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Superfoods to Improve your Performance & Recovery!

What are adaptogens?

Adaptogens are compounds extracted from non-toxic plants that help regulate the body’s stress response. They can come from herbs, mushrooms, and roots, and many have been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.

Scientists think adaptogens work by acting on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis—the interaction between the brain and adrenal glands—and the sympathoadrenal system—the part of the nervous system that helps control the body’s stress response.

According to an article in the journal Pharmaceuticals, adaptogens may help boost attention and endurance in situations where fatigue and/or sensation of weakness might decrease performance. They may also help the body resist stress-induced impairments of the neuroendocrine and immune systems.

Some research suggests that adaptogens may benefit those with age-related disorders and cardiovascular problems. The authors of the aforementioned article wrote, “Thus, elderly people may be able to maintain their health status on a normal level, improve their quality of life and may increase longevity.” Doctors also believe that adaptogens could help support standard therapies used to aid patients fighting a range of health issues.

What Natural Herbs Are Adaptogens?

While adaptogens on the whole may help us handle stress better, each has its own list of benefits.

There are five adaptogens you should know.

#1 Turmeric

Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family, most famous for its use in Indian curries. It gets its stress-managing support from its curcumin content. A review in the journal Foods determined that curcumin aids in regulating inflammatory responses, which may help with exercise recovery, including muscle soreness. Curcumin may then assist with recovery and performance in active people. Furthermore, the researchers stated, “a relatively low dose of the complex can provide health benefits for people that do not have diagnosed health conditions.” In other words, turmeric may make for an ideal supplement for just about anyone.

It’s important to note however, that curcumin alone may not be very helpful, due to its poor bioavailability. To increase its absorption and effectiveness, look for a product that includes black pepper extract—piperine. This can increase bioavailability, the researchers explain, by 2000%, as it inhibits enzymes that break down curcumin in the body. “Curcumin is also fat soluble,” says Ehrhardt, “so combining it with lipids will help absorption even more.” Curcumin is available in products that also contain various oils and fats.

#2 Ashwagandha

An herb popular in India, ashwagandha appears to be one of the most powerful and diverse adaptogens, offering both health and performance benefits.

study in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine found that ashwagandha supplementation helped boost subjects’ resistance to stress, thereby improving self-assessed quality of life. In another study on chronically stressed adults, ashwagandha users experienced significant reductions in cortisol—the stress hormone that spikes the fight-or-flight response. Those who took the highest doses of ashwaghanda had the greatest reductions in cortisol—30% on average.

On the performance side, ashwaghanda was shown to benefit aerobic endurance, and also strength performance, as well as muscle mass. Finally, a 2014 trial showed that ashwagandha aided reaction time and performance on cognitive and psychomotor tasks.

#3 Rhodiola

A flowering plant grown in arctic regions, rhodiola has been studied with respect to its effects on stress, fatigue, athletic performance, and energy. A trial in Phytotherapy Research found that just four weeks of rhodiola intake helped with life-stress symptoms (although the subjects were not blinded—that is, they knew they were taking rhodiola). Another study showed it helped boost participants’ time to exhaustion by 24 seconds on endurance exercise.

#4 Cordyceps

Traditional Chinese medicine used this hybrid fungus for a variety of functions, but it’s mainly seen today as a performance-boosting supplement. Cordyceps is rich in adenosine, a component of ATP, which is the energy source the body uses for all its movements. For this reason, cordyceps is thought to aid ATP production, thereby promoting endurance performance.

study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that cordyceps supplementation helped boost metabolic thresholds (a marker of aerobic performance) in older people. Meanwhile, a 2017 study found that cordyceps militaris—a synthetic form of cordyceps—as part of a mushroom blend aided performance with respect to time to exhaustion during exercise, and VO2 max.

Read more about cordyceps in our complete guide HERE.

Cordyceps pairs well with other adaptogens such as ashwagandha, rhodiola, and astragalus, helping to promote daily energy and exercise performance. This combination appears in the pre-workout supplement Shroom Tech® SPORT, and the daily support formula Total Human(Read this author’s revieShroom Tech® SPORTon his website, HERE.)

“Shroom Tech® SPORT is one of my favorite products to use with athletes’ nutrition programs,” says Ehrhardt. “It gives them support from the beginning of the workout through to the recovery phase. They don’t seem to get as exhausted and they can recover a little more quickly—not only during the workout but also for the next session.”

