Meet Adaptogens: The New Stress-Fighting Herbs

Meet Adaptogens - The New Stress-Fighting Herbs

There is a family in our natural medicine chest that increasingly has relevance to our busy, stressed modern lifestyles. They’re not really new at all, they’ve been around forever in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, and their track record speaks for itself. They’re called the adaptogen family.

When we are stressed, whether it be from a once-off trauma such as a robbery or losing a loved one, or chronic stress such as work stress, a fast paced lifestyle or personal struggles, our bodies can lose their equilibrium as they try to compensate by boosting hormones such as cortisol to help you cope.

While these hormones are necessary in moderation, extreme stress can result in a domino disruption of your balance that is hard to rectify, and high levels of these same hormones, or a burning out so you can no longer produce them, can lead to premature aging and sickness. It is now believed that up to 80% of all diseases are mainly due to stress.

It’s tempting to resort to quick fixes like sugar, caffeine and alcohol to feel that temporary lift and relief, but what if there were something that would help you get that feel good lift AND progressively help your body become stronger, healthier and more balanced instead of crashing you into another low? Hello adaptogens! It’s about time.


The name gives it away – it’s about adapting. Adapting means being able to cope. Adaptogens are herbs that help our bodies cope by restoring balance. Mother Nature’s green living beings are intelligent and this amazing family has the ability to gently restore balance and normalize our physiology.

To qualify as an adaptogen, an herb must be completely safe and non-toxic, it must have broad uses for health, and it must specifically reduce stress, both physical and emotional, caused by physical, chemical or biological stressors, by creating a general, beneficial resistance in your body.


The beauty of adaptogens is that they react to your unique situation, they sense where you are over or under stimulated, and can boost energy while calming you down at the same time. Not only that, but they help improve your body function by supporting cell detoxification and more efficient use of oxygen.

Adaptogens became a whole field of biomedical research in Russia in the 1960’s, with Germany and Japan soon following suite, with the result of clinical studies of over 1500 adaptogens


• Increase physical and mental stamina and performance
• Reduce stress and anxiety
• Boost the immune system
• Protect against radiation
• Reduce the side effects of chemotherapeutic drugs
• Reduce rates of infection
• Increase resistance to chemical carcinogens

Whether you do a sport such as surfing in cold water, or are run down from long illness or stress, adaptogens can act as a supportive tonic. They have been specifically useful for those suffering from adrenal fatigue, helping the body to produce the correct amount of cortisol.


1. Ashwagandha:

Relieves insomnia, eases fatigue and helps the body heal from the effects of stress. If cortisol is too high, it acts to lower it, and if too low, it acts to raise it. Ashwagandha has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for ages past and has been used to treat weakness of all kinds. It specifically acts on the adrenals to rebuild tissue and help them function. It’s a tonic for vitality that can also act as a mild aphrodisiac and can alleviate inflammation.

2. Ginseng:

This energy-boosting herb improves stamina and mental clarity. It’s a traditional remedy used to treat mental and physical exhaustion and promote recovery from illness. In Chinese medicine it’s used as a tonic for longevity and vitality. It can also increase insulin sensitivity which can be a problem as adrenal fatigue affects your body’s response to, and use of, sugar.

3. Maca Root:

Promotes healthy functioning of the thyroid, pituitary and hypothalamus glands. It’s high in vitamin C and supports immune system function. Research shows that Maca can benefit cortisol regulation and blood sugar and increases the effectiveness of your hormones. If your cortisol levels are too low it can help you make the most of what you are producing.

4. Rhodiola Rosea:

Rhodiola improves thyroid and immune system function; is good for heart health and helps to combat fatigue. It balances cortisol production, whether it be too low or too high. It also improves mental and physical performance and helps relieve stress, balancing and calming your mood.

