Just when you get a handle on superfoods—from nutrient-dense dark, leafy greens to turmeric, thought to reduce inflammation—another batch of earthy substances find their way into the lexicon on our never-ending quest to live our best lives. Some of the latest, known as “adaptogens,” are generally defined as herbs (and some mushrooms) that reputedly adapt to fit the body’s needs.
Long used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, these superherbs come in the form of teas, tinctures, capsules and face creams, with ingredients like ginseng, maca and ashwagandha. While the exact definition differs, the term typically describes herbs that target stress and the immune system.
Adaptogens help balance cortisol levels in the body, according to Dee Harris, a local nutritionist and dietician. You can think of these herbs like thermostats that reduce
cortisol levels in the body when the stress hormone is high and you feel frazzled, and increase the hormone when it’s low and you feel fatigued.
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