If you’ve ever taken a few drops of CBD or a CBN blend to help you snooze, or used a weed lubricant to help boost your libido, then you’ve likely had a brush with adaptogens. “Adaptogens are a special class of herbs and fungi that support our body’s ability to adapt to physical and emotional stress, and support internal homeostasis and resilience,” says Colleen Gerson, a formulator and functional wellness educator for Foria Wellness. “Essentially, they help our body and mind to cope more effectively with the demands of life, and to feel a more sustained sense of calm or energy.”
These herbs have been around for centuries and are a cornerstone in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. They tend to be ingested orally, like in a capsule, or added to food and beverage products, like tea. And, fun fact: According to our friends at Prismatic Plants—whose Good Day tincture is a fave thanks to its mood-boosting blend—adaptogenic plants often grow in climates where they are inundated with environmental stressors. “It’s this innate resilience to withstand stressors that makes them so powerful for helping to treat stress, anxiety, and to support our overall immune system response.”
Although it’s not actually defined as one, cannabis actually has some of the key attributes of an adaptogen, thanks to its effects on the body through the endocannabinoid system, says Gerson. And while there isn’t a ton of research on the subject, anecdotal evidence suggests that combining weed with other adaptogenic herbs, oils, and fungi can actually enhance the effect of the two.
It’s almost like the difference between drinking a cup of coffee and drinking a cup of coffee with a double shot of espresso in it. The espresso boosts the effects of the coffee, much in the same way adaptogens boost the effects of certain cannabinoids.
“It has long been hypothesized by scientists that our endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate many body functions, helps maintain a state of balance,” says Jessie Kater, SVP of manufacturing at Curaleaf. “Science has recently shown, for example, that CBD almost behaves as an adaptogen itself, working synergistically with other cannabinoids and potentially broader adaptogens in general.” It’s almost like the difference between drinking a cup of coffee and drinking a cup of coffee with a double shot of espresso in it. The espresso boosts the effects of the coffee, much in the same way adaptogens boost the effects of certain cannabinoids.
And depending on what needs you’re looking to have met—from better sex to improved immune system response to pain relief and more—there are certain cannabinoid/adaptogen combos that work better than others. Here are a few favorites to get ya started:
+ For Sex: Kava Kava +
Kava kava, which is a plant that is native to the Pacific Islands, contains kavapyrones that produce euphoria and relaxation, depending on how it’s applied or ingested. It’s also been shown to increase dopamine. And when coupled with cannabis, which is a blood-flow helping vasodilator, it can produce an aphrodisiac effect. All of this makes kava kava and cannabis a great duo for the bedroom. “It brings our energy out of our busy minds, opens the heart, is deeply grounding, and stirs the sensual energies,” Gerson says. “She’s the queen of [Foria’s] Awaken arousal oil for a reason.”
Try it: Foria Awaken Arousal Oil
+ For Inflammation & Pain: Turmeric +
“Turmeric is incredibly complementary to cannabis,” says Brooke Alpert, registered dietician, cannabis practitioner, and founder of Daily Habit. “The anti-inflammatory benefits found in the active compound in turmeric, called curcumin, mirror many of the benefits of cannabis.” Both curcumin and cannabis has been shown to be an anti-inflammatory and could have the potential to be used as a treatment in autoimmune disease. It’s also been studied as a treatment for migraines. And those who use medical marijuana have reported improved pain management. So a combination of the two may be useful in treating chronic or acute pain.
+ For a Mood Boost: Rosemary +
There’s a reason why rosemary is such a common herb in aromatherapy. It’s been shown to boost your mood and give you a much-needed shot of energy. Now, that may seem like it runs counter to CBD, which for some people might have relaxing, stress-reducing qualities. But combining the two is actually complimentary, says Alpert, since reducing stress can give you more energy—the same way an improved mood can. This duo is actually helpful in quieting the stress in your mind and helping you refocus.
+ For Energy: Rhodiola +
If you really need a shot in the arm in terms of energy, Gerson points to Rhodiola as the perfect compliment to cannabis. And although there haven’t been a ton of studies on the herb, what little research exists is very promising: surveys have shown that it eases mental fatigue and boosts physical performance. And when combined with energy-inducing terpenes, Rhodiola’s benefits are only heightened.
Try it: Prima Brain Fuel Elixir
+ For Relaxation: Ashwagandha +
One of the main benefits people seem to call out when talking about cannabis is relaxation. But when combined with Ashwagandha, you may find yourself in an even more chilled-out state. Ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng, is a plant in the nightshade family. It’s been studied as a promising alternative treatment for anxiety. This is, of course, one of the main uses of cannabis. THC has been shown to reduce anxiety in low doses. And CBD? In studies, it’s helped lower anxiety in all doses. Mixed the Ashwagandha, those properties are heightened, leading to some major bliss.
Try it: Plant People Be Calm