5. Tulsi (Holy Basil):

Relaxes the nervous system, promotes restful sleep and boosts immunity. It’s one of the best adaptogens you can use because it isn’t as stimulating as some of the other adaptogens and its anti-stress properties help to lower cortisol. It can help if you are at the stage where you are struggling with insomnia. It also boosts your immune system and lowers bad cholosterol.

6. Liquorice Root:

Has been used to increase stamina, act as an antidepressant and increase hormone production. It helps the cortisol you do produce to circulate longer. For this reason it may not always be the best option if you are still at the stage when you are producing very high levels of cortisol and it’s best not to take it just before bedtime. It can also increase your blood pressure so isn’t a good idea for those with hypertension.

7. Sutherlandia:

Sutherlandia boosts the immune system and cleanses the blood and has been used as a supporting anti-cancer treatment. It has a profound effect on boosting physical, mental and emotional wellness. It has been said to combine the immune stimulating benefits of Echinacea, the adapatogenic effects of Panax Ginseng and the energy of Ashwagandha and contains high levels of GABA which combat stress and anxiety.

8. Chaga:

Chaga is extremely nutrient dense and is one of the world’s densest sources of pantothenic acid, which is essential for your adrenal glands. It’s also high in compounds that protect all tissues, especially against cancer cells, and quench free radicals. Russians found it was one of the most potent adaptogens known to man and it was the secret to their champion athletes’ success. It protects against premature aging.


Top 10 Herbs for Your Health


Living a lifestyle that is more Faithful to Nature can help you find ways to manage your wellbeing without resorting to toxic chemical drugs that often have many side effects. There are natural solutions in the plant kingdom that have been used for centuries and their magic lies in the fact that whole plants have an intelligence that connects with our bodies in a way synthetic medicines can’t.

There are so many options to explore in the herbal medicine chest, we’ve put together our top 10 Faithful to Nature herbs of the moment.

1. Milk Thistle

Allergies & Overindulgence

Milk thistle is the number one remedy for your liver. Allergies are worsened when your liver has a reduced ability to break down toxins such as antibodies, and chemicals such as insecticides, plastics and pesticides.

Milk thistle helps improve the detoxification pathways in your liver and also helps it regenerate new cells. Studies have shown that milk thistle improves survival rates in people with cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis. It’s also been found that it silymarin may have anti-cancer effects.

2. Sutherlandia

Immune Booster & Anti-cancer

Sutherlandia is a local indigenous remedy that has been used by traditional healers as an all-purpose tonic that boosts the immune system and cleanses the blood. The Tswana name for it is Phetola, which means it changes, because it is considered to change the outcome of many illnesses.It has become known as a herb that is beneficial in treating various forms of cancer.

Because of its powerful immune boosting properties, Sutherlandia has been found to benefit a long string of ailments such as depression and anxiety, chronic fatigue, Cancer, TB, flu, asthma, type 3 diabetes, arthritis and ulcers.
(Source: positivehealth, sutherlandia)

Phyto-Force Sutherlandia Tea 100g, R60

Big Tree Sutherlandia 60 vegecaps, R95

3. Raspberry Leaf

Reproductive Tonic

Raspberry Leaf is a fantastic herb for your reproductive system, whether you are trying to boost your fertility, are pregnant, or have just given birth. It has long been a traditional remedy used by midwives and herbalists to:

• Increasing fertility in both men and women (excellent when combined with Red Clover)
• Preventing miscarriage and hemorrhage by toning the uterus
• Easing morning sickness and soothing the stomach
• Reducing pain during labour and post-birth by toning muscles
• Stimulating milk production
• Helping the birthing process to go quicker and easier.

(Source:susunweed, thepracticalherbalist)

Phyto-Force Raspberry Tea 60g, R61

4. Dandelion


This herb has amazing blood purifying properties thanks to flavonoids that work on your digestive system to increase urine flow, flushing toxins from your system while replenishing minerals such as calcium and potassium which help to control blood pressure. This makes it an excellent detox herb. It stimulates and improves your digestion too by increasing bile flow, which also helps to prevent gallstones.
(Source: ourgom)

5. Ginseng

Recovery Tonic

Ginseng is an ancient remedy that is great pick-me-up tonic when you are recovering from exhaustion, weakness or illness. It supports the immune system, bringing on vitality and stamina.

