What Even Are Adaptogens?

We sell them, you’ve heard of them, they’re everywhere…

But what are Adaptogens anyway?

Originally coined by soviet scientists in the 1940s - adaptogens, put simply they are non-toxic herbs and some mushrooms that protect the body from stress and increase vitality. The reason why there is so much hype around them is they help you achieve balance. The human body is always trying to be in state balance or ‘homeostasis’, it’s the ultimate goal. 

If our body is in homeostasis, our central nervous system, adrenal glands, thyroid, and metabolism are all working as they should and handling stress appropriately. When we are balanced, we don’t just go into states of anxiety, insomnia, adrenal fatigue, and hormonal imbalances (to name a few).

Adaptogens have been used in eastern medicine for thousands of years. In fact, up to half all pharmaceuticals originally derived from plants – we should never underestimate the power of plants as healing agents, in fact, many plant remedies are often stronger than their pharmaceutical counterparts.

How do they classify an Adaptogen?

 There are 3 criteria for a herm or fungi to be classified as an adaptogen:

  • Show nonspecific activity;
  • Have a normalizing influence independent of the nature of the pathological state; and
  • Be innocuous and not influence normal body functions more than required.

 How do they work?

Effectively, adaptogens help train your body to handle stress. They do this by interacting with you HPA axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) and your sympathoadrenal system – two systems that deal with stress response and outside stimuli.

 “Adaptogens may tweak hormone production and physiological responses to stress to ensure that your body—from your mind to your immune system to your energy levels—functions as it should” Dr Powell of the Cleveland Clinic in Time Magazine

What does the research say?

There are scientific studies on humans available but certainly not enough. However, studies on animals have revealed that adaptogens exhibit neuroprotective, anti-fatigue, anti-depressive, anti-anxiety, nootropic (improves cognitive function) and central nervous system stimulating activity.

It’s pretty cool, but not new knowledge to ancient healing traditions like TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) and Ayurveda. Adaptogens are part and parcel of these traditions.

So, where do I start? 

As all adaptogens are unique and have different functions; make sure you choose adaptogens that best suit your needs. Like we always say, start slow and see how you react before continuing use. Also, it’s important to note, there is no such thing as one elixir to make all your problems go away. Adaptogens should be part of a holistic program that helps you achieve a state of zen – diet, hydration, more physical activity, mindfulness, therapy, and sleep.

You can get them as tinctures, tonics, powders, and teas. 

What are some of the adaptogens I should be looking at?

There is quite a long list of adaptogens and although many have found them extremely beneficial and have been used for thousands of years. It’s important to note that there needs to be a lot more research. Here is a quick guide that is by no means exhaustive.


 Gut Health

Long-Term Stress and Resulting Imbalances (hormonal, adrenal, thyroid)


  • Reishi & Cordyceps Mushrooms (try Wunder Workshop's Golden Shrooms)
  • Astragulus (helps immunity with causing it to become overactive)
  • Guduchi (detoxifying & provides immunity support)
  • Licorice Root (use with caution, protects the thymus gland)
  • Suma

Improving Cognitive Function

Kidney Health

  • He Shou Wu
  • Goji Berry

Liver Health

Milk Production

  • Moringa

 Physical & Sexual Health

  • Rhodiola (energy & stamina)
  • Pine Pollen (aphrodisiac & energising)
  • He Shou Wu (increases sex drive)
  • Siberian Ginseng or Eleuthero (try Wunder Workshop's Golden Glow) for stamina & endurance
  • Maca Root (strength, stamina, libido)

Respiratory Health

  • Schisandra


  • Tulsi/Holy Basil
  • He Shou Wu 


  • Bilberry

We will be covering specific adaptogens in more detail in separate articles.










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