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Adaptogens That Support Energy

By Ritamarie Loscalzo


I’ve learned one of the quickest ways to raise alarm in clients is to suggest they give up their morning coffee.

I get it.  I used to be there too. Only for me it was strong black tea and Diet Coke for my caffeine fix. 

It’s tough to give up caffeine when it’s the only thing waking you up in the morning, frequently masking underlying issues with fatigue and exhaustion.

Although the touted health benefits of coffee are enjoying a resurgence, I still can’t get past the negatives.

Caffeine can increase blood pressure and the stress hormone cortisol. It can also add to anxiety, insomnia, fatigue and digestive issues, especially if you are genetically predisposed to having difficulty breaking down and clearing caffeine from your system.

Caffeine is also an addictive substance that can lead to dependance.

I prefer adaptogens for myself and my clients. They help sustain energy throughout the day while providing additional benefits that nourish the entire body, all the while supporting homeostasis.

Not a bad substitute. I’m alarmed that more people don’t utilize what adaptogens have to offer.


Adaptogens and Energy

Generally thought of as herbs that help restore balance, a much-underplayed benefit of adaptogens is their ability to help the body produce, conserve and use energy.

While caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, adaptogens can also increase energy levels, but in a much different, sustainable way.

They have been shown to help balance the hypothalamic, pituitary and adrenal glands (HPA axis) which plays a major role in stress response.  

As a result, they help the body recover from physical, mental, and environmental stresses. 

They manage cortisol levels, and reduce feelings of fatigue and tiredness that can be associated with stress.

In addition to reducing the effects of stress on the body, they also have stimulant properties that help improve physical and mental performance without the crash that often accompanies caffeine use.

In my blog post, Believing Isn’t Always Seeing! The Benefits of Functional Food, I get into more detail about how adaptogens work. 

Here I would like to highlight five adaptogens known for their ability to support energy.



Also known as Holy Basil and referred to as the “elixir of life”, tulsi is a plant that has been used for thousands of years in ayurveda.

Known to relax the nervous system while stimulating the brain, it helps manage stress, improve cognitive function, and allows for prolonged physical exertion.

It supports a more efficient use of energy to help stay awake, alert, and relaxed. 

It may also regulate metabolism and ensure carbs and sugar are used for energy rather than stored in the body.



Long used in Chinese Medicine, cordyceps is a fungi that works as a natural energy enhancer, found to boost the mitochondria’s ATP production.

It enhances lactic acid metabolism making physical exertion less challenging. 

 It helps to reduce fatigue, improve circulation, and boost muscle strength. 

It also has a positive impact on immunity, kidney function  and respiratory health.



A perennial flowering plant, rhodiola was used for strength and endurance by Vikings, Sherpa, and even ancient Greeks. 

Although very popular in some parts of the world, it is just starting to gain global attention.

It effectively increases strength, stamina, mental capacity, and overall energy while combating stress.



A root used as a tonic in Chinese herbalism for centuries, ginseng studies continue to prove its effectiveness.

It’s widely used to fight fatigue and increase both mental and physical performance.  

Though not conclusive, research is suggesting it does this by stimulating the HPA axis and increasing the “feel good” hormones dopamine and serotonin.



A small shrub native to India and Southeast Asia, ashwagandha root is an ayurvedic adaptogen used for centuries to boost energy, improve concentration, and reduce stress.

It enhances physical performance, muscle strength and cardio respiratory endurance. 

 It helps fight fatigue while sustaining energy.


Using Adaptogens to Support Energy

All of the above mentioned adaptogens come in various forms.  Whether a tea, tincture, or powdered supplement, it’s important to find a reliable source that can guarantee the quality and purity of the product.  Although third party testing is ideal, it can be difficult to find.

Knowing how you or your client responds to adaptogens can only be discovered through trial and error. Fortunately, it’s hard to go wrong, but it can take some time to figure out what best serves a person’s unique physiology and needs.

In my Nutritional Endocrinology Practitioner Training (NEPT) program, there is a generous amount of time spent on studying adaptogens to get a solid understanding of the multiple benefits they provide for those clients that have been unable to find answers within the broken healthcare system.  It’s not uncommon to experience quick and profound results when used correctly.

If you would like to better understand how to effectively use adaptogens to benefit your clients, check out my NEPT program.  It’s just one of many things you will learn that can bring real help to people who have struggled for years with chronic health issues.

For those looking to find their own answers, my Empowered Self-Care Lab provides numerous programs designed to address specific needs.  It includes my Practical Herbal Therapeutics course that focuses on the many uses of adaptogens and the role they can play in achieving optimal health.

Join us!


Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress—Protective Activity – PMC
Full article: Stress management and the role of Rhodiola rosea: a review
Tulsi – Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons – PMC
A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults – PMC
Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial – PubMed 


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Medical Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo, drritamarie.com, and the experts who have contributed. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.

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