What are adaptogens? Can they be the secret to good health?

  • Susan Jose, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Mar 01, 2016 19:07 IST
As more and more people opt for natural remedies, the demand for ‘adaptogens’ is at an all-time high. Experts reveal their benefits. (Pinterest)

Home remedies have been an integral part of Indian culture for a long time. However, these days, herbalists and naturopaths from around the world are streamlining a specific category of herbs that are often used for home remedies.

Read: Science-approved natural and simple ways to stop stomach bloating

These herbs, called adaptogens, “have multiple properties, and can heal various ailments,” says Kanchan Patwardhan, a city-based nutritionist.

She adds, “Adaptogens can relieve you not only of stress and anxiety, but also of all kinds of ailments, including the common cold, cough, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, etc. They can treat low stamina, mental illness, and also reduce cortisol levels.”

Read: This natural food preservative that can kill cancer cells

Several mainstream researches have been published, citing the benefits of adaptogens for various physical and mental illnesses. In simple words, adaptogens help you adapt to various kinds of lifestyle pressures and their corresponding needs.

Here, experts tell us more about some common adaptogens and their benefits:

Liquorice root

It can treat stomach infections, ulcers and inflammation in the digestive tract. It also helps reduce menstrual pain.



It has traditionally been used to treat insomnia, anxiety and exhaustion. It enhances male fertility by increasing sperm count and sperm motility.


Rhodiola rosea (golden root)

It is often consumed in the form of tea by athletes to build stamina and energy. It also helps enhance one’s memory.


Asian mushrooms

These mushrooms have adaptogenic properties and are known to boost the immune system and lower the body’s cholesterol levels.



It is known to deal with sexual dysfunction. Red ginseng is used to treat kidney diseases, and prostrate, overactive bladder and erectile dysfunction. Asian Ginseng is known to treat depression, diabetes, insomnia and asthma.



It aids digestive functions, heals ulcers, and makes the body strong by increasing one’s immunity to fight diseases.



It contains a powerful medicinal compound, curcumin, which reduces stress levels and detoxifies the body. It also has anti-bacterial properties. So, it helps heal wounds and cuts, and also treats colds and coughs.


Amla or gooseberry

It helps with chronic cough, allergic asthma, constipation, piles and gastric disorders. It is also known to lower cholesterol levels.


Adaptogens are NOT meant for everyone

Adaptogens are usually not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, as no scientific data is available about the effects of adaptogens on them. Those who have high blood pressure, heart disease and other chronic diseases should also stay away from them.

BEFORE using adaptogens

Consult your doctor before consuming any adaptogens

Begin slowly, and with the passage of time, you can increase the consumption. Do not overdo it

You can add adaptogens in their powder form in your meals or brew them in your tea

Adaptogens like amla and tulsi can be consumed daily in their raw form

Whenever you purchase roots or certain adaptogens in their raw form, get them checked by an expert, as several markets sell pseudo products

Just like vegetables, organically grown adaptogens are preferred for consumption.

— With inputs from nutritionists Dr Riddhesh Jani and Dr Sonia Narang

Follow @htlifeandstyle for more.

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