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What are adaptogens?

21 August 2023

What are Adaptogens?

You have probably heard the word adaptogen and if you have looked on this website, you will see the words adaptogens and adaptogenic herbs used a lot.

According to The theory behind adaptogens says they help your body adjust to physical, chemical, or biological stress. They are thought to stimulate your body’s stress-protection response and help its systems return to a balanced state called “homeostasis.”

An adaptogen is a herb that helps your body adjust and return to balance when there has been stress. 

As we all have to deal with a degree of stress every day these herbs are becoming increasingly widely used and more widely available to buy. Both tradition and modern research seem to indicate that as well as helping us to become more resilient to stress they also help reduce feelings of anxiety, increase our energy and improve our memory and concentration. There are currently at least 70 herbal plants including medicinal mushrooms, which are considered to be adaptogens, also called tonic herbs. Some work more effectively than others and some work better for different people

These herbs have been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda.  Within Western medical herbalism, we have tonic herbs such as Oats and Sage which offer similar though usually more gentle benefits.

Here are a few of the more commonly used adaptogens by Herbs of Grace

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

One of the most important herbs in Ayurvedic tradition and probably one of the most effective adaptogens


Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceous)

Used as a popular tonic herb in TCM as it has a good reputation for enhancing endurance and strengthening immunity


Chinese Angelica/Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis)

Whilst this is a TCM tonic herb it is most often used to balance female hormones, especially during menopause


Korean Ginseng (Panax ginseng)

Probably the best-known adaptogen in the UK. this adaptogen is used in TCM to increase energy, especially when undertaking hard physical tasks or training and when recovering from illness or surgery


Liquorice/Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

In TCM liquorice is considered to have a harmonising effect on other herbs.  It improves resistance to physical and mental stress possibly as a direct result of its action on the adrenal glands


Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Regarded as the herb of immortality by the ancient Greeks, Sage can help to reduce anxiety and balance female hormones


Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis)

Native to China, Schisandra is considered to have 5 tastes and therefore is used to balance all 5 bodily systems in TCM.







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