#5 Ginseng

This root is hugely famous in Chinese medicine for its ability to fight inflammatory responses and to help boost immune and cognitive function, due mostly to the compounds ginensosides and gintonin.

A Korean study had subjects take ginseng or a placebo a week prior to exercise and four days afterward. Seventy-two hours after the workout, the ginseng users had significantly lower markers of muscle damage. Meanwhile, a 2014 study demonstrated a boost in cellular health when women took ginseng for 12 weeks.

What are the best adaptogens to use for stress?

The best adaptogens for different health needs:

  • Best for hair and nails: Chaga, cordyceps, jiaogulan
  • Best for stress: Rhodiola, mucuna pruriens, ashwagandha
  • Best for fatigue: Ginseng, maca
  • Best for sex drive: Shilajit
  • Best for brain fog: Holy basil, rhaponticum
  • Best for immunity: Maca, chaga, turkey tail, ashwagandha
  • Best for anxiety: Lion’s mane, ashwagandha
  • Best for blood sugar: Reishi
  • Best for digestion: Holy basil, licorice root

OM Mushroom Adaptogen Cheat Notes:

High Health Performance Podcast

High Health Performance Podcast


  • Healthy immune system support
  • Helps balance mental and physical stress
  • The Balancing mushroom


  • High levels of antioxidants
  • Anti aging benefits
  • Balance metabolic system
  • Natural adaptogen
  • The mushroom of youth

Lions Mane

  • Supports healthy nervous system
  • Memory
  • Focus
  • Alertness
  • The Smart Mushroom

Turkey Tail

  • Immunity activator
  • Beta glucans supports health immune system
  • Powerful immunity activator
  • The Immune Defense Power


  • Vitality
  • Endurance
  • Supports oxygen consumption and delivery to increase energy
  • Supports cardiac function
  • Supports respiratory health
  • The Performance Mushroom


  • Support liver
  • Support cardiovascular
  • Support immune health
  • Better skin health
  • The Beauty Mushroom


  • Help support weight management
  • Help support blood sugar levels
  • Beta Glucans-
  • Bio active compounds
  • Support healthy cholesterol levels
  • Energy production
  • Immune, heart and bone health

Lion’s Mane And Chaga Are Adaptogens

When day-to-day stressors get in the way of life and threaten our mood, herbal supplements like Lion’s Mane and Chaga always work. Chaga and the mane mushrooms are adaptogens, which help the body adapt to physical, mental, and emotional stress when added to our diet.

They work by normalizing and balancing various physiological processes, including the stress response and hormone levels, thereby acting as a remedy that restores peace of mind.

By fighting stress, these mushrooms also contribute to anxiety and depression relief by keeping the stress from turning into emotional pain that causes depression.

Lions Mane as PRE-WORKOUT Fuel

Lion’s Mane boosts physical performance during workouts by reducing fatigue, promoting muscle growth, improving recovery, and enhancing oxygen utilization. In addition, the mushroom promotes the natural growth factor and improves fat metabolism, allowing you to quickly and efficiently replace fat with muscle mass.

Lion’s mane mushroom is a brain tonic that boosts your overall brain health, providing mental benefits.

How much to take per day?

  1. An intake of 2-3 droppers, three times daily, should boost neurogenesis and elevate your cognitive function while fighting inflammation. Put the droppers under your tongue or a drink like water or juice to add protein, vitamins, and minerals to your diet while enjoying improvements in your health.
  2. Lion’s Mane powder requires a higher dose than the extract form, as supplement powders tend to have lower potency. When using Lion’s mane mushroom powder to boost your brain health or fight inflammation, you can go as high as 2,000 mg daily.
  3. However, start lower at 1,000 mg daily and work your way up to avoid side effects.
  4. Small increments will help your body get used to the mushroom, reducing the risk of side effects.
  5. Fresh Lion’s mane fruiting bodies have the least potency compared to extracts, tinctures, and powders. Therefore, you must use a high dosage of fresh mushrooms to get the same benefits as supplements. You can consume as high as 5,000 mg daily when using fresh mushrooms to improve your immune system.
  6. However, exercise caution to avoid taking too much and dealing with digestion problems. If you are new to fresh Hericium Erinaceus intake, start with a dosage between 2-4 grams per day (2000 mg to 4,000 mg) and then increase the dosage as your body becomes used to the mushroom properties. 

The best times to take your dose of Lion’s mane include: 

  • In the morning: Taking Lion’s Mane mushrooms in the morning can boost energy and clear your mind for the day ahead.
  • Before meals: Consuming Lion’s Mane mushrooms before meals can help support digestion, nutrient absorption, and cholesterol breakdown.
  • At bedtime:Taking Lion’s Mane mushrooms before bed can improve sleep quality.

It’s important to remember that the best time to take Lion’s Mane mushroom may vary based on the individual’s health condition and the reason for taking it. For example, those taking blood sugar-lowering medications may need to take the mushroom and their meds at different times to prevent interactions. A healthcare professional can provide personalized advice on the best time to take Lion’s Mane mushroom based on your specific needs and circumstances.


“Chaga is an adaptogen and immune booster that promotes physical health and overall well-being”

When Is The Best Time To Take Chaga?

Taking Chaga in the morning may be beneficial when looking for a natural energy boost.

  • A cup of Chaga tea or coffee can give you all the energy you need to handle your daily activities while keeping fatigue at bay.
  • Taking Chaga before meals can improve digestion and support the gut.
  • Chaga has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and abdominal discomfort.
  • Taking Chaga in the evening may be beneficial when looking for a natural sleep aid.
  • Chaga has been shown to have a calming effect on the body and mind, which can help to promote more restful sleep.
  • Some people find that taking Chaga before bed can help to improve the quality of their sleep, leading to more refreshed feelings in the morning.

Article Review: 6 Reasons To Use Lion’s Mane Before A Workout


1. Fights Fatigue

Lion’s Mane medicinal mushroom reduces fatigue, improves endurance, and increases energy levels during exercise.

  • Performing a similar role to supplements like caffeine and taurine, Lion’s Mane can help any man or woman handle intense workouts.
  • Lion’s Mane mushroom can help you exercise for longer and with greater intensity, leading to improved physical performance and results from your workout sessions.
  • A research study on mice(1) showed a significant increase in muscle endurance and improved muscle fatigue when the diet was supplemented with Lion’s Mane.
  • If you are into other workout supplements, combining Lion’s Mane, caffeine, and taurine can help you enhance your energy and strength in the gym.
  • Read More: Wondering how to combine Lion’s Mane and caffeine for an energy boost, increased stamina, and endurance during power training? Learn how to combine Lion’s Mane and coffee

2. Promotes Muscle Growth

  • Lion’s Mane pre workout supplement promotes muscle growth by increasing insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), reducing inflammation, and supporting nerve function.
  • The mushroom increases IGF-1 levels, a hormone that plays a crucial role in muscle growth and recovery.
  • Lions Mane mushroom enhances the effects of workout supplements like inositol, which also boosts growth hormones. 
  • it has anti-inflammatory properties can reduce muscle damage and promote recovery after exercise, improving muscle growth and overall physical performance.
  • Lion’s Mane also stimulates the production of the nerve growth factor (NGF) through a process known as neurogenesis.
  • NGF plays a role in the growth, maintenance, and survival of nerve cells and may also play a role in muscle growth and recovery.
  • One research study conducted in 2018(2) verified Lion’s Mane’s ability to promote the synthesis of the nerve growth factor. 

Read More: See how Lion’s Mane promotes neurogenesis.

3. Promotes Vasodilation

  • Vasodilation widens blood vessels, increasing blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscles and improving physical performance and recovery.
  • Lion’s Mane has been shown to have potential benefits for promoting vasodilation through its effects on nitric oxide (NO) levels.
  • The mushroom behaves like citrulline malate, one of the workout supplements that also promotes vasodilation by increasing nitric oxide levels.
  • Research has also shown(3) that Lion’s Mane acts as an ACE inhibitor (a group of medications used for treating high blood pressure), further proving the mushroom’s effectiveness in vasodilation.
  • Research suggests that combining Lion’s Mane with other workout products like Citrulline malate (both nitric oxide boosters) can enhance vasodilation, guaranteeing high performance in the gym.

Read More: See how Lion’s Mane fights high blood pressure.

4. Loaded With Muscle Growth Nutrients

  • Lion’s Mane is a natural source of various nutrients that can support muscle growth and recovery and boost energy, including polysaccharides, essential amino acids, antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals.
  • Polysaccharides, complex sugars, help cells produce energy.
  • Taking Lion’s Mane as a pre workout boost provides essential amino acids, including leucine and beta-alanine, which are known to play a vital role in muscle development.
  • Lion’s Mane is rich in antioxidants, such as ergothioneine, which can help reduce muscle damage and promote recovery after exercise.
  • A source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, B-vitamins, biotin, and magnesium, that support muscle growth and promote the balance of electrolytes in the body.
  • Lion’s Mane mushroom can enhance and maintain mass muscle growth when combined with other supplements like agmatine sulfate and choline bitartrate. 

5. Promotes Weight Loss

  • If you are trying to lose extra body weight, you can benefit from making lion’s mane part of your diet. Lion’s Mane improves metabolism, which can help the body burn more calories and promote weight loss.
  • Additionally, it has an anti-inflammatory property that reduces inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. Inflammation and oxidative stress contribute to weight gain and make it harder to lose weight.
  • Taking Lion’s mane extract improves gut health and digestion and accelerates fat metabolism. Finally, lion’s Mane may help to increase energy levels, making it easier to stick to an exercise routine and support weight loss efforts.

Read More: See how Lion’s Mane promotes weight loss.

6. Fights Brain Fog

  • When you’re experiencing brain fog, concentrating and staying motivated can be difficult, making it harder to stick to a workout routine. Brain fog can also cause physical fatigue, making it difficult to perform physical activities at your best.
  • If you’re experiencing brain fog and want to continue working out, trying some simple strategies may help boost your energy and focus. One of the best strategies is using Lion’s Mane for brain fog to enhance your concentration on physical activity when working out.
  • Lion’s Mane, an edible mushroom, combats brain fog by promoting nerve growth, increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factors, and improving brain function. Lion’s Mane’s compounds—Hericystin and Erinacine—support the central nervous system and enhance cognitive function, including memory and mental focus.

OM Mushroom 101 Notes:

Mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years because of their many functional superfood benefits, specifically for the immune system. In fact, in many cultures, your plate isn’t considered complete without mushrooms.

Mushrooms contain two important, immune-boosting compounds: beta-glucans and prebiotics.


Beta-glucans help activate and potentiate the immune system. Sandra described them as a “key in a lock” — activating your immune system to be battle-ready. All mushrooms contain these important molecules.


In addition to beta-glucans, mushrooms act as a prebiotic, or food for probiotics. With new studies emerging on the connection between gut health and brain health, probiotics play a crucial role in overall wellness.

Functional Mushroom Species and Benefits

Below, we highlight some of the most popular functional mushroom species and how they can support your body’s natural functions:

Species Potential Health Benefits

(Inonotus obliquus)

Adaptogenic; provides immune support; aids in inflammation reduction; assists in antioxidant production; supports energy and stamina levels; and offers nutrients to support hair, skin, and nail vitality

(Cordyceps militaris)

Adaptogenic; can support the reduction of fatigue; can work to improve the availability of oxygen in the blood; helps to support cardiac function and respiratory health; helps with overall endurance and recovery
King Trumpet

(Pleurotus eryngii)

Antioxidant; supports your body’s natural functions for lowering cholesterol, weight loss, and improving gut health; supports bone health
Lion’s Mane

(Hericium ernaceus)

Aids in your body’s natural functions for memory, focus, nerve health, and anxiety and fatigue reduction

(Grifola frondosa)

Supports immunity; assists your body’s natural function for regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels

(Lingzhi or Ganoderma lingzhi)

Adaptogenic; supports a healthy balance of stress; offers immune support; and assists your body’s natural function for regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels

(Lentinula edodes)

Antioxidant; supports immune and heart health; supports your body’s natural response to inflammation; assists your body’s natural function for regulating cholesterol levels
Turkey Tail

(Trametes versicolor)

Supports vitality; offers immune and digestion support; helps support the management of an inflammatory response at the cellular level


What about Cordyceps Mushroom?

The Wonderful World of Mushrooms

Cordyceps Main benefits:

  • Increase strength & stamina: It can improve exercise performance by increasing endurance capacity through strengthening blood vessels and actually expanding them to allow more blood flow.
  • Blood glucose control: The polysaccharides in cordyceps can lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
  • Immune system stimulant: Cordyceps is most well-known for its immune enhancing effects by increasing survival of lymphocytes and activating natural killer cells.
  • Antioxidant: Cordyceps naturally raise levels of antioxidants in our body such as superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione.
  • Support kidney health: Improved renal function is seen and cordyceps are used to treat kidney failure or kidney transplant patients.
  • Other benefits include: Enhanced libido and reduced fatigue.

