It should come as no surprise to learn that people are turning to wellness-related offerings to help deal with the mental and physical pressures of everyday life. Adaptogens, herbs and plants such as ashwagandha, ginseng, and reishi mushrooms that support the adrenal system, are making headlines thanks to their ability to help combat stress, balance hormones, boost immunity, improve energy, and more.
It also doesn’t hurt that the supplements market is exploding. In fact, the global dietary supplements market is expected to reach $278.02 billion by 2024. These buzzy ingredients are turning up in powders, pills, and liquids. “A big consumer trend we are seeing is centered around natural, functional ingredients from the earth,” says Bella Tumini, senior brand manager for Suja, an organic, cold-pressed, and non-GMO beverage company. “Adaptogens are unique, highly functional ingredients used in ancient eastern medicine that are adaptable to each person’s individual needs. As an example, for one person, an adaptogen could help with stress, for another person that same adaptogen could help with fatigue.”
Skincare manufacturers are also looking to these herbs to tackle a slew of skincare issues. “Adaptogens are a hot topic in skincare, because they can help promote or restore normal physiological functioning by increasing the body’s ability to resist damaging effects due to stress and environmental pollution,” says Ashley Stowers, account executive and national educator for CelleClé.
As more and more spa-goers seek to incorporate adaptogens into their diets, it’s important to keep in mind that the research is still somewhat limited, despite them having been used medicinally throughout the centuries. According to Como Shambhala’s Eve Persak, they should be treated as respectfully as any medication. She notes that the verdict is still out on how exactly they work, all of the body systems they affect, how they may interact with medications and other supplements, how to adjust dosage, and what side effects or allergic reactions they may cause.
As a result, she recommends speaking with a healthcare provider first and always including them on any intake forms when meeting with medical clinicians, pharmacists, or dietitians. She also suggests starting with a modest dose and opting for a whole herb preparation, such as a tea or powder, which tends to offer a milder potency. Capsules often offer a more concentrated form. At Como Shambhala, Persak and her colleagues who practice Oriental Medicine and Ayurveda sometimes incorporate adaptogens into their care. “However, this is done in a bespoke, prescriptive fashion, rather than a broad collective recommendation,” says Persak.