If someone were to rank the decade’s most hyped-up wellness phenomena, I’d bet you an oat milk latte that CBD and adaptogens would be fighting for the number one spot. It’s obvious why so many people are obsessed: Both buzzy substances are credited with soothing stress, which is pretty much the plague of our times.
It should be noted up-front that research on CBD—a compound found in hemp and marijuana plants that’s said to provide numerous health benefits without the high—and its benefits are limited. And herbal experts caution that people are already going overboard on adaptogenic plants as it is without fully understanding them. Yet as the ingredients continue to gain steam, brands are now creating products formulated with both CBD and adaptogens. One of the first was CAP Beauty, whose Daily Hit oil (a combo of CBD and immune-enhancing reishi mushroom) caused a legit sensation when it debuted back in 2017. More recently, Plant People launched Stay Sharp, a CBD supplement that’s said to improve focus and mental clarity with an assist from gingko and bacopa monnieri; Calivolve‘s CBD truffles are crafted with a blend of stamina-boosting maca and calming ashwagandha; Yuyo Botanics’ AM Formula stress-support tincture also combines CBD with ashwagandha.
According to Plant People co-founder Gabe Kennedy, CBD and adaptogens make sense together because they both have similar functions: They’re believed to help the body maintain balance when we’re on the brink of burnout. “When stress occurs… our systems become interrupted and our vitality diminishes,” he explains. “Both CBD and adaptogens help mitigate our response to these stressors, making it easier to reach homeostasis and therefore better wellbeing.”
CBD reportedly fights stress and its numerous side-effects by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which helps regulate lots of bodily functions and maintain balance in the body. It has links to our nervous, endocrine, and immune systems, all of which are impacted by stress. Some adaptogens, like maca, are also believed to affect the ECS, but for the most part they’re thought to have a more direct effect on the adrenal system, which plays a major role in the body’s stress response.
So on their own, they individually have potential to help with your stress levels. But together…they could boost each others’ stress-busting power. “The anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety benefits of CBD pair synergistically with the immune, adrenal, and stress support of adaptogenic herbs,” Kennedy says. Yuyo Botanics co-founder Christy Tarleton agrees. “Adding adaptogens into your regimen [may allow you to] to get more out of your CBD,” she says—for example, she says if you’re fighting anxiety with CBD, adding ashwagandha could help further reduce stress while improving focus.
Emphasis on could. Promising as this hot new couple may sound, there’s definitely cause to be a little skeptical about the pairing of CBD and adaptogens. “There have been zero studies of what CBD does in conjunction with [adaptogens],” says Jeff Chen, MD, director of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative. He adds that there’s been limited research on CBD itself for most conditions, and that it’s unclear what dose is best whether you’re taking it solo or combining it with other ingredients.
Another reason to proceed with caution: On the adaptogen front, some experts say that you should really only consume these plants under the guidance of a trained herbalist—that way, you’ll ensure that you’re getting exactly the ones that your body needs, and nothing that will throw your system even further out of whack. So dosing yourself with CBD plus adaptogens shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Ultimately, CBD and adaptogens are generally thought to be safe. But it’s still worth doing your own research and talking to a specialist if you want to add them to your routine, especially to avoid any interactions with medication you might be taking. And if you get the all-clear? At the very least, getting your adaptogens and CBD in one bottle will free up some precious shelf space in your pantry.
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