test-14 Adaptogenic Herbs for Healthy Stress Support
Vitamins & Supplements
14 Adaptogenic Herbs for Healthy Stress Support
Lindsey Toth, MS, RD • May 9, 2024

Top 14 Adaptogenic Herbs

If you're tuned in to health and wellness trends, you've likely heard the word "adaptogen" in recent months. These stress-busting wonder herbs are definitely having a moment. And the popularity of adaptogens is completely understandable, given the pace of everyday life. After all, who wouldn't want to say goodbye to some of that day-to-day stress?

But what exactly are adaptogens? And what are the best adaptogenic herbs to try? Let's break down what you need to know about these herbal helpers.

What are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are herbs, roots and mushrooms that help our minds and bodies deal with daily stressors. Regardless of their botanical form, they are collectively referred to as adaptogen herbs, adaptogenic herbs, or simply adaptogens. You'll see these terms used interchangeably.

Adaptogens are best known for supporting normal levels of the stress hormone cortisol to help balance physiological responses to stress—like that tense feeling you get when you're stressed at work or running late.1 Adaptogens help smooth out your body's stress response, supporting a healthier response to daily stressors.

Adaptogen Benefits

Researchers say adaptogens work by helping regulate the adrenal system, which plays a role in the body's stress response.2 But minimizing stress isn't the only area where adaptogens shine. Most adaptogenic herbs have other beneficial properties too—from boosting energy and overall vitality to supporting immune health and sleep quality, promoting stamina, and encouraging a general sense of wellbeing.

And while the recent buzz may make adaptogens seem like a new discovery, they've been used by herbalists for ages and clinically-studied for many areas of health for decades. Keep reading to explore some of the best adaptogens and their many benefits.

What are the Best Adaptogens?

Options are great to have, but with so many choices, how do you know which adaptogen is right for you? That depends on what you’re looking for. Here’s a list of the most popular adaptogens and their benefits.

1. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a staple in Ayurvedic traditions with many uses, including as an adaptogen. Research shows that ashwagandha may help minimize stress and anxiousness, significantly reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol.3 One study noted reduced cortisol levels by as much as 30% compared to the control group.4

Supplementing with ashwagandha promotes a sense of calmness and relaxation while enhancing mental and physical vitality. Some people also use it to support sexual health, and there have been a few studies that show promise in this area for both men and women.5,6

Ashwagandha Benefits & Uses

    • Helps reduce stress and anxiousness
    • Promotes a sense of calm and relaxation
    • Supports mental and physical vitality
    • May support sexual health

2. Bacopa Monnieri

Traditionally used for cognitive support (and an ingredient in our Pure Brainpower formula for that reason) Bacopa monnieri is also effective as an adaptogen. In fact, this herb’s adaptogenic effects may contribute to its cognitive-boosting abilities.

Studies show that Bacopa monnieri interacts with the dopamine and serotonergic systems and may help reduce the effects of physiological stress.7,8 It also supports memory acquisition and retention, promotes neuron communication and provides antioxidant support.7,9,10

Bacopa Monnieri Benefits & Uses

    • Helps reduce physiological stress
    • Supports memory acquisition and retention
    • Promotes neuron communication
    • Provides antioxidant support

3. Panax Ginseng

Panax ginseng, also known as Korean Ginseng, is one of the most commonly used and researched forms of ginseng, and it has many potential benefits. Among those benefits, clinical-research says this adaptogenic herb may improve psychologic and immune function, in addition to increasing resistance to stress.11

But the benefits don't stop there. Panax ginseng may also provide support for sexual health and enhance mental performance—improving abstract thinking, math skills, and reaction times in healthy middle-aged adults.12

Panax Ginseng Benefits & Uses

    • Supports increased resistance to stress
    • Promotes psychologic function & enhanced mental performance
    • Supports sexual health
    • Supports immune function

4. Cordyceps Fungi

Cordyceps, also known as the “caterpillar fungus,” is a mushroom-like fungus with a history in traditional Tibetan and Chinese health practices. It’s found at high altitudes in the Himalayas, and traditional uses have varied widely—from supporting longevity and general vitality to sexual health, liver health and beyond.14

As an adaptogenic herb, Cordyceps supplements support a healthy stress response and promote immune function. And science backs up the use of Cordyceps fungi as a wellness promoter in many other areas of health—with studies on Cordyceps for energy, stamina, antioxidant support, anti-aging and heart health.14,15 Research also shows that Cordyceps may enhance aerobic capacity, helping optimize oxygen use and bolstering cellular energy.15

Cordyceps Benefits & Uses

    • Supports a healthy stress response
    • Promotes energy and stamina
    • Provides antioxidants, contributing to potential anti-aging and heart health benefits
    • May help optimize oxygen use and boost cellular energy