Siberian Ginseng is a cousin of the ginseng family. It can uplift and restore you when you are exhausted and lacking vitality. By supporting your body to adapt, it restores sleeping patterns, strengthens your heart and regulates your hormones, being especially useful for men when it comes to reproductive health and also boosting mental performance.

Flora Force Siberian Ginseng 60 vegecaps 400mg, R97

6. Valerian

Insomnia & Sleep Aid

This is a classic herb for insomnia, anxiety, and nervous restlessness that has been used for centuries. It’s a safe and gentle way to deal with insomnia without the side effects and grogginess of conventional medicines. It has been shown in studies to help you fall asleep faster and sleep better.

Although studies haven’t confirmed how it works it is thought to increase GABA in your brain, which helps regulate your nerves and calm anxiety.

7. Liquorice Root

Adrenal Fatigue

With today’s fast and stressful pace of life, adrenal fatigue has been on the increase. Adrenal fatigue is when your body’s stress hormone cortisol (produced by your adrenal glands) is overstimulated due to stress, eventually leading to burnout and exhaustion.

Liquorice root not only tastes great, it helps regulate cortisol-cortisone balance in the body, breaking down cortisol and making it more accessible to your body. It can support you when you are reaching that exhausted burnout stage, alleviating stress and giving you renewed energy and a sense of wellbeing, as it acts as an antidepressant too.
(Sources: herbwisdom, holisticprimarycare)

Phyto-Force Liquorice Tea 50g, R52

8. St. John’s Wort


Studies have shown that St. John’s Wort can help relieve mild to moderate depression and various nervous disorders. It’s been found to have fewer side effects than prescription antidepressants.

St. John’s wort contains hypericin, hyperforin, and flavonoids that researchers think act similar to SSRI’s (Seretonin Reuptake inhibitors), increasing the availability of brain neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which uplift your mood.
(Sources: herbwisdom)

9. Chamomile

Relaxation, Skin & Stomach Ailments

Chamomile is a very popular remedy known for its ability to gently help you relax, that can also be used externally to soothe skin ailments It’s so mild and soothing, you can use it for your kiddies as a general rescue treatment to deal with issues such as anxiety, insomnia, muscle twitches, fevers and as a treatment for colic. Its soothing anti-inflammatory properties are also useful for stomach problems such as ulcers, and it can help ease menstrual cramps.

You can use the tea to make a soothing wash or compress for skin problems and use it for skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, chickenpox, and diaper rash.
(Sources:  herbwisdom)

Phyto Force Chamomile Tincture 50ml, R95

10. Echinacea

Colds, Flu & Infections

With flu season just around the corner,Echinacea is a classic remedy for colds and flu. Taking Echinacea has been found in studies to reduce the incidence of infections such as colds and flu by up to 58% by boosting your immunity. This is a very well-researched herb that is often used by doctors because it works so well.

Echinacea stimulates the cells in your body responsible for fighting infections so that they become super-efficient, instead of you needing to take antibiotics to do the job for you. It’s not only great for cold and flu viruses, but also helps your cells attack abnormal cells like cancer.

A Vogel Echinaforce 50ml, R125

A Vogel Echinaforce Junior Tablets 120 tablets, R170


You can explore our Flora Force and Phyto-Force ranges of top quality herbal teas, tinctures and veggie-caps further to find the perfect remedy for you.

Remember if you are taking a herb for an ailment to check with your healthcare practitioner if you are seriously ill, are pregnant or on other medication.

What are your favourite herbs you have found helped you restore your health and happiness? Comment and let us know so we can pool our knowledge. We would love to hear from you!