Take back the Term: ADAPTOGEN

Written by Rachel B May 14, 2020
Oh Lordy...this one is close to my heart.

What the heck is an adaptogen? Best to define a term as part of it’s reclamation... Adaptogens are plants and fungi who have non-specific (yet far reaching) actions, which balance, nourish and help the body resist the negative effects of stress in order to adapt, thrive and stay nimble. They regulate the endocrine system and the nervous system, like a botanical therapist. And you all know, if you really want to change some deep rooted shit, you need a therapist. 

Adaptogens are at the core of all of my formulas in my clinical herbal practice. They are foundation to the change I see in my clients.

Stress dominates many of our psyches. Trauma, external pressures, injustice, discrimination, and inequality effect all of us to greater or lesser degrees. The plants and fungi that aid us in getting out of the rut of reaction are profound. I see adaptogens as playing a key role in unpacking generations of trauma that keep us stuck in survival mode.

So when I see ‘adaptogen’ becoming the new hip term, bled of its meaning, I get peeved. 

Adaptogens in your skincare? Well, your skin isn’t your endocrine system. The actions these plants/ fungi have on your skin actions are different from how they help you cope with stress. Topical application might not be the best use of their medicines.

Adaptogens in your golden milk? Sure. These plants/fungi are tonics, but quality and quantity are always at play. It’s kind of like dating, you can ‘casually’ date a whole bunch of people who might not be good matches for you, it’s fun and exciting for a minute. But if you’re trying to hunker down and get karmic with your relating, you’re gonna want to make sure it’s a good fit.

Adaptogens deserve respect. They are needed medicines for the deep places in us, especially now. My hope is we see them for what they really are: complex and profound botanical beings.