Coffee is a popular and effective stimulant, but it can also cause dependency, crashes, and jitters. For these reasons, many people are turning to adaptogens for energy as an alternative or supplement.
Several highly effective adaptogens and herbs can help improve stamina, performance, and focus. Moreover, they can give you all the energy you need to handle your day-to-day activities.
These substances have been used for centuries to support the body's balance and resilience to stress. If you seek an extra energy boost and have been cleared by a doctor, these natural remedies may increase energy levels. Read on to see how you can boost your energy naturally using adaptogens.
What are adaptogens?
Adaptogens are active substances found in some plants and mushrooms that have the potential to affect how your body responds to anxiety, stress, and fatigue. They support your body's ability to withstand environmental, emotional, and physical stress. Moreover, adaptogens are known to improve physical and mental performance. They are sold as teas, tinctures, powders, and capsules.
Read More: Learn what to look for when buying Lion's mane powder.
Adaptogens are believed to aid in your body's acclimatization to biological, chemical, or physical stress. They are thought to help your body's systems regain their normal balance, or "homeostasis," and to activate your body's stress response and protection.
For instance, an adaptogen will react by lowering cortisol levels in response to stress—stress results from elevated or extreme cortisol levels. On the other hand, an adaptogen for energy will raise your body's cortisol levels if the current levels are too low and you experience chronic fatigue.
Research shows that cortisol (1), in normal levels, is a hormone that influences metabolic processes, may help increase energy levels and reduce fatigue, improving mood and protecting against negative emotions. This can help promote a positive outlook and overall well-being.
Generally speaking, adaptogens can be classified as either calming/relaxing or stimulating/energizing. Stimulating adaptogens are the best choice for boosting mental or physical energy and fighting physical and mental fatigue.
By boosting the body's energy and helping it adapt to stressful conditions, adaptogens help people manage stress. Some adaptogens for energy are Lion's mane mushroom, Cordyceps, Reishi, Rhodiola root, Ashwagandha root, Siberian ginseng, and Maca root.
Read More:See all the health benefits of Reishi mushrooms.
These adaptogens have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for a long time because of their functional benefits. In the modern health and wellness space, adaptogens for energy are available as supplements. Below, we will explore the best adaptogens for energy and how they impact our bodies.
7 Best Adaptogens For Energy
Let's first begin by understanding the adaptogen energy-increasing mechanism. According to research (2), adaptogens may enhance physical endurance, reduce fatigue and improve the brain's performance.
The stress-protective properties of adaptogens (3) may contribute to some of these effects. Moreover, adaptogens improve the body's immune system, boosting energy by ensuring peak health.
Adaptogens appear to balance the stress response by controlling the hypothalamic-pituitary (HPA) (4) axis and cortisol release, which boosts the body's energy output. This adaptogenic effect is believed to increase energy transfer, allowing the body to utilize its resources more effectively.
The seven best adaptogens for energy are:
1. Lion's Mane Mushroom
One of the best adaptogens to support healthy cognitive performance, increased energy levels, and a sharp mind is Lion's mane mushroom or Hericium Erinaceus.
Read More: See how Lion's mane fights brain fog to keep your mind sharp.
Below are ways in which Lion's mane mushrooms increase cognitive performance and the body's stress response by boosting energy levels.
Lion's Mane Fights Energy-Draining Stress
Lion's mane mushrooms enhance physical performance through their ability to improve energy levels. Studies (5) have revealed that Lion's mane extract may assist in decreasing the inflammatory markers interleukin 6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, which rise in response to stress. This research suggests that Lion's mane mushroom may balance the stress hormone, reducing stress and ensuring the body performs optimally.
Lion's Mane Maintains Stable Blood Sugar Levels
Lion's mane mushroom also increases energy through its natural polysaccharides and antioxidants. It may also help maintain stable energy levels by supporting normal blood sugar levels. Several research studies have supported Lion's mane's ability to maintain normal blood sugar levels.
One research study conducted in 2013 (6) analyzed the antihyperglycemic effects of Lion's mane mushrooms. In this study, diabetes was induced in Wistar rats by injecting them with streptozotocin (55 mg/kg of body weight).
