5 Powerful Adaptogens to Calm Your Inflamed Brain

Adaptogens, nature’s miracle workers that help the body resist stressors of all kinds. These powerful herbs have been used in traditional medicine for centuries to help the body adapt and restore balance.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at how a select few adaptogens can help you achieve a stable mood, plus better energy and cognitive power, by targeting the body’s stress response and putting the brakes on brain inflammation.

Here are five of the most potent adaptogens that can calm your inflamed brain.

First, What are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are plants that help the body resist physical, chemical, and biological stressors. They work by regulating the production of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which can cause inflammation in the body if left unchecked. They also support the body’s natural ability to cope with stress and promote overall well-being.

By reducing stress levels, adaptogens can alleviate symptoms associated with chronic inflammation such as fatigue, brain fog, and mood swings. They can also help improve cognitive function, including memory and focus.

Read: 7 Signs You’re on the Road to Burnout

Understanding Inflammation in the Brain and Its Effects on Mood

Brain inflammation is a silent culprit behind many mood disorders. It can be caused by various factors, including chronic stress, poor diet, and environmental toxins. When inflammation occurs, it disrupts the normal functioning of neurotransmitters, leading to issues such as anxiety, depression, and cognitive decline (1).

The relationship between inflammation and mood is a complex one. Inflammatory cytokines, which are immune system molecules, can interfere with brain function and contribute to feelings of sadness or irritability. Understanding this connection is crucial for those looking to improve their mental health through holistic means.

Reducing brain inflammation can pave the way for better mood regulation and overall mental clarity. This is where adaptogens come in, offering a natural, gentle way to support the body’s resilience against stress and inflammation.

The Top 5 Adaptogens for Mood Support

Holy Basil

Holy Basil, also known as Tulsi, is revered in traditional Indian medicine for its healing properties. It acts as an adaptogen by helping the body adapt to stress and maintain balance. Holy Basil has anti-inflammatory properties that make it particularly effective for brain health (2).

This adaptogen can be consumed in various forms, such as teas, supplements, or even fresh leaves. It helps to calm the mind and improve focus, making it a great addition to any mental health regimen.

The calming effects of Holy Basil can help reduce anxiety and promote a sense of peace and well-being, making it a favorite among anyone pursuing holistic health.

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola rosea is known for its ability to combat fatigue and improve mental performance. This adaptogen works by balancing the body’s stress-response system, thereby reducing the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. This helps the body manage stress and promotes a calmer state of being. Rhodiola is also known for:

  • Reducing Fatigue: Rhodiola Rosea has been traditionally praised for its energy-boosting properties, potentially helping to combat the exhaustion that accompanies stressful events. In one study, 100 people with chronic fatigue symptoms received 400 mg of rhodiola every day for 8 weeks, and experienced reduced fatigue after only a week (3). 
  • Mood Stabilization: Rhodiola rosea is believed to exhibit mood-stabilizing effects, potentially reducing depressive symptoms with fewer side effects than medications (4). 
  • Enhanced Brain Function: Rhodiola Rosea might improve concentration, memory, and overall cognitive function—allowing us to better navigate daily life (5). 

Incorporating Rhodiola into your routine can be as simple as taking a supplement or sipping on Rhodiola tea. It’s an excellent option for those looking to boost their mental resilience naturally.

Many people report feeling more energetic and focused after adding Rhodiola to their wellness regimen, making it a must-try if you’re looking for a renewed sense of calm and ease.

Related: Best Adaptogenic Herbs to Balance Hormones


Ashwagandha, often referred to as Indian ginseng, is another powerful adaptogen. It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to treat various ailments, including stress and anxiety.

Ashwagandha is best known for its anti-anxiety and stress-relieving effects, and this is likely due to its ability to lower cortisol levels (6,7). Ashwagandha also appears to improve total sleep time and sleep quality in people with and without insomnia. A better rested body is more resilient against all types of stressors (8).

It’s available in various forms, including capsules, powders, and even as a tea. Before starting ashwagandha, I recommend testing your cortisol levels, as cortisol is a necessary hormone, and low cortisol can be just as much an issue as chronically high cortisol.

Want to test your hormones? Grab an at-home hormone testing kit here!

Ashwaganda is also a powerful adrenal adaptogen. If you struggle with adrenal fatigue, check out this video for more solutions. 

Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Lion’s Mane Mushroom is unique among adaptogens for its ability to support cognitive function and nerve health. It promotes the growth of new neurons and has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce brain fog and improve mental clarity.

  • Brain cell growth: Lion’s mane mushrooms contain hericenones and erinacines, which may stimulate brain cell growth by affecting the release of nerve growth factor (NGF). NGF regulates the growth and survival of brain cells (9). 
  • Anti-inflammatory properties: Lion’s mane mushrooms may help reduce brain fog and improve mental clarity through their anti-inflammatory properties.

Animal studies have also shown that lion’s mane may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease by reducing memory loss symptoms and preventing neuronal damage (10).  

It’s available in various forms, including supplements and teas, making it a versatile adaptogen for brain health. Lion’s Mane is particularly beneficial for those experiencing cognitive decline or looking to enhance their mental performance naturally.

Watch: How to Get Rid of Brain Fog

Reishi Mushroom

Reishi mushroom is known as the “mushroom of immortality” in traditional Chinese medicine. This adaptogen has a long history of use for promoting longevity and overall well-being.

For mood support, Reishi has been found to have antidepressant effects by regulating dopamine levels in the brain (11). Its anti-inflammatory properties may also help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.

Reishi is available in various forms, including capsules, powders, and teas. It’s an excellent addition to any mental health regimen for those seeking a sense of calm and balance in your daily life.

Watch: Balance Hormones by Tuning Your ‘Command Center’

How to Incorporate Adaptogens into Your Daily Routine

Supplements vs. Natural Sources

When it comes to incorporating adaptogens into your daily life, you have a few options. Supplements are a convenient way to ensure you’re getting the right doses, but natural sources can be just as effective. For example, you can brew a cup of Rhodiola or Holy Basil tea or cook a meal with Lion’s Mane mushrooms.

Choosing between supplements and natural sources depends on your lifestyle and preferences. Both methods offer their own set of benefits and can be easily integrated into your daily routine.

Experiment with different forms to see which works best for you. The key is consistency and finding a routine that you can stick with.

Potential Side Effects and Considerations

While adaptogens are generally safe, it’s essential to be aware of potential side effects. Some people may experience digestive issues, headaches, or allergic reactions. It’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement, especially if you have pre-existing conditions or are taking other medications.

Understanding the proper dosages and any potential interactions with other medications is crucial for safe and effective use. Always read labels and follow recommended guidelines, and source all supplements from a reputable, GMP-certified brand.

By taking these precautions, you can enjoy the benefits of adaptogens while minimizing any risks.

Key Takeaways

Adaptogens offer a holistic, natural way to combat brain inflammation and support mood health. Whether you’re looking to address mood-related symptoms or simply want to promote better brain health, adaptogens provide a valuable tool for managing stress and improving mood. With a variety of options like Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, Holy Basil, or Lion’s Man and Reishi mushrooms, there’s an adaptogen for everyone.

For those eager to learn more, consider joining our upcoming workshop to heal your inflamed brain. Learn more here!

Together, we’ll explore the root causes of elevated cortisol, its effects on your body’s stress response system, and how you can protect your brain from the effects of chronic inflammation.