Adaptogens: Nature’s Answer to Stressed & Tired

2020

Interest in adaptogens is high, and it’s easy to see why: According to a Gallup poll released in 2019, more Americans were stressed and worried in 2018 than they have been at most points during the past decade—55% of Americans polled said they had experienced stress during the previous day, and 45% said they felt worried a lot (1).

Reflecting on the increasing sense of angst, David Winston RH (AHG), Founder and President, Herbalist & Alchemist, notes: “Since I published the first edition of my recently revised book Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief in 2007 (the expanded and updated second edition was published in 2019), the world and people’s health needs have changed. Chronic stress is now one of the primary complaints most people have about their lives, and they understand that not only does this impact their quality of life, it undermines their physical and emotional health. With today’s unprecedented angst about the economy, the environment and political and social upheavals, many people are stressed out or anxious on a daily basis.”

Adding to the problem: “Our dysfunctional diet, exposure to toxins, and sedentary lifestyle are a perfect storm that washes away our stamina and resilience,” says Cheryl Myers, Chief of Scientific Affairs and Education, EuroPharma, Inc., maker of the Terry Naturally brand.

Enter adaptogens. “People are looking for adaptogens to help even out their day and keep them feeling well, whether that’s with energy, stress, emotional health, overall health, or otherwise,” says Nichole Carver, Marketing Director for RidgeCrest Herbals, which offers adaptogens in blends, including Adrenal Fatigue Fighter with ashwagandha, ginseng and eleuthero to help with stress and energy; Anxiety Free with ashwagandha as well as Holy Basil (Tulsi) to help with stress and blood sugar and blood pressure already in the normal range; and rhodiola in ClearLungs Sport. Carver adds, “Some of the other adapotgens that we use in our formulas, by no means a comprehensive list, are schisandra, licorice root, and astragalus.”

While awareness of the benefits of adaptogens may have been low in the past, that is changing rapidly. “The increasing interest in traditional medicine from around the globe, and particularly Asian countries, has brought a lot of new knowledge to ancient practices,” says Amy Keller, Education & New Product Development at Organic India. “Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India, and TCM, aka Traditional Chinese Medicine, have used herbs and more specifically adaptogens as critical tools for wellness for millennia. Finally the education, information and access to these powerful tools for wellness have found their way west. As consumers learn more about the potential of these herbs for promoting health and wellness, their demand is greatly increasing.”

Mark J. Kaylor, founder of the not-for-profit Radiant Health Project and consultant with Mushroom Wisdom, is pleased to see the shift. “Finally, it is music to my ears that more folks are recognizing the power and potential of not only taking a health preventive path but also working on maximizing health and vitality rather than the previous way of disease and symptom management.”

In addition to the interest in managing stress, our experts point to several factors driving category growth:

1) A trend toward wellness. Kaylor notes, “Feedback from retailers suggests that this movement is driven by Millennials’ focus and desire to simply not get sick in the first place.” And Vladimir Badmaev, M.D., Ph.D., President/CEO/Founder of American Medical Holdings Inc., notes that concerns about aging are also a factor. “The introduction of and increased demand for adaptogens coexists with the increased graying population and a drive to improve quality of life with aging.”

2) Innovation. Nathan Cox, Co-Founder, TruWild, LLC, notes that as more studies begin to be published and more specific information is released on adaptogens, the category will continue to grow with unique products and uses being created to help consumers combat their stress and elevate their mood. Carver adds that in the future we can expect to see these “amazing herbs” used in new ways, like added to more foods and beverages and even body care products.

Currently, Kaylor sees an increase in companies producing and distributing “tonics” and adaptogenic products and ingredients. “This can be seen in the dramatic increase in awareness and sales of mushroom products,” he maintains. “While this category has been around for decades, it is now finally seeing dramatic growth and recognition of the adaptogenic and overall health-supporting qualities that many mushrooms offer.”

3) Investment in research. “Over the last couple of decades,” Kaylor says, “there has been an increasing number of research efforts exploring these long used traditional tonics, and with this research has come a growing acknowledgement and acceptance of their health-promoting benefits.”

Medicine Hunter Chris Kilham of Medicine Hunter, Inc. also sees “efficacy and tremendous need” as category drivers. “People need more energy, endurance, stamina, mental clarity and focus and overall enhanced wellness,” Kilham says. “The adaptogens—including ashwagandha, rhodiola, eleutherococcus, schisandra, panax ginseng and others—deliver results people can feel. Plus the body of science on adaptogens is now very significant.” This, he says, has resulted in tremendous growth in this category.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of the allopathic methodology adopt some of these herbs in their practices,” Carver adds. “Some already have been.”

