Herbs for Stress: Are Adaptogens the New Antidepressants?

Herbs for Stress: Are Adaptogens the New Antidepressants

One thing is for sure. Antidepressants abound these days. Seems doctors are prescribing them for everything from hormonal imbalance to headaches. But many people today are looking to herbal solutions as mood boosters and stress reducers.

Adaptogens are herbal compounds taken to modulate stress. Not well known in the U.S. just yet, but adaptogens have long been used in Ayurveda and much research has been done on them in Eastern Europe.

These natural substances are combinations of amino acids, vitamins or herbs that balance the body’s reaction to stressors. These stressors include mental and emotional stress, chemical and environmental stress (like radiation and toxins), and physical stress. Adaptogens are used to treat many health issues, like anxiety, depression, adrenal fatigue, obesity, hormonal imbalance, premature aging, insomnia, and low libido.

One more herbal remedy to try? How different can this be?

If you have your doubts as to the effectiveness of adaptogens, consider this: Adaptogens have the ability to customize themselves to each individual. Unlike, say, Xanax, which has pretty much the same effect on anyone who takes it. Adaptogens increase the body’s resistance to biological, physical, and chemical stress, whatever those may be. Rather than a one size fits all, these plant compounds adapt to each individual. So, the level of stress reduction is relative to how much any one person needs their stress to be reduced. Pretty cool.

Let’s take a look at what, exactly, goes into these concoctions. Siberian ginseng is often used in adaptogens, but there are so many more healing herbs to look for. The following are more herbs for stress on mind and body:

  • Ashwagandha – Regularly used in Ayurveda to combat the effects of stress, reduce fatigue and insomnia, and enhance sexual potency
  • Licorice root – Used an a natural antidepressant
  • Willow Bark extract – A useful anti-inflammatory used to treat skin inflammation, arthritis, and pain
  • Rhodiola – Used to fight depression, lessen anxiety, ease muscle pain, and promote well being
  • Cordycep Mushrooms – A type of fungus used to ease inflammation and enhance endurance

If you go the adaptogen route, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Again, unlike pharmaceuticals, herbs can take a little longer to show results. Also, it is important to purchase adaptogens from reputable suppliers. Dr. Deepak Chopra, who predicts a surge of research on adaptogens and uses them himself, recommends Endorphinate. Below is a video featuring Dr. Chopra and his take on using adaptogens.

Of course, stress reduction by way of self awareness techniques, healthy lifestyle, and meditation are great ways to prevent negative effects on mind and body. If you feel adaptogens may be the answer, consult your doctor to see if they are safe for you.

Related on EcoSalon:

5 Ayurvedic Ways to Relieve Stress

Best Natural Remedies for the 15 Most Common Aches, Pains and Health Complaints

5 Tried and True Beauty Tips from the Middle East

Image of herbs via Shutterstock

Liz Thompson

Liz Thompson is an organic beauty expert who has been researching and writing on the subjects of natural beauty, health, and wellness for over 10 years. She specializes in sharing safe beauty products and her knowledge on healthy ingredients with her readers, and helping organic beauty brands and shop owners share their message and products with the world through her writing services.