Functional Ingredient Trends: All About Adaptogens

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Written by | January 27th, 2021

With health and wellness being front of mind for many consumers, the food and beverage industry creates language to describe the different qualities an ingredient brings to a product. functional ingredient” can best be defined as one that provides some sort of health benefit to the consumer.   

Adaptogens is a word the consumer is seeing a lot of these days in the realm of functional ingredients in food and beverage, but they may not know exactly what they are and that familiar herbs fall into this category of functional ingredients. Adaptogens come from plant material, namely herbs and roots, that help the body manage and combat different stressors. They are used to bring balance back to the body. Here are a few adaptogens that are either featured prominently on grocery store shelves today or are becoming more widely known given their beneficial health properties.  

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is a succulent that thrives in tropical climates. Most consumers are familiar with it because its gel is typically marketed as a way to treat sunburn, acne, psoriasis, and surface-level wounds. Due to the high concentration of water in its leavesAloe is a great source of hydration, flushing out toxins and impurities. It also provides a healthy dose of Vitamins B, C, and E. The result of these healing properties is that consumers are seeing more aloe vera juice drinks on the shelves.  


Ashwagandha is a small shrub that grows in India, parts of Africa, and the Middle East that has been used medicinally for hundreds of years. Its roots and berries are said to boost energy levels, reduce stress and anxiety, improve brain function, lower blood sugar levels, and increase fertility. What more could you ask for? 


Ginseng is a root which has long been used in Chinese medicine. There are two types on the market today: American and Asian. Despite being from the same family of plant, the two offer different health benefits. American ginseng is used for its antioxidant properties and to boost the immune systemPeople with Type 2 Diabetes can also use it to lower blood sugar levels. Asian ginseng (also known as Korean red ginseng) is can mitigate the possible onset of the cold or flu, promote heart health, improve physical endurance, and minimize symptoms of menopause. 


When consumers typically think about mushrooms, they picture them as an ingredient in a savory culinary dish like Stuffed Portobellos or Crimini and Leek risotto. While its true that these fungi are a staple in many diets, certain mushroom varieties like Lion’s Mane, Reishi, Shitake and Maitake have notable medicinal qualities. Mushrooms have been used to treat infection, boost the immune system, alleviate stress, and improve sleep. They are also used to treat heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.  


Rosemary is an extremely fragrant herb that many consumers are familiar with because it’s a key ingredient in Mediterranean foodThe evergreen shrub is a member of the mint family, as are many of the other herbs like Thyme, Basil, and Oregano. Rosemary is used for its anti-inflammatory properties, improving circulation, aiding in digestion, and improving focus and memory.   


 Turmeric is best known for its place in Indian cooking. It is the main spice in curry that gives it its golden color and its bright, slightly bitter taste. Turmeric comes from the stem of the Turmeric plant, which grows in India and South East Asia. Beyond its role in cooking, Turmeric, powered by curcumin, the substance responsible for the spice’s bright hue, has notable anti-inflammatory properties. Hence, Turmeric has been used for thousands of years to treat various illnesses and health problems, including inflammation, arthritis, heart disease, high cholesterol, and allergies.  

Today’s consumers are shopping for products based on the role they play in promoting good health and reducing the risk of disease, resulting in an increased demand for items that taste great AND deliver added health benefits. If you are considering adding an adaptogen to one of your products to meet your consumer’s needs, the SōRSE team is eager to consult with you to find a great match for our emulsion.   

Read Part 2 to Functional Ingredients Trends, where we cover functional ingredients for restoring protein levels, balancing gut heath, improving sleep, as well as the benefits of cannabinoids being paired with functional ingredients.