Indeed, Kilham forecasts, “Ashwagandha will nudge some of the anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax and the benzodiazepines to the side, as it offers significant anxiolytic benefits. Rhodiola rosea will gain more traction for its use as a top-rate antidepressant. Schisandra will emerge more strongly as a powerful mind-sharpener, and both eleuthero and panax ginseng will enjoy even greater application for sports.”

A closer look at the category

“Just as herbal formulas are traditionally created for the specific individual, I think it important to offer adaptogenic formulas for different kinds of stress in a range of people, not a ‘one size fits all’ approach,” says Winston. “There are stimulating adaptogens, calming adaptogens, nourishing adaptogens, heating or cooling and moistening or drying adaptogens. Which one or ones are most appropriate (these herbs are usually used in formulas along with nervines, nootropics and restorative tonics) depends on the person taking it—age, gender, health status, etc.”

That said, Winston continues, “I would also point out that adaptogens are not panaceas and are not a substitute for the ‘foundations of health’—adequate and good quality sleep, a healthy diet, regular exercise, healthy lifestyle choices and stress-reduction techniques. Still, adaptogens can be an important way to reduce the effects of chronic or acute stress. Adaptogens, properly used, can improve our energy and help us to feel better and be more resilient in the face of life’s many challenges. Adaptogens can be incredibly useful during finals or a major demanding project at work, when there is a new baby in the house, to recover faster from jetlag, to enhance performance and recovery when training for a marathon or when visiting a high altitude location like Machu Picchu.”

There are some differing thoughts and even confusion on which of nature’s gems are true adaptogens—and which are truly effective herbs in their own right, yet do not necessarily meet the definition of an adaptogen based on the current level of research. Winston’s take: “There are only eight to nine herbs that are proven adaptogens and have adequate research to confirm this. These include Ashwagandha, Asian and American Ginseng, Schisandra, Rhodiola, Cordyceps, Shilajit, Rhaponticum and Eleuthero.” To that he adds “probable Adaptogens” including Holy  Basil, Shatavari, Rou Cong Rong/Cistanche, Suo Yang/Cynomorium, and Morinda,” which he says need more research in terms of their adaptogenic actions. He adds that the list goes on with “possible adaptogens” that require further study before he would move them to his “proven” list.

As noted, though, there are differing viewpoints. Some of the offerings on Winston’s “probable” list are considered adaptogens by other experts and researchers, including within this article. And as Dr. Badmaev notes, “The evolving science on adaptogens has room for further defining new adaptogenic compounds and applications, translating them to the practical knowledge and to a market presence of the food supplements and nutraceuticals supported by a clinical research. The objective in an evolving adaptogen segment should be a continued product innovation with solid science supported safety and functionality. The ultimate goal of this segment would be to develop products with proven quality in addressing health conditions that rob us of quality of life.”

Adaptogen all-stars

Perhaps the buzziest of the adaptogens at the moment is ashwagandha, which is backed by many studies. “I work very closely with KSM-66 Ashwagandha, which enjoys a large group of very fine human clinical studies,” says Medicine Hunter Kilham. One clinical study concluded that evidence suggests a high-concentration full-spectrum ashwagandha root extract can safely and effectively improve an individual’s resistance towards stress—and thereby improve self-assessed quality of life; another study suggests that ashwagandha root extract can be used for body weight management in adults under chronic stress, while a third suggests that ashwagandha may be beneficial for normalizing thyroid indices in subclinical hypothyroid patients. And that’s just to spotlight a few—there is also research on anti-aging, memory and cognition, female sexual function, male sexual function and more. An overview of the published research on KSM-66 can be found at ksm66ashwagandhaa.com/clinical-studies/.

Natreon also offers ashwagandha as a branded ingredient—Sensoril Ashwagandha. “Ashwagandha has been used in Ayurveda for thousands of years to promote longevity, enhance vitality, support a healthy immune response, enhance focus and to help reduce everyday stress and fatigue,” says Bruce Brown, MPH, MA, President at Natreon. “Sensoril offers warming, soothing, and energizing adaptogenic properties depending on what the body needs.” He adds that in research utilizing a combination of the leaves and roots of ashwagandha unique to Sensoril, this adaptogen was shown to enhance focus, ease everyday stress, increase muscular strength, and support heart health, healthy joints and a healthy immune response (2-9). “As tradition holds,” he adds, “combining both ashwagandha leaves and roots provides a full spectrum extract traditionally used in Ayurveda and harnesses the power from the whole plant to reduce stress, support mood and healthy sleep.”

