Adaptogens are a class of herbs and naturally-derived compounds that help our body cope with the stress of day-to-day life by interacting with key systems to help restore balance to our brain and body. They’ve become popular across the country as alternatives to caffeine, coffee and other chemical energizers for everything from studying to lifting to competing in pro sports.
Why? Because they do everything a sugar-packed, taurine-laced energy drink can, but without the unpleasant sensations (i.e. jitters, hangst) and questionable-to-unsettling ingredients.
Another neat thing about adaptogens is that they’re often even better in combination with complementary ones. But with a long list of somewhat-unfamiliar names – amaranth, maca and ashwagandha, just to name a few – how are you supposed to know which combinations are best for giving us that daily, sustainable energy it seems we’re always chasing?
Which Adaptogens Are Best for a Calm Focus?
Adaptogens often serve more than one purpose, but certain ones serve better than others when you’re looking for something to give you the energy you need to really hone in on something:
We can’t talk about adaptogens without talking about ashwagandha, which is arguably the MVP of the entire adaptogen game; it’s been in play for about 6000 years. A foundational herb in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha has been used in tonics for immunity, respiratory illness, strength, endurance, stress, and more.
The scientific support for ashwagandha’s adaptogenic abilities is also pretty impressive for a plant in mainstream clinical research. And the more clinical support ashwagandha collects, the more studies pop up looking to explore it even further. We’re talking studies and reviews that indicate ashwagandha may help improve:
- Stress response
- Mood balance
- Physical performance
- Cognitive health and function
- Immune system strength
The reishi mushroom has been used as an adaptogen for millennia in Eastern medicine. Native to East Asia, this colorful and multi-talented fungus grows on hardwood trees, and was first recorded in a Chinese pharmacopoeia dating 2000 YBP. Deemed the “mushroom of immortality”, it was traditionally used to promote strength, wellbeing and longevity. Centuries of application indicate its use as an anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, hypotensive, antioxidant, and more.
Mainstream science just started paying the reishi mushroom some attention in the ‘60s, and since then, this adaptogen has demonstrated several potential bioactivities:
- Boost the immune system
- Fight fatigue
- Fight negative states of mind in chronic mood and affect challenges
- Reduce inflammation
This is another adaptogen you’ll often find in energy stacks. Though its scientific name wasn’t coined until the 18th century, we’ve got evidence rhodiola has been used in medicinal contexts for centuries everywhere from ancient Siberia to Greece to China. It was used for cold and flu season, to boost fertility, as a cancer treatment, and for tuberculosis, among several other things. The Vikings in Europe also used rhodiola to boost energy, endurance and strength.
In the 20th century it was Russian researchers who did the initial deep dive on rhodiola as an adaptogen. In fact, it’s been included in mainstream clinical medicine there since the early ‘70s. Human and animal studies throughout Russia and the rest of Europe have found evidence rhodiola can promote:
- Increased stress resilience
- Reduced fatigue
- Psychostimulation (read: enhanced mental energy)
- Enhanced energy
- Increased focus during stressful events
Siberian Ginseng (Eleuthero)
This not-actually-a-ginseng herb also has a long relationship with humans, but it’s unclear exactly how long, since no one knows which “ginseng” ancient Asian and European texts are talking about. It’s been more recently cultivated and explored because of the actual-ginseng shortage. Siberian ginseng has been used in tonics and supplements for centuries for fatigue, cognitive performance, viral infections, sleep troubles, and more.
Eleuthero’s got so much evidentiary support under its belt that the World Health Organization supports Siberian ginseng’s adaptogenic abilities:
“The mechanism of the antistress or adaptogenic activities of Radix Eleutherococci appears to be threefold. Extracts of the roots have an adaptogenic effect that produces a non-specific increase in the body’s defence against exogenous stress factors and noxious chemicals (4, 21, 22). The roots also stimulate the immune system, and promote an overall improvement in physical and mental performance (4).”
4 Products that Take the Guesswork Out of Adaptogen Stacking
By far, these aren’t the only adaptogens that are making a splash in the health drink and supplement market today, but they’re some of the names you’ll see most often on adaptogen complex ingredient lists. As far as the questions of how much ashwagandha you should mix with eleuthero in a morning smoothie, you don’t have to do that research. It’s a lot – no joke. Luckily, we’ve done the grunt work for you! And we’re not the only ones. Here are 4 great go-to adaptogen stacks that promote healthy, sustainable, calm energy:
The daily stop-procrastinating, get-sh*t-done, be-your-best green supplement powder, MTE is more than an energy drink. It’s stacked with adaptogens, nootropics and superfoods that work synergistically to give you overall mind and body support. That means calm focus, improved attention, sustained energy, and mood support – all without sugar and caffeine bombs that come with jitters and a crash.
MTE utilizes the bioactivity of ashwagandha, maca, GABA, Siberian ginseng, holy basil, and 6 other stalwart adaptogens and nootropics (plus 3 superfoods!) to hack your body back into rhythm, so you’re not always chasing an escape from the overwhelming stress and fatigue of life. Because what good is energy if you’re moody, unable to focus, and just overall feeling too messed up to have any fun?
This daily capsule supplement harnesses the power of medicinal mushrooms (No; not that kind.) to support overall wellness which, as we all know, supports not feeling crappy and tired. Shroom Stack® harnesses the abilities of the reishi mushroom, lion’s mane mushroom and a potent strain of cordyceps mushroom intended to give your immunity and cognitive health a leg up while protecting cell health.
Lion’s mane is thought to directly affect neuronal activity, neurogeneration and cognition by balancing neurochemical signaling – helping you focus in an organic way. Cordyceps (No; not that kind.) is thought to stimulate energy production in the body as well as reduce muscle fatigue.
Life Source Adaptogen Complex®
This daily supplement is specifically formulated for a natural energy boost that’s also paired with stress relief. 9 key ingredients provide well-rounded support for vitality, energy, resilience, and cognitive function, among other benefits.
Life Source Adaptogen Complex® uses moringa to support energy, muscle health and nutrition; maca to promote metabolism and muscle health; ashwagandha to support mood and stress resilience; ginseng to support stress response, and more. It’s meant to help regulate blood sugar, hormones, immune and CNS activity to bring an overall calm, attentive homeostasis.
Athletic Greens AG1®
AG1® is a plant-packed green drink that pairs well with MTE because it’s also focused on healing you from the inside out – getting your body, and subsequently your mind, back into a healthy balance. It gives you the resources you need to power through that huge project at work or get that last TF set in at the gym.
Athletic Greens® also features ashwagandha in their adaptogen complex – because how can you not – as well as rhodiola, reishi, green tea, eleuthero, and more. Along with the other nutrient-dense complexes in AG1®, one of the many benefits of this adaptogen stack is it promotes stress-resilient, focused, organic energy.
(Curious if there are other natural products that might help you cut your energy drink or coffee habit? Check out our article on the healthiest alternatives to energy drinks.)
Running on Empty? MTE’s is Packed with Productivity-Promoting Adaptogens
You can find more on adaptogens, nootropics, and how MTE uses clean, bioactive ingredients to hack your back into balanced health on our Wellness Blog. And explore our site to discover more about the 13 natural ingredients and 8 major benefits of MTE.
The right combination of adaptogens can give you organic energy that doesn’t come with the stress or moody effects of caffeine, and More Than Energy takes the guesswork out for you with a formulation made for exactly that. Because it’s not just about energy – it’s about having the resources to be at your best so you can live a great story.