Best Adaptogens for Brain, Beauty, Mood & Libido
Adaptogens are the latest buzzword in the health community, but what are they?
These natural, plant-based healing remedies are super herbs and mushrooms that help expand your body’s capacity to handle mental, physical, and emotional stress. These plants and fungi work with our bodies to create balance and improve brain and hormone functioning—without the crash that comes from diet supplements like caffeine.
These superpowered plants have been used as herbal remedies for wellbeing for centuries. Although they’re not necessary for a healthy diet, using adaptogens alongside a whole-foods, organic diet is like adding an extra boost in health and wellbeing.
For women, these healing herbs can provide particular benefits to hormone health—stabilizing menstrual cycles, improving mood and mental health, building immunity, curbing cravings and anxiety, increasing focus and productivity, and even boosting libido.
Two herbs in particular, are powerhouses for boosting energy, mood, and libido: ashwagandha and maca.
Ashwagandha relaxes the central nervous system. It keeps cortisol levels in check so the stress hormone doesn’t rule your life—even during stressful situations. Also known as Indian ginseng, this traditional Ayurvedic herb has also been shown to boost immunity and improve fatigue. It even counters the effects of aging!
Maca is a major energy-booster. This radish relative is a root cultivated in the Andes Mountains of Peru. It improves energy, cuts back fatigue, balances hormones, and boosts sex drive in both men and women.
If you’ve optimized your diet and are looking to optimize your life even further, ashwagandha and maca are a great place to start. Supplement these two powerhouse herbs with these adaptogens for brain, beauty, mood, and libido.
Improve brain performance
Rhodiola is a powerful depression-busting plant. Lion’s Mane is a neuroprotective mushroom that supports memory and concentration and has even been turned into a tasty mushroom drink. Try these herbs to heal your brain and improve mental functioning.
- Lion's Mane is known to be neuroprotective
- Ginkgo supports speedy processing
- Rhodiola promotes alertness and concentration and cuts back on fatigue
- Ashwagandha promotes mental stamina and clarity
- Astragalus is known to promote healthy blood flow
- Maca is traditionally used to promote energy and memory function
Heal your skin
Licorice root can cut back hormonal breakouts, while goji berries are great for nourishing and calming the skin. You better believe it—ingesting just small amounts of these plants can heal and smooth skin, giving you that glow you’ve been searching for and helping your skin stay healthy as you age.
- Amla helps protect the skin from oxidative stress
- Schisandra is traditionally used for its hydrating properties and to promote skin clarity
- Ashwagandha helps reduce the impact of stress on accelerated aging and skin health
- Goji is known to nourish and calm skin
- Rehmannia is known to help replenish skin’s essence
- Pearl is a legendary beauty ally, known for its cooling and antioxidant properties
- Licorice root blocks production of androgens, healing hormonal breakouts
Adaptogens for better mood
Ashwagandha has proved remarkably more effective than a placebo in reducing stress, anxiety, and insomnia. Feel better, curb seasonal depression, balance mood swings, and increase general feelings of well being by supplementing with these herbs.
- Reishi is known to nourish and calm, providing a sense of joy and peace
- Ashwagandha helps promote emotional wellbeing
- Astragalus supports feelings of centeredness
- Mimosa Hostilis Bark is traditionally used to relieve feelings of moodiness and irritability
- Dan Shen calms the heart
- Longan Berry is known to promote tranquility
- Goji supports feelings of happiness
Adaptogens for increased libido
You’ve probably seen the libido-boosting potions advertised in the back of magazines. But these substances have been used traditionally for centuries as aphrodisiacs and libido-boosters. Did you know cacao releases endorphins? Maybe that’s why we reach for chocolate on Valentine’s Day and while menstruating.
- Shatavari supports healthy hormonal balance and can help with PCOS and menopause
- Wildcrafted Shilajit is traditionally used as an aphrodisiac and libido booster
- Epimedium, also known as horny goat weed, helps ignite desire and strengthen sensation
- Schisandra is known for its ability to increase blood flow and energy
- Cacao stimulates endorphin release
- Maca is known to support mood, energy, and healthy sexual function
Where can I buy adaptogens?
Adaptogens don’t have to be unaffordable. Although companies like Sun Potion sell powdered adaptogens in beautifully packaged jars for high prices, these herbs can be bought wholesale or in bulk for much less. You might not be able to find adaptogens at the regular grocery store, but any health foods or organic store should have a small selection. We also recommend these online sellers, which all offer organic, affordable options:
Adaptogen-infused recipes to get you started
Start your day right with an adaptogen-infused, fat-filled coffee to balance the jitters and energy from the caffeine with some calming, healing focus. Or, power up after a work-out with a refreshing, energy-boosting smoothie. These recipes offer an easy boost to foods you already eat, for no-sweat adaptogen drinking pleasure.
Ashwagandha-infused bulletproof coffee
8 oz. brewed organic coffee
1 tsp. ghee
1 tsp. coconut or MCT oil
1 tsp. Ashwagandha
1 serving collagen powder
1 tsp. cinnamon or cacao
¼ cup nut milk
Monkfruit Sweetener to taste
Brew your coffee like you normally would. (We like the Aeropress for super-easy, quick clean-up single servings.) In a high-powered blender, add all ingredients, plus your choice of optional nutrition and flavor boosts, and blend on high for 60-90 seconds or until frothy.
Chocolate maca mint smoothie
(Based on a recipe from Insta-blogger and wellness guru Jeannette Ogden)
1 small handful of organic mint leaves
1 handful spinach
1 handful of ice cubes
1 cup coconut milk or water
1 frozen banana
2 large dates
1 tsp. maca powder
1 tbsp. cacao -- or try adding our Chocolate Drink Mix with probiotics
1 serving collagen powder
Cacao nibs and pumpkin seeds, for topping
Blend on high until all ingredients are incorporated. Top with extra cacao nibs and pumpkin seeds. Hints: For a creamier smoothie, use coconut milk. For a refreshing post-workout option, go with coconut water. For a chocolate boost, use milk and add cacao powder. For an extra treat, top with coconut cream or non-dairy yogurt.
It's okay to start slow
While adaptogens are incredibly powerful, a single serving probably won’t make a noticeable difference. Unlike coffee, which boosts energy almost immediately, these herbs offer a slow, sustained release of good-for-you healing powers and are best taken regularly over time.
Look for net positive effects to show up after two or three weeks of regular ingestion—and don’t go overboard. Start slowly, adding one adaptogen at a time and evaluating its effects before you experiment with others. Not every adaptogen works the same in every body. Note what works for you, and then continue to slowly experiment!
What herbs and adaptogens have helped in your life? Tell us about it in the comments.