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September 1, 2017

by Alyssa

How to use Adaptogens + 8 Adaptogens to Help with Stress

Learn how to use adaptogens, what adaptogens are and my top 8 favorite adaptogens for stress management, immunity support, weight balance and more!

ADAPTOGENS 101: The Beginner's Guide to using Adaptogens for decreasing stress, supporting immunity & more!

I've been wanting to share this post for months and I finally got my butt in gear and sat down to write. So today my friends, we're talking about adaptogens!

I've been getting a bunch of questions about adaptogens as many of you have seen them on my Instagram or in my What I Eat in a Day videos, so I figured giving you a beginner's guide into this world would be a good first step. I'm going to talk a little bit about what adaptogens are, tips for using them and then we'll dive into my 8 favorites.

What are Adaptogen Powders

What are adaptogens?

Adaptogens are herbs and medicinal mushrooms that help balance, restore and protect the body. They don't have a specific action, but instead, they help our bodies respond to any influence or stressor, normalizing your physiological functions. Basically…they adapt the where you are and help you cope with internal and external stressors.

When we think about stress, we automatically think about the external factors. Work, kids, time management, etc. But there are also things that can be happening inside that our body still responds to as stress. Things like inflammation, lack of sleep, food sensitivities, sickness, toxic overload, etc.

So incorporating adaptogens can help our bodies cope with these stressors and perform at a more optimal level.

How to use Adaptogens:

  1. Use 1 – 2 at one time, no more than 3 at one once
  2. Add them to recipes (rather than water) – many have strong taste
  3. Choose one that supports how you’re feeling and where you are in life
  4. Change it up, don't use the same formula every single day

They're actually super easy to incorporate into your life. I like adding them to my morning matcha as well as my smoothies and smoothie bowls.

Below, I've outlined my top 8 favorite ones, particularly related to stress and immunity. I have all of these in my cupboard and have included how much I use and where I use them for each.

So…let's dive in!

1. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a vital herb in Ayurvedic Medicine with a long history of therapeutic use and is sometimes referred to as “Indian Ginseng”. What's amazing about adaptogens, and ashwagandha is a good example, is that they can shift with what your bodies needs. When taken in the morning, ashwagandha can increase energy, but at night it can help you fall asleep. Pretty cool, right? Other properties that ashwagandha can support is to tonify the immune system, inspire vigor and strength, harmonize mind, body, & spirit, reduce the effects of mental, emotional, and physical stress.

How I use it: add 1/2 teaspoon to my morning matcha

Brand I love: Sun Potion Ashwagandha

How to use Reishi Mushroom

2. Reishi

Reishi Mushroom is known as the “Mushroom of Immortality”. Its use has been documented for thousands of years and it is one of the most potent adaptogens available to modern society. Reishi helps to improve stress relief, it’s immune modulating and it's anti-inflammatory.

How I use it: add 1/2 – 1 teaspoon in strongly flavored smoothies (like chocolate or coffee)

Brand I love: Root & Bones (use “simplyquinoa” for 15% off)


3. Astragalus

Astragalus is a traditional Taoist Herb is reputed as the most potent Qi tonic in the world! It helps to boost immunity and it buffers the effects of stress. Astragalus also prevents stress-related damage in the body by increasing the amount of anti-stress compounds we produce. Cool right?! Even cooler is that astragalus may also reduce the ability of stress hormones (like cortisol) to bind to receptors, making their effects on the body less extreme.

How I use it: add 1/2 teaspoon into smoothies or coffee

Brand I love: Sun Potion Astragalus

how to use adaptogen powders in lattes

4. Cordyceps

Cordyceps are medicinal mushrooms that are widely regarded as a supreme immune system enhancer. They help to prevent aging and support longevity and youthfulness. Cordyceps are also used as a rejuvenation tonic that is often used by those who are recovering from illness, extended periods of stress, and general feelings of fatigue. It's great for when you feel a cold coming on or you've been super stressed out at work lately.

How I use it: add 1/2 teaspoon in my tea/coffee or into my smoothies

Brand I love: Root & Bones (use “simplyquinoa” for 15% off)


5. He Shou Wu

He Shou Wu has been used throughout history as a longevity, anti-aging, blood-building, beauty, & rejuvenation food. With high levels of iron and zinc, He Shou Wu is also a potent immune system enhancer. It has a number of amazing benefits including nourishing the blood, hair, skin, nervous system, sexual center, may help reduce cholesterol, can be used as a tonic for the endocrine glands, may help improve stamina, good for resistance to cold, promotes red blood cells, and increases antioxidant activity. It's a superpower, but I also use it sparingly because it can be on the pricey side!

