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Adaptogens for Burnout and Stamina

The term “adaptogen” refers to a group of herbs that improves stamina and immunity. They also promote well-being and longevity. These herbs help us adapt to stress and to recover from the effects of stress, as well as to balance and restore the body. There’s a wide spectrum of adaptogens from soothing and nourishing to more stimulating. Also, some adaptogens help improve mental performance, which is great for those dealing with “foggy brain”. Here are some of my favorite adaptogens:

  • Ashwagandha root has been highly revered in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. It’s a longevity and vitality tonic; and is both an adaptogen and a sedative. It’s used for deep exhaustion, to improve sleep, relieve anxiety, improve memory and learning, to relax muscles, reduce inflammation; and it's a mild pain reliever. Ashwagandha is excellent for high cholesterol as well as for the following autoimmune diseases: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, Hashimoto's disease, fibromyalgia, and diabetes (because it improves blood glucose). If you’re sensitive to nightshade plants, you may want to avoid it or use it cautiously.

  • Astragalus root is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine and valued for supporting healthy immune function; it also defends the body against the effects of stress. Astragalus is known to stimulate the body’s natural production of interferon; and has been used in combination with drug therapies to reduce their toxicity and alleviate side effects.

  • Eleuthero Root, aka Siberian Ginseng, is from China and is used to balance vital energy and to support general health, as well as to help enhance physical and mental performance. If you’re prone to acute infections, you can take Eleuthero on a long-term basis to help minimize their occurrences. It’s also beneficial against the effects of prolonged stress such as exhaustion, irritability, insomnia, and mild depression. Eleuthero can help counter the debilitating effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Since it’s stimulating, don’t take it before bedtime; and avoid it if you have high blood pressure.

  • Holy Basil, aka Tulsi, comes from India where it's considered a sacred plant and revered as an anti-aging elixir. It has anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties; and is used to treat anxiety, stress, adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism, acne, and blood sugar issues. Holy Basil also regulates serum cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone.

  • Reishi mushroom is known for nourishing the immune system and the adrenal glands. It reduces inflammation, helps the body detoxify from environmental exposures, and calms the nervous system. Take it before bed to promote deep, relaxing sleep. However, avoid if allergic to mushrooms.

  • Rhodiola Root is an important adaptogen for anxiety because it calms the spirit; however, it’s also stimulating. It boosts the immune system and supports the nervous system; thereby improving sleep, reducing stress, irritability and burn-out. Rhodiola supports mental and physical performance and stamina; and it reduces mental and physical fatigue. It also helps repair damage and inflammation to muscles from exercise. Lastly, because it’s stimulating, don’t take it before going to bed.

  • Schisandra Berries can "calm the heart and quiet the spirit" according to Chinese folklore; and this herb has been used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Schisandra lowers inflammation by fighting free radical damage, supports adrenal function by helping us deal with stress and fight fatigue, and improves liver function and digestive health.

  • Shatavari is called the "Queen of Herbs" in Ayurveda, because it's a powerful rejuvenating tonic for women. It's a uterine tonic, progesterone tonic, aphrodisiac, and galactagogue. Shatavari is a grounding, nutritive tonic that also calms the heart, and relieves burning in the GI tract. It is a nourishing and calming adaptogen. Avoid if you’ve had estrogen-receptor-positive cancer.

Take 1/2-1 tsp. of tincture in water, juice, or tea 2-3x daily. In addition to taking an adaptogen, give yourself time to restore and heal by eating well, getting a good night’s sleep, destressing with activities such as yoga or meditation, and exercising.

I have most of these herbs in tincture-form in my shop.


Romm A., M.D., The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution, Harper Collins, New York, NY, 2017.

Hoffman D., Medical Herbalism, The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine, Healing Arts Press, Rochester, VT, 2003.

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