An Adaptogenic Guide

Updated: Feb 22, 2019

As many of you know I’m a nature lover. Even though I grew up next to the beach, it’s taken me moving to the city, having a garden of my own and living with all four seasons for me to observe the wisdom and playfulness of the earth around us.

In the past few years, as part of my holistic and sustainable lifestyle, I’ve also been incorporating more plants into my daily medicinal routine. I get so many questions from friends and students. Do they even work? Aren’t they just dirt?

And after two years of using them consistently I can confidently say they do work.

Word of warning though, they aren’t a quick fix. And just like any asana, you can’t do it once and think that you’ve got all the benefits from that experience. It all takes time. Adding healing plants into our day is a practice, one that changes with the seasons, our cycles and activities.

But since I started adding Chinese and Ayurvedic herbs and roots into my morning and evening routines, I feel more present and connected with nature, my sleep is better, I handle stress with more ease, I have more energy, my digestion is consistent, my skin has gotten more radiant, my hair and nails have gotten stronger, I feel overall more balanced, and I might jinx myself with this one, but I haven’t gotten sick once!

For those of you interested in adding Adaptogens (or plants that help us adapt to everyday stress), I’ve compiled a list here explaining a little bit about the ones I use most frequently. As always, feel free to reach out if you have questions, or if you have suggestions of your own!

Gelatinized Maca - The gateway adaptogen. I first started adding maca to my smoothies over ten years ago and noticed almost immediately the increased energy and aphrodisiac nature it offers. (woohoo!) It is incredibly powerful for balancing hormones and giving a little bit more spring in your step. I start adding it around the end of my luteal phase, when my energy starts to drop right before my period. And I have had many women going through peri-menopause who have reported a drastic decrease in hot flashes when taking some form of Maca. I recommend the gelatinized form over the raw Maca as it is easier for most to digest.

Ashwagandha - The one everyone loves to say. This powdered root comes from India and it’s known for helping relieve adrenal fatigue from chronic stress. We live in difficult times, and there is stress everywhere. Since stress is everywhere, and as my scientist sister likes to point out, stress is something we need in our’s still important to have all the tools we need to is combat over-working and over-fatiguing our systems. There’s something about just saying it….Ash-wah-gahn-dha...that when I add it to my morning elixir, I start to slow down a bit and get more grounded.

Rhodiola - The Greek cousin to Ashwagandha. If the previous adaptogen is difficult for you to digest, this one is a great alternative. This is also known for boosting our brain functioning and increasing energy, so it is said to help burn fat. I’m not so sure about that last claim personally, but it’s a great alternative to ashwagandha, if you're looking for it.

Schizandra - The Berry which heals the Liver. Full disclosure, I have no idea how to actually pronounce this one, but it’s a powerful little minx. These berries can often be found dried and in powder form. And it is known to help cleanse and heal the liver. As we know the liver helps us metabolize fat, cleanses our blood and aides in hormonal balancing (since all hormones are created in fat cells). I’ve even heard of this berry helping with motion sickness!

Eleuthero - The Little Shrub that Could. This one which can be found in both powder and tincture form is known to increase energy, balance cardiac functioning and regulate insulin reception, if you’re susceptible to sugar. If you’re a fan of Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee Blends, I believe this is in each of their blends because it’s such a powerful favorite.