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17 Adaptogen Drinks to Boost Mood and Relieve Stress, Without Alcohol


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It’s hard to miss the shiny, non-alcoholic, adaptogen-infused drinks that have taken over wellness Instagram the last few years. They’re popular among the sober, sober-curious, dry January adherents, and anyone else drawn in by the relaxing, stress-relieving promises made on the labels. You might think it all sounds too good to be true, but there’s legit science and thousands of years of tradition behind the use of adaptogens, so if you thought these products are nothing more than a buzzy trend with pretty packaging, well, it might be time to reconsider.

While they’ve only recently become Instagram famous, adaptogens have been around for thousands of years, studies say — you’ve probably consumed them without even knowing it. Do names like ashwagandha, ginseng, and Reishi look familiar? Those are some common adaptogens. They can come in the form of plants or fungi and are packed with a ton of physical and mental benefits (which we’ll get into in a second).

We’ve found adaptogen drinks that range from hot lattes to sparkling water to ready-to-drink mocktails in a can, and a few have even become a staple in our editor’s fridges — the Oprah-loved Clevr Blends superfood lattes are a favorite. Adaptogen drinks are also super-versatile; one might give you your caffeine fix, another will keep you hydrated, yet another might give you the fun, fizzy feel of a cocktail minus the hangover tomorrow morning. But before we share our favorites, let’s explain what you’ll actually be drinking when you pop open one of these pretty cans.

What are adaptogens?

Adaptogens are plants or fungi that “help our bodies adapt to physical, emotional and environmental stress,” herbalist Vanessa Chakour tells SheKnows. They do this by regulating our hypothalamic-pituatary-adrenal axis (HPA-axis), which is basically your body’s stress response system: “the messaging between the brain centers that register a stress reaction and subsequently release hormones and neurochemicals to respond to that reaction,” naturopathic doctor Jannine Krause explains.

Different adaptogens have different effects, but broadly speaking, both experts say, adaptogens can:

  • increase antioxidant concentration and decrease inflammation, both of which occur when you’re under prolonged stress
  • help you feel calm and focused
  • increase your energy and stimulate hormone production
  • support your immune system

In short, “adaptogens help you regulate your response to stress,” Krause says, “whether it’s a state of being amped up, mind racing and not sleeping, or fatigued, lack of motivation with a depressed mood.” Essentially, adaptogens can help you restore your body’s balance.

Benefits of common adaptogens

There are lots of adaptogens out there, but some are more popular and commonly-found than others. Note that for adaptogens that have been studied, research suggests that you may need to take it consistently for six to 12 weeks before you start to notice the benefits, Chakour says. A small sampling of adaptogens you’ll see in the adaptogenic drinks ahead include:

Reishi mushrooms: Reishi is a mushroom found throughout the world, shown to “support our immune systems, help us respond to stress with more ease, aid digestion, and may have benefits for fighting cancer,” per studies, Chakour says. In traditional Chinese medicine, she adds, Reishi is used to treat chest tightness and improve memory, among other benefits.

Tulsi (aka Holy Basil): This herb is a “powerful corticosteroid modulator, meaning it has the ability to reduce circulating stress hormones in the body,” Chakour says. In studies, she adds, it’s been shown to be a “powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune system modulator, as well as a promising treatment for conditions ranging from liver disease to arthritis, to diabetes and cancer.”

Astragalus root: This sweet, nourishing root can is all about helping out the immune system, studies say. It “can bolster immunity through white blood cell production, potentially shortening colds and flu, while combating fatigue by regulating cortisol and boosting energy,” Chakour says.

Ashwagandha: This shrub helps to “lower elevated cortisol and DHEA levels that cause anxiety and insomnia,” Krause says. (DHEA is a hormone that helps produce other hormones, including testosterone and estrogen, per Mayo Clinic.) In other words, it can help relieve stress in a major way, studies say.

Rhodiola: Rhodiola is an herb that’s “amazing for helping with recovery from a hard day at the office or in the gym,” Krause says. In studies, it’s been found to increase the body’s resilience to stresses while normalizing body functions, falling right in line with its traditional reputation of decreasing symptoms of depression and fatigue.

Schisandra Berry: Schisandra is “excellent for irritability, agitation and being quick to anger, especially in cases of PMS” and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (aka a more serious version of PMS), Krause says. Research has supported its these brain benefits, with studies highlighting Schisandra’s “neuroprotective and cognitive enhancement properties.”

Panax ginseng: This herb can boost energy, Krause says, and studies have found that it may improve “psychologic function, immune function, and conditions associated diabetes,” according to American Family Physician. Other research has even found it effective at preventing cardiovascular disease.

Moringa: “Moringa is an energy boosting adaptogenic herb with antioxidant properties,” Krause says, and studies suggest that the plant helps to fight inflammation.

Maca: You may have heard of or tried maca powder before — it’s popular for a good reason. Typically used as a root powder, maca “is well known as the hormone regulating and energy boosting adaptogenic herb,” Krause says, with studies showing that it’s effective at treating sexual dysfunctions, increasing fertility, and boosting memory and learning abilities.

Lion’s Mane: In studies, scientists have found that this mushroom can “significantly improve cognitive function and may even help to prevent dementia.

Are adaptogens safe?

Adaptogens have been used for thousands of years and generally considered quite safe, Chakour says. However, as with all medicinal substances, it’s important to talk to your doctor before you add adaptogens to your diet. Some adaptogens can interact with medications, Chakour says; Reishi, for example, may lower blood sugar levels, so taking it along with medications that do the same “might cause the blood sugar to drop too low.” Overall, she says, “it’s important to start with small quantities when trying any new herb or mushroom,” including the ones infused in these adaptogen drinks.

Best adaptogen drinks

Now that you know a bit more about what adaptogens actually are, let’s get to our favorite adaptogenic drinks. Ahead, we’ve rounded up the best adaptogen beverages you’ll want to stock up on so you can feel your best, whether you’re mixing up your hydration rotation or cutting back on alcohol. And once again, if you’re looking to add these non-alcoholic beverages to your self-care routine, make sure to check the label, see what adaptogens are included, and (once again) check with your doctor before sipping.

A version of this post was originally published in 2022.


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