After a long day, nothing hits better than the mood-boosting and anxiety-calming effects of an ice-cold beer. Actually, scratch that. Most longevity experts agree, the less alcohol, the better. Even if you’d prefer to ignore their warnings, you’ve likely suffered through at least one of the less desirable side effects of alcohol (brain fog, bloating, headaches, upset stomach, inflammation, sleep trouble, anxiety, etc.).
But if you decide to put down the whiskey, what’s left to drink? Spindrift is refreshing, but it doesn’t exactly take the edge off.
That’s where adaptogen drinks come in.
Adaptogen drinks contain a cocktail of good-for-you adaptogens—functional herbs like ginseng, and ashwagandha—that help the mind and body adapt to stress. Unlike alcohol, adaptogens aim to enhance and balance your body’s chemistry instead of suppressing it.
For the sober curious, adaptogen drinks present a promising 1:1 swap in the relaxation department, without the hangover. They’re also a solid choice on days when you *need* to kick back and relax but can’t afford a bad night of sleep or mid-morning headache. Here’s everything you need to know.
What Are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens are a broad spectrum of functional herbs, plants, and mushrooms. Many adaptogenic ingredients have been used for centuries in ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, but the term “adaptogen” was first coined by Soviet scientist Nikolai Lazarev in 1947.
As a category, adaptogens help your body manage stress by restoring balance after stressful situations. Experts believe that adaptogens help to regulate stress by interacting with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis—which initiates your body’s stress response and plays a critical role in keeping your body in a state of balance (1).
But be wary: Not all herbs or plants have adaptogenic properties, even if an adaptogen drink claims an ingredient is an “adaptogen” on the label. Per Lazarev, to be considered an adaptogen a plant must:
- Be nontoxic at normal doses.
- Assist the human body in resisting a wide range of stressors, including physical, chemical, or biological stress.
- Help the body return to a stable state.
Benefits of Adaptogens
There are many herbs and mushrooms that have adaptogenic properties, but some are more researched than others. Here are some of the most popular adaptogens actually backed by science and their potential benefits:
- Ashwagandha, a shrub linked to lower stress and anxiety (2)
- Rhodiola Rosea, an herb that might reduce fatigue, depression, and pain (3)
- Ginseng, a plant used to combat fatigue (4)
- Lion’s Mane, a mushroom tied to enhanced cognitive function (5)
- Reishi, a mushroom used to boost the immune system and fight cancer (6)
- Schisandra, a berry linked to improved concentration and cognitive performance (7)
- Tulsi (“Holy Basil”), an herb that may reduce stress and improve sleep (8)
- Maca, a root linked to enhanced sexual function, and reduced anxiety and fatigue (9)
What Are Adaptogenic Drinks?
Adaptogen drinks are non-alcoholic drinks with one or more adaptogenic ingredients commonly associated with effects like boosting mood, combatting fatigue, improving sleep, and reducing stress and anxiety.
Since each adaptogenic ingredient exerts slightly different effects on your body and mind, the blend of ingredients in each adaptogen drink will make it better suited to a unique vibe or purpose. The complex elixirs are available in any and every form—from refreshing mocktails and hot lattes to sparkling waters and energy drinks.
Risks of Adaptogen Drinks
Despite the purported benefits of adaptogen drinks, it’s important to look beyond clever advertising and promising claims. Since the drinks aren’t regulated by the FDA, some products may not include the necessary amount of adaptogens to elicit the desired effects—meaning there might not be enough to provide a benefit, or worse, there could be too much, which could cause an adverse reaction. If you’re taking any medications or have any medical conditions, it’s a good rule of thumb to check with your doctor before sampling an adaptogenic drink.
Best Adaptogen Drinks
Whether you want to melt stress away, boost brain power, get your buzz on, or catch some z’s, there’s an adaptogen drink for that. Here are the best adaptogen drinks for every mood and vibe.
Adaptogen non-alcoholic “cocktails”
When a Roy Rodgers simply isn’t doing enough, grab one of these canned and bottled drinks laced with adaptogens for added relaxation and layered with cocktail-reminiscent complexities.
Adaptogen sparkling waters and seltzers
If you’re searching for the perfect stand-in for your beloved White Claw, these sparkling tonics and seltzers will do the trick. With adpatogens and other botanicals, each can will give you a welcome lift.
Adaptogen energy drinks
Our healthy energy drink game is strong, but these adaptogen energy drinks offer a compelling upgrade. With the promise of boosting energy, performance, brain function, and focus they’re the perfect companion whether you’re getting after a tough workout or gearing up for a long day at work.
Adaptogen coffees and teas
If you like the idea of adaptogens but prefer to take advantage of their brain-boosting powers earlier in the day, an adaptogen coffee or tea might be the move. From steamy lattes to satisfying creamers, these drinks work overtime.