With strain names like Cheetah Piss, Garlic Cookies and Punch Breath, it’s easy to understand why cannabis has thus far evaded official classification as an adaptogen, aka “herbal pharmaceutical.” Despite the ridiculous monikers, most cannabis users know that it is not only an herbal pharmaceutical; its efficacy is heightened by the support of other adaptogens.
In other words, it’s super-effective plant medicine that works really well with other plant medicines.
Adaptogen is a fairly novel term (first coined in 1947 by Russian toxicologist Nikolai Vasilyevich Lazarev) that describes a plant extract that has a nonspecific effect on the human body. It is essentially a class of botanicals and fungi that support human homeostasis. Adaptogens can be stress reducing, immune supporting, mentally clarifying, and revitalizing, but most importantly they must be holistic, as in they benefit the body as a whole.
For generations, adaptogens have been used to remedy all manner of common maladies, from CBC’s ability to inhibit the growth of cancer cells to ashwagandha’s straightforward anxiety reduction, and they do it without the debilitating side effects that often come with industry pharmaceuticals.
If they’re not already there, adaptogens deserve a place not only in your stash box, but in your medicine cabinet as well—honestly, is there much of a difference at this point? Here’s a quick cannabinoid adaptogen guide to help get you started on your own apothecary journey:
Adaptogens for Immune System Support
CBD has been shown to act as an immune system modulator, and turkey tail, reishi and chaga mushrooms all have established reputations for strengthening and improving immune function as well. For users interested in a nonpsychoactive, immunity-strengthening addition to their established routine, try taking a nutrient-rich, multifungi CBD supplement. Studies have shown that it could boost your immune system, which, frankly, feels like it should be compulsory following the pandemic.
Try this: The Brothers Apothecary Supreme Vitality Mushrooms + CBD Capsules ($15), thebrothersapothecary.com.
Adaptogens for Mood Support
In addition to modulating immune responses, CBD is also a great foundation for a mood-supporting adaptogen cocktail featuring ashwagandha and schisandra herbs. Ashwagandha is derived from an evergreen shrub and is one of the primary herbs in the natural medicine practice known as Ayurveda. Its uses range from stress reduction to improved concentration to fertility issues. Complementary adaptogen schisandra has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to align a user’s qi, or their life force, by supporting healthy functions in the heart, lungs and kidneys. Incorporating a daily tincture of these adaptogens into your routine could ensure healthy brain and heart function in addition to boosting your mood.
Try this: Prismatic Plants Good Day tincture ($65), prismaticplants.com.
Adaptogens for Focus
My own personal experience with Caps by Cookies was solid enough that I will confidently recommend them to users looking to explore their own reactions to alternative cannabinoids and adaptogens. The brand’s Clarity blend capsules, which feature revitalizing lion’s mane and restorative cordyceps as well as CBD and CBG, boost energy, increase focus, and help users maintain a mellow mood. Studies in animals have also shown that lion’s mane may also help protect against Alzheimer’s. Similarly, cordyceps are a proven tumor-fighting, cholesterol-lowering fungus.
Try this: Caps by Cookies Clarity CBD Day Capsules ($50), cbd.cookies.store.
Adaptogens for Energy
I recently auditioned Junk’s full line of functional candies, and the Tiger Blood gummies stood out as a favorite. These candies were particularly restorative after a harrowing brush with heat stroke that would have otherwise been debilitating. The formulation, featuring cordyceps, vitamin B-12 as well as a combination of cranberries and cherries, delivers not only the expected energetic, athletic-restoration vibe associated with cordyceps, but also lightens your mood enough to qualify for recreational shenanigans.
Try this: Junk Tiger Blood Gummies ($18), potmatespdx.com.
Adaptogens for Rest
For so many reasons, rest can be infuriatingly elusive, and with respect for those lightweights who can steal one puff off a joint and then sleep for 12 hours, THC alone is not a guaranteed knockout for the rest of us. However, THC is only one cannabinoid of many. Novel cannabinoid CBN is derived from degraded THC (old weed) and has been shown to deliver potent sleep-supporting effects. Similarly, CBD, when married to common adaptogen valerian root, can be a potent, nonhabit-forming sleep aid. Bonus: Valerian root is also used to treat headaches, digestive problems, and discomfort associated with menopause.
Try this: Grön Sleepy Indica Dark Chocolate bar or Grön Snooze Fruit Chews (prices vary by dispensary), eatgron.com.