The rats were then treated with Lion's mane extract (100 and 200 mg/kg of body weight) for 28 days. Researchers evaluated the effects of Lion's mane extract on glucose, insulin, and lipids in the blood and oxidative stress in the liver. The body weights of the rats were also recorded at the beginning of the study and on the 14th and 28th days.
The treatment of diabetic rats with Lion's mane extract for 28 days resulted in a significant decrease in blood glucose levels and a significant increase in insulin levels. The extract also improved lipid metabolism.
Read More: See how Lion's mane treats diabetes by maintaining normal blood sugar levels.
Lion's Mane Has Anti-Fatigue Benefits
Lion's mane mushroom has been shown to provide anti-fatigue benefits. For example, in a research study conducted in 2015 (7), researchers analyzed the mushroom's ability to fight fatigue in mice.
In this study, mice were randomly divided into four groups and given either a saline solution (control group) or one of three different doses of Lion's mane extract (50, 100, or 200 mg/kg). The treatment period lasted for 28 days. At the end of the treatment period, the mice were subjected to a forced swimming test until exhaustion.
Researchers recorded the length of time the mice were able to swim, as well as several biochemical markers related to fatigue, including blood lactic acid (BLA), serum urea nitrogen (SUN), tissue glycogen, superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and malondialdehyde (MDA). The study showed that the mice treated with Lion's Mane extract had significantly longer total swimming times than the control group.
In addition, the treated mice had lower levels of BLA, SUN, and MDA, markers of fatigue, higher levels of tissue glycogen, and increased antioxidant enzyme activity. These findings suggest that Lion's mane extract may have significant anti-fatigue effects, potentially making it useful as a sports nutrition supplement.
Lion's Mane Fights High Blood Pressure Levels
Many people may not know that there is a connection between blood pressure and energy levels. However, this does not mean that when environmental and chronic stress temporarily increase blood pressure, you will experience tiredness.
However, fatigue may be a symptom of high blood pressure or a related condition. High blood pressure can cause serious complications that can lead to fatigue if left untreated. It is essential to address high blood pressure to prevent these complications and manage any associated fatigue.
Research shows that Lion's mane mushrooms can help address hypertension (high blood pressure). A study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (8) evaluated various culinary and medicinal mushrooms' antioxidant and ACE inhibitory activity, including Lion's Mane. The mushrooms were extracted by boiling them in water for 30 minutes, and their antioxidant capacity was measured using several different assays.
The study showed that Lion's Mane mushrooms had a relatively high antioxidant index and also demonstrated ACE inhibitory activity. ACE, or angiotensin-converting enzyme, regulates blood pressure by converting angiotensin I to angiotensin II, a potent vasoconstrictor.
Inhibiting ACE can lead to a decrease in blood pressure. The study found that the effect of Lion's Mane on high blood pressure among the mushrooms tested was more pronounced than that of other mushrooms. These findings suggest that Lion's Mane may have the potential as a natural treatment for high blood pressure.
Read More: See how Lion's mane balances blood pressure to prevent fatigue in people with hypertension.
2. Cordyceps Mushroom
Cordyceps is another impressive functional mushroom that boasts energy-boosting properties. However, how does this mushroom boost mental energy and athletic performance and reduce mental fatigue while giving you sustained energy? Let's see!
Cordyceps Boosts ATP Production
Cordyceps is a natural energy enhancer that has been found to boost ATP production (9).ATP is an organic compound that brings energy to the cells.
Cordyceps can also enhance lactic acid metabolism, making exercise and other physical activities easier. Moreover, cordyceps has been shown to support immunity and respiratory health, reduce fatigue, improve circulation, and increase muscle strength.
Cordyceps Stabilizes Glucose Metabolism
The human body needs glucose for energy. Research shows that Cordyceps Militaris and Sinensis may effectively ensure healthy glucose metabolism in the human body.
In a study conducted in 2014 (10), researchers analyzed Cordyceps' benefits in improving glucose metabolism in people with diabetes. In this study, diabetic rats were given either a water extract or an alcohol extract of Cordyceps militaris at doses of 0.05 g/kg or 2 g/kg for three weeks.
