“Panax ginseng, also known as Asian ginseng or P. ginseng, may be the best-known adaptogen,” notes Arti Lakhani, MD, medical director of the Integrative Oncology Program at the AMITA Health Cancer Institute. “It is commonly used to combat low energy, especially in the elderly who are recovering from illness or those with poor immune function.” There’s also American ginseng, which is considered to be more calming than the Asian variety, and may be beneficial for those with anxiety, she says. Research shows that it can help improve working memory and induce a feeling of calm.
Most adaptogens come in a variety of forms: teas, tonics, tinctures or extracts you can mix with water, tablets similar to supplements, or powders you can mix into a smoothie. Ultimately, how you take an adaptogen comes down to personal preference; Dr. Lakhani prefers tinctures and extracts or supplement pills because the doses are more exact. It’s worth noting that adaptogens are generally safe. “Adaptogens tend to have minimal side effects and drug interactions,” she says. “They are powerful but slow-acting, so benefits are seen after a few weeks.”