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The Best Adaptogenic Supplements

Anxiety, Depression, Energy, Sleep, and More: Why Adaptogenic Herbs Continue Growing in Popularity in the West.

 

What Are Adaptogens?

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One can think of an adaptogen as a herbal pharmaceutical improving “adaptation” to an array of both short- and long-term biological and physical stressors.

In ancient times humans embraced the role of plants for adaptogenic benefits, passing this knowledge to the younger generations.

Adaptogenic Herbs

Studies now show over 75 different plants could be classified as adaptogenic herbs.

Over ten adaptogens including American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius​), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera​), Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng​), Astragalus (Astragalus Membranaceus), Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis), Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus​), Garlic, Ginger, Ginkgo Biloba, Rhaponticum (Rhaponticum carthamoides), Rhodiola (Rhodiola Rosea​), Schisandra (Schisandra Chinensis​), Shilajit (Asphaltum bitumen​), Curcumin (Turmeric) now contain extensive research.

Astragalus (Astragalus Membranaceus)

Recent studies are showing astragalus might be the top kidney and urinary system adaptogenic supplement.

Dosage and use: Proteinuria clinical effects in kidney disease studies are achieved using 15 grams of astragalus per day. Patients with kidney disorder, nephrotic syndrome, using 7.5 to 15 grams of daily astragalus after three to six months experience a 38% improvement in their condition.

Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi)

While studies show bacopa anti-anxiety effects as mild, studies show its effects on memory improvement as notable.

Bacopa is believed but unproven for treating opioid dependence and withdrawal.

Black Seed Oil

Black seed oil is being researched as a COVID-19, coronavirus inhibitor, because of similar effects on previous respiratory viral infections.

Dosage and use: Standardized extract of 500 mg one to two times per day is the average black seed oil dosage.

Curcumin

Curcumin is arguably the top overall supplement for health optimizers, after the 5 core supplements.

As the “King of Adaptogens,”, curcumin acts as “Nature’s Anti-inflammatory.”

Curcumin Benefits

  • Nitric Oxide
  • Allergies
  • Antioxidants
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s (*Believed)
  • BDNF
  • Depression (Unipolar)
  • Dermatitis
  • Fatty Liver Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • Homocysteine
  • Inflammation
  • Nitric Oxide
  • PMS
  • Pain

Ginkgo Biloba

As the most commonly used adaptogenic supplements for brain health, ginkgo Biloba also offers impressive cardiovascular and nervous system benefits.

Ginkgo is the world’s oldest cognitive-enhancing plant.

Ginkgo Benefits

  • Anxiety
  • Antioxidants
  • Blood Pressure
  • Blood Flow (Brain, Eyes, Cutaneous, and Peripheral)
  • Depression
  • Diabetes and Diabetic Symptoms
  • LDL Oxidation
  • Eye Health
  • Peripheral Nerves
  • Skin Appearance

Ginseng

Only Panax and American ginseng are actually ginseng, as all other ginsengs come from different plant families.”

Asian ginseng also called “Red Ginseng” is recognized as the only “true ginseng.”

Ginseng Benefits

  • Alzheimer’s (Unconfirmed)
  • Antioxidants
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Cognitive Function
  • Colon Cancer
  • Fatigue
  • Fertility (Male)
  • Immunity
  • Inflammation
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Overall Cancer Risk (Men Only)
  • Pancreatic Cancer

 

Other Ginseng Types

The following adaptogenic plants are other types of ginseng, which we should not confuse with American and Asian ginseng.

These ginseng types are more akin to cousins of the American and Asian ginsengs, as some say they are not true ginseng.

Ashwagandha: Indian Ginseng (Sensoril vs KSM-66)

The most popular use for ashwagandha as an adaptogenic plant is for anxiety and cortisol.

Ashwagandha, Indian ginseng, delivers clinically proven anti-anxiety effects comparable to lorazepam.

  • Anxiety
  • Cholesterol
  • Cortisol
  • Endurance
  • Heart Palpitations (Due to Anxiety)
  • Menopause
  • OCD
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep
  • Stress and Irritability
  • Thyroid (Hypothyroidism)
  • Testosterone

Dosage and Use: Studies use a standardized Ashwagandha extract of 300 mg, two times per day, with daily doses up to 1 gram seen as safe. Users should be aware a small subset of males seem to report sexual and long-term negative serotonin-type side effects referred to by a new term, Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction, (PSSD). It is both fat- and water-soluble and effective with or without food.

 

Eleuthero: Siberian Ginseng

We need more studies on eleuthero to confirm its claimed benefits.

