While a wellness influencer might call adaptogens magical health potions, these herbs, mushrooms, and roots have been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic healing since 3000 B.C.E. Generally, they aim to help the body handle physical, mental, and emotional stress so you can, uh, “adapt” to your environment. While they're not regulated by the FDA, they’re generally considered healthful when you take them as pills or add them to meals directly (think cooking with turmeric or ginger).
“There is a lot of variability with how people respond to these herbs,” Dr. Tania Dempsey, M.D., founder of Armonk Integrative Medicine, tells Bustle. A 2018 study concludes that clinically, “their use in health care products remains in the preliminary stage.” It can be “hard to quantify how patients feel and why, especially when it comes to stress,” Dempsey says, and therefore, studies on their use might not yield conclusive answers.