People are exploring adaptogens as a popular and natural method for relieving stress, anxiety, and withdrawal symptoms. In the form of capsules, tea bags and even mocktails, these herbs are becoming a part of a sober lifestyle. Researchers and addiction specialists wonder if incorporating adaptogens in early sobriety can be the key to sustained recovery.

What Are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are a group of herbs and natural substances known for relieving nervous tension and helping reduce the negative effects of stress on the body. They can also help get your body to homeostasis, a hormonal and emotional balance state. 

Adaptogens work with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA), which is responsible for initiating the body’s stress response. Keep in mind not all herbs are adaptogens. To be considered one, an herb or plant must be: nontoxic, support the body’s ability to cope with stress or lower cortisol levels, and help the body return to a stable and balanced state. 

5 Benefits of Adaptogens for Emotional Stability in Sobriety

Sadly, for many years, alcohol and drugs have been the go-to solution for dealing with high-stress levels. However, research has shown that these substances harm our physical health and mental well-being and carry a high risk of addiction.

Adaptogens can help regulate the body in many ways, potentially becoming a useful supplemental treatment for multiple ailments, including post-surgery recovery, substance abuse recovery, and congestive heart failure. 

1. Support Neurotransmission

Adaptogens come in handy when we are looking for a substance to help us balance our hormonal and central nervous systems. Adaptogens assist biological responses that buffer stress effects on our bodies. 

They also have a “normalizing effect” no matter the direction the stressors are throwing your body out of balance; adaptogens help to bring your system back into equilibrium. 

2. Reduce Stress

Many personal and interpersonal situations, such as financial worries, career dissatisfaction, relationship problems, illness, or unhappy home life, can cause stress. It’s something that can be constant and cause us long-term health problems. The controlled consumption of adaptogens can help reduce the negative effects of stress by avoiding harmful substances. 

3. Enhance Mood and Overall Physical Health

Your mood will increase during recovery. You’ll feel better about your body. Including adaptogens in your daily life can help you detoxify, increasing the likelihood of a successful recovery. They also improve your sleep, appetite, and heart activity.

Second, you can return to your social life by substituting alcoholic drinks. Non-alcoholic spirits are becoming more popular since 2021. They give people the feeling of improved mood or relaxation without the negative effects of alcohol. 

4. Improve Cognitive Performance

Adaptogens can help improve cognitive activities like memory, thinking speed and attention. Taking them in the right doses and during a pertinent period can help prevent neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases.

5. Support Resilience

Resilience is adapting well during adversity, trauma, stress or illness. Adaptogenic herbs help your body be more resilient, improving your emotional and mental stability. You’ll notice a better-regulated body, giving you the confidence to keep and strengthen your sobriety. 

Popular Adaptogenic Herbs

Adaptogenic herbs can help people who have abused their bodies with excessive alcohol and drugs quit addictive substances. Some popular ones include:

  • Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha has a soothing effect that helps regulate neurotransmitters and ease withdrawal symptoms. It also protects the brain and cognition from the toxic effects of alcohol consumption. 
  • Rhodiola. Promote it to increase energy, stamina, strength, and mental capacity. It also improves athletic performance, resists the effects of stress, and helps manage mental disorders like depression and anxiety. 
  • Holy Basil. It has been proven to possess antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties. Small daily doses can help the patient feel less anxious, stressed and depressed. 
  • Asian Ginseng. This herb affects the adrenal glands that secrete stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline). It’s useful to help the body recover from the metabolic stress of substance abuse. It also helps deal with adrenal fatigue and nervous system exhaustion, common symptoms of drug abuse. 
  • Reishi. It’s a fungus known for its ability to protect against multiple stressors. Just like Asian ginseng, it supports the function of the adrenal glands. 
  • Maca. This Peruvian adaptogenic is popular for being used for thousands of years because of its adaptogenic qualities. Its polysaccharides help neutralize harmful free radicals and cell damage. And its antioxidants are important to those who have abused their bodies with excess alcohol and drugs. 
  • Cordyceps. This fungus contains polysaccharide compounds such as beta-glucans and triterpenes, which are anti-inflammatory and immune-modulatory. They can regulate cortisol levels, supporting stress responses.

How to Use Adaptogens

Adaptogens have been used in Asia and India for centuries to treat various illnesses. In the US, researchers are growing the body of research as they praise adaptogens for substance abuse recovery. 

Different tea blends use adaptogens as their main ingredient. They also come in capsules, where dosage varies by plant. Adaptogens can also be used as a powder for soups and smoothies. 

Regardless of how you decide to consume it, it’s always important to:

  1. Look at the ingredients label and know the concentration of the product.
  2. Make sure not to mix them with other adaptogens or with medication.
  3. Get professional advice on how to take them.

If you plan on going with an adaptogen treatment, keep in mind that adaptogens work best in the short term. This is because your body could build a resistance to adaptogens and their intended effects, making them ineffective over time.

Potential Risks and Side Effects

Since adaptogens can affect hormone release and the nervous system, some professional control may be necessary. Every herb and fungus has different properties and functions, so you must take the ones that correspond to the problem you’re looking to solve. 

For example, if you have diabetes, you should avoid ginseng because it can lower blood sugar. The same goes for other conditions like hypertension, insomnia, hypothyroidism and depression. Other side effects include allergic reactions, abdominal pain, constipation, nausea and diarrhea.

Nonetheless, adaptogens remain a good alternative for stress and anxiety treatment. As long as your professional consultant is next to you in any decision, adaptogens can be a great companion during your recovery. If you think adaptogens might be a good choice, consult your addiction counselor or primary care physician to learn more.