4 Best Adaptogens for Stress Management

posted by

Dr. Mandy Patterson

You ran out of toilet paper, you’re late for your dentist appointment, and you almost forgot to pick the kids up from school…hello stress! Yes, those are all minor stressors but as life gets back to normal after the pandemic, stress management needs to be part of your wellness regimen. In this article, I’ll share the best adaptogens for stress management, the HPA axis and chronic stress, adrenal fatigue, and the best way to handle stress! 


What Are Adaptogens? 

The word “adaptogen” may sound like some type of newfangled robot or weapon from a sci-fi film, but it actually refers to a type of herbal medicine. This medicine has been used for thousands of years in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, too. 

So what are adaptogens? 

They are a class of herbs that help the body “adapt” to stress. The Russian scientist Israel Brekhmanfirst coined the term “adaptogen” in 1947. He also created a set of criteria for determining what qualifies as an adaptogen


  • They increase your body’s ability to cope with internal and external stressors. 
  • They are completely safe for the public to consume.
  • They exhibit stimulating effects that lead to increased working capacity and mental performance even under fatigued conditions. 
  • They work to balance your hormones.


Adaptogens are known for boosting vitality and aiding your ability to cope with short and long-term stressors. When life sends you through the wringer, adaptogens may be your answer out. This is especially helpful since we know that stress is such a huge contributor to many chronic health conditions.


The HPA Axis and Chronic Stress 

To understand how adaptogens work and actually help with stress management, we have to understand the HPA axis. This refers to the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. The hypothalamus is the part of your brain that registers stress. It sends signals to the pituitary gland and together they send signals to your adrenals to start producing the “stress hormones.”

Chronic stress keeps your HPA axis constantly engaged. This is detrimental to your overall health. That’s not to mention your poor adrenal glands which have to work double-time to keep up with the demand!

stressed woman laptop

The stress hormones cortisol, norepinephrine, and epinephrine all work together to make your body ready to deal with a crisis. That means they raise your heart rate, increase your blood pressure, and move blood from the internal organs to your extremities.


Adrenal Fatigue 

Imagine working two jobs, one is night shift and the other is a 12 hour day job. You would be exhausted, so much so you probably would stop functioning properly. Well, that’s what happens to your adrenal glands when you are under chronic stress: adrenal fatigue. 

If your adrenal glands never get a break, the result is adrenal fatigue and dysfunction. That’s not a good story for the rest of your hormones. Here are the common symptoms of adrenal fatigue as defined by James L. Wilson, Ph.D., in his book Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Syndrome:


  • Fatigue, particularly upon waking, with intermittent “crashes” throughout the day
  • Poor stress response and mood regulation
  • Cognitive issues or “brain fog”
  • Increased energy levels in the evenings 
  • Cravings for salty and sweet foods 
  • Overuse of caffeine and other stimulants 
  • Compromised immune system




The Stress-Hormone Connection 

Stress management should start with the stress hormone connection. For example, there are over 50 hormones produced by your endocrine glands. For optimal health, these chemical messengers need to operate in harmony and balance with each other. 

Hormones are essential for nearly every function in your body like your metabolism, mood, and even your sleep cycle. They affect your body temperature, sex drive, heart rate, appetite, and growth and development. Hormone production changes throughout your life to meet different demands. However, hormone changes due to stress are different. 

Chronic stress leads to hormone imbalances that disrupt your sleep, mood, libido, and contribute to weight gain, adrenal fatigue, brain fog, and chronic illnesses.


The Best Adaptogens for Stress Management 

I’ve written several articles on stress and stress management through means such as yoga and boxed breathing. But, if you don’t balance your hormones, you may be fighting an uphill battle.  

Adaptogens help support the optimal production of stress hormones and prevent adrenal fatigue and dysfunction. They modulate cellular sensitivity to the stress hormones and encourage a healthier response to stress

Here are some of the best adaptogens for stress management. 



This herb is extracted from a small, evergreen shrub that prompts a calm state of mind. It supports the body’s inflammatory response and is the only adaptogen known to support thyroid function and the production of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. It helps the body cope with stress by boosting adrenal function

Ashwagandha has a bitter taste so most people like to consume it in supplement form. 



This herb is used for balancing the secretion of the stress hormone cortisol. It supports energy levels and concentration, especially in those experiencing fatigue. There are 20 different types of Rhodiola plants but only Rhodiola Rosea is classified as an adaptogen. 


Licorice root

Licorice root comes from the Licorice plant and is possibly one of the world’s oldest herbal remedies. It can be used to soothe upset stomachs, reduce inflammation, and treat upper respiratory symptoms. This herb is also used to reduce cortisol levels. 



Ginseng is able to aid in stress management because of its ability to help regulate the HPA axis. This adaptogen suppresses the pro-inflammatory cytokines generated by chronic stress. Studies show that Ginseng supports the body’s inflammatory response in conditions like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma. A common way to consume ginseng is through yummy ginseng tea. 


Work With A Holistic Health Coach 

Are you ready to take back your health? Want to live a stress-free life? As a Certified Holistic Health Coach, I help women find their vision of optimal health through diet and lifestyle medicine. In fact, you can check out the free Mindful Mom Guide to reduce your stress with four essential and simple steps that every mom should know for less daily stress!


You can reach out to me via my contact page to get started on via my one-on-one or group coaching options.



Mandy Patterson

Mandy Patterson

Dr. Mandy


Hi, I’m Mandy, a Functional Naturopath specializing in Fertility & the Founder of a Boutique Fertility Focused Wellness Practice.


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