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Adaptogens Part 2: What Foods and Teas Contain Adaptogens?

Posted by Stephany Morgan

Adaptogens are a special class of herbs with a unique stress-relieving action that can deliver serious health benefits. However, people are often unsure about what adaptogens do, which herbs actually count as adaptogens, and whether there are different kinds of adaptogens that they should be aware of when choosing them.

Worry not, friends - we've got the facts! In this post, I'm going to share:


  • A quick review of what adaptogens are and what they do
  • The health benefits of adaptogens
  • Which herbs are proven to be adaptogens
  • Which adaptogens are best for you


If you want some more detailed information about adaptogen basics to get you up to speed, you can read Part 1 of this series here. Now, let's get those adaptogenic benefits!



Herbal Teas in Jars



What Are Adaptogens and What Do They Do? A Quick Review

If you want all the details about what adaptogens are and what they do, read Part 1 of this series here. In short, though, Adaptogens are a relatively new class of herbs that help us “adapt” to stress, regardless of the origin of the stressor.

Adaptogens can help modulate and regulate:


  • Hormone production
  • Organ function
  • Cell health
  • Immune function


These plants are “intuitive,” and it is said that the more you need them, the more they will work; the less you need them, the less they will work.




Moringa Tree Leaves

Leaves of a moringa plant, also known as the "miracle tree" 



What are the Health Benefits of Adaptogens?

Adaptogens improve the adaptability of the body, regardless of the origin of the stressor (physiological, psychological, environmental, or situational), and increase the body's resistance threshold. In doing so, adaptogens improve organ function and hormone regulation.

This results in an overall tonifying action on the body, which:


  • Improves physiological function
  • Increases energy, stamina and endurance
  • Brings the person into a state of healthy alertness
  • Restores the nervous system (nervine action), which results in better, restorative sleep.
  • Supports the immune system, which helps to guard against the susceptibility of illness that occurs when one is under too much stress.


You know the phrase, “I’m feeling run down”? Adaptogens help prevent that from happening.




Yoga Stamina and Endurance



Which Herbs Are Adaptogens?

There are currently only 8 herbs that are well-researched adaptogens. There are another 10 that have a strong probability for being adaptogens, and then about twelve that are possibly adaptogens. Basically, more research is needed.

While there may yet be many more, these herbs will give you a good starting point: 


  • The Ginsengs (Chinese, Korean, American, Siberian)
  • Rhodiola
  • Schisandra
  • Eleuthero
  • Cordyceps
  • Reishi
  • Ashwagandha
  • Moringa
  • Tulsi (Holy Basil)



Moringa powder and tulsi holy basil loose leaf

Caption: Moringa (left) is a stimulating adaptogen, while Tulsi (Holy Basil) is classed as calming.



A brief breakdown of these adaptogens' benefits would be to think of the ginsengs as stimulating, tulsi as calming, and ashwagandha and moringa as acting in both ways (while also replenishing a deficient and depleted system).

The simplest way to consume adaptogens is by brewing the herb into a tea. Moringa typically comes in a powder form, which means you drink the actual leaf and get 100% of the adaptogen goodness. In fact, I may need to go make a cup of moringa tea for myself now...



Mug and Honey Wand on Tray



Which Adaptogens Should I Take?

There isn’t really a right or wrong answer to this one. 

Adaptogens are generally considered to have non-specific stress-tolerance action, but they often have an affinity for specific body systems. Going beyond that, there are four categories of action:


  • Moistening
  • Drying
  • Stimulating 
  • Calming 


Additionally, some are better for younger, healthy people, while others are better for older people who are feeling depleted.

While you can't really go wrong with any adaptogen, the stimulating options (such as moringa) are generally better adaptogens for energy, while the calming ones (such as tulsi) are better adaptogens for sleep.


To learn more about the health benefits of tulsi holy basil and moringa tea check out MA's tea spotlight blogs


Someone with a wet, phlegmy cough might do better with a drying adaptogen, and someone suffering from dry skin might favor a moistening adaptogen.