The levels of factors related to blood glucose, lipids, free radicals, and nephropathy were then measured, as well as the pathological changes in the liver and kidneys. The results showed that similar to metformin, the Cordyceps militaris extracts significantly reduced blood glucose levels by promoting glucose metabolism and strongly suppressed cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
The extracts also demonstrated antioxidant effects, as indicated by normalized levels of superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase. In addition, the extracts showed protective effects against diabetic nephropathy, as evidenced by decreased levels of blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, uric acid, and protein and by the reversal of pathological morphology.
These findings suggest that Cordyceps militaris extract is a safe and effective treatment for diabetes and diabetic nephropathy. Moreover, the mushroom can help stabilize blood sugar levels in people without diabetes.
Read More:See how Chaga mushroom fights diabetes.
Cordyceps Enhances Oxygen Uptake
In addition to helping lower blood sugar levels to regulate stress levels and increase energy, cordyceps also help improve the body's oxygen uptake. In a research study conducted in 2017 (11), researchers analyzed Cordyceps' ability to enhance tolerance to high-intensity exercise.
In this study, 28 participants took part in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in which they consumed either cordyceps or a placebo (PL) for one week. An additional ten volunteers were supplemented for a total of 3 weeks.
Maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max), time to exhaustion (TTE), and ventilatory threshold (VT) were measured during a maximal graded exercise test on a stationary bike. Relative peak power output (RPP), average power output (AvgP), and percent drop (%drop) were recorded during a 3-minute maximal cycling test with resistance at 4.5% of body weight.
The results showed that maximal oxygen consumption significantly improved after three weeks of supplementation in the group taking cordyceps but not in the placebo group (PL). Total time to exhaustion also improved after 1 and 3 weeks in the cordyceps group but not in the placebo group.
In addition, Maximal oxygen consumption and ventilatory threshold improved after three weeks of supplementation with cordyceps. These findings suggest that acute supplementation with a mushroom blend containing Cordyceps militaris may enhance tolerance to high-intensity exercise and that greater benefits may be seen with consistent, long-term supplementation.
Read More:See our detailed guide on how cordyceps boost energy levels.
3. Reishi Mushroom
Reishi, also known as Ganoderma Lucidum, is well known for its adaptogenic qualities. According to research (12), Reishi may enhance sleep quality, affecting energy levels and controlling stress hormones like cortisol. Additionally, one small study (13) on male athletes found that taking Reishi and Cordyceps together helped improve training conditions in endurance cyclists.
Let's explore how Reishi improves your energy levels by improving sleep quality and stabilizing blood sugar levels:
Reishi Improves Sleep Quality
Not getting enough sleep can have a significant impact on your energy levels. When you sleep, your body repairs and rejuvenates itself, so not getting enough sleep can leave you exhausted. Lack of sleep can also affect your ability to concentrate and make decisions, which can further drain your energy.
Inadequate sleep can also disrupt your body's natural sleep-wake cycle, known as the circadian rhythm. This can lead to insomnia, in which you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Insomnia can further contribute to fatigue and low energy levels.
In addition to causing physical fatigue, lack of sleep can lead to emotional exhaustion. If you're not getting enough rest, you may feel irritable, moody, and less able to cope with the stresses of daily life. This can further drain your energy and make it more challenging to get through the day.
Overall, getting enough sleep is essential to ensure sufficient energy levels throughout the day. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night to help you feel rested and energized.
However, most people are dealing with insomnia and other sleep disorders. A research study conducted in 2014 (14) determined that about 30% of people have trouble initiating and maintaining sleep. According to the American Journal of Managed care (15), insomnia is the most prevalent sleep disorder in the United States, affecting up to 40% of adults.
Reishi, however, has shown much promise in helping people with insomnia improve their sleep quality. A research study conducted in 2021 (16) analyzed the effects of the Reishi mushroom on sleep.
Overall, 34 sedative-hypnotic compounds (including five central active compounds) were found to interact with 51 target genes. Analysis of these interactions and their effects on the body showed that Reishi mushroom could help treat insomnia by simultaneously affecting multiple central and peripheral mechanisms in the body.
