Herbal Adaptogens that Help Lower Stress and Cortisol

January 26, 2017

Stress is a reaction to a stimulus or an occurrence happening within or outside our bodies that imbalances our physical or mental equilibrium. It is a natural and, unfortunately, consistent occurrence in people’s lives. A stressful event can trigger the fight-or-flight mechanism and create the adrenaline and cortisol response to the surge in the body.

Cortisol is the main hormone associated with stress. It is produced from cholesterol in the adrenal glands and is released in response to internal and external circumstances such as getting frightened, waking up in the morning, having a fight, being pressured, exercise, acute or chronic stress, and other things. Cortisol also regulates energy by selecting the right type and amount of carbohydrate, fat, or protein that the body needs to meet the physiological demands in a stressful situation. When levels of cortisol are constantly high, it can have a detrimental effect on weight, immune function, and the risk for chronic disease. Elevated levels of cortisol can also make you irritable, contribute to diabetes, and heart disease, and deplete your energy. It can also take a toll on your body by accelerating the aging process.

In this light, we can come to a conclusion that stress should be something we have to avoid. But as we mentioned earlier, it is a normal part of life and a normal mechanism of the body. We have to adapt to it and hopefully find ways to reduce the amount of stress in order to alleviate the risks of diseases and conditions associated with it.

Luckily there is such a thing called an adaptogen, which refers to phytotherapy, a way of using the healing qualities of plants and herbs. Adaptogens help balance and protect the body and help you respond to a stressor by normalizing the physiological functions and reactions of your body. Adaptogenic herbs can help recharge the adrenal glands and reduce your response to stress.

Here are the top 5 herbal adaptogens that can help lower stress and normalize the body’s response to stress:


Ginseng comes in many forms but whatever the form is, it is considered one of the most famous adaptogens. Panax Ginseng, native to northern China and Korea, is considered the most potent kind but all other forms of ginseng also have similar benefits.  Ginseng is used to improve mental performance and the ability to adapt to stress. The herb has been regarded for its ability to restore vitality, normalize immune function, promote recovery, improve circulation, and reduce stress. Aside from being an adaptogen, it also has antioxidant and antidepressant effects. Ginseng also helps lower blood sugar levels and blood pressure levels naturally.

Maca Root

Maca root is a superfood that has been dubbed “Peruvian ginseng,” even if it bears no relation to ginseng. Similar to ginseng, the root increases strength, energy, stamina, libido and sexual function. It is also considered an adaptogen and has an effect that makes you feel good, attributed to it being an adaptogen. Maca root is effective in reducing stress and in helping you to recover from training or exercise. It also helps improve the mood of women during menopause.

Tongkat Ali

Tongkat Ali, also known as Eurycoma longifolia jack or Longjack is a tree native to Malaysia and Indonesia for a variety of purposes. It is a known adaptogen and helps reduce stress and is a known aphrodisiac for men due to its ability to counteract male fertility. It has been dubbed the Asian Viagra because it has been used to treat erectile dysfunction, helps increase libido, improves mental performance, and increases testosterone. Aside from its beneficial effects as an adaptogen and in male health, it also improves cardiovascular health, increases energy, and helps you maintain a positive mood.


Withania Somnifera, popularly known as Ashwagandha or Indian Ginseng, has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for over 3000 years. This is a herb from the same family of tomatoes and native to the dry regions of India, Africa, and the Middle East. The fruit and leaves have health benefits but the root of this plant is considered the most important part in terms of potency and supplementation. Ashwagandha has immuno-modulating effects that boost your immune system and aid the body in lowering cortisol levels, thus reducing the effects and risks of stress.

Licorice Root

Licorice root has been used during the ancient times since the second and third centuries BC in the East, and by the Egyptians, Greeks, and ancient Romans in the West. Licorice root is also one of the most frequently used herbs in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine. In all of these ancient civilizations, this root has been used for both prevention and treatment of various illnesses ranging from mild to grave illnesses. It has an ability to act as an expectorant and get rid of mucus and phlegm in respiratory tract diseases and soothes inflamed membranes. Aside from its ability to fight off several diseases, licorice root is effective as a natural remedy for treating several stomach conditions and leave you with a healthy tummy. Licorice is one of the most effective remedies to keep your tummy healthy. It is used as a treatment for acid reflux, digestive tract inflammation, heartburn, and stomach ulcers. It is one of the most alkaline foods that one can take in not only to counter the effects of stomach ulcers but to regulate the cause of acidity. As an adaptogen, licorice root can also increase energy and endurance, boost the immune system, and protect the thymus from being damaged by cortisol.

In this hectic and fast-paced society, it is inevitable that we would feel the physical and mental effects of stress. Even if stress is a normal part of life, you can incorporate these herbs in order to lessen the effects and likelihood of stress. Add in exercise, a good diet, and good habits and on you’re on your way to a better day and a healthier you.

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