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Adaptogens List: The 9 Researched Adaptogens

While there are dozens of herbs that the “wellness” community likes to refer to as adaptogens, did you know that there are really only about nine well-researched adaptogens that truly fit the criteria?

Here is the true list that the most renowned herbalists agree on:

  1. Asian Ginseng

  2. American Ginseng

  3. Ashwagandha

  4. Eleuthero

  5. Schisandra

  6. Rhodiola

  7. Shilajit

  8. Rhaponticum

  9. Cordyceps

Remember that for an herb to be classified as an adaptogen, it must meet three specific criteria. It must be:

  • Nontoxic — the herb is not harmful and has minimal to no side effects.

  • Nonspecific — the herb builds our adaptive energy to keep the body in balance when affected by multiple stressors.

  • Normalizing — the herb enhances natural homeostatic mechanisms to help return stressed physiological systems to normal.

So, while you may have thought that herbs like holy basil and shatavari were adaptogens, in truth, they are really only “probable adaptogens”, according to the experts. There are also “possible adaptogens” such as reishi and cordonopsis. Oh, and last but not least - there is a subcategory known as “nutritive tonics” which are nourishing and strengthening but not technically an adaptogen - these include amla, maca, and goji berry.

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