Want to Protect Yourself From Toxins? Try an Herb-Infused Latte

Want to Protect Yourself From Toxins? Try an Herb-Infused Latte

By Allison Yates


Because if you could drink weed-infused water to bring on some calm, wouldn’t you?

By Allison Yates

When most people sink their teeth into a chocolate cake or sip a spiced-flavored mocha, the motive is rarely for health. But now, there’s a growing movement of “adaptogenic” food products — lattes, chocolate, grain-free pasta — that claim to be stress-relieving caffeine alternatives and offer protection against toxins in the environment.

These adaptogens are a powerful handful of nontoxic herbs that help regulate our body’s HPA axis and sympathoadrenal system in challenging times. In other words: “When stress comes along, we deal with it more appropriately,” says David Winston, a registered herbalist (American Herbalists Guild) and author of Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief.

Though they’ve been used for thousands of years in ancient medicine traditions, “most Americans did not grow up using herbs,” says Winston. But today there is “tremendous interest.” (After all, who wouldn’t be interested in natural Xanax?) There’s adaptogenic skincare for UV protection, Los Angeles–area cafes serving up adaptogenic lattes for anxiety relief and a Colorado-based company, Dram, producing CBD- and herb-infused sparkling water (which might have been useful during family holiday gatherings).


These herbs — like ashwagandha, holy basil (tulsi) and ginseng — boast numerous benefits related to immune systems, cognitive ability, sexual function, mental and physical stamina and more. Consumers are increasingly searching for ways to handle what the world throws at them — even changing their morning coffee routine. “If you’re going to do something every day, you might as well do it right,” says Lopa van der Mersch, founder and CEO of Rasa Koffee, an adaptogenic coffee substitute. Among others, Rasa sources the beverage from ashwagandha, reishi, chaga and rhodiola, herbs commonly known for their positive effects on immunity, anti-inflammation and mental health. Van der Mersch believes the adaptogenic drink allows people to wear a “stress suit,” or what she calls a “nice padding between me and stress.”

And it’s not just stress they’re fighting. “Environmental pollution is real. We are constantly at a low level of stress by our water and air, and adaptogens are a fantastic way to bolster your response to that,” explains van der Mersch, who says some of her customers use Rasa to protect against environmental toxins.

Use of holy basil is known to protect against heavy metals and threats like cadmium.

Between air pollution, oil spills and unsafe water, we have constant news of global environmental crises. Research shows there are around 80,000 chemicals in everyday products. “No one thinks about that big topic [global warming, pollutants] and how that impacts you on a day-to-day basis — it’s often a distant problem,” says Nick Rizzo, training and fitness researcher and content director at RunRepeat.com. 


Use of holy basil is known to protect against heavy metals and threats like cadmium — a silver metal by-product of smelting other metals found in things like car exhaust, cigarette smoke and vegetables grown in cadmium-contaminated soil — that are known to cause lung damage and sometimes death. Several tea companies, like Organic India, produce tulsi infusions (my favorite is the chai), while some consumers prefer to sprinkle the herb on meals.

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Adaptogen herbs

Source Shutterstock

Though the benefits are many, Winston warns that protection against environmental damage isn’t the main function of adaptogens: If you’re stuck in Beijing smog, a respirator would be more effective than a mushroom latte, and if you smoke, an ashwagandha smoothie won’t reverse the negative effects. Consuming adaptogens should never be a replacement for what he refers to as the “foundations of health”: regular exercise, companionship, good diet and healthy lifestyle choices.

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Preparing my body for the holidays: adding bucolique’s elderberry and elder flower tincture to my tulsi and dandelion tea🌱 . I have stopped drinking caffeinated drinks for several months now, after trying tulsi tea from @whitepinecommunityfarm 👌🏼 . Tulsi tea has helped a lot with my anxiety level, my insomnia and high level of stress. Because it is a adaptogenic plant, it helps protect the body from the degenerative effects of stress, and repairs the body from its damages. It has rejuvenating properties that boosts energy without being a stimulant. I go with my day without feeling any crash. It also helps with boosting immunity and reduces ulcers (all issues that were brought to my body because of stress)🤓 . I also added dandelion root to my tea to help with my lymphatic system that has been sluggish lately due to not being so active with all the rain and cold weather😢🏃🏽‍♀️ . I am getting this extra immunity boost by adding my tincture, especially during the holidays🍾 . Hey! Have you noticed the purple color from the tinc🌈? Beautiful!!!💜 #herbalism #herbalist #apothecary #tincture #tulsi #tea #dandelion #herbalmedicine #purple #herbsforstressandanxiety #rosemarygladstar #susunweed #healingwise #herbalremedies #homesteading #medicinalherbs #adaptogens #adaptogenic #lymphaticdrainage #wellbeing #happiness #nostress #livingmylifewithnostress #longlife

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But for those who simply want to bolster their health, adaptogenic foods might provide that little bit of extra armor or calm. For example, you can spike waffles, cookies, dressings, omelets, tofu and smoothies with adaptogenic “drips” for immunity and detoxification. If chocolate is your thing, Freaky Healthy Chocolate advertises its chaga- and ashwagandha-filled immunity bar as a method to “stop taking sick days.”

Well, if fighting stress and protecting against toxins is also delicious, that’s a wellness bandwagon we’re jumping on.

Video: Some adaptogenic recipes to make at home.