What Are Adaptogen Herbs and how are they different from other herbs?

Herb plants grow all over the world in every country.  They are amazing  and complex in nature.  Each herb contains properties that are unique to its species, country, and how it is beneficial to both cooking and health.

Many of these herbs are not in the Adaptogen category and I will explain the difference later in this blog. Examples that are not Adaptogen herbs are below.

To use herbs properly even in cooking you need to know how they will impact your food and your health.

The Various Functions of Herbs in Our Daily Life

  •  Herbs can have multiple actions, even the ones used to flavor our food.
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  • Garlic
  • Garlic as example is used for cooking but contains medicinal properties as well to help prevent infections in the body.  It was used in WW1 to dress the wounds of the soldiers.  It is a natural antibiotic used for hundreds of years. 
  • Cultures all over the world use garlic everyday in their meals. You can smell the garlic in every kitchen in France.

Photo by Dayana Brooke on Unsplash

  • Rosemary is another herb used in cooking but as a tea helps with memory and so much more.

Oregano is used in various dishes but some Oregano species have potent medicinal qualities. 

Photo by Dayana Brooke on Unsplash

  • Tumeric is used everyday in many countries such as India . Turmeric is added to almost every dish but it is one of the most researched and important herbs in India.  It has hundreds of uses in health such as for arthritis and joint pain. 

Some herbs such as Feverfew are used to reduce fever and to help prevent migraines.

Goldenseal, Echinacea, and Garlic are all herbs to use when fending off illness. Goldenseal and Echinacea are not herbs to be taken on a daily basis and Goldenseal is extremely bitter. Goldenseal can also be used on wounds to help them from becoming infected. Goldenseal and Echinacea are used as a natural antibiotic medicine for a certain amount of days.

Chamomile is an example of an herb used for relaxation and sleep. It is a calming herb for anxiety and stress…very gentle even for use with children. You many not want to use if you have to stay up all night before mid term exams.

Blood Cleansing Herbs help remove toxins from the body.  There are herbs that help the liver and gallbladder to remove toxins and work more effectively such as milk thistle and dandelion. They have more specific roles in our health.  There are herbs that support kidney function and detoxification.  These herbs again have more specific roles in keeping our body healthy.

If I had intestinal worms, I would look for a formulation that included Black Walnut, Cloves, Wormwood. These herbs are used most often to expel worms.

If I needed kidney support, it would probably be labeled Kidney support or kidney activator including herbs such as Juniper Berries, Parsley leaf, Uva Ursi, and Dandelion herbs.

Butchers Broom and Horse Chestnut are taken to reduce inflammation of the leg such as in Phlebitis. I use them quite frequently for my leg which is prone to blood clots and swelling. I have used these herbs for 40 years.

The above are examples of how certain herbs are more beneficial to one area of the body or function than another. These are herbs you take for a certain time period at a certain dosage not used year around.  If you have kidney weakness you might use them for a much longer period of time.

These herbs often are taken for specific health issues for a specific amount of time and dosage.   

These herbs can also interact with prescription drugs causing the drug to be more effective or less effective as in blood thinning herbs or blood pressure herbs. 

You need to really research herbs and be under the supervision of a doctor if you are taking prescription drugs and want to try herbs as well.  They often do not mix well.

Ashwagandha Photo by Bankim Desai on Unsplash

Ashwagandha one of the most revered Adaptogens for health.


Ashwagandha Photo by Bankim Desai on Unsplash

What Are Adaptogen Herbs and how are they different from other herbs?


  • Adaptogen herbs are generally considered tonic herbs which can be safely taken everyday in high dosages. They help the different body systems and brain to better adapt to stress and support normal body metabolism.


  • Adaptogen herbs for example do not raise or lower blood pressure for example but normalize the function of the heart and the all the heart tissues.  They have a ‘normalizing effect’ on the body and the way it functions.

What Are Adaptogen Herbs and how are they different from all the other herbs. How do adaptogen herbs help our health?

  • Adaptogens help restore balance to the endocrine system, the immune system and are beneficial to all your body systems  as a whole. They help stabilize the body and how it works.


  • Adaptogens help the body to maintain homeostasis and optimal function.

  • Even though Adaptogens have been used for thousands of years, they were more recently defined in 1947 by Dr. Nikolai Lazarev.

He defined what Adaptogen herbs mean by defining it as “an agent that allows the body to counter adverse physical, chemical, or biological stressors by raising the resistance to those stressors, allowing your body and its body functions to better adapt to the different biological stressors.”  If you are stressed out at work, adaptogens would help you to cope and deal with the stress more calmly.

  • Adaptogens give you more stamina, more strength, more vitality and energy because they help the body to normalize your bodies functions.


  • Adaptogens are not addicting in any way.  They do not contain caffeine.  They are gentle and support all of the different body functions.


  • What herbs are considered Adaptogens depend on the culture such as in Ayurvedic or Chinese medicine.  They are sometimes called tonic herbs as well.  The term ‘Adaptogens’ is not accepted by Western medicine. Herbs and herbal medicine is not accepted nor understood  by most Western medicine doctors.  You need to go to a functional medicine doctor or a Chinese medicine doctor to find one that understands how to use herbal medicine or Adaptogen herbs.

This blog just scratches the surface on this subject. I suggest you buy the book, Adaptogens , Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief by David Winston and Steven Maimes  to research this in more depth. It is in my library and a book I have and refer to daily in my life and articles. The authors are experts on this topic.

All for today, Cathryn Freer, The Herbladyisin


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