The HPA Axis? How Adaptogens Modulate Stress


Adaptogens are plants:  herbs, berries and mushroom with the unique ability to modulate the stress response. They do this by working along the HPA axis which is the regulator of the body’s stress hormone: cortisol.

According to Doctor Amy Myers, “Your hypothalamus is the part of your brain that recognises stress. When you are stressed, your hypothalamus signals your pituitary gland, and they both in turn signal your adrenals to produce and release stress hormones. This is known as your HPA (Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis.

Chronic stress keeps your HPA axis constantly engaged. Not only is this bad news for your overall health–affecting your mood, sleep, libido, immune system, blood sugar, appetite, thyroid, and much more–it’s also terribly taxing to your adrenal glands and micronutrient reserves. Your adrenal glands have to work incredibly hard to keep up with the demand of being constantly engaged, which can fatigue them and lead to adrenal dysfunction and burnout.

Adaptogenic herbs support a more balanced response to ongoing stress, regulating stress hormone and cortisol production in order to prevent adrenal fatigue and HPA axis dysfunction. Adaptogens also help modulate cellular sensitivity to stress hormones, thereby encouraging a healthier response to stress overall.”


We find that adaptogens help us to feel balanced and in charge of our reactions to the stresses we encounter in our daily lives. Equipped with a balanced stress response we can do more of what we love without fatigue related crashes, unhappy hormones and it’s 3pm irritability.

Morning, afternoon and evening, these are some of our favourite daily adaptogenic rituals for stressing less and glowing more:

Morning: Adaptogen Vegan Collagen Boost Smoothie

The plants in this inner beauty powder contain the nutrient building blocks to support and protect collagen. Collagen is important for giving us glowing skin and sustaining our bodies’ structure. Stress weakens collagen, and adaptogens modulate stress. Start the day by blending up a cup of frozen berries, almond or coconut milk and two small level teaspoons of our Adaptogen Vegan Collagen Boost.

Afternoon: Cacao with Benefits

Replace your afternoon coffee with Cacao with Benefits for a feel good café break with cacao, maca, mesquite, cinnamon and cardamom. We like to add a some Happy Bean (Mucuna Pruriens) when we feel like we need a little boost.

Evening: Evolve Latte

High curcumin turmeric, adaptogenic astragalus and reishi mushrooms can support immunity and relieve stress. With chamomile to help soothe the soul and aid sleep. For extra calm add a teaspoon of The Calmer (Ashwagandha).

Evening: Wild + Free Adaptogenic Face Oil

With organic botanicals and adaptogenic oils: frankincense, holy basil and clary sage, this blend helps protect our skin from stress. The scent is both calming and uplifting and is a key de-stressing component of our before bed routine.

Isabella Palmai