels

Learn more about the benefits of holy basil in our holy basil herbal profile.


Licorice root, often referred to as Liquorice or its scientific name Glycyrrhiza glabrab, is a part of the Fabaceae or pea family. Licorice is a flowering, herbaceous perennial legume native to Europe, Asia, and North America. This brownish/red flowering legume grows on a tan 3-foot stem with 1-inch bluish/purple flowers and soft 3-6 inch green leaves.

Benefits of licorice include:

  • May reduce acid reflux and indigestion
  • May help manage peptic ulcers
  • May provide menopause symptom relief
  • May improve fasting blood sugar and diabetes
  • May support respiratory health
  • May support oral health
  • May aid in weight loss
  • Anticancer properties

Learn more about the benefits of licorice in our licorice herbal profile.


Schisandra is also known as magnolia-vine, Chinese magnolia-vine, Schisandra, or its scientific name Schisandra Chinensis. Schisandra plants are vigorously climbing perennials that can reach 30 feet with odoriferous pink or white flowers with clusters of bright red fruit that droop from the vine. 

Benefits of Schisandra include:

  • May reduce stress
  • May improve symptoms of depression
  • May help with healthy sexual function
  • May provide menopause symptom relief
  • May improve brain function
  • May promote liver health

Learn more about the benefits of Schisandra in our Schisandra herbal profile.


Turmeric is sometimes referred to as Indian saffron and Curcumin, Jiang Huang in Chinese medicine, or its botanical names Curcuma longa and Curcuma domestica. Turmeric is a vivid yellow-orange spice often found in Indian, Southeast Asian, and Middle Eastern cooking. Turmeric, a relative of ginger, shares many similar health benefits. The turmeric plant has characteristic tuberous roots and leaves extending upward from erect, thick stems arising from the root of this perennial.

Benefits of turmeric include:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • May help arthritis
  • Antioxidant properties
  • May improve brain function and lower the risk of brain diseases
  • May be good for heart health

Learn more about the benefits of turmeric in our turmeric herbal profile.

Adding Adaptogenic Herbs to Your Daily Routine

Adding adaptogens to your daily routine has become much easier lately as the term is growing in popularity. Of course, you can use the herb to make DIYs like Herbal Cough Syrup, Postpartum Tea for Depression, Turmeric-Lime Electrolyte Drink, or Golden Milk & Turmeric Tea.

You could purchase products like Earthley’s Cocoa Calm, which combines all-natural, antioxidant-rich cocoa powder with three key adaptogens (ashwagandha root, rhodiola root, and eleuthero root). The result is a cocoa powder that tastes just like chocolate but helps you feel calmer and more able to deal with common daily stresses! Then use the cocoa calm to make adaptogenic-based functional foods like Calming Peanut Butter Cups or Bone Broth Hot Chocolate

Looking for more adaptogenic-based products? Some of my favorite products include:

Earthley’s Adaptogenic Immunity combines five certified organic herbs that can support the immune system, improve the body’s ability to cope with stress, and nourish you for total body wellness! This alcohol-free, botanical liquid is highly bioavailable and easy to assimilate. These herbs are generally safe even for people who have been told not to use “immune boosters.”

Earthley’s Anxiety Calm Oil (Formula A or C) is a tincture infused with adaptogenic herbs. Formula C supports the immune system, adrenals, hormone balance, and overall wellness, especially for those struggling with anxiety, mood issues, and stress. Great for those who need a little extra power. Formula A is CBD-free.

Earthley’s Anxiety Relief is formulated with herbs chosen for their ability to calm the body and improve mood without unfortunate side effects. Relieve symptoms of anxiety naturally.

Earthley’s Natural Balance is a tincture for women struggling with the ups and downs of hormones. This herbal remedy can help steady hormone levels and provide you with increased energy, calmness, and better quality sleep. Made with all-natural ingredients without those OTC medications that have unwanted side effects. Safe for ages one year+. Do not take while pregnant. Use caution while breastfeeding. 

Earthley’s 5 Mushroom Super Blend Capsules support the brain and immune system. Mushrooms have been shown to enhance cognitive functions like learning and memory, while also aiding in support against symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, neurological disorders, and more. Our chosen superstar mushrooms are high in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties to improve immunity and overall health.

Remember, adaptogens are not the only way to ease stress. Plenty of other herbs have anti-anxiety properties without adaptogenic properties. Check out all of Earthley’s calming products here.

Do you use adaptogenic herbs to ease your stress? If so, what’s your favorite herb to use?

This is the writings of:

Sarena-Rae Santos
Sarena-Rae Santos' journey to natural health began in 2019 when she swayed away from allopathic medicine after becoming wheelchair-bound due to the side effects of 20+ medications. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and dizziness due to nystagmus were the sources of her many health complications. Sarena's symptoms diminished after adopting a healthier lifestyle surrounding whole foods and herbs, leaving her a fantastic quality of life and a passion for educating people.

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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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