Low on Energy? Here Are the Best Adaptogens to Combat Fatigue.

Parsley Health
Medically Reviewed
August 29, 2023

According to a 2020 study by the American Psychological Association, more than half of all American adults—52 percent—reported that in the past two weeks, they felt so tired they just sat around and did nothing.

If this sounds like you, you may have come across adaptogens in your search for something to help your feelings of exhaustion, burnout , and fatigue . Read on to find out more about what they are, how they work, and what they can do for you.

What are adaptogens?

From drinks to pills to fad diets, there are a lot of wellness products out there that promise to help you fight fatigue.

Enter adaptogens, the class of herbs and mushrooms with a wealth of anti-inflammatory, anti-stress, and anti-fatigue benefits. In order to be classified as an adaptogen, a substance must 1) be non-toxic when taken in normal doses, 2) help your body cope with stress , and 3) allow your body to return to balance (AKA homeostasis).

While adaptogens have been used in Eastern medicine and Ayurvedic traditions for centuries, their recognition in the West only started about 50 years ago, when they were first used in professional sports due to their high potential to increase the body's resistance to stress and to improve physical endurance. Even more recently, a growing body of science is beginning to both validate the claims around adaptogens and explain the physiological mechanisms behind them.

Some popular adaptogens you may recognize include ginseng , eleuthero, and five flavor fruit, which are considered to be naturally occurring plant adaptogens.

Why and how do adaptogens work?

While not a magic bullet, adaptogens can be a powerful tool for those living with chronic stress, as many of us in the modern world are.

“Adaptogens are very aptly named because they literally adapt to what your body needs,” says Parsley Health’s Dr. Dawn Jacobson . Adaptogens help your body stabilize and regulate your cortisol levels (cortisol is the “stress hormone” ). While they can’t take away the stress response, adaptogens can help your cortisol levels recalibrate so they can more closely mimic your true biological needs.

"Most of the patients I talk to report some level of level of stress, which has a huge impact on everything from immune function and mood to hormone regulation and digestive health,” says Ashley Gish , a nurse practitioner at Parsley Health. “Because of this there are very few patients that I don’t think adaptogens are a good option for.”

The best adaptogens for fighting fatigue

Not all adaptogens are created equal. The adaptogens you choose will depend on your unique biological profile and your health goals.

“For people who struggle to to fall asleep, certain adaptogens are more calming to the system, whereas others can provide more of an energy boost throughout the day,” says Gish.

  • Ginseng: “If someone was having issues with sleep, I probably wouldn’t start with ginseng,” says Gish. “But if they were struggling to drag themselves out of bed in the mornings, ginseng might be a great option.” Dr. Jacobson also recommends ginseng for those who have low energy or can’t wake up refreshed because it can help adjust those less-than-optimal cortisol curves. “Technically, we’re supposed to rise with the sun and go to bed with the sun,” says Dr. Jacobson. “We’re chronically living a non-solar life, and we’re starting to see the effects of that.”
  • Ashwagandha: Sometimes you can use an adaptogen to support energy indirectly. “Of all the adaptogens, ashwagandha is the one that’s going to even things out. It’s not going to boost your energy, but it will help you calm and rest,” says Dr. Jacobson. “Ashwagandha is on the more mild side of the spectrum, and I find that it’s really well tolerated by most people," says Gish. "It’s so helpful for sleep, and reducing anxiety and brain fog .”
  • Cordyceps: Having been shown in recent studies to increase the “breathing threshold,” as well as boost resistance to high-intensity exercise, this adaptogen has recently become popular with endurance athletes. A 2015 study showed participants who regularly supplemented with cordyceps took longer to get tired during rigorous efforts and had a greater VO2 max. Studies have also suggested that it may have anti-aging properties.

Adaptogens as part of a holistic lifestyle

Adaptogens will work best with other lifestyle changes. "Adaptogens are not a replacement for sleep and stress management and eating a healthy diet," says Gish.

They're also not necssarily a "forever" thing. "If you're going through a tough time—maybe you're a new mom or working night shifts—or despite your best efforts struggle to manage stress or get to bed at a decent hour, adaptogens can support your resiliency for stress.”

As a Parsley Health member , your medical team will make recommendations for comprehensive lifestyle changes—from your nutrition and sleep schedule to your movement routine and stress management—as part of your personalized care plan.

Want to become a Parsley Health member? Schedule a free call  to learn more about Parsley’s virtual primary care  , how to use insurance  to pay for your Parsley medical fees, and more.

Parsley Health

At Parsley Health, our leading medical providers and health coaches heal the root cause of health concerns with a personalized care plan and year-round support. Our root-cause resolution medicine has helped thousands feel better, with 85% of members reducing symptoms in their first year.

Read full bio
readiness quiz

What can Parsley Health do for you?

Schedule a free 15-minute consultation call to find out how personalized root-cause medicine can transform your health.

Related Posts
Get “Prescription for Happiness” and Reach a New Level of Energy, Clarity, and Calm
How Insights by Parsley Health Can Jumpstart Your Health Journey
How to Select the Right Health Coach for You
10 TikTok Health Trends Worth Trying—and Avoiding
Top 5 Foods for Clear Skin
Doctor examining patient


Our leading medical providers and health coaches heal the root cause of health concerns with a personalized care plan and year-round support. Our root-cause resolution medicine has helped thousands feel better, with 85% of members reducing symptoms in their first year.

Parsley Health medical providers are trained to treat the root cause of complex, chronic conditions and symptoms. Ready to start feeling better?

Get Symptom Score