The Definitive List of Adaptogens - Known Adaptogens & Their Benefits

In the 1940s, a group of Russian scientists led by Dr. Nikolay Lazarev discovered that certain plants directly helped modulate the body’s stress response. These special plants, which Lazarev coined “adaptogens,” improved the body’s resistance and adaptation to the adverse effects caused by physical and mental stressors. Later, the Russian scientist Israel Brekham led a massive initiative to analyze and research these plants and hopefully, discover more adaptogens that could be used to naturally boost the performance of Olympic athletes. 

To be considered an adaptogen, a substance (a plant, in most cases) must meet the following 3 criteria formalized by Lazarev and Brekham. 

 

  1. Produces a nonspecific (whole body) response that increases
    resistance against the adverse effects of physical and mental stress
    (inflammation, anxiety, disease, fatigue, etc.)
  2. Has a normalizing effect, maintaining homeostasis (balance)
    across the systems in the body
  3. Is nontoxic, with no side effects that cause harm to the body 

 

Below is a list of all known adaptogens, and the effects they are most known for, based on corresponding scientific research.

                     

Name of Adaptogen

Recognized Benefits

Ashwagandha

(Withania somnifera)

-Increases endurance & physical strength

-Increases libido

-Reduces feelings of anxiety & stress


    You can learn more about ashwagandha’s effects on anxiety here

    American Ginseng 

    (Panax quinquefolius)    

    -Improve memory

    -Improve immunity

    -Improve energy

        Asian Ginseng

        (Panax ginseng)

        -Improve energy

        -Improve focus

        -Improve libido

          • Astragalus

          (Astragalus propinquus)

          -Improves energy

          -Reduces feelings of stress

          -Fights aging - highly anti-oxidant

            • Bacopa

            (Bacopa monnieri)

            -Improves cognitive performance

            -Prevents brain degeneration

            -Fights aging - highly anti-oxidant
              Cordyceps

                (Cordyceps sinensis)

                -Improve endurance

                -Improve immunity

                -Improve libido

                -Fights aging - highly anti-oxidant

                  • Eleuthero

                  (Eleutherococcus senticosus)

                  -Increases energy

                  -Increases endurance

                    • Gotu Kola

                    (Centella asiatica)

                    -Improves memory, focus, and cognition

                    -Reduces inflammation

                      • Holy basil / Tulsi

                      (Ocimum sanctum)

                      -Improves mood

                      -Reduces feelings of anxiety & stress

                        • Indian Gooseberry / Amla

                        (Phyllanthus emblica)

                        -Improves health of hair, nails, & skin

                        -Improves immunity

                          • Maca

                          (Lepidium meyenii)

                          -Improves libido

                          -Improves mood

                          -Improved energy

                            • Schisandra

                            (Schisandra chinensis)

                            -Boosts endurance and working capacity

                            -Improves focus

                            -Improves skin health

                              • Reishi

                              (Ganoderma lucidum)

                              -Highly calming

                              -Improves immunity

                              -Improves sleep

                              -Reduces feelings of stress and anxiety

                                  Rhodiola

                                    (Rhodiola rosea)

                                    -Neuroprotective & improves focus

                                    -Reduces feelings of anxiety

                                    -Increases energy

                                         
                                        The following plants are purported to be adaptogens as well, but needs more scientific research to conclusively define them as such.

                                           

                                          • Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum)
                                          • Fo-Ti / He Shou Wou
                                          • Dong quai / “Female ginseng”
                                          • Licorice
                                          • Milk Thistle
                                          • Moringa
                                          • Suma / “Brazilian ginseng”
                                          • Maitake