Adaptogens are super popular in the natural health space these days.
It seems like there are more and more products popping up every day that are labeled as containing adaptogens.
But, what exactly is an adaptogen?
Continue reading to learn about what adaptogens are and how they fit into the aromatherapy space.
An adaptogen is a natural substance used in natural and holistic health that helps the body adapt to stress, stabilizes physiologic processes within the body, and promotes a state of homeostasis.
Some people describe adaptogens as a mini “vaccine” that helps to increase the body’s resistance to stress while also decreasing the exhaustion that generally comes along with high stress levels. With stress being one of the major causes of disease in today’s society, I’m sure you can see how adaptogens can be an important part of any health and wellness protocol.
So, do essential oils have these properties and could they be considered adaptogenic?
Well, there’s really no clear yes or no answer to this.
Traditionally, adaptogens are herbs and nootropics such as Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Ginseng, Astragalus, Tulsi, and Turmeric. Some people deny that essential oils can be adaptogens, while others say they most certainly are adaptogens.
Thus, it looks like it’s up for interpretation, but if you look back at the definition of adaptogens above, I think you’ll be able to see that essential oils most definitely fit into this category.
Studies have been conducted on whether essential oils could function as adaptogens.
One study in particular tested cedarwood, orange, and lavender essential oil and concluded that these essential oils are in fact adaptogens1. A second study concluded that lavender essential oil functioned well as an adaptogen due to its affinity for the nervous system.
Other adaptogenic essential oils come from the herbs that are known adaptogens.
Turmeric and Tulsi are two great examples of this because the herbs are considered strong adaptogens in the herbal world, so it follows that their respective essential oils could have adaptogenic properties as well.
Essential oils are also known to be able to boost the therapeutic actions of herbs by being used with them as a complementary modality.
Essential oils that can both relax and stimulate at the same time are also great adaptogenic oils to use. It can seem odd that an essential oil can both relax and stimulate the body at the same time, but citrus oils do this all the time!
They help promote a sense of relaxation but are also great for helping you get a little boost of energy. I would encourage you to sit with some of these oils, take time to really smell them, and then notice in your body where your stress levels are, if you feel relaxed, or what other effects they’re having on your body.
Want to learn more about using Essential Oils Safely? Enroll in the “Essential Oil Safety Class” – it’s only $7!
1Adaptogenic Effects of Essential Oils: Prognosis in Vitro https://robots.iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1755-1315/315/4/042001.
Jorgens, Darlene. “A True Essential Oil Adaptogen.” Genesis School of Natural Health, 9 Oct. 2020, https://genesisschoolofnaturalhealth.org/a-true-essential-oil-adaptogen/.
McElvenny, Emma. “Nootropics & Adaptogens: The Low-down from Innermost.” Tisserand Aromatherapy, Tisserand Aromatherapy, 15 Apr. 2020, https://www.tisserand.com/uncategorised/nootropics-adaptogens-the-low-down-from-innermost/.
Angie McKain is a certified clinical aromatherapist, aromatherapy educator, and writer from Pennsylvania. She’s also a wife, a mom to two awesome little boys, a Down Syndrome advocate, and a fiber artist.