Prepare yourself for the hottest health trend since massaged kale…

Gwyneth Paltrow swears by them, LA juice bars are topping up their drinks with them, and online articles are popping up left, right and centre depicting the benefits of them… So what are these sexy new ingredients?

Introducing… Adaptogens!

Adaptogens are a group of healing herbs that are known to help the body re-balance and adapt to environmental stressors, exerting their effects on the adrenal system.

Whilst sounding very new, they’ve actually been in use for thousands of years across the globe, with herbalism utilising their properties for many different benefits. Even science is now confirming what people have been telling us for centuries… that these plants have a very profound effect.

Why we stopped paying attention to thousands of years of plant-based medicine I’ll never know, but the good news is that they’re back, and in powdered form so we can add them into all our favourite foods and drinks! Easy peasy!

Whilst, weirdly, mushrooms aren’t herbs, some species of them are still classed as the most powerful adaptogens on the planet. In Chinese medicine, they’re referred to as ‘tonic herbs’ but due to the good old European regulations, we’re not allowed to use the T word when referring to food. Grr.

So let me tell you about 6 of my absolute favourites so you know what to look out for…

1) Chaga

Chaga is one of those special (but legal) mushrooms that grows in colder climates across the Northern Hemisphere on birch trees. It is thought to play a huge role in immune health, boosting antioxidant levels and helping the skin to look extra vibrant. It’s definitely one of my top beauty foods!

2) Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba comes from the leaf of the Chinese ginkgo tree, which is raved about for its brain-boosting effects. It was used in ancient Chinese herbal medicine to treat loads of medical conditions, including circulatory problems and issues related to declining memory. Definitely one for that midday work slump.

3) Schizandra

Schizandra is known as Wu Wei Zi in Chinese, which translates to “Five Flavours Fruit” and was first written about between the 1st and 2nd Century A.D. for its major healing properties. Not only was it known for its effect on the skin, but it was also thought to increase sensitivity and circulation down below… so a great thing to use to boost that libido…!

4) Siberian Ginseng

Siberian Ginseng is a small shrub, native to Asia, which has been said to increase mental and physical endurance, as well as improve mental alertness. Not only that, but rumour has it that this bad boy can increase circulation in the whole body, so if like me you’re hot all over with strangely cold hands… this is the herb for you.

5) Cordyceps

Cordyceps is another mushroom that was traditionally grown in China on the bodies of caterpillars (…although now it’s cultured in a lab and is suitable for vegans)! In herbalism is it said to be a life-reinforcing mushroom, building sexual and physical power, as well as mental energy. Both athletes and people wanting a libido boost seem to swear by it!

6) Ho Shou Wu

Ho Shou Wu is one of the most popular and well-known ingredients in Asian herbalism, growing in the mountains of central and southern China. Translated it means ‘(Mr) Ho’s black hair’ (Shou = head, Wu = black), stemming from an ancient story about a 58 year old man who reversed his grey hair and had loads of babies after taking the herb!

So there you have it – you’re officially up to date with the latest health craze and know exactly what to look for!

For more information on how to use these incredible herbs, head on over to the Sweetly Simple Website, where we’ll be posting recipes and other little nutrition tips!