Harnessing Adaptogens for Hormonal Harmony and Weight Management

In the era of countless weight management solutions flooding the market, it’s easy to get lost in the noise. Despite the allure of pharmaceutical answers to weight loss like Ozempic, warnings about its potential side effects have stirred caution. Meanwhile, more natural alternatives such as Berberine, also deemed “nature’s Ozempic,” are being praised as offering promises of similar benefits with fewer concerns. Amidst the cacophony of options, there’s a profound shift towards embracing nature’s remedies as a safe and holistic approach to better hormone balance and weight management. At the forefront of this shift is a group of herbs called Adaptogens.


Adaptogens are a unique class of herbs known for their ability to help the body adapt to stressors while promoting overall well-being. The principle behind adaptogens is that they help balance, restore, and protect the body, enhancing your overall resilience. These herbs are unique because they adapt their function according to the specific needs of the body, working to either tone down hyperactivity or bolster diminished activity within the body’s systems. Adaptogenic herbs have a long history of use in traditional medicine systems such as traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda.

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Hormonal imbalance can wreak havoc on our bodies, leading to weight gain, fatigue, mood swings, and more. Luckily, harnessing the power of adaptogens offers a gentle yet effective way to restore equilibrium. The Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis is a crucial neuroendocrine system that regulates many bodily processes including stress response, mood regulation, immune function, digestion, energy utilization, and overall hormonal balance. This axis involves a complex set of interactions among the hypothalamus (a region in the brain), the pituitary gland (a small gland located at the base of the brain), and the adrenal glands (located on top of each kidney). Adaptogens impact the HPA axis and act as gentle tonics for restoring balance and harmony to the body's stress response system. Thus, impacting the hormones that help regulate various physiological processes, including metabolism. By supporting the adrenal system, adaptogens help regulate the release of stress hormones like cortisol, which when imbalanced, can lead to issues with metabolism, weight, and appetite.


In order for an herb to be classified as an adaptogen it must meet certain criteria; one of which is in regard to safety. To be considered an adaptogen, the herb must be safe for general use and not harm the normal functions of the body when taken in standard dosages. It should not itself cause stress to the body but rather help mitigate it, without producing disruption or negative side effects. Though adaptogens are generally considered to be safe, it is always advisable to consult a healthcare professional, especially if you have underlying health issues or are on other medications. Use of adaptogens while pregnant is not recommended due to the lack of safety data.

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There are many herbs and mushrooms which fall under the category of adaptogens. While all adaptogens help to stabilize physiological processes and promote homeostasis, they each have their own unique benefits as well. Let’s talk about a couple of our favorites which are a great place to start when looking to incorporate adaptogens into your life for stress relief, weight management, or better balance.


Ashwagandha is a prominent adaptogenic herb widely used in Ayurvedic medicine as a Rasayana (a tonic that boosts overall vitality and longevity). Its roots, which are the most commonly used part of the plant for medicinal purposes, are said to have a distinct horsey smell (the name “Ashwagandha” derives from Sanskrit, meaning “the smell of a horse”). But don’t let the horsey smell scare you away, this medicinal plant has gained significant attention in the West due to its ability to help the body manage stress and enhance overall vitality. Studies show that taking ashwagandha root extract can significantly lower stress and serum cortisol levels [1]. It is believed that Ashwaganda’s hormone-balancing effects are due to its ability to impact the HPA axis [2]. This axis plays a crucial role in the body’s response to stress and regulation of various body processes including digestion, immune system function, mood and emotions, sexuality, and energy storage and expenditure.

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Schisandra is considered beneficial for maintaining hormonal equilibrium due to its adaptogenic properties. Similarly to ashwagandha, it influences the HPA axis [3]. By modulating this axis, schisandra can help mitigate the negative effects of stress hormones like cortisol, which when unbalanced, can lead to various health issues including adrenal fatigue and disrupted reproductive hormones. This regulatory effect can aid in maintaining a more balanced hormonal environment conducive to overall well-being.

Regarding weight loss, Schisandra may offer indirect support primarily through its effects on liver function and stress reduction [4]. The herb is known to support liver health, crucial for efficient metabolism of fats and overall detoxification processes. Effective removal of toxins and a healthy metabolic rate are vital during weight loss efforts. Additionally, by reducing stress and controlling cortisol levels, Schisandra can potentially help prevent the common issue of stress-induced overeating and weight gain. Moreover, Schisandra's potential to boost energy and fight fatigue can be beneficial during physical activities, potentially leading individuals to maintain a more active lifestyle [5].

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There are many ways to incorporate adaptogens into your daily life. Luckily, most adaptogenic herbs have a mild or pleasant taste. As such, they can be added to smoothies, baking, chocolates, and other culinary creations. For herbal businesses, incorporating these adaptogens into teas, supplements, or ready-to-drink formulations provides a natural option for customers seeking to maintain hormonal balance and enhance their lifestyle without harsh side effects.

Shop the complete list of adaptogenic herbs that Herb Co. carries or shop our full website catalog for all herbal offerings. We also list important information about each herb here, including culinary uses, industrial uses, and safety.


In our journey towards hormonal harmony and weight management, adaptogenic herbs serve as a safe and empowering starting point. As you embark on this holistic approach to wellness, it's essential to remember that adaptogens are not a quick fix but rather a long-term investment in your health. By cultivating mindfulness, nourishing your body with wholesome foods, staying active, and prioritizing self-care, you can harness the benefits of adaptogenic herbs to achieve lasting vitality and well-being.

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Herbalist, Writer

Sarah Bay is an herbalist from Northern California who is passionate about keeping alive the knowledge and tradition of working with plants as medicine. You can often find Sarah in the forest, talking to the plants and taking cold dips in the river, or in the kitchen making herbal potions.

Disclaimer: Information and statements about the products on this site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease or for prescribing any medication. We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using any herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.


[1] A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23439798/

[2] An investigation into the stress-relieving and pharmacological actions of an ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study https://journals.lww.com/md-journal/fulltext/2019/09130/an_investigation_into_the_stress_relieving_and.67.aspx?crsi=662497588&cicada_org_src=healthwebmagazine.com&cicada_org_mdm=direct

[3] Schisandra chinensis and Rhodiola rosea exert an anti-stress effect on the HPA axis and reduce hypothalamic c-Fos expression in rats subjected to repeated stress https://www.spandidos-publications.com/10.3892/etm.2015.2882

[4] Wuzhi capsule (Schisandra Sphenanthera extract) attenuates liver steatosis and inflammation during non-alcoholic fatty liver disease development https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S075333221832081X

[5] Metabolic mechanism of a polysaccharide from Schisandra chinensis to relieve chronic fatigue syndrome https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0141813016312247