5. Eleuthero Root

Like many of the herbs on this adaptogens list, eleuthero root has been used for thousands of years. Its use as an adaptogen to fight the effects of daily stress is just one of many. Traditional eleuthero root uses include promoting endurance and supporting longevity and overall vitality. 16

What does science say about eleuthero root? Beyond stress support, early research shows it has potent antioxidant effects that may be beneficial for supporting the immune system, particularly in relation to athletic performance, while boosting exercise endurance and fighting fatigue.17,18

Eleuthero Benefits & Uses

    • Promotes a healthy response to day-to-day stress
    • Traditionally used for endurance, fighting fatigue and supporting longevity
    • Provides antioxidants that may be beneficial for immune health
    • Supports exercise endurance

6. Holy Basil

This revered herb is considered sacred by the Hindus. Holy Basil is also known as Tulsi, which translates as “the incomparable one.”19 And it’s often consumed as a tea.

In addition to its adaptogenic properties to help counter the effects of stress, Holy Basil also has potent antioxidant components. It’s also one of nature’s best sources of niacin (vitamin B-3).20

Holy Basil Benefits

    • Helps counter the effects of stress
    • Boosts antioxidant activity in the body
    • Rich source of niacin

7. Adaptogenic Maca Root

Maca is a root herb that grows in the wild in Peru and was used as a food source by the Incans. It's similar in appearance to radishes or turnips and can have various colors. Just as much a superfood as an herb, this amazing adaptogen has many healthful benefits.

Beyond helping the body adapt to stressors, maca root is used to boost energy, support a healthy libido, promote balance for women during menopause, and boost immune health (maca root is packed with vitamin C). 21,22 Studies show it has benefits for men too in the area of reproductive health.22 23

Maca Root Benefits & Uses

    • Helps the body adapt to stressors
    • Promotes energy
    • Supports a healthy libido
    • Provides balancing support during menopause
    • Promotes sexual health

8. Rhodiola Rosea

With more than 140 active components, rhodiola rosea is a beloved and widely-used adaptogen for stress support, anxiousness and many other health benefits.24

Rhodiola rosea has been clinically studied for reducing work stress, fighting fatigue and boosting mood.24 Research also shows it may also benefit brain function, reducing mental fatigue and boosting work-related performance by as much as 20%, support exercise performance and more.24

Rhodiola Rosea Benefits & Uses

    • May help reduce work-related stress
    • Promotes brain function
    • Helps reduce mental fatigue
    • Boosts work and exercise performance

9. Amla Berry

An Ayurvedic staple, amla berry, also known as Indian gooseberry, is another adaptogen with a lengthy history of use in wellness. We're also hearing a lot about amla berry’s potential benefits for hair and scalp lately, with some saying it may be the next big beauty trend.25

Stress can take a real toll on your skin and lead to signs of aging, so its stress-fighting prowess and antioxidant properties alone may make this berry useful for beauty purposes. Others use amla berry to support joint health and comfort.26

Amla Berry Benefits & Uses

    • Fights effects of stress
    • Provides antioxidant phytonutrients
    • May support joint health
    • May have hair & skin benefits

10. Astragalus Root

A fixture in Chinese medicine, astragalus root is traditionally combined with additional herbs to stimulate immune and respiratory health. Classified as an adaptogen, astragalus helps restore balance when faced with physical and mental stressors, boosting strength and vitality. 27

Studies show that astragalus may also support a healthy heart and kidneys, relieve fatigue, and provide seasonal health support.27

Astragalus Benefits & Uses

    • Helps restore balance in the face of stress
    • Promotes strength and vitality
    • May support heart and kidney health
    • May relieve fatigue
    • Provides seasonal support

11. Licorice Root

Licorice root has been compared to ashwagandha because of its ability to help balance cortisol levels.28 Licorice also has soothing properties that can benefit gut health, and it may support respiratory function, healthy skin, detox and more.28, 29

Often used as a sweetener for candy, many licorice candies are now flavored with anise extract instead, which mimics the flavor of licorice. If you have blood pressure concerns, check with your doctor before supplementing with licorice root.

Licorice Root Benefits & Uses

    • Supports a healthy response to daily stress
    • May help soothe the stomach
    • Promotes skin health
    • Supports liver and colon cleansing

12. Moringa Oleifera

Moringa is a nutritive tree native to North India, and it’s considered one of the most useful trees in the world. Almost every part of the tree is either eaten or used for its health benefits, from its leaves and pods right down to its roots. Moringa supplements are made out of moringa oleifera leaf, seeds and fruit extracts.

