Adaptogens are herbs that increase the body’s ability to “adapt” to any number of stressors, including heat, cold, noise, high altitudes or hectic schedules.  They can improve mental clarity and increase energy, stamina, strength and endurance.  Essentially they reduce stress, both mental and physical.


Rhodiola – (Rhodiola rosea)

Rhodiola contains phytochemicals that help relieve anxiety and combat aging by suppressing the production of cortisol and increasing the levels of stress-resistant proteins.  Its anti-stress and fatigue fighting properties have made it a favourite of Russian cosmonauts, athletes and military personnel.

A 2015  study found that it restores the normal sleeping and eating pattern after experiencing significant amounts of stress.  It was also shown to lower mental and physical fatigue and protect against heat and cold stress, radiation and exposure to toxic chemicals.

Several Russian studies have shown that Rhodiola increases student performance under academic pressure by improving memory and extending longevity of learning. Furthermore, a Chinese study has shown that Rhodiola strengthens the heart and cardiovascular system, lowering blood pressure and normalising heart rhythm.  It also improves blood flow to the brain, helping to reduce the possibility of stroke.


Eleuthero – (Eleutherococcus senticosus) 

Eleuthero is used in traditional Chinese Medicine for fatigue, insomnia, joint pain, muscle spasms, improving mental performance, and the ability to withstand stress. 

It also has antioxidant properties along with antidepressant effects, and can help to naturally lower blood pressure and blood glucose levels.

Eleuthero is classified as an adaptogen, enhancing immunity and overall vitality, as well as increasing energy and stamina.

Western Herbalists use it for chronic fatigue, impaired concentration, and convalescing after illness, also noting that it improves memory and increases feelings of well-being.

Russian and Polish studies reveal that it boosts the immune system of people with cancer, reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol as well as triglycerides. 


Ashwagandha – (Withania somnifera)

Ashwagandha regulates the immune system and eases anxiety.  It has been used for over 2,500 years and has immuno-modulating effects that boost the immune system and aid the body in lowering the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Like Eleuthro it enhances immunity and overall vitality, as well as increasing energy and stamina.

It is of particular interest today to treat high blood pressure, insomnia, impotence associated with exhaustion or anxiety, and chronic fatigue.  It enhances thyroid and adrenal function resulting in a feeling of wellbeing.

It has long been prescribed to treat mental and physical exhaustion.  In Ayurvedic medicine is has traditionally been used for bad dreams, OCD, anxiety and nervous exhaustion, and as an anti-oxidant to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. It has also been found to be helpful in treading fibromyalgia, restless leg syndrome, and Tourette’s syndrome and for enhancing male fertility.

NB:  Should not be used by pregnant and nursing mothers.


Schisandra – (Schisandra chinesis)

In Traditional Chinese Medicine Schisandra is considered a balancing herb.  It is a very effective general tonic that is used to treat fatigue, whilst enhancing physical performance and endurance.  The berries reduce the levels of stress hormones in the blood thereby combating the effects of stress.

It is a particularly effective liver tonic as it stimulates liver glycogen and protein synthesis and helps enhance glutathione production within the liver.  Glutathione is the body’s most powerful detoxifier.  For this reason, Schisandra improves liver regeneration in those with liver disease, as well as being very helpful for people with cancer as it is cytotoxic to tumor cells.

Furthermore, it has been found to increase immune function and improve impaired memory.


Tulsi – (Ocimum sanctum)

Tulsi has a long history of uses in Ayurvedic Medicine and is also known as Holy Basil.

It functions as an adaptogen, by enhancing the body’s response to stress, both physical and emotional.  One Indian study revealed that it did not alter mood, but rather helped the body functional at an optimal level during times of stress.

It is considered a rejuvenative medicine and its traditional uses are to treat coughs, cold and asthma as well as to improve memory, alleviate fatigue and increase endurance.

Further studies have revealed that it reduces the hyper allergic response in asthma and allergies, whilst still enhancing normal immune function. 

One interesting finding noted that Tulsi decreases stress hormone levels, and in particular corticosterone.  Decreases levels of corticosterone can reduce the risk of age-related mental disorders and improve mental clarity and memory.


Tonic Tea Blend

Combine equal parts of dried crumbled Tulsi leaves and dried crushed Schisandra berries. Store in a glass container away from light.  

Place one teaspoon of the tea blend for every cup of boiling water into a non-metal container and allow to steep for 2-3 minutes with the lid on.  Always strain the herbs before drinking.  Honey can be added to flavour the tea.