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Unboxed: 7 new adaptogens that chill out and energize

Adaptogenic herbs are the perfect ingredients for our postmodern, stressed out, frazzled lives.

Herbalists use the word "adaptogens" to describe an increasingly popular class of plants that, as its name suggests, help you adapt. Adapt to what, you ask?

These plants have been used for some 4,000 years and help us adapt to all forms of physical or mental stress. The word "adaptogen" gives people a clue as to the activity of this category—e.g., helping them adapt to lifestyle conditions—and that's beneficial.

Three totems describe adaptogens:

  1. They are nontoxic in the body.
  2. They move the body to homeostasis, to equilibrium. Away from dis-ease, and to a state of ease.
  3. They have nonspecific action.

While most herbs have an effect on specific bodily functions, true adaptogens work on several at once. They stabilize physiological processes to create real, lasting health.

Adaptogens have this almost magical ability to perk you up when you're tired or relax you when you're stressed. Botanicals in this class include ashwagandha, rhodiola, schisandra, eleuthero, holy basil, maca and a few others. These days, they are all the rage. Here are seven new entrants to the category.

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