Dr. Badmaev points to the specific benefits related to the leaves of Ashwagandha, used in the company’s product. “CircadiaVite is a water extract of leaves of ashwagandha standardized for triethylene glycol and developed as an adaptogen which regulates the circadian rhythm in the body,” he explains. “Our sleep and practically all aspects of the body’s physiological processes are controlled by an internal clock regulating the 24-hour day and night cycle known as circadian rhythm or cycle. Healthy circadian rhythm function goes beyond giving us a quality and restful sleep; it also addresses the cardiovascular function, functioning of the central nervous system and the regenerative and immune responses of the body. Ultimately, our optimal life-span may depend on securing an undisturbed circadian cycle. The water extract of Ashwagandha leaves is different from the alcoholic extract of the roots typically standardized for a high content of withanolides, ineffective to induce sleep, and used in other aspects of adaptogen activity of Ashwagandha plant.”

The company also offers Adaptrin, which Dr. Badmaev describes as “a proprietary herbal and mineral multitasking adaptogen, supporting healthy cardiovascular and immune systems. Its multitasking adaptogen mechanism is designed to regulate, normalize, and support the cardiovascular and immune systems and is based on peer-review journals published clinical studies.”

For consumers interested in Ashwagandha, there are plenty of formulas that feature it. North American Herb & Spice (NAHS) offers Ashadrene, a line of raw drops and capsules designed to support the adrenal glands and the body’s healthy coping mechanism for everyday stress, says Judy Gray, Founder/President of NAHS. “The raw drops are certified and organic and both formulas are fortified with 3x royal jelly. Royal jelly also acts as an adaptogen in that it supports healthy adrenal function and increased energy.” She adds that the line is formulated for use by males and females of all ages. The company also offers NAHS Royal Power, which features royal jelly as the main ingredient.

For calming, Herbalist & Alchemist offers Calm Adapt, which also contains the calming adaptogens Reishi mushroom and Schisandra berry, as well as nervines Linden flower and Oat milky seed, Winston says. “It is appropriate for high-strung type A people who cannot relax. It is also useful for what in Chinese medicine is known as disturbed shen; this includes conditions such as excess insomnia, anxiety, adult ADHD, stress-induced hypertension, headaches or muscle tension, fly-off the handle anger and irritability.”

In another blend, ashwagandha can help promote endurance—Winston explains that the company’s Fit Adapt is designed to support an active lifestyle for athletes of all levels, with ashwagandha and adaptogens known for promoting physical endurance and performance: Reishi, Eleuthero, Schisandra, and Cordyceps, which Winston calls the “secret of Chinese athletes.”

Speaking of Schisandra, this adaptogen also is known for its role in supporting healthy immune function. Winston includes it in Immune Adapt. “Based on traditional Chinese Fu Zheng Pei Ben (support the normal qi, strengthen resistance) therapy, this formula restores vital energy and balance to the body so that it is better equipped to deal with stress and immune system challenges. It is a blend of immune amphoterics (normalizes immune function whether it is hypo-active or hyper-active). The formula includes Schisandra, Eleuthero, Red and Black Reishi mushrooms, Reishi mycelium, Licorice, Astragalus and the restorative tonic Codonopsis.

2020 Trend alert: “Biohacking” Health with Methylation Adaptogens

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage highlighted methylation adaptogens in its top 10 nutrition trends for 2020. Natural Grocers’ Manager of Scientific Affairs and Nutrition Education Shelby Miller, MS in Dietetics and Exercise Science, said in a press release that methylation has become a buzzword among the health and wellness community, and for good reason: “It is one of the most important biohacks for health out there, and methylation adaptogens make it easier to manage.” As Miller explains, “Methylation is required for just about every single process that goes on in the body, from gene expression to the production of RNA and DNA, to the production of neurotransmitters to mitochondrial health.”

That said, balance is the key. “When balanced, when the body does not over or under methylate, all of these systems work and we feel great,” Miller said. “We sleep well, have loads of energy, can focus, remember and learn, our joints don’t ache, and our cardiovascular system is in tip-top shape. On the other hand, methylation imbalances can lead to a wide range of conditions, including depression, anxiety, heart disease, increased risk of cancer, hormone imbalance, poor detox capacity, infertility, birth defects, fatigue, and low energy.”

