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Balancing the gut-skin-brain(-soul) connection with adaptogens


If the eyes are the mirror to the soul, then the skin is the mirror of our internal health. As our body’s largest organ and the interface between our external and internal environments, it has contact to a lot of elements and is one of the easiest ways to let you know how your inner world is doing.

Adaptogen mushrooms play a big role in our approach to keeping the gut-skin-brain(-soul) connection in balance. If adaptogens aren’t on your radar yet, put them on!


Ciao coffee anxiety

When the anxiety of giving up coffee matched the anxiety it fuelled after drinking it – that’s when I knew there was a problem. As my morning coffee turned into two morning coffees which rolled into an afternoon coffee (and sometimes beyond), I realized I had a slight coffee dependency. The thing was, I really didn’t like the jitters coffee gave me, but coffee kind of became par for the course in work environments and social settings. When I was freelancing in my 20s, I'd go around from client to client, spending the day in different offices. The vibe was like "new office, new cup of coffee!". So that’s what I did, I drank coffee although it made me feel like sh%t 99.8% of the time.

After doing a fast to eliminate candida, I could hardly drink a cup without being wired. And interestingly, the effect of that fast more than 15 years ago still holds today and my body will definitely let me know if I overdo it (generally even one cup is too much now). But even though I felt bad after consuming coffee, I would resist and try to pick it up again. I literally had to ween myself off of it over the course of years before I finally broke free from what can only be described as a caffeine addiction to coffee.

Sometimes we grow out of relationships and I just grew up and grew out of coffee.

In the post-breakup period, I drank masala chai, a drink I absolutely adore from India. The spices, the ritual of creating it, the ginger kick I got from drinking it, and the pleasure of sharing it with friends hit all the right spots.

After living in Spain, I also incorporated cacao into my warm drink ritual – both of which give a gentle cognitive and energy boost without pounding on the adrenals like coffee. Do I still drink coffee? Very occasionally, but it’s not my go-to drink anymore. Nowadays, it’s basically chai, turmeric lattes, cacao and adaptogens when I want something warm and mylky to drink.

Plucked out of my travels to India, living in Spain, and growing beyond the coffee jitters, our Wild Leaves adaptogen drink line was born.

<< Check them out!

Let’s talk about stress & the gut-brain-skin connection

More than anything, coffee stressed me out. And not for just an hour or two, I could drink a cup in the morning and still be affected at night, sometimes well into the next day. In Western approaches to health, it’s common to isolate each organ system without making the holistic connection of what’s happening in one part of our body might be affecting other areas of the body.

Let’s take the skin for example. Stress is a key driver of skin imbalances and aging on all levels. Often when hormones or the gut microbiome are out of balance, other organs and cells will be affected, including our skin. And even more importantly, our state of mind. But the skin is a bit more of an easy-to-recognize gauge compared to the mind as to what’s happening on the inside because it’s more tangible.

What are adaptogens?

Adaptogen mushrooms have played a big role in my approach to getting off coffee and keeping the gut-skin-brain(-soul) connection balanced.

Adaptogens are medicinal mushrooms (and herbs) of which the benefits are becoming a very popular trend in the health and wellness community today. For good reasons, too! Adaptogens are non-hallucinogenic, non-poisonous, edible stress-response modifiers that increase an organism’s nonspecific resistance to stress by increasing its ability to adapt and survive. In other words: Adaptogens work to regulate the body’s cortisol levels and other stress hormones, supporting the body to better adapt to and cope with stress, fatigue and restlessness.

Another way to put it: Adaptogens are ancient non-toxic herbs and mushrooms known for their ability to help your body better handle physical and emotional stress. They are known for keeping not just stress but also fatigue and restlessness at bay. They have properties which “adapt” the body’s ability to restore its normal physiological function and to resist stressors.

How Adaptogen Mushrooms Work to Relieve Stress

Adaptogens interact with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA), which is our body’s stress response system. We’ve all at least heard of cortisol before – the stress hormone that’s released by your adrenal glands during tense times, increasing your heart rate, blood pressure, and glucose levels. It’s the hormone responsible for the fight-flight-freeze response when our bodies feel threatened, whether it be real or perceived danger. Adaptogens have shown promise in normalizing stress hormones, such as cortisol while broad-targeting stress in our bodies. It’s worth picking up adaptogenic mushrooms as another tool in your stress-reduction kit, together with adequate amounts of restful sleep, regular movement and interaction with nature, as well as a mindfulness or meditation practice to form a well-balanced life.

Adaptogens aren’t a quick fix for stress and have more of a slow-burn type of effect. You can likely see some of the stress-protective benefits by using adaptogens regularly over the long term.

When reflecting on adaptogens, it’s also evident they tell a larger story of our contemporary lifestyle – when coalescing with work, family and friends, conversations regularly lead to all things wellness and longing for a stronger connection to balance and nature. Mushrooms are cropping up in the collective consciousness and conversations more and more. They have had shade thrown on them over the years, but they’re slowly coming out of the shadows to bring their health benefits to light.

Creating healthy morning rituals is the best way to set the tone for the day and feel more connected to your Self. Just ask anyone who has made a shift by integrating a new ritual and they will annoyingly tell you how great their day is because they did their yoga, breathwork, or smoothie. Here’s your permission to be one of those annoying people and spread the word about adaptogens.

My Morning Ritual

My morning usually starts off early and involves gentle rituals to ease into the day. It can include oil pulling, drinking a warm, alkalizing herbal tea either freshly picked or already dried, getting on my mat and breathing, meditating, yoga-ing, working out with weights – or all of the above. I generally need movement to begin my day on the right foot.

After the movement part of the morning, I like to move on to the warm, creamy drink part of the day. In the summer, I’ll sometimes swap out a warm drink for a smoothie packed with adaptogen mushrooms, ashwaganda, turmeric, hemp powder for protein, nut butters and bananas – and even some other ingredients when the mood strikes. If you don’t have time to smoothie/warm-drink and spend time on your mat, we have made it extra easy for you with our two lovely adaptogen drinks. And massive bonus for you: All of our ingredients are certified organic.

Our adaptogen mushroom drinks for when only a warm drink will do.

Rather than going straight for the coffee, try integrating something gentler like our Adaptogen Chai or Adaptogen Gold. Our Adaptogen Gold has zero caffeine yet still packs the power thanks to adaptogen mushrooms, turmeric, ginger, and other spices. The Adaