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It’s finally here—the day you get to leave work early and head to the airport for that long-awaited trip to Bali (or if you’re like me, your parents’ house in Virginia). Regardless of the destination, you’ve got your bags packed, ID ready, and some healthy snacks stashed in your tote bag. But let’s not forget one important thing: Adaptogens.
It’s not as if you can’t travel without them, but many folks find that certain adaptogens help aid in stress relief, elevate energy levels, and boost focus. An adaptogen is a natural substance considered to aid the body’s ability to adapt to stress by exerting a normalizing effect on body processes. And because of the chaos associated with travel, big trips present an awesome opportunity to stock up on your adaptogenic repertoire.
If you’re curious but clueless on where to get started, we’ve got you covered with Adaptogens for Travel 101. Start your adventures off right with some good ol’ herbal medicine.
For Fighting Jet-Lag
If you’re hopping off the plane and heading to an 8am meeting, turn to Rhodiola. This power herb helps with fatigue, mental fog, difficulty concentrating, and low energy. If you take it regularly (start a few weeks before any big trip), it might also aid in adrenal fatigue—making it great for high-travel days when sleep is inconsistent and stress is practically unavoidable. Cordyceps is another solid option; this fancy mushroom is celebrated for its ability to increase athletic performance and optimize brain function, so it’s perfect moments when you’re feeling a little foggy. (Some even use it in place of coffee! Try this.)
If your jet-lag is more in the form of not being able to get to sleep, look towards Reishi. Some studies have shown that Reishi, in addition for its ability to enhance immune function, might help decrease anxiety and depression while promoting more restful sleep.
For Travel Anxiety
If changing time zones, catching flights, and dealing with in-laws has your cortisol levels reaching an all-time time, Ashwagandha is gonna be your best friend. This magical herb is one of the most well-known and most heavily researched of all the herbs. When taken regularly, Ashwagandha can lower blood sugar levels, decrease anxiety, and lower cortisol. For these reasons and more, we consider it to be the Queen B of travel adaptogens—stock up before your next trip. (Or check out this version combined with CBD and lavender.)
For Long Days
Travel days often mean multiple forms of transportation and hours of waiting. And even once you’ve hit the destination, you still might be looking toward long (but awesome) days of sight-seeing or catching up with loved ones. It’s during these precious moments where we send out the call for Ginseng. Ginseng has been shown to increase overall mental function, energy levels, and feelings of calmness. (More energy without the anxiety? Sign us up!) Furthermore, ginseng may help fight off fatigue while enhancing physical activity—great for when your nieces and nephews demand your help with that pillow fort.
Maca is another great option for times when you need to be wide-eyed and bushy-tailed. Like ginseng, maca helps increase stamina while simultaneously lowering stress levels. Bonus points: You can totally make it a treat with this recipe for maca chocolate cookies or this maca smoothie.
Often times, travel puts you in high-volume places. Whether it’s at the airport, train station, or your Aunt Thelma’s Annual White Elephant, the holidays can put you in close contact with others—and their germs. Some preliminary scientific evidence suggests that astragalus, either alone or in combination with other herbs, can benefit the immune system, liver, and heart, and beneficial for any respiratory issues.
Holy Basil, also known as Tulsi, is an antimicrobial and can be used in homemade sanitizer or mouthwash as an added layer of protection. Some studies illustrate that consuming Cordyceps also helps with immune function, and can optimize the health of your respiratory, cardiovascular, and endocrine systems.
Amanda Kohr is the Senior Content Editor at Wanderlust. You can find her exploring new highways, drinking diner coffee, and on Instagram.