Adaptogens: Benefits & Side Effects

November 9, 2022

Nue Life

Nue Life

Adaptogens can be a helpful tool to add to your wellness journey if you are coping with stress. These herbs can help your body adapt to and manage stressful situations, making them highly beneficial during times of overwhelm.

Read on as we dive into the details of adaptogens, their benefits, and any possible side effects.

What Are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are substances that help your body cope with, adjust to, and respond to stress.

At normal doses, adaptogens are non-toxic. They have a powerful ability to help your body adapt to stressors and cope with anxiety as well as other mental health struggles.

While there are many different types of adaptogens, regardless of the type, they all have the same general mechanism. They work to target signs of stress in your body to increase or decrease chemical reactions and bring you back to balance or homeostasis.

Although the FDA does not regulate adaptogens, you can find a wide variety of adaptogens in the store as naturally sourced or synthetic supplements. You can also add adaptogens to food or drinks or consume them as tinctures.

Let’s explore more about adaptogens. We will take a look at some of their benefits, as well as the effects of adaptogens and natural options for these powerful anti-stress plants and mushrooms.

What Are the Benefits of Adaptogens?

Adaptogens fight physical or mental stressors in your body. When you experience stress, your body responds in three steps: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion.

Adaptogens interrupt this natural bodily response process at the resistance stage, and can help you to stay in the resistance phase longer — adaptogens produce a stimulating effect that helps delay you from entering exhaustion.

Adaptogens can help your body cope with a variety of stressors, including fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, and depression. At the same time that adaptogens allow you to stay in the resistance phase longer, they also help you find balance and reach homeostasis.

Homeostasis is thanks to your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, an intricate system of glands, hormones, and receptors involved in how your body responds to stress and uses energy. Adaptogens work with your HPA to help balance your hormones so you can reach homeostasis. Here is a closer look at some of the benefits of adaptogens.

Settle Stress

Adaptogens can help your body respond to all kinds of stress, both physical and mental, short-term or long-term. They stimulate your body’s fight or flight response in the resistance phase to mitigate the potent effects of stress hormones.

When you are stressed, your body produces the hormone cortisol in excess. Adaptogens respond to these elevated cortisol levels by working to help bring the levels back down. Elevated cortisol levels can yield pain and inflammation, so adaptogens can help improve your physical health by mitigating these effects.

Fight Fatigue

Stress can bring many other health complications, including physical fatigue.

Adaptogens combat fatigue because they can balance your hormones and help give you the energy your body requires to extract nutrients more easily. This, in turn, boosts your immune system and helps your body build resistance for sustainable, longer-term physical wellness.

Adaptogens can be more beneficial than caffeine because you don’t experience the quick and short-term energy boost that almost always follows with a crash. Instead, you build up a natural long-term resistance that gradually grows stronger.

Promote Emotional Wellness

Stress not only often causes physical fatigue but also mental fatigue. As adaptogens help you stay in the resistance phase longer, they can help you cope with anxiety, depression, PTSD, or other mental stressors.

Their ability to help you feel more resilient promotes emotional wellness so that you can tackle difficult mental struggles.

Boost Brainpower

Adaptogens have the ability to guide your body in how it regulates and expends energy. They can help your body efficiently metabolize energy, such that you have sustainable cognitive power for better memory, mental performance, and concentration.

What Are Some Natural Adaptogens?

You can find a wide variety of naturally sourced adaptogens in the store as supplements. These natural adaptogens make great additions to meals and snacks. They also make good additions to drinks, such as teas or smoothies, and some even taste good as tinctures.

We discuss some of our favorites below — each one has different and sometimes unique adaptogenic properties. Natural adaptogens are a great choice because they do not carry many side effects. However, adaptogens can still produce a few side effects, which we also discuss below.


Ginseng is a popular natural adaptogen because it supports your immune system by reducing inflammation, which can also mitigate pain. Ginseng also supports your nervous system because it reduces stress levels, which improves your body’s response to stressors.

In some clinical studies, ginseng has been shown to help ease mental health struggles by working to reset dopamine levels and balance mood.

You can find ginseng at the store as supplements, most often as American ginseng or Asian ginseng. Both are adaptogens that help relieve stress and lessen inflammation. However, American ginseng is generally more tolerable to consume in the long term because it does not taste as strong as Asian ginseng.

