Why You NEED Adaptogens & Four Choices - Aspire Natural Health

Why You NEED Adaptogens & Four Choices

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Are you stressed out?

At Aspire Natural Health, we rarely ask this question anymore.  Instead we ask “HOW stressed out are you?”

As experts in digestive issues and autoimmunity, we routinely see people’s issues kick off during a period of high stress, and their symptoms are always worse when they are stressed.

While the ultimate answer to stress lies in lifestyle changes, there are a class of herbs that traditional herbalism and science tell us can HELP.

They are in indispensable part of our work.

They are known as tonics, adrenal tonics or adaptogens.


Historical uses

In both traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic (Indian) medicine there is a long history of the use of tonics – herbal medicines and foods that build up the strength and resistance of the body. They were used to help people recover after sickness, and to give vigor and vitality to the weak and the elderly.


Coming into the modern age

The former Soviet Union (along with Communist China) conducted a great deal of research on tonic herbs, which they called adaptogens, from the 1950s through the 1980s.

The Soviets were on the lookout for substances which could turn men into supermen – tougher, faster, stronger and more resilient. They worked extensively with steroids and other drugs, and while they found good results they also found those substances had significant side-effects. So they turned to plant medicines and discovered a class of herbs they called adaptogens.


What is an adaptogen & why you probably need one

An adaptogen is an herb that helps people adapt to stressful situations. Over 30 years the Soviets conducted experiments on lab animals, athletes, cosmonauts, and office workers. What they consistently found was that adaptogens helped the subject undergoing the stress to hold up better and recover faster. They did not suffer mentally or physically from the stress (mental or physical) as much as subjects not taking the adaptogens and they recovered better once the stress was over.

This makes adaptogens the perfect herbs for our modern, high stress lifestyles.

NOTE: Adaptogens are NOT a replacement for a healthy lifestyle. Let me repeat that one more time because there’s a strong temptation to view adaptogens as a magic bullet. Adaptogens are NOT a replacement for a healthy lifestyle. They are however a great supplement to a healthy lifestyle and can be used for stressful periods in our lives.


Four adaptogens

HERE is a great adaptogenic formula that we’ve used with great success in our work with people.

While there are many adaptogenic herbs, here are four that we and many others have used with great success.

  1. Licorice – probably the most versatile of the adaptogenic herbs with extensive use in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). This is the herb that gave ‘old school’ licorice candy it’s taste, and can still be found in some higher end European licorice candy. With rare exception modern US licorice does NOT have any actual licorice in it (it’s too expensive) and gets its licorice flavor either from anise or more often from artificial licorice flavor. According to TCM licorice is moistening. That makes it most appropriate for people who are ‘dry’, that is older, weaker and ‘dried out’. It is also good for people with digestive problems and is most helpful for people with low cortisol.


Reasons not to take licorice

  1. Minor reason – you don’t like the taste of licorice. Licorice has a strong flavor, and I find people are evenly divided, those that like the flavor and those that hate it. Obviously if you hate the flavor either get it in a pill form, or pick a different herb.
  2. Major reason – one of the compounds in licorice called glycyrrhizin can mimic a hormone in the body called aldosterone. Aldosterone works by causing the kidney to absorb more sodium and excrete more potassium. This causes the body to retain water and can lead to increased blood pressure. So, taking a lot of licorice (studies say more than 30-50 grams) CAN cause high blood pressure. In my clinical experience however this is very rare, I have never seen it happen in any of my patients taking licorice. Talking with some of my colleagues their experiences are also that it is very uncommon. However it is a possibility. So if you have high blood pressure, be sure to watch it when taking licorice to see if it might affect you. To be on the extra safe side, even if you don’t have high blood pressure, have your blood pressure checked 4 weeks after starting licorice. Be sure to get checked out if you experience light headedness, dizziness, headache with or without nausea, change in vision, or lethargy and fatigue.  If you suffer from LOW blood pressure, licorice may be especially recommended for you.


  1. Rhodiola – this adaptogenic herb is relatively new to the West, and if you get a chance to smell it, it smells like roses. According to TCM rhodiola is a drying herb (and if you’ve ever tasted it, it is VERY mouth puckering) so it’s indications are almost opposite to licorice. If you are a ‘wet’ person, you sweat a lot, retain water, are bloated, have diarrhea, etc then rhodiola is right for you. If you are a ‘dry’ person, it’s not the best choice
  2. Siberian Ginseng – the preeminent adaptogen tested by the Soviets, according to TCM Siberian ginseng is neutral and therefore useful for everyone.
  3.  Ashwaganda – an Ayurvedic (Indian) herb, Ashwaganda was typically a male herb, although I have personally found it useful for both men and women. A nice secondary benefit of Ashwaganda is that it helps promote sleep, and so is useful for people with mild-moderate insomnia.

Adaptogens are safe to use singly, or are often combined and used as blends, and can be taken for very long periods of time safely.

If you’re not sure where to start, HERE is a formula we’ve used with great success with many people.


The Biggest mistake with adaptogens

The single biggest mistake I see people making with adaptogens is taking too little.

While doses are going to vary depending on what you’re taking, the form it’s in, a typical dose will be somewhere around 1 teaspoon a day of the liquid extracts or two capsules morning and evening.

Doses can go significantly higher depending on stress levels, and I’ve personally had people taking 4 teaspoons a day of a highly concentrated extract or 12 capsules a day for very stressful situations.

As noted above adaptogens can be taken long term, and have a general effect of helping to make the whole body healthier. If you lead a relatively low stress lifestyle, get lots of sleep, and don’t overtrain than you don’t need adaptogens. For the rest of us, consider making it a part of your routine.


At Aspire Natural Health we are experts at helping people suffering with digestive issues and autoimmunity.

Are you looking for help?

Email us at info@aspirenaturalhealth.com or call us at 425-202-7849.

The first step of our process is to see if we’re a good fit for one another. If we are, we’ll talk about next steps. If not, that’s okay, and we’ll do our best to help you find the right person.
Everything is no-obligation and no-pressure, so you don’t have to worry. You have nothing to lose!

Call us at 425-202-7849 or email us info@aspirenaturalhealth.com now!


Photo attribution – https://bit.ly/2sAGNta

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