Beauty Boosting Adaptogens for a Healthy Glow

Are outdated beauty and wellness practices holding you back from radiant skin and optimal health? Find out how to update your beauty and wellness routine with adaptogens...

Contributor: Madison Kahuli

Whether you know it or not, you might already be enjoying the benefits of adaptogens. Maybe you already add Chaga and Lion's Mane to your morning coffee routine or Tocos to a relaxing night-time beverage. But if adaptogens aren't on your radar or part of your daily regime yet, it’s time to change that for good...

Adaptogens have been used for centuries on the eastern side of the world in Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicines where they experience far less inflammatory diseases than we do here in America. Today, many trusted wellness brands make these healing herbs and medicinal mushrooms more accessible to people all over the world. Although adaptogens may seem mystical, we’re here to demystify this important and continually emerging area of holistic wellness.

To be an adaptogen, herbs or medicinal mushrooms must be non-toxic to the body’s physiological functions. Adaptogens support our adrenal glands. Our adrenal glands are best known for regulating how the body responds to stress and the more stressed we are the more our adrenal glands release a hormone called cortisol. Adaptogens help us cope with the anxiety and fatigue that can come along with excess cortisol running through our bodies that so many Americans experience. In simple terms, adaptogens help our bodies adapt to stress and our environments.

Since adaptogens help support our adrenals, you might wonder how your cortisol levels correlate with your skin, or how can an adaptogen boost your beauty routine. Stress affects your whole body and can cause chemical responses that makes skin more sensitive and reactive. So in a world of stress and burning out - adaptogens, my friends, are here to stay. Here are my favorite adaptogens that I use to support healthy, glowing, and stress-free skin.


Tocos (rice bran solubles) are the ultimate skin food. This bio-available source of Vitamin E promotes healthy skin, connective tissues, and may facilitate the removal of toxins from the body. The synergistic action of its phytonutrients helps hydrate the skin and connective tissues. Tocos also combats oxidative stress, which can cause the break-down of our body’s natural collagen. Think glowing, plump, and happy skin! Plus, it tastes sweet!

Since tocos has a sweet taste and creamy texture, it’s the perfect addition to add to a cup of morning coffee.


Reishi, also known as Queen Healer in the medicinal mushroom world, is the most studied adaptogen on earth. This Queen helps with pre-mature aging since she contains a protein called Ling Zhi 8 and Ganodermic acid, which are rich anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic agents. Reishi is a powerhouse adaptogen taking care of our immune system, aiding in our longevity, and providing overall stress relief.

To wind down at the end of a busy day, try cozying up to a warm relaxing cup of chai and reishi. All you need is one cup of chai tea, a generous spoonful of coconut butter, almond milk, 1/2 tsp of reishi, blend and relax. I like topping my reishi chai lattes off with a sprinkle of cinnamon.


Turmeric comes from the curcuma longa plant that grows in India and other south east Asian countries. The dried root of the curcuma longa is ground down and we are left with this beautiful deep yellow turmeric powder. Since turmeric contains curcumin, it can provide all natural pain relief, but it’s mostly known for its ability to fight inflammation, and its strong antioxidant properties.

If you cook Indian style dishes, you’re probably already cooking with it. If not, an easy way to get the benefits of turmeric would be taking capsule forms of turmeric and curcumin, or having a warm glass of Golden Milk.

Turmeric powder in wooden bowl and fresh turmeric root on grey concrete background. Banner with copy space.


Chlorella is a form of algae, and as a building block of the freshwater food chain, it contains essential fatty acids, vitamin B-12, a slew of antioxidants, and is known for aiding the body in detoxing, since it binds to heavy metals. One of the things I love about Chlorella is that it promotes eye health. Chlorella contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect and lower the risk of macular degeneration. Think bright whites!


Moringa, I know it as the tree outside of my grandma’s house in Hawaii where we’d use the leaves in our chicken soup, but many know it as the “Miracle Tree” or “Miracle Leaf" because it contains a wide range of bio-available nutrients, minerals & high levels of vitamins B, C, D, and E. Moringa improves overall nutrition, and promotes quality sleep (and who couldn’t use a little more beauty sleep!). One of the best benefits of Moringa might be its ability to counter the effects of free radicals, and the vitamin C in moringa boosts our bodies natural collagen, which promotes healthy skin, nails, hair and joints.

I find it easiest to fit chlorella and moringa into my routine by adding them as a powder to my green smoothies or taking them in capsule form.


Ashwagandha can be ingested or applied topically. It’s one of the most important herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine, and is known as “Indian Ginseng”. Not only is it valued for its anti-anxiety, antidepressant, and anti-inflammatory properties, but also for is ability to balance hormones of the thyroid. These are just a very small handful of what this root and berry can do.

I take ashwagandha in a supplement for in the morning if I think I’m going to have a more than usual stressful day, or one at night before falling asleep. You may find that if using a powder form of Ashwagandha, it may not have the most appealing smell. After all, in India it’s known as “strength of the stallion”, since it’s not only powerful but pungent. I would add some to a tonic that has other strong flavors, like a coffee or a pumpkin chai to mask the taste.

Now that you’re ready to get glowing here is what to look for while shopping the world of adaptogens. Depending on your wants and needs, adaptogens are available in powder, capsule, or tincture form which is a concentrated liquid herbal extract. When buying adaptogens you want to look for organic and/or wildcrafted products. Bonus points if they’re ethically and sustainably sourced!

Are adaptogens part of your lifestyle? Share in the comments below!


Dr. Varma is the cofounder and CEO of Phyla and Phi Therapeutics, a microbiome company based in San Francisco. Dr. Varma is a trained microbiologist and synthetic biologist with a background in organic chemistry.