To avoid those downsides, Miller points to methylation adaptogens including lutein, curcumin, and grape seed extract. “These are nutrients that gently support our body’s own ability to stabilize and balance methylation, without the risk of over or under-methylating.”

Kaylor also points to the benefits of certain mushrooms as adaptogens. “While a case can be made for any number of mushrooms, there are two that have been used in traditional medicine that stand out, along with a new-kid-on-the-block,” he says. “The two traditional mushroom adaptogens are Cordyceps and Reishi, both with centuries of use in traditional Chinese Medicine along with significant bodies of research over the last 70 years.”

Taking a closer look at cordyceps, Kaylor says it has long been recognized as a “superior” remedy in traditional Chinese Medicine. “A whole-body tonic par excellence, Cordyceps provides adaptogenic and strengthening activities. In traditional medicine it is said to build Yang energy (fire, drive, motivation) while nourishing Yin (the substance of the body), and while clearly not modern medical terminology, researchers have actually put this to the test and confirmed these traditional energetics. Cordyceps strengthens the body while making it more resilient, and is particularly effective at enhancing kidney, lung and heart function.”

Reishi, Kaylor says, “offers such a diverse array of adaptogenic/tonic benefits that I have coined the phrase, ‘tonic for the 21st century’ to summarize its whole body and systemic health-supporting benefits. Reishi supports the structure and function of the brain, heart/cardiovascular system, liver, kidneys, adrenals, and lungs all the while fighting free radicals and reducing inflammation. The one word that best sums up Reishi’s adaptogenic gifts is balance; Reishi is all about balance, mind, body and spirit. And in today’s crazy world, we certainly are in need of some balancing assistance.”

Kaylor adds that a couple of recent studies found that not all Reishi products are created equal. “One independent study even found the majority of the products tested did not even contain any Reishi mushroom. It is also essential to capture the array of Reishi activities that it be extracted in both hot water and in alcohol to make accessible the full adaptogenic qualities of this mushroom. For these and other reasons, my Reishi of choice is Super Reishi from Mushroom Wisdom.”

And the newcomer? “The potentially new addition to the list of adaptogenic mushrooms is the Maitake; most commonly thought of as a potent immune booster, researchers are beginning to uncover a wider array of actions, including benefits to the cardiovascular system, liver and even the brain,” says Kaylor. “This expanding body of literature suggests that Maitake, while keeping our immune system active, may also assist the body in adapting to many of the stresses and strains of today’s world.”

Also speaking to the power of mushrooms, Cox says TruWild’s Motion is a performance product with PEAK O2, which contains six organic adaptogen mushrooms including Reishi and Lion’s Mane to help increase VO2 Max for increased endurance.

Chaga is another mushroom that Gray says has adaptogenic properties. “Our chaga line of products utilizes the chaga mushroom, known as the ‘King of all Herbs.’” She notes that research shows chaga is one of the most powerful antioxidants in nature and supports increased energy levels.

Moving on from mushrooms, there’s an oldie-but-goodie that started to generate buzz in 2019: Red Ginseng. “When people think of adaptogens, they think almost exclusively of ashwagandha…but actually ginseng is a very potent adaptogen—it may be more potent and has certainly has been around at least as long if not longer,” says Adam M. Goodman, VP Sales, Korea Ginseng Corporation (KGC), as well as President of the NPA East Board of Directors. “Typically, talking specifically about ginseng, the thought is energy, stamina and I euphemistically use the word ‘potency.’ And while those aren’t invalid uses, that’s not the way most of the world uses ginseng. Most of the world uses ginseng either as an adaptogen, or as an immune support nutrient or a daily tonic, almost the way that we would use a multivitamin.”

In terms of getting the benefits, Goodman says the higher the concentration, the more potent the specific product, the better results one should theoretically get. Looking at offerings from KGC, he says, “Whether it’s the Everytime Extract 2 gram or the Extract 30 Gram, anything with a higher concentration of ginseng extract is going to have more benefit. These products can be used daily, either by themselves or mixed with something else.”

At Terry Naturally, Myers says, “We offer a number of adaptogens, but one of our newest supplements, HRG80 Red Ginseng Energy, is something that we’re very excited about. Red ginseng (Panax ginseng) is a familiar herb that has been known to traditional practitioners and their patients for thousands of years, and it is one of the world’s oldest and most powerful adaptogens for bolstering daily physical and mental energy, a healthy libido, and resilience in the face of stress.” She adds that the company’s HRG80 is hydroponically grown “in carefully tended, ultra clean conditions without pesticides in a state-of-the art Belgian facility.”

