I recently wrote about my favorite adaptogen teas, all of which include potent herbs for energy, longevity, improved sleep + even to help you get that ever-coveted glow of youth! Here, I’m sharing a list of the most powerful adaptogens, what they are, and how they work. This is a handy list to keep on hand if you’re wanting to start using herbs for energy, a mood boost or to support your immune system.

Note: The key to using plant medicine effectively is to treat your symptoms regularly. For example, if you’re feeling extra stressed, or dealing with inflammation, take the Anti-Inflammation tea daily for at least two weeks and then gauge how it affects and supports your own system and your body.

And I always share this disclaimer, that although adaptogens are a very safe and non-toxic class of plants, they can have some synergistic or antagonistic effects to certain medications.  It’s always best to consult a qualified health care practitioner to determine the correct use and dosage for you.

Here are the adaptogens I turn to often; these are easy-to-find herbs for energy, vitality, fatigue, stress, and to give your skin a boost. Take a peak at this article on adaptogen tea and tea blends you can easily make at home!

Common Herbs for Energy, Logevity + Better Health

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)  – A calming adaptogen (most adaptogens are stimulating) and nervine, this special plant’s name in Hindi refers to a horse’s sweat-like odour and is said to give users the strength and stamina of a stallion!  It may also be used for it’s nutritional content and as a nourishing tonic for treatment of anxiety, fatigue, cloudy thinking, and nervous exhaustion. It can also help with chronic immune deficiency syndromes like rheumatoid arthritis, and is rich in iron and other nutrients.

Tulsi or Holy Basil (Centella asiatica)  – Said to bring focus to the mind during meditation, Tulsi is known as a nootropic (a herb that helps the with healthy functioning of the mind), and helps to bring circulation to the brain.   It’s also great for an upset stomach and nausea, and as an after-dinner digestive, similar to mint.  

Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) – Although Siberian Ginseng is often called ginseng due to it’s energetic effects, it is not a true ginseng as it is from a different plant family than Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng) or American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), which have similar stimulating and aphrodisiac qualities and are also powerful adaptogens.  Several trials have shown that Siberian Ginsent can enhance athletic performance, improve endurance including training duration and frequency, increase immune function, energy and libido.  Great if you’re working long hours or pushing your body to the max in your work-outs – or both!  

Licorice Root (Glychyrriza glabra) – This deliciously sweet root is a powerhouse in herbal medicine, and an excellent choice as an adaptogen.  Anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial, this herb balances the immune system and enhances digestive health, protects the liver, and is often used as a synergizer in herbal formulas due its versatility.  It’s an adrenal restorative, but should be used with caution in cases of water retention.

Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) – This plant (known also as Rose Root) has a pleasant rose flavour, and is one of the best adaptogens to use in cases of depression. It’s also used to help balance blood sugar.  Rhodiola can be an effective fertility and endocrine tonic for women and men, it supports the heart, and aids cognitive functioning, which makes it one of the most useful adaptogens on the shelf!

Schisandra (Schizandra chinensis) – The berry of ‘five flavours’, this plant reminds me of the every flavoured bean from Harry Potter – it tastes of sweet, sour, spicy, bitter, and pungent, which happens to make this adaptogen great for overall balancing.  It also helps to detox the liver and excess hormones, but has a drying effect overall on bodily secretions, so it can be helpful for night sweats, but should be avoided by people with an overly dry constitution.

Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) – This mushroom conk grows on birch trees in cold climates that have been infected by the fungus and is used as an anti-cancer agent and general superfood.  It has been reputed to slow the aging process, improve blood sugar regulation, lower blood cholesterol and boost immune function.

Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma spp.) – Mild in nature, reishi works best when it is taken regularly over a long period of time.  There are six types of reishi, with Ganoderma lucidum being one of the most effective for immunomodulation.  Packed with benefits, this mushroom is also a relaxing nervine, and helps lessen the negative side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, which we all get from screen use these days. 
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) – A mild tonic for the immune system, this adaptogen can protect the liver and kidneys from damage caused by viruses or medications, lowers blood sugar, and improves blood flow to the heart.  This plant is one that works well when you’re not sick, and we generally avoid using it in acute situations as it can make a fever last longer or even grow stronger.

If you’re looking for more ways to use adaptogen herbs for energy, immune function, fatigue, longevity or for your general health and wellbeing, I share three of my go-to recipes in this article on adaptogen teas.

Written by Herbalist, and Unity Herbals Founder, Sue Horning.

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These are the most potent adaptogens: Herbs for energy, longevity and better rest. All are easy to find and integrate into your day to day.