Adaptogenic herbs are a class of plants that possess natural healing abilities when it comes to stress. Research has shown that holy basil, licorice root and other herbs can help the body respond to stressors by normalizing physiological functions that occur stressful situations. Adding adaptogens to your daily routine can help reduce long-term cortisol levels, fight adrenal fatigue and help your body better respond to stress.

Adaptogenic Herbs That Fight Stress

1. Panax Ginseng

Adaptogenic herbs include panax ginseng. Research has shown that ginseng can help improve calmness and working memory in healthy adults. A 2013 study found that ginseng was able to reduce adrenal gland weight, blood glucose levels, trigylcerides and creatine kinase, an enzyme related to stress-related or injury-related damage to the circulatory system. As an adaptogenic herb, ginseng can also help improve mood and blood sugar levels. (1)

2. Holy Basil

Adaptogens include holy basil, known in India as a natural anti-aging supplement. Holy basil is often used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat infections, fevers, skin diseases and other ailments. Thanks to the phytochemical compounds it contains, holy basil is able to lower cortisol levels and reduce stress. Studies suggest that this adaptogenic herb may also be able to lower blood pressure, fight bacteria, strengthen the immune system and prevent canker sores, which are often stress-induced.

3. Ashwagandha

Adaptogens include ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng. Like other adaptogenic herbs, ashwagandha is able to reduce cortisol levels and increase stress tolerance. Studies have shown that ashwagandha also has beneficial effects on cognition and memory, brain health, inflammation and arthritis. (2)

4. Astragalus Root

Adaptogenic herbs include astragalus root. Often used in Chinese medicine, astragalus is known to strengthen the immune system and improve the body’s response to chronic stress. It works by temporarily increasing cortisol levels to help the body respond positively to stressful situations. After a quick boost of cortisol, astragalus root then helps the hormone level out, once the stressor has been removed.

5. Licorice Root

Adaptogens include licorice root, known for its ability to increase energy and endurance. Studies have shown that licorice root supplementation can help naturally regulate hormone levels, including cortisol. Licorice root can also help prevent ulcers and decrease testosterone levels in women. (3)

6. Rhodiola

Adaptogenic herbs include rhodiola. Also called golden root, this adaptogen provides the body with a natural defense against stress. Studies have shown that rhodiola acts as a mild stressor to help boost the body’s stress response. Research suggests that the herb may be an effective remedy for sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, irritability, high blood pressure, headaches and fatigue.

7. Cordycep Mushrooms

Adaptogenic herbs include cordycep mushrooms. Cordyceps are rich in antioxidants that boost the immune system. As an adaptogenic herb, cordycep mushrooms also have a beneficial effect on cortisol levels and oxidative stress. Studies have shown that the mushrooms are able to lower oxidative stress in the body by increasing antioxidant activity.