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What if we told you there was a quick way to calm down from a coffee buzz — or a surefire, sugar-free solution for that sluggishness you feel mid-afternoon? You'd be all over it, right?

Well, while they might sound miraculous, adpatogens — according to some fans in the wellness community — can do exactly that. These super herbs are reputed to help the body recover from stress (like the nerve-stripping effect that caffeine has on your body) and normalize bodily processes. Also known as dual-directional herbs, adaptogens have been used for thousands of years in ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine, and are becoming part of a lexicon of natural health popularized by brands like Sun Potion and Anima Mundi. "Adaptogens are so great because they can figure out what your body needs," says CAP Beauty co-founder KerriLynn Pamer. CAP's West Village shop has become the go-to source for natural beauty and wellness products of all stripes, and Pamer says that adaptogens have been part of the conversation she and partner Cindy DiPrima have been having with their customers since CAP opened in 2014. 

With names like Ashwaganda, Cordyceps and He Shou Wu, adaptogens sound like mystical potions—and they kind of are. Funky powders that you mix into your tea or water (or coffee, if that's the only way it's going to happen), these powerful herbs offer transformative effects that can make your skin look more luminous, the whites of your eyes brighter, your digestive system work better and enhance your libido. Not so bad for a little sprinkle, right? "We have lots of customers who come in seeking specific goals," says Pamer, noting that the beautifying effects of He Shou Wu are often at the top of the recommendation list at CAP when customers are looking to brighten and clear up their skin or strengthen their hair and nails. "We think that all health creates beauty, and there's definitely an aspect of adaptogens that we see as beautifying."

Los Angeles- and New York-based natural beauty makeup artist and herbalist Jessa Blades has long relied on adaptogens as part of her health and wellness routine. "Living a bi-coastal and busy, stressed-out life, adaptogens are my friends in helping me combat the physical effects of all that travel and intensity. Most of the skin issues that my clients come to me with are due to stress, and the various ways it manifests itself—sleep and digestion issues among them." Blades also says that believes that the adaptogenic category of herbs helps us to replenish our over-worked adrenal glands as they help to normalize adrenal function and help us mitigate the stress in our bodies. Her favorites? "My two favorite adaptogens are Holy Basil (Tulsi) and Ashwaganda. Holy Basil is easy to grow (even in an apartment) and tastes delicious when made into a in tea. I like the taste so much, I sometimes throw some leaves of it into my salad. It calms the mind and the spirit, reduces inflammation, helps improve energy and may provide relief from mild depression and reduces inflammation. Ashwaganda has been used for over 4,000 years in India and is both a food and a tonic herb for improving energy, libido, memory and learning. It is also helps improve sleep and reduce anxiety. I love putting a teaspoon of the powder in some warm milk with honey to help me wind down at night."

 

 

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Sunpotion's adaptogenic tonic herbs and superfoods. 

Unsurprisingly, Pamer also has a cache of adaptogens that she relies on regularly, mixing up an impressive morning smoothie chock full of her three of her faves: he shou wu, astragalus, and cordyceps with brewed tea and a mix of matcha, coconut butter, goji berries and more. DiPalma prefers her boost in the afternoon, when she mixes cordyceps, known for its lifting, energetic effects, into a glass of nut milk instead of reaching for a coffee. 

We've been slowly incorporating adaptgens into our lifestyles and we have to admit—the effects are actually palpable. There's something remarkable about looking at yourself in the mirror and noticing that your eyes are bright and clear and that the whites of your eyes are noticeably whiter. The energy-boosting effects of adaptogens, sans the buzzy hangover of caffeine, are a popular draw. "We defintely see people pushing out their less healthy habits, like coffee,in favor of adaptogens once they see the positive effects of them. They can crowd out coffee in the morning and afternoon, when people usually rely on it," says Pamer. Are we kicking our caffeine habit just yet? Maybe not this minute. But we seriously see how it can happen.