  • AMPK and Diabetes
  • Bipolar Depression (*Most Promising Benefit)
  • Common Cold
  • Fatigue
  • Herpes Simplex Type 2 (HSV2)
  • Memory

Maca: Peruvian “Ginseng”

It is best used as a libido booster and sexual health in men and postmenopausal women with strong evidence supporting this use.

Black maca is believed to improve male fertility and erectile dysfunction.

  • Blood Pressure
  • Blood Sugar
  • Bone Density
  • Depression
  • Elevation Sickness
  • Fertility (Men)
  • Inflammation
  • Libido (Strongest Benefit)
  • Menopause
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Sexual Function (Men and Postmenopausal Women)

Dosage and use: 2 grams of a 5 to 1 extract up to 3 grams and 2 to 12 weeks. Red maca at 3 grams shows greater effects after 2 weeks over black maca at 1.5 grams.

 

Suma: Brazilian Ginseng

Suma’s adaptogenic benefits are seen best supported for skin appearance.

Many believe suma can be used for energy, sexual health, anticancer effects, and various other conditions, however all of these except skin appearance benefits remain unproven and mostly untested.

Tongkat Ali: Malaysian Ginseng

We see Tongkat Ali in studies performing with fertility, sexual performance-enhancing, and testosterone actions.

Tongkat Ali or “long jack” offers the best evidence for male fertility, increasing the quality of sperm, along with sperm concentration levels, motility, and volume in infertile men.

Mucuna Pruriens: (L-DOPA for Parkinson’s)

One study shows the full-spectrum mucuna outperforming levodopa in Parkinson’s studies in superior speed and amount of absorption.

It is for this reason, researchers believe mucuna delivers other types of neuroprotection for the brain.

  • Parkinson’s Symptoms
  • COMT
  • Cognition
  • Depression
  • Dopamine
  • Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
  • Infertility (Male)
  • MAO-B
  • Prolactin
  • Testosterone

(Dosage and use: Standardized extracts in divided doses of 1 to 2 grams of 15 to 30% L-DOPA. Parkinson’s studies use much larger doses of up to 30 grams.)

 

Rhodiola Rosea (Rosavins vs Salidrosides)

It’s most proven adaptogenic benefit is fatigue, as it appears most promising as an adaptogen supplement for depression and cognition with its action as an MAO-A and MAO-B inhibitor.

Studies show Rhodiola decreasing the primary inflammatory cytokines, IL-1, IL-6, and TNF-alpha.

  • Antioxidants
  • Cognition
  • Cortisol
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Fatigue (Top Benefit)
  • HPA Axis
  • IL-1
  • IL-6
  • Immune Health
  • Libido
  • MAO-A
  • MAO-B
  • Stress
  • TNF-alpha

(Dosage and use: Common Rhodiola extracts are 1% salidrosides and 3% rosavins or 5% salidrosides. 400 mg per day of Rhodiola extract is the typical dose.)

 

Adaptogenic Mushroom Supplements

The following six adaptogenic mushroom supplements are the most popular adaptogenic mushroom supplements with the most research studies.

 

[Related Article: The Top 6 Medicinal Mushrooms]

 

Best Adaptogens: Most Notable Others

The following adaptogenic plants are some of the top overall supplements available for their listed indication.

Other Adaptogenic Supplements

Cat’s Claw, Aloe Vera, Holy Basil/ Tulsi, Schisandra, Magnolia, Shatavari, Lycium/ Wolfberry/ Goji Berry, Jiaogulan (Gynostemma), He Shou Wu, Guduchi, Dang Shen (Red Sage), Codonopsis, Moringa Oleifera, Gotu Kola, Shilajit, Rosemary, Amla / Amalaki / Indian Gooseberry, Guduchi, Shatavari, Purple Passionflower, Chamomile, Hops, Valerian, Sea Buckthorn, Tree of Life (Crassula).

Conclusions on Adaptogenic Benefits

As always, keep in mind, we are all different, with different genes, needs, and goals as health optimizers.

What is right for my chemistry might not be optimal for yours.

Best for Dopamine (Mood), Energy, Focus (Also Effective Appetite Suppressants)

Maca and Mucuna

Best for Sexual Health (Libido, as I’m not trying to make babies)

Maca

Nighttime Energy and Mild Mood Boost

Rhodiola Rosea (5% Salidrosides)

Favorite Overall (Body, Mood, Cognition Benefits)

Curcumin

Joint Health

Curcumin with Boswellia

Cardiovascular, Circulation, and Cognition

Aged Garlic Extract with Ginkgo Biloba

Nausea

Ginger Extract

Anti-pathogen (Antibiotic)

Oil of Oregano

What are your favorite adaptogenic supplements?

Your Friend in Health

Mark Stein

[Get The Essential 3 Sugars and Fat for Every Health Optimizer]