Myers points to research showing that red ginseng helps preserve mental and physical energy, supports healthy HPA axis activity, and supports serotonin, cortisol, and GABA levels. “That translates into making it easier for people to get through their days, especially if they experience post-lunchtime slumps in the afternoon—as I think many of us can identify with.” She adds that she’s felt the difference personally: “I have to say from my own experience that HRG80 Red Ginseng is one of the best botanicals I have ever tried for energy, stamina, and to help me feel focused and present—even during some of my most demanding days.”

Ginseng has also been shown in clinical studies to reduce menopause symptoms and has positive effects on mental well-being, libido, energy, and other aspects of overall health—with no negative impact on hormonal balance, Myers adds. Winston, who offers both Men’s Adapt and Women’s Adapt with Red Ginseng and other herbs from Herbalist & Alchemist, notes, “Multiple human clinical trials clearly show that Red Ginseng is not just a ‘men’s herb.’ It improves libido in post-menopausal women and reduces menopausal symptoms and cardiovascular risk factors as well.”

For people who feel a lack of energy or mental clarity, Herbalist & Alchemist also has Energy Adapt, which provides Red Ginseng, Rhodiola and Holy Basil to support the endocrine and nervous systems, as well as immune, cardiovascular and digestive function. Additional herbs in the formula help promote brain function and mood. And maca, he adds, is a nutritive tonic and possible adaptogen. “It enhances the effects of the other herbs and, when combined with the stimulating Adaptogens Red Ginseng and Rhodiola, provides support for male and female sexual vitality.”

Maca has been used for 2,000 years in South America to provide natural energy and alertness, adds Cox, noting that it also pairs well with ashwagandha; both herbs, along with Holy Basil, are found in the company’s adaptogen-specific product called Adaptogens, which is intended as a natural energy and mood support supplement for outdoor athletes.

At Organic India, which has been offering adaptogens for over 20 years, the top sellers as single ingredients are Tulsi (Holy Basil), Ashwagandha and Triphala, and Keller notes that the company also offers these ingredients in formulas such as Joy!, Peaceful Sleep, and Psyllium Pre and Probiotic Fiber. Taking a closer look at Tulsi, Keller says it is affectionately referred to as the ‘Queen of Herbs.’ “Today Tulsi Tea is a staple in homes across the globe because she is an herb that lends herself well to a tea due to her beautiful taste, not to mention her amazing stress relieving and balancing properties.” And Triphala is a formula of three super fruits: Amalaki, Haritaki and Bibhitaki. Keller calls it “a world renowned digestive formula, used traditionally for everyone in the family.”

Also offering adaptogenic actions is Eurycoma longifolia, which HPI offers as the proprietary extract LJ100 Tongkat ali. Annie Eng, CEO of HP Ingredients (HPI), points to one study in which the combination of LJ100 with a multivitamin was shown to help improve quality of life factors, mood, stress response and immune parameters in moderately stressed but healthy participants (aged 25 to 65), from an adaptogenic mechanism. “Those in the combination group reported improvements in vigor, mental acuity and cognition, emotional well-being, and testosterone levels, possibly through hormonal balance and nutritional supplementation,” Eng adds. “Further, participants taking the combination reported a significant improvement in their mental component domain, suggesting they felt ‘calm and peaceful,’ emotional well-being, and improvement in energy/fatigue profile after 12 weeks.”

Another energizing adaptogen: Shilajit. “Natreon’s PrimaVie Shilajit is a resin sourced from the Himalayan Mountains, traditionally used as an energizer and rejuvenator,” says Brown, who also points to the clinical research behind the company’s branded ingredient. “The unique combination of bioactives naturally found in PrimaVie support multiple aspects of healthy aging, including enhanced energy and performance in men and women and improved bone mineral density and skin health in healthy aging women” (10-13).

Concerns for the future: Sourcing

“As adaptogens have become more popular and demand increases, some ingredient suppliers may cut corners on quality,” Winston cautions. “It’s always important to make sure manufacturers source ingredients carefully and do their own testing to confirm quality and identity of herbs, but doubly so for popular categories.” What’s more, he adds, “Higher demand can mean higher prices as manufacturers compete for ingredients, so making sure the dose meets specifications to deliver results is also crucial to ensure consumers get the benefits they are expecting.”