It also has an impact on immune regulation and apoptosis. These findings suggest that Ganoderma may be a beneficial adjunctive therapy for addressing insomnia-related issues.
Reishi mushrooms can keep you a high-energy individual the next day by ensuring you are enjoying enough restful sleep.
Read More: See how Reishi improves sleep quality.
Reishi Stabilizes Blood Sugar Levels
Unstable blood sugar levels can have a significant impact on energy levels. When blood sugar levels are too low (hypoglycemia), it can cause fatigue, weakness, and a lack of energy. This is because the body relies on glucose (a type of sugar) as its primary fuel source. Without enough glucose, the body doesn't have enough energy to function correctly.
On the other hand, when blood sugar levels are too high (hyperglycemia), it can also lead to fatigue and low energy levels. This is because high glucose levels in the blood can cause the body to produce excess insulin, which can lead to a sudden drop in blood sugar. This can cause feelings of tiredness and lethargy.
Research has shown that the Reishi mushroom can effectively regulate blood sugar levels. A research study conducted in 2019 (17) indicated that the Reishi mushroom could be used to stabilize blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
The research study also noted that the mushroom could help regulate insulin resistance, ensuring that the body operates optimally to keep its blood sugar levels in check. The body enjoys optimum mental and physical performance with stable blood sugar levels.
Read More: Learn how Reishi fights diabetes by stabilizing blood sugar levels.
4. Rhodiola Root
The root of Rhodiola Rosea may help improve exercise performance (18) by boosting physical stamina. Researchers believe the adaptogen accomplishes this by lowering heart rate and perceived exertion levels.
Rhodiola extract demonstrated an anti-fatigue effect in a study (19) with healthy volunteers and a cognitive improvement when participants were exposed to stressful situations. Therefore, besides being one of the best energy enhancers, Rhodiola root can boost mental focus, enhance brain function, improve stress response, and promote physical endurance.
5. Ashwagandha Root
Ashwagandha, or Indian ginseng, is a powerful adaptogen for energy and vitality. In this 2015 study (20), Ashwagandha supports physical performance, muscle strength, and cardiorespiratory endurance. From the books of Ayurveda to scientific papers, Ashwagandha has been a great adaptogen to stay energized and fight fatigue.
6. Siberian Ginseng
Siberian ginseng, or Eleuthero, is an essential adaptogen for energy production. It is believed that Siberian ginseng's antioxidants may promote cellular energy production and lessen chronic fatigue. Research also shows that Siberian Gingseng and Panax ginseng boast a similar effect on providing a natural burst of energy and improving the brain's ability to handle stressful conditions.
One review (21) shows that Eleuthero can improve mental energy in stressful situations through improved concentration and memory after repeated administration. The "intensified excitation of the CNS" and decreased adrenal activity, which has a significant calming effect, were used to demonstrate this.
7. Maca Root
Maca, also known as Peruvian ginseng or Lepidium Meyenii, is an ancient plant that has achieved newfound popularity for its ability to increase energy. It is popular among athletes because it can increase energy (22) and endurance. Additionally, it helps menopausal women feel more energized (23).
In a 2016 study (24) on 175 people living at either low or high altitudes, taking 3 grams of red or black maca daily for 12 weeks increased mood and energy scores.
How Do I Take Adaptogen For Energy?
Since adaptogens are derived from plants, there are numerous ways to consume them, such as:
- Including adaptogens in food or beverages like tea.
- Using a liquid plant extract or tincture.
- Taking capsules of adaptogens.
A warm, relaxing sip of tea is the most beautiful way to take a break and alleviate stress. Some adaptogenic plants and mushrooms can be dried, ground up, and steeped in hot water, similar to how you would steep your preferred tea. Or you can add a scoop of the powdered extract and unwind.
There are several varieties of tea blends with adaptogens as the primary ingredient. Always read the tea's label to learn its intended effects, how long to steep it, and how frequently to consume it.
Read More: Interested in taking your adaptogen consumption to the next level? You can use our Lion's mane mushroom recipes to prepare a meal you can enjoy with your entire family.
Do Adaptogens Help with Energy?
According to the currently available studies, adaptogens effectively reduce fatigue and exhaustion symptoms and enhance energy levels.
