How Adaptogens Can Help Moms Beat Fatigue

By Danielle McAvoy, MSPH, RD
July 12, 2022

As joyful as motherhood is, it can be equally as stressful and exhausting. Managing stress and energy levels naturally with adaptogens can reduce the long-term health risks of chronic stress and boost the well-being of tired, stressed-out mothers.

What are adaptogens?
Adaptogens are plants that help your body adapt to physical, mental, and emotional stressors. They help optimize body temperature, blood pressure, and other biological variables to reduce stress, anxiety, and fatigue. 

Popular adaptogens include mushrooms like reishi, lion’s mane, and cordyceps, roots like ginseng, ashwagandha, turmeric, and maca, and many varieties of tea including varieties of tea, including black, pu-erh, oolong, and matcha green tea. Adaptogens are most commonly found in powdered form and can be taken as supplements or added to foods and drinks. Businesses like Earth & Star sell adaptogens in tinctures, added to ground coffee and cold brews, chocolates, and even gummies. 

There isn’t enough research on the safety of adaptogens during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, so it’s recommended to avoid them until after the perinatal period. Always check with your doctor before taking any adaptogens.

How do they work?

The functional components in adaptogens interact with our stress-response system. When something stressful happens, our adrenal glands pump out the stress hormone cortisol. Adaptogens tell your adrenal glands to cool, and cortisol levels to decrease. Reducing the cortisol response can promote better sleep, improve memory and brain function, boost immunity, and help balance hormones. American ginseng, ashwagandha, and eleuthero have been shown to combat stress and improve the way your nervous system responds to stimuli. 

Adaptogens also help our body respond to lows, such as when we are fatigued or depressed. They stimulate mental focus and alertness and normalize energy levels.  Asian ginseng and Rhodiola have been shown to alleviate physical and mental fatigue and increase energy and performance. 

How long do they take to work?

Adaptogens won’t fix the source of stress, but they help your body become better equipped to deal with it. Adaptogens are not medication and the effects are not usually immediately evident. Instead, they work gradually to help your body respond to stressors in a calm and balanced way. Consistently consuming adaptogens can reduce the adverse effects of stress and support overall well-being.

Which adaptogens do what?

If you’re feeling anxious or stressed, these adaptogens are best at reducing stress levels:

  • Ginseng roots
  • Ashwagandha root
  • Holy basil/tulsi herb
  • Rhodiola root
  • Licorice root
  • Eleuthero herb

If you’re feeling fatigued, these adaptogens boost energy and brain function:

  • Maca root
  • Cordyceps mushroom
  • Rhodiola root
  • Turmeric root
  • Asian ginseng root
  • Eleuthero herb
  • Schisandra herb

If you’re feeling under the weather, these adaptogens boost immune function:

  • Reishi mushrooms
  • Cordyceps mushrooms
  • American ginseng root
  • Holy basil/tulsi herb
  • Astragalus root

Some of our Meals for Mama meals include adaptogens, and when you order Meals for Mama, you’ll receive a special gift-with-purchase in your welcome ‘zine, which includes an offer from @earthandstarco, one of our favorite brands that offer adaptogenic products targeting brain function, stress, and immune support, all so important for new moms.

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