What Are Adaptogens?

by Kirsten Schofield

When wading into the world of nootropics, there’s a lot of new vocabulary to take in. Adaptogens, a class of compound you see a lot in supplements, can be among the most confusing to new users, but they don’t have to be. Read our guide to start demystifying these important building blocks of a complete and effective stack.

Photo: Rhodiola Rosea by Bjoertvedt via Wikimedia Commons.

What Are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are compounds that can help to limit the amount of stress your body experiences if taken in advance of an event that itself causes stress. Adaptogens are a somewhat understudied group of compounds; though many have been in use for centuries, there’s no single accepted definition for them. They’re a very diverse group of substances; they don’t come from one family or have one use. Also, adaptogens don’t all necessarily have the same mechanisms. Some adaptogens aren’t even really nootropics at all, by some estimations. Most people in the nootropic community agree that an adaptogen must be a naturally occurring nontoxic and nonspecific compound that has a normalizing impact on the user’s physiology.

Since there are so many things adaptogens can be, companies use them to make a wide variety of claims ranging from longer lifespan to increased libido to heightened well-being.

What Are Some Examples of Adaptogens?

Since the word adaptogen covers a wider variety of herbs, it’s no surprise that there’s some debate about what is and isn’t part of this group. There are a few common adaptogens that aren’t as controversial, though rhodiola rosea and ashwagandha make the cut and are agreed upon as adaptogens by most people in the nootropics community.

Ashwagandha is widely considered an adaptogen because it can help prevent the mental slowing that comes with aging and stress. For example, ashwagandha can act as an anti-anxiety agent, which helps some users lower the amount of stress their bodies experiences in tough situations. Over time, the stress that comes from anxiety can wear on your nervous system, which may make you less sharp and clear.

Rhodiola rosea is another very popular adaptogen in many nootropic supplements. It has been used for centuries as an anti-fatigue supplement, and there is some research that suggests it can also help the body repair after exercise. Like ashwagandha, rhodiola rosea can also help regulate anxiety in users, which helps keep stress and the damage that follows it at bay.

While the research is not yet conclusive, many users report that taking a supplement that contain adaptogens has helped them achieve the cognitive and physical benefits they’re seeking in their nootropic stack.

Where Can I Get Adaptogens?

Since the word adaptogen covers so many different supplements, there are lots of ways to work them into your stack. Nootrobox RISE contains both rhodiola rosea and bacopa monnieri, another herb some consider adaptogenic. Many users say Nootrobox RISE helps them deal with stress like a well-designed adaptogen compound should. Neurofuse also contains both of these herbs but in different amounts and stacked with other things, so Neurofuse could work well for a user who wants the stress reducing effects of an adaptogen but wants a boost of energy, too.

Have you tried an adaptogen in your stack? What’s your favorite? Tell us about your experience in the comments.

DISCLAIMER: We are not doctors. The opinions on this website are not to be taken as medical advice. None of these opinions have been reviewed by the FDA. Consult your doctor before taking any supplements. We receive free products to review and participate in affiliate programs, where we are compensated for items purchased through links from our site (at no cost to the buyer). See our disclosure page for our list of comped products and affiliate programs. BrainWiz.org is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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