Adaptogens for Stress Management
Before understanding what adaptogens are, we first have to understand the stress response.  But before we get to that, it is important to understand that stress doesn’t only consist of the times when you are yelling, and stomping your feet.

These are the most common types of stress

  • Physical: hard labour, giving birth
  • Chemical: pollution, cleaning products, perfumed hygiene products, drug use, smoking
  • Mental: anxiety, worry, perfectionism, too much responsibility
  • Emotional: anger, fear, frustration, sadness, betrayal, grief, joy (yes, even extreme happy feelings can cause a stress response)
  • Nutritional: digestive issues (allergies, sensitivities, intolerances), deficiencies or excesses in the diet
  • Traumatic: infection, injury, burns, surgery, extreme temperatures
  • Psycho-Spiritual: relationship, financial, or career pressure

There are 3 phases to the stress response: Alarm, Reaction and Exhaustion

Alarm (immediate/initial response to stress)

  • Your sympathetic (fight-or-flight) nervous system is activated
  • adrenal glands secrete adrenaline, epinephrine and norepinephrine
  • These stimulate an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, send blood away from most of  your vital organs and digestive system, and towards the extremities, lungs and heart to prepare to respond to stress
  • Digestive secretions are severely reduced
  • Blood sugar is increased dramatically from stored glycogen in the liver

Reaction (extended stress response)

  • Cortisol released by adrenals
  • Protein in the body is broken down to provide energy after glucose is depleted
  • Hormones promote sodium retention to keep blood pressure up
  • Dealing with this phase chronically can cause diabetes, hypertension and cancer

Exhaustion (stress response no longer functional)

  • Loss of potassium in the body
  • Depletion of stress hormones
  • Weakened heart, blood vessels and immune system

This response seems a bit scary at first, because we will all deal with stress every day.  The trick is figuring out the right ways to respond to it when it happens.

Negative Coping (what not to do)

  • Indulging in vices such as drugs, alcohol or tobacco use
  • Overeating
  • Emotional outbursts (adult temper tantrums… we’ve all been there)

Positive Coping (do this instead)

  • A healthy diet
  • Adequate exercise
  • stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system using relaxation techniques
  • Supplements to support the adrenal glands
  • Adaptogens

We will focus on adaptogens, as the rest are self explanatory or easily searchable!

Adaptogens are food substances, generally herbs, that are ingested in order to increase resistance to stress by supporting the adrenal glands.

Adaptogens are used to:

  • restore vitality
  • increase energy
  • improve mental and physical performance
  • enhance the body’s response to stress

Here are 4 adaptogens that can help your body cope with your daily stressors

Get your complete guide to prenatal supplements:


  • Combats fatigue
  • Restores energy
  • Best for acute stress (relaxation and anti-anxiety)
  • It’s best to take before an anticipated stressful event like a presentation (improves concentration and decreases cortisol response)


  • Decreases fatigue and anxiety
  • Improves immune function
  • Improves depression

Reishi Mushroom

  • Improves circulation
  • Decreases blood pressure and blood cholesterol
  • Immune Support
  • Anti-Carcinogenic
  • Supports the respiratory system

Chinese & Siberian Ginseng 

  • Ginseng delays the onset of the alarm phase of the stress response (immediate stress response)
  • Decreases Anxiety
  • Chinese ginseng more potent than Siberian ginseng

Here is a night time calming tonic tea that you can add into your routine to wind down calmly at night:

  • 1 cup almond milk (or any other milk alternative of choice), heated slowly on the stovetop
  • 1 tsp ashwaghanda powder (adaptogen)
  • 1 tbsp natural, unpasteurized honey (anti-bacterial, taste)
  • 1/4 tsp each of ginger powder and turmeric powder (anti-inflammatory)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (blood sugar stability)

You can also add any adaptogen powder into a  daily or post-workout shake, or find them in capsule form.


Get your complete guide to prenatal supplements: