5 Adaptogenic Herbs That Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Adaptogenic herbs are a loosely-related class of plants that impact a variety of body systems, usually by reducing stress hormone production in the adrenal gland. Chronic stress, anxiety, and depression are common in modern society. Worldwide, folks are overstimulated with electronics and inundated with hectic schedules. The adaptogens in this article can help relieve stress.

1.  Ashwagandha Root
Ashwagandha is an important herb in Ayurvedic medicine because of its widespread effects on the neurological, endocrine, reproductive, and immune systems. Out of all the adaptogenic herbs, ashwagandha is particularly effective at reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Astonishingly, ashwagandha is an effective treatment for both hypo- and hyperthyroidism.

In clinical trials, participants who supplemented with ashwagandha displayed improvements in concentration, vitality, and social functioning while reducing fatigue and brain fog.
Reference: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0006628

2. Passionflower
Passionflower increases the expression of GABA in the brain without being overly sedative. One of the best ways to boost GABA levels in the brain is by doing yoga. According to a recent study, 60 minutes of yoga can raise GABA levels by as much as 27%.  

You don’t always have time for a yoga session, but you should always have time to take some passionflower. In addition to reducing stress and anxiety, passionflower improves spatial memory, calms the central nervous system, and may be helpful for treating addiction.
Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3111147/

3. Valerian Root
Valerian is another adaptogenic herb that acts on GABA receptors. Valerian is a common ingredient in many herbal sleep remedies due to its potent sleep-promoting effects. Insomnia affects nearly one-third of the adult population in the U.S. Supplementing with valerian root is an effective and safe alternative to prescription drugs like Ambien.
Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18602406

4. Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola rosea, also known as arctic root, is one of the most widely studied of the adaptogenic herbs. Rhodiola increases energy and improves focus while optimizing the body’s stress response. It also promotes general feelings of well-being by boosting serotonin levels in the brain.
Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26502953

5. Licorice Root
Licorice root is a valuable adaptogen to have in your stress-relief toolkit.  The trickle-down effect of stress can lead to digestive issues like leaky gut syndrome and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol can damage the lining of the gut. Licorice root has potent anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial benefits that can help restore balance to bacterial colonies and strengthen the gut lining.
Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21184804

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the many adaptogenic herbs that help to normalize the stress response and reduce anxiety. While yoga is one of the most effective ways to lower cortisol and increase the expression of GABA and serotonin, it’s nice to have a few herbal remedies at the ready to help you make it through the day. Some, like valerian root, can even help you fall asleep at night. Everyone responds to certain adaptogens differently. Give some a try, see what works for you, and add them to your anxiety-relief toolkit.

Author Bio:
Justin Faraday is a former EMT and massive health and nutrition enthusiast. After struggling with his health for many years, he got serious about feeling incredible. Get stellar mental health and nutrition advice at his blog, dopefreshfit.com.

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