About this Episode
In this episode of the Medicinal Herbs podcast series, naturopath and herbalist Jo Boyd joins us as a first-time guest to explain the differences and similarities between an herbal adaptogen vs. tonic. Our host Sara Le Brun-Blashka, MS, begins the conversation by asking Jo to explain the overlap and subtle differences between adaptogens and tonics.
Essentially, adaptogens serve to help the body adapt better to daily stressors, working through the nervous system to improve resilience. Jo describes adaptogenic action as “innocuous,” only influencing the body essentially on an as-needed basis.
>> Read more about hormesis, what Jo describes as “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”
On the other hand, tonic herbs serve to restore and maintain the function of the adrenal glands and nervous system, leading to a feeling of wellbeing.
When to Choose Adaptogen vs. Tonic
Jo says that “a great thing about herbs is that they have more than one action.” So often the choice does not have to be either a tonic or an adaptogen, it can be an herb that does both. Here are some of the herbs mentioned:
- Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng)
- Ashwagandha (Indian Ginseng)
- Panax ginseng (Chinese/Korean Ginseng)
- Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)
- Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis)
Adaptogens for Immune Support
Adaptogens have a multi-targeted effect on the neuro-endocrine-immune system by triggering adaptive stress responses and resolving them in a timely manner.
A Few Herbal Recommendations from Jo Boyd
For energy depletion and fatigue, Jo recommends Rhodiola rosea, Panax ginseng, and Schisandra chinensis. For feeling “wired,” she recommends Ashwagandha, Skullcap, and Eleuthero. For calming effects, she recommends valerian and kava.