Don’t be overwhelmed, though! Generally, adaptogens are friendly to the body regardless of which you choose, but I do recommend getting to know them. I will expand on some of them, and their properties, in a later post!



Matcha Alternatives Jars of Spices







Professor Stephany Morgan

A Note From the Herbalist...

I hope you enjoyed the second post in our series on all things adaptogens! This was super fun to write, especially while sipping on my cup of moringa. 

And now that you know the basics you can find fun ways to add adaptogens to your diet! We have a super delicious recipe for a moringa sauce that's great on fish.

Or if you're desiring just a nice cuppa, check out our blending guide which has some great options for spicing up your tulsi. There are all sorts of fun additions to add when blending tea, like turmeric which recent studies have shown may have adaptogen effects!

Questions? Thoughts? Let me know in the comments below or on our IG @MatchaAlternatives


First published June 2019. Updated April 2021.


The best adaptogens to get you started...

Here are some of my favorite adaptogens here at

Tulsi Holy Basil Loose Leaf Tea
'The Purist' Organic Tulsi Holy Basil
Classic Tulsi, entirely organic, and with a light spice and sweetness. It's also is a powerful adaptogen that stimulates, relaxes yet energizes, all while being naturally decaf.
Deep Breath Rooibos Tulsi - Matcha Alternatives
Tulsi tea has a rich, warm, herbaceous flavor with a light spice and thick roundness (if that's a word!). The rooibos tempers this powerful fragrance with added sweetness and depth.
Superior Organic Moringa Tea Powder - Matcha Alternatives
Made of the powdered leaves of the Moringa oleifera plant, so you are consuming 100% of the nutrients and antioxidants on offer as you drink the entire leaf. More antioxidants than matcha, too.
Read more:
Tulsi Holy Basil: An Ancient Tea for Modern Times 
Read more:
Tea Blending Guide: 8 Blend@Home Herbals for Health
Explore our Tea Science & Lifestyle blog | Subscribe to the MA Blog to save 15%
with FREE US shipping!


All of the information regarding the herbs, botanicals, minerals, vitamins, etc., is information drawn from traditional use data or academic research and should be regarded as such. If you, the reader, has a health or medical concern, please consult your healthcare professional. The information found here is not meant to diagnose, treat, prescribe or cure and has not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is for educational purposes only. 



Adaptogens References & Further Reading

An Herbalist on the Healing Power of Adaptogens, David Winston, Goop.

Panossian A, Wikman G. Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress-Protective Activity. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2010;3(1):188–224. Published 2010 Jan 19. doi:10.3390/ph3010188

Liao LY, He YF, Li L, et al. A preliminary review of studies on adaptogens: comparison of their bioactivity in TCM with that of ginseng-like herbs used worldwide. Chin Med. 2018;13:57. Published 2018 Nov 16. doi:10.1186/s13020-018-0214-9

Kandola, A. What are the health effects of chronic stress? Medical News Today. Last Reviewed 12 October 2018.

Mitochondrial Diseases. Cleveland Clinic. Last Reviewed 05 July 2018.

Mercola, J. Four Powerful Adaptogens for Adrenal Support. Mercola. Published 09 April 2018.

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  • Some mushrooms, including reishi, Cordyceps, and lion’s mane, may have adaptogenic properties and help reduce the negative effects of stress on the body. Adaptogens aren’t a new concept. There are several shreds of evidence that show that ashwagandha is a powerful adaptogen used for thousands of years. Proven to have a high bioavailability, it’s been shown to alleviate anxiety, enhance memory & cognition and help the body adapt to physical & mental stressors. New research is looking at how adaptogens like terpene isolate and cb2 oil ( may be helpful in treating chronic diseases such as respiratory and heart conditions.

    CB2 Oil

  • This is so interesting! I didn’t know anything about adaptogens before visiting this blog and its always so cool to learn about the science behind all the great things tea can do for you!

    Anna E.

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