Described as ‘functional foods’, adaptogens are non toxic herbs and mushrooms which increase your resistance to stress by restoring the body – so far, so sounding extremely dodgy. However, tapping into the healing power of these herbs, as promoted by the likes of luxury tea brand Pukka Herbs (love them) in their beautiful herbal teas, is something you may already be doing without realising it.
The idea is is somewhat non specific, described as helping your body to adapt to its specific needs in any environment. According to Vogue, Dr Frank Lipman likens them to a thermostat, saying: “when the thermostat senses that the room temperature is too high it brings it down; when the temperature is too low it brings it up.”
Reportedly suited to anyone living a fast paced, modern life and in need of a regular reboot, adaptogens are said to be perfect for anyone who travels a lot, sits in front of a computer, works in an office or has a family to look after – that’ll be most of us then.
However, despite their newfound popularity, like so many popular wellness trends, adaptogens have had their uses for centuries in Chinese and Indian medicine. These days they’re somewhat easier to access however – available in powder, tincture and tablet form to add to drinks or food, or to be taken on their own. Our favourite way remains to be in a cup of tea post facial, but that’s just us.
Some of the most popular adaptogens, which you may already be consuming in your teas or supplements, include:
Ashwagandha: which helps to promote sleep and calm the nervous system.
Holy basil: a member of the mint family, perfect for increasing circulation, aiding digestion and helping to protect against seasonal malaise. (We also love this in skincare brand Rituals’ Ayurvedic collection of products.
Turmeric: the hero herb of the last 18 months, courtesy of the somewhat gimmicky turmeric lattes, this super spice really does have wonderful properties helping to nourish the body, help prevent ageing, reduce inflammation, heal wounds and protect the liver and bowels.