How I use it: add 1/2 – 1 teaspoon into my smoothies

Brand I love: Root & Bones (use “simplyquinoa” for 15% off)

How to use Chaga Mushroom Powder

6. Chaga

Chaga is yet another medicinal mushroom and is often referred to as the king of plants. It's a mushroom that grows on birch trees, so depending on where you live in the world, it actually might be natively growing in the woods. For medicinal purposes, Chaga has strong immune enhancing properties, it has incredibly high levels of antioxidants and phyto-nutrients which are slowing down the aging process and it has also exhibited antiviral properties (<– hello cold and flu season!).

How I use it: add 1/2 – 1 teaspoon into my smoothies or brew into a tea with ginger and lemon

Brand I love: Root & Bones (use “simplyquinoa” for 15% off)


7. Rhodiola

Rhodiola is a traditional Taoist Herb as well as a Tibetan Qi Tonic. It's been used for thousands of years and has a wealth of medicinal properties. Rhodiola has been shown to improve our ability to absorb oxygen, and it may facilitate mental clarity, promote creativity and stamina, help immune strength, support weight balance, as well as longevity and focus. It does have a strong flavor, however, so I like to match this with another strong flavor like chocolate or coffee.

How I use it: add 1/2 teaspoon into my smoothies or into my superfood hot chocolates

Brand I love: Sun Potion Rhodiola


8. Holy Basil (Tulsi)

Last on our list is Holy Basil which is a powerful rejuvenative herb that has many adaptogenic properties. It's famous for providing stress relief, supporting the immune system, and increasing stamina and endurance. Most often it's sold as an herbal supplement, so you might want to check your vitamin section. Just make sure that you're buying a reputable brand!

How I use it: take 2 capsules daily

Brand I love: Organic India


Beyond the Powders

I personally have seen the amazing benefits that adaptogens can have on your health. I just want to stress again, however, that you shouldn't take ALL of these. Pick and choose a few that work for where you are in your life, let them do their job for a few weeks and then reassess. The effects most likely won't be immediate, so give your body some time to adjust before you really start examining how you feel.

In addition to individual powders, there are also companies that sell elixirs or blends of powders. One of the more well-known brands is Moon Juice.

ADAPTOGENS 101: The Beginner's Guide to using Adaptogens for decreasing stress, supporting immunity & more!

These also can be pricey, but sometimes they have sales, so you could sign up for their emails and wait until they go on sale!


Want to learn even more? Watch my Beginner's Guide to Adaptogens video!



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About Alyssa

Hey there, I’m Alyssa Rimmer, a certified Holistic Nutritionist, yoga-lover, dog mom, and founder of Simply Quinoa. It’s nice to meet you! I created SQ as a way to provide solutions for women just like me, who were struggling to find helpful information about how to live a healthy and fulfilled life. My hope is that you will find inspiration here on SQ – in my story, in my recipes, in the hundreds of wellness articles, and in our amazing community. Welcome!

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  1. I have just started taking ashwagandha and reishi a few weeks ago (reishi in the morning and ashwagandha at night). How long can I take them for? and can I take these two adaptogens together? I am worried they might interact and stop the benefits of one another. Do you take adaptogens for a few weeks and then stop?, for how long? Thank you so much for the post, I cannot find this info anywhere else!

    • Those two should be fine together! I’d say use them for at least a month to see how they’re making you feel 🙂

  2. Does it make a difference if you take Ashwagandha in capsule vs powder form? Also, is there a certain time of day you should take them?

    • I haven’t done much research about taking it as a capsule, but I assume it would be similar since you’re digesting it anyway 🙂 And I personally like to take Ashwagandha in the morning, but others take it at night to calm down!

  3. Alyssa,
    I am interested in trying the adaptations. Maybe you could recommend a combination that I might start with. I’ll add something different later as needed but it sounds like any or all might benefit me. I am a 62 year old night shift ICU nurse, and transitioning between nights and days is particularly stressful on my body now. Of course, I have plenty of external stressors to factor in with kids’ troubles and grandchildren’s wellbeing, in addition to the stress my job brings. I have arthritis in my fingers now have had thinning hair for a couple of years. I feel like I’m aging a lot more than ever. I have always been health conscious and active, and I have never felt my age. Now I do. If you could recommend a combo would be great; or maybe I need them all…Lol.
    Kathy Chabot

    • Hi Kathy! It sounds like you might benefit from a short 1:1 consultation with me so we can chat through diet, sleep, and then find an adaptogen that might work. I really love ashwagandha, so if you’re not interested, that could be a good place to start!


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