Issues of sourcing are going to be felt more acutely by manufacturers and customers alike, agrees Myers. “Natural medicines are, after all, products of the natural world. They are subject to drought, flooding, climate shift, pollution, and crop failures.” What’s more, she adds, “the health of the soil must be considered, too. These are factors that drove the innovation of HRG80 Red Ginseng. We knew that red ginseng could help a lot of people feel their best, but having a reliable, healthy source of ginseng was another matter.”

Keller share the concerns regarding sourcing. “Organic India sees the amazing potential for adaptogens in the future—the challenge will be responsible sourcing of these precious herbs.” She notes that as the popularity of adaptogens increases, so does the potential for irresponsible and unscrupulous souring and trade practices. At Organic India, she adds, “We are fortunate to be completely vertically integrated, and direct trade so we have complete control over our entire supply chain, using organic regenerative agriculture, supporting marginal farmers and fair trade practices since our inception. We strongly believe in protecting the potency and availability of these herbs by remaining true to these values.” 

Certainly in the mushroom category there is some concern with adulteration as seen with both Cordyceps and Reishi, Kaylor adds. “This is why responsible companies like Mushroom Wisdom go through elaborate sourcing controls and testing to insure the correct species is used, the mushrooms are grown in a way mirroring nature, and are processed in such a way to make the fullest range of constituents bioavailable.”

Regarding purity, Gray says, “At NAHS we harvest our wild ingredients from the most remote, uninhabited areas to ensure that our products are free of pollutants and other factors that affect the potency and purity of the ingredients. Every measure is taken to ensure the lands are left undisturbed so nature can replenish itself.”  

Educating consumers

The good news is that consumers are interested in learning more about this category. “Consumers are asking for more information, they want to understand the product and product category,” says Cox. But, he adds, “With so many supplements on the market it’s difficult for consumers to differentiate between products and the benefits they will provide…The product must specifically target a user demographic and clearly outline the benefits as to why the consumer needs it. Retailers should continue to educate their staff and have one-on-one conversations with the brands to understand the product and who it is for.”

Myers adds, “Retailers have a built-in audience for any supplement that helps people feel more energetic, focused, and better able to deal with stress. Depending the store, retailers may want to invite guest speakers for discussions about the history and use of adaptogens, stress-coping techniques, or even have experts who work in the field of brain mechanics and mental well-being discuss the way our minds work when under stress.” Myers also notes, “There’s a lot of ways to tie in effective, clinically researched, and traditionally revered natural medicines into our modern world. In fact, I think that retailers are really doing that every day.”

Kilham points out that there’s some freedom for retailers here. “You can let people know that the adaptogens help you adapt to stress, and that they promote energy, endurance, stamina and enhanced mental function. These are not disease claims. Sing it loud.”

That viewpoint is shared by Kaylor: “I have been suggesting for years that stores actually create display categories for these adaptogenic/tonic remedies. Our industry is particularly well suited and situated for this type of organization: The focus is not on disease, rather it is on optimal health, so there are no threats of drug or disease claims. Our industry is also unmatched in these types of remedies. While some drugs can do amazing things, the simple reality is that their targets are symptoms and diseases. Adaptogens, on the other hand, help us maximize our health and vitality, assisting us in being better and healthier overall, something pharmaceuticals simply can’t do. So along with the various categories like immune health, antioxidants, joints and omega-3 oils, add a tonic/adaptogen category to help keep your customers at their best.”

Keller adds that some retailers are already successfully taking advantage of this opportunity. “With the increase in demand and awareness of adaptogens, we are seeing retailers build entire adaptogen sets to cover health issues from soup to nuts to meet all of their consumers adaptogens needs and requests.”

And for another way to increase interest in the section, Eng suggests: “Creative campaigns that depict balance or adapting in any form will drive the message home and create more willingness to purchase adaptogen-specific supplements. One visually compelling idea is to incorporate images of chameleons in different environments—the chameleon is perhaps the most attractive visual form of adaptation. Retailers can also create campaigns that tie into mindfulness and balance, as these are concepts that consumers are actively incorporating into their healthy lifestyles.”

And, as Eng notes, this is a category that truly can appeal to all of your customers. “Adaptogens are increasingly being recognized by consumers as powerful natural agents that can protect their health, especially during times of stress, which is known to impact mood and immunity. The most common supplement people take is a multivitamin, so adding a proven adaptogen such as LJ100 can have extra benefits that appeal to practically everyone.” WF

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