This superfood adaptogen is packed with antioxidant compounds like vitamin C, beta-carotene, quercetin and chlorogenic acid that fight free radicals and support the body’s defenses. Moringa is used for a wide range of health purposes, including blood sugar and heart health support and promoting detoxification. 30

Moringa Benefits

    • Fights free radicals and oxidative stress
    • Supports heart health and healthy blood sugar
    • Promotes detoxification

13. Gotu Kola

Also known as the “herb of longevity,” herbalists use gotu kola to boost cognitive function, promote skin health, and support the health of liver and kidneys.

Studies suggest this herb may indeed help boost brainpower, and research shows supplementing with gotu kola may also help promote a positive mood, reduce stress and anxiousness, support circulatory health, help you sleep better, and provide antioxidant support that may help joints and the immune system.31

Gotu Kola Benefits & Uses

    • Supports a healthy response to daily stress
    • Promotes circulatory health
    • May help you sleep better
    • Provides antioxidant support for joints & immune health
    • Traditionally used for skin, liver and kidney health

14. Mucuna Pruriens

Mucuna pruriens is a bean with a velvety pod that grows in tropical environments, where it’s cooked and consumed as a high-protein food source by native populations.32 The bean also has a place in Ayurvedic traditions, and many of its benefits are thought to stem from the bean’s high levels of L-dopa, a precursor to dopamine.32

Studies show that mucuna pruriens may promote a sense of wellbeing and reduce cortisol levels, and numerous studies show it may have sexual health benefits for men.33

Mucuna Pruriens Benefits & Uses

    • Reduces stress
    • Promotes a sense of wellbeing
    • Contains a precursor to dopamine
    • May benefit men’s sexual health

Adaptogen Herbs for Stress & So Much More

Day-to-day stress is an inevitable part of modern life. As much as we’d love to, we can’t banish everything that causes stress over the course of a day, but we can improve how we respond to it. And we can find ways to take better care of our minds and bodies along the way. That includes plenty of self-care time, daily exercise, a healthy diet and the right supplements to reinforce your wellness routine.

For more tips on banishing stress, read Say Om: 6 Tips to Help You Relax and Reduce Stress and A Walking Meditation.

Sign up for Swanson Health rmails to get expert wellness advice and our best promotions in your inbox.

­ *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Lindsey Bristol, Swanson Health Products

About Lindsey Toth, MS, RD

Lindsey is a nationally recognized registered dietitian and nutritionist with a soft spot for pie. She empowers people to take charge of their health by finding the balance between the pleasure and nourishment in food. Her philosophy is that you should take care of your body because it’s the only permanent home you have. It’s what inspired her to pursue a career in nutrition.


1. Adaptogens for Stress and Fatigue. Mind Body Green. Read source

2. Effects of Adaptogens. Pharmaceuticals. Read source

3. A Study of Ashwagandha Root. PubMed. Read source

4. A Study of Withania Somnifera Extract. Original Research. Read source

5. Ashwagandha Root Extract. NutraIngredients. Read source

6. Withania Somnifera. National Library of Medicine. Read source

7. Summary of Bacopa Monnieri. Examine. Read source

8. Adaptogenic Effect of Bacopa Monniera. National Library of Medicine. Read source

9. Does Bacopa Monnieri Improve Memory? Journal of Alternative and Complimentary MedicineRead source

10. Antioxidant Potential of Bacopa Monnieri. Asian Pacific Journal of Reproduction. Read source

11. Panax Ginseng. American Family Physician. Read source

12. Panax Ginseng. WebMD. Read source

13. Traditional Uses and Medicinal Potential of Cordyceps. Journal of Ayurvedic and Integrative Medicine. Read source

14. 6 Benefits of Cordyceps. Healthline. Read source

15. Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief. David Winston. See source

16. Eleutherococcus Senticosus. Science Direct. Read source

17. Eleuthero. University of Michigan Health. Read source

18. Siberian Ginseng. Natural Medicine Journal. Read source

19. Holy Basil. WebMD. Read source

20. What is Orgen-N®? Orgen® Family. Read source

21. Maca. Maturitas. Read source

22. 4 Benefits of Maca Root. Healthline. Read source

23. Maca. Asian Journal of Andrology. Read source

24. 7 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Rhodiola Rosea. Healthline. Read source

25. Can You Use Amla Powder for Hair Health? Healthline. Read source

26. Indian Gooseberry. WebMD. Read source

27. Astragalus. Healthline. Read source

28. Which Adaptogen Is Best For Your Body? Dr. William Cole. Read source

29. Licorice Root. Healthline. Read source

30. 6 Science-Based Health Benefits of Moringa oleifera. Healthline. Read source

31. Everything You Need to Know About Gotu Kola. Healthline. Read source

32. Mucuna Pruriens. National Library of Medicine. Read source

33. Mucuna Pruriens. Examine. Read source