While Asian ginseng is not as mild in taste, it does generally produce more immediate, noticeable short-term effects than American ginseng.


Ashwagandha is one of many adaptogenic herbs that target your body’s stress response to give you stress relief and improve your overall wellness. This herb is an antioxidant because it helps protect and strengthen your cells and offers anti-inflammatory benefits.

Additionally, ashwagandha has positive effects on your endocrine, nervous, and cardiovascular systems because it can help regulate your metabolism and support your brain’s response to stressful situations.

Schisandra Chinensis

Schisandra Chinensis, also known sometimes just as “Schisandra,” is an herb that Chinese medicine has known for years. In Asia, many believe that Schisandra lengthens your lifespan and brings you good health and well-being. As an adaptogen, Schisandra has the potential to support your physical endurance and stamina, ease stress, and boost your concentration and focus.


Turmeric is a popular spice with an adaptogenic component known as curcumin. Curcumin is a polyphenic compound that gives turmeric its beautiful golden hue.

Turmeric is a strong anti-inflammatory and an adaptogen that helps strengthen and support your immune system. In fact, the curcumin in turmeric plays a defining role in more than 100 cellular pathways.


Herbalists often refer to tulsi as the “queen of herbs.” Tulsi is native to India but grows prolifically in other areas throughout Asia. Also known as holy basil, tulsi is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties.

This soothing herb can also help balance your cortisol levels and boost your mood.

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea is a root with strong adaptogenic tendencies toward fatigue, anxiety, and depression relief. If you are under stress, Rhodiola Rosea can help you get through a stressful situation and perform tasks more calmly. It can also balance dopamine and serotonin levels in your brain to sustain a good mood and help protect you from fatigue and burnout.

Ketamine for Mental Wellness

If you need more help to settle your stress and balance your emotional wellness, consider ketamine to help you achieve mental wellness and feel more like yourself again. In particular, if you struggle with mood disorders like anxiety, PTSD, depression, or BPD, ketamine can be a very effective treatment.

Just like natural adaptogens have minimal side effects, so too does ketamine. Many depression patients feel relief from their symptoms within 24 hours of their first ketamine treatment, and ketamine does not have the uncomfortable side effects of traditional antidepressants.

Nue Life works to provide our patients with oral ketamine treatment that can be taken where you live in the form of a simple pill. We want to ensure you have meaningful takeaways from your experiences, and we want to help you in the establishment of positive new neural pathways.

The Bottom Line

Adaptogens are plants and mushrooms with active ingredients that can provide stress relief and help improve cognitive focus. They yield benefits that include stress relief, emotional wellness, less fatigue, and increased brain power.

There are many different natural adaptogens that you can find in supplement forms, such as ginseng, ashwagandha, Schisandra, tulsi, turmeric, and Rhodiola Rosea. These natural adaptogens share many benefits, including stress and anxiety relief.

Certain adaptogens have more unique specialties — tulsi is a particularly strong anti-inflammatory adaptogen, and Rhodiola and ginseng are great fatigue relievers, for example.

Although adaptogens have many benefits, they do not come without side effects. They often relieve short-term anxiety, but when they wear off can sometimes leave you feeling nervous. Additionally, if you consume large amounts of adaptogens in doses higher than recommended amounts, you might experience an upset stomach.

Finally, adaptogens may interact with certain medications. You should always speak with your healthcare provider before making a decision to incorporate adaptogens into your diet.

Treatment at Nue Life

Nue Life believes in holistic treatment, which means that what happens before and after your ketamine experience is equally as important as the experience itself. We want to ensure you have meaningful takeaways from your experiences and help you establish positive new neural pathways.

That’s why we provide one-on-one health coaching and integration group sessions with each of our programs. We’re here to help map out the mind and body connections in your brain and help you discover the insights that lead to true healing.


Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress—Protective Activity | NCBI

Efficacy of Adaptogenic Supplements on Adapting to Stress: A Randomized, Controlled Trial | SciTechnol

Evolution of the adaptogenic concept from traditional use to medical systems: Pharmacology of stress‐ and aging‐related diseases | NCBI

The Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis: A Brief History | NCBI

American Ginseng versus Asian Ginseng | Botanical Institute

The effects of Panax ginseng on quality of life – Coleman – 2003 – Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics | Wiley Online Library

Curcumin: A Review of Its’ Effects on Human Health | PMC

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