Reshi Main benefits:

  • Manage stress & anxiety: Reshi is one of many compounds known as an adaptogen
  • Helps to restore and maintain homeostasis in the body.
  • An adaptogen increases our ability to manage stress and to resist its negative consequences, from adrenal damage to other hormone imbalances, that are vital for our overall stress management.
  • Any diseases like cancer, diabetes or heart disease are clear signs that the body is out of balance, so reishi is used to pull us back into balance.
  • Triterpenes are thought to be responsible for this benefit.
  • Immune system stimulant: The β-glucans in reishi help immune cells attack tumor cells more effectively and help to treat bacterial and viral infections.
  • Anti-cancer & anti-tumor effects: The polysaccharides and triterpenes in reishi are likely responsible for these benefits. Studies show reishi to inhibit angiogenesis (the growth of blood vessels that supply tumors with nutrients to grow) and increase apoptosis of tumor cells.
  • Improved sleep and blood sugar control.

Other Adaptogens:  Ashwagandha

Modern life is full of stress triggers. And that stress contributes to physical and mental illness. During stressful moments, the cortisol levels in your body become elevated, and this causes your heart to pump harder and faster. You breathe rapidly and your body generates more glucose for a quick burst of energy. Your mind becomes hyper-focused on any threats, and your body goes into fight or flight mode. When the stressful event is over, cortisol levels normalize and the associated symptoms resolve.

“Unfortunately, when a threat is chronic — whether it’s stress from finances or work — the stressful response also becomes chronic,” says Dr. Lin. “Over time, long-term stress can contribute to persistent inflammation and increases the risk for developing chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, cancer, osteoporosis and fibromyalgia.”

Research shows that it can help in several ways:

“People who are stressed or anxious, or people with chronic conditions might turn to ashwagandha to help ease their conditions,” says Dr. Lin.

So how much ashwagandha per day should you consume? Regardless of the form you use, Dr. Lin says dosing is usually 500 mg twice a day.

Benefits of Ashwagandha and How Much to Take

Dr. Stacy Sims on Adaptogens

Helpful Adaptogens for Women

There are numerous adaptogens that can be helpful for women. The following is a sample of the adaptogens I find most beneficial. Choose one based on the outcome you’re looking for and take it for two weeks. After that time, if you feel you need additional help, try adding a second one that has similar effects. Generally speaking, less is more with adaptogens. As with any new therapy, check with your doctor if you have concerns about drug or other therapy interactions.

  • Ashwagandha (calming). Known in botany as Withania somnifera, ashwagandha is a calming adaptogen that turns down your fight or flight sympathetic drive and can help with anxiety and depression. The smallest effective dose is 250 milligrams per day. It affects your T3 and T4 thyroid hormones, so shouldn’t be used if you’re on thyroid medication. It is also high in iron, so if you have any issues with elevated iron, you should avoid using it.
  • Schisandra (Stimulating). Also known as Magnolia berry, schisandra stimulates the central nervous system, enhances cognition, and can be a good substitute for caffeine when you want to avoid that “tired, but wired” feeling. It increases oxidation in the mitochondria, which enhances aerobic capacity. The smallest effective dose is 500 mg to 2 g of extract (or 1.5 to 6 g of crude schisandra) daily.
  • There are also a number of adaptogenic mushrooms, such as reishi, chaga, cordyceps, and lion’s mane, which have also been used medicinally for thousands of years in many different cultures. Research shows that the polysaccharides (specially beta glucans) found in mushrooms may make them particularly good for strengthening immunity and that these mushrooms also can act as an adaptogens, helping the body be more stress resilient.

What are you doing to improve your FUTURE SELF?

As I continue to go down various rabbit holes to “bio-hack” our aging process as endurance athletes, aging athletes and female athletes who tend to do too much of everything and experience too many sources of CHRONIC STRESORS… we need to take ownership of our health now to be fit and healthy from the inside out.  Exercising more and eating less doesn’t work.  There is more to being healthy than exercise -especially if you are over training, under recovery and experiencing low energy availability (LEA) from eating too little-fasting too long-restricting too much.

Schedule a call to DISCOVER MORE here with Coach Debbie

The WHOLESTIC Method Coaching Program.

Debbie Potts


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