If January's got you feeling stressed, worn out and depressed, there's a word you need to know about: adaptogens. Adaptogens are nontoxic plants that help the body adapt to stress—be it physical, emotional or environmental. They can boost your energy when you're tired, ease your mind when you're anxious and lift your mood when you're low. Sound too good to be true? Well, there's plenty of science to support their use.
It's best to consult with a qualified practitioner to find the formula and dosage that's right for you (and check with your doctor first if you're taking any medication), but here's a roundup of five top-quality supplements featuring adaptogenic herbs proven to be effective in scientific studies.
The brain and body booster
Rhodiola Rosea, $18.40 (90 capsules)
www.pureformulas.com; tel: 800-383-6008
Extracts of Rhodiola rosea have been found to boost mental and physical performance as well as reduce stress and fatigue,1 and it may even alleviate mild to moderate depression.2 This Rhodiola rosea extract from Pure Encapsulations is hypoallergenic, suitable for vegetarians and standardized to contain 3 percent total rosavins and a minimum of 1 percent salidrosides, which is equivalent to the concentration of these bioactive molecules that's typically used in research studies.
The mind calmer
Wholistic Ashwagandha, $20.62 (30 capsules)
Ashwagandha, a celebrated Ayurvedic remedy known as 'rasayana,' meaning rejuvenate, has proven stress-relieving and anti-anxiety effects.3 Pukka's Wholistic Ashwagandha is certified organic and uses a unique extraction process that's said to retain the herb's more than 45 active compounds. The vegan supplement also contains seaweed, spirulina and ginger root and is free of dairy, soy and gluten.
The fatigue fighter
Energise, $20.15 (60 capsules)
A popular traditional Chinese medicine, Panax ginseng , also called Asian or Korean ginseng, has a wide variety of known benefits for the mind and body, from boosting immune function to relieving fatigue.4 The standardized extract of Panax ginseng (G115) used by Potter's Herbals has been found to reduce mental fatigue, increase feelings of calmness and positively impact learning and memory.5
The anxiety easer
Holy Basil Leaf, $29.99 (60 capsules)
www.gaiaherbs.com; tel: 855-972-0529
Holy basil, or tulsi, appears to help with all kinds of stress—physical, chemical, metabolic and psychological.6 Clinical trials show it can boost mental performance and reduce anxiety and depression.7 This formula by Gaia Herbs is made with certified organic holy basil and is free of corn, dairy, gluten, soy and yeast. Plus, like all Gaia products, it's quality tested to ensure purity, integrity and potency—and you can view the results on their website.
The adrenal optimizer
Designs For Health
Adrenotone $29.61 (90 capsules)
shop.bodylogicmd.com; tel: 888-799-3835
This supplement contains a blend of nutrients and potent adaptogenic herbs said to support healthy function of the adrenal glands—responsible for the body's response to stress. As well as ashwagandha, rhodiola and American ginseng there's also eleuthero, or Siberian ginseng, which has been found to increase endurance and mental performance,8 plus a selection of balancing B vitamins. The capsules are gluten-, dairy- and soy-free and suitable for vegetarians, but consult with a qualified practitioner before using.