Which Adaptogens Are Stimulating?
Mushrooms like Reishi, Lion's mane, and Cordyceps and herbs like Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Maca, and Siberian ginseng are stimulating adaptogens.
Adaptogens are herbs and mushrooms that improve your body's capacity to deal with stress, anxiety, fatigue, and other health-related issues. By controlling both physical and mental stressors, they help your body regain a stable balance.
Some of the best adaptogens for energy are mushrooms such as Lion's mane, Reishi, and Cordyceps, herbs like Siberian ginseng, and the roots of Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, and Maca.
Have you used any of the adaptogens mentioned above? What experience did you have? Share your experience in the comment section. Also, if you have any questions about these adaptogens, do not hesitate to ask.
- Positive upshots of cortisol in everyday life, (1)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4868668/
- Evidence-based efficacy of adaptogens in fatigue, and molecular mechanisms related to their stress-protective activity, (2)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19500070/
- Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress—Protective Activity, (3)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3991026/
- A preliminary review of studies on adaptogens: comparison of their bioactivity in TCM with that of ginseng-like herbs used worldwide, (4)https://cmjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13020-018-0214-9
- Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelium Produces Antidepressant-Like Effects through Modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β Signaling in Mice, (5)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5855563/
- Antihyperglycemic and antihyperlipidemic activities of aqueous extract of Hericium erinaceus in experimental diabetic rats, (6)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3852124/
- Anti-fatigue activities of polysaccharides extracted from Hericium erinaceus, (7)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25574220/
- Evaluation of Selected Culinary-Medicinal Mushrooms for Antioxidant and ACE Inhibitory Activities, (8)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21716693/
- Chapter 5, Cordyceps as an Herbal Drug, (9)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92758/
- Studies on the Antidiabetic Activities of Cordyceps militaris Extract in Diet-Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Sprague-Dawley Rats, (10)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3967809/
- Cordyceps militaris Improves Tolerance to High-Intensity Exercise After Acute and Chronic Supplementation, (11)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27408987/
- A double-blind clinical study of Rokkaku Reishi essence in women, (12)https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jaam/4/1/4_1_28/_article/-char/en
- Improving Training Condition Assessment in Endurance Cyclists: Effects of Ganoderma lucidum and Ophiocordyceps sinensis Dietary Supplementation, (13)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24799948/
- Prevalence of Sleep Disorders and Their Impacts on Occupational Performance: A Comparison between Shift Workers and Nonshift Workers, (14)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4055012/
- Insomnia Overview: Epidemiology, Pathophysiology, Diagnosis and Monitoring, and Nonpharmacologic Therapy, (15)https://www.ajmc.com/view/insomnia-overview-epidemiology-pathophysiology-diagnosis-and-monitoring-and-nonpharmacologic-therapy
- Exploration of the anti-insomnia mechanism of Ganoderma by central-peripheral multi-level interaction network analysis, (16)https://bmcmicrobiol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12866-021-02361-5
- Mushrooms of the Genus Ganoderma Used to Treat Diabetes and Insulin Resistance, (17)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6891282/
- The Effects of an Acute Dose of Rhodiola rosea on Endurance Exercise Performance, (18)https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/2013/03000/The_Effects_of_an_Acute_Dose_of_Rhodiola_rosea_on.37.aspx
- Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress—Protective Activity, (19)https://www.mdpi.com/1424-8247/3/1/188
- Efficacy of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera [L.] Dunal) in improving cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy athletic adults, (20)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4687242/
- Evidence-Based Efficacy of Adaptogens in Fatigue, and Molecular Mechanisms Related to their Stress-Protective Activity, (21)http://www.eurekaselect.com/article/14828
- Maca: from traditional food crop to energy and libido stimulant, (22)https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Maca%3A-from-traditional-food-crop-to-energy-and-Balick-Lee/eda1bf440c9bd4180da7fd31ac65801f036a265e?p2df
- Maca: An Andean crop with multi-pharmacological functions, (23)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S096399690700035X
- Acceptability, Safety, and Efficacy of Oral Administration of Extracts of Black or Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii) in Adult Human Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study, (24)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27548190/
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