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Published on March 01, 2022

adaptogen herbs and tea

Fungus Coffee or Adaptogen Tea: Should You Try Them?

Would you care of a steaming cup of adaptogen tea? If not, maybe a hot cup of fungus coffee – does that sound good?

If these drinks sound weird, it might be due to the fact that adaptogens are new to you. Adaptogens are nontoxic substances, typically herbs, roots and mushrooms, believed to increase the body’s ability to deal with stress. Since everyone now is dealing with extra stress from anxiety, fatigue, trauma, or infection, these drinks and supplements are having a moment.

Adding something to strengthen the immune system and increase vitality seems perfect, yet there are considerations.

Supplements and the Gray Area of the FDA

Unlike many recommendations, I can’t simply encourage you to incorporate certain whole foods. The main reason is that schisandra berries and ashwagandha root are going to be pretty hard to find in a local grocery stores. Not to mention: I don’t have any good recipes for either!

Numerous food manufacturers have been happy to develop adaptogen-rich products; there are coffees, teas, granolas, cookies, popsicles – you name it.

Powders, tinctures or capsule forms also are readily available, but like all herbs and supplements the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate them. So whether you order a $53 one-pound bag of dried schisandra berries online, brew up a pot of Four Sigmatic mushroom-infused coffee or purchase a bottle of encapsulated adaptogens supplement pills, make sure you understand what you’re ingesting – and if it’s safe.

Popular Adaptogens

Let’s look at some of these fancy foods and nutrients. They include:

Ashwagandha

  • It’s also known as Withania somnifera, and it’s a root typically used medicinally.
  • It’s known to have a calming effect, so it’s often recommended for people tired during the day, but wired at night.
  • It can lower blood sugar and blood pressure, so people with diabetes or who use blood-pressure meds should use caution before trying it.
  • This supplement also poses a moderate risk for people who use drugs to suppress their immune system or people prescribed sedatives.

Schisandra

  • Also known as Schisandra chinensis, it’s another medicinal berry.
  • It’s known to help with physical stamina, and it can provide protection from stress and protect the liver from toxins.
  • This adaptogen has risks – it’s been shown to interact with drugs that are changed in the liver, and it can affect how quickly it’s broken down. It can change how medications like Advil, Motrin, Celebrex, Glucotrol and Coumadin work.

American or Asian Ginseng

  • This supplement is sometimes called Panax quinquefolius, and like the others mentioned, it’s seen as a medicinal extract. It’s said to be beneficial during cold and flu season, helping reduce the severity of upper respiratory infections.
  • Many people swear by it for how it helps with mental function and clarity.
  • The warning for ginseng is simple: it can increase immune system activity. People with autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus face risks if they use it, and so do those who have bleeding or heart conditions, diabetes or schizophrenia.

Rhodolia

This herb is called “the golden root” or rhodiola rosea, and it may improve mood instability and generalized anxiety disorders.

  • Golden root can also help to lower blood sugar and blood pressure. That’s why it’s important that anyone with diabetes or who uses blood pressure medication talk to their provider before they try it.
  • Like ginseng, it can interact with drugs the liver changes.

How Much Should You Take?

A safe dose of each adaptogen can vary. You should know how it was processed and what you want it to do. Some adaptogens are meant for use over a short time, but others only help if you take them over weeks or months. You should consider how they’re grown and manufactured as well.

Places to look for third-party evaluations include:

  • United States Pharmacopeia (USP) or
  • Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)

Both offer a wide range of information on specific brands. They can’t guarantee safety of a specific product – but they will help ensure you understand the amount of active ingredients in each one.

Before you dive into any of these possibly good-for-you ponds, please: Speak with your health care team and provider. Adaptogens have merit – and risks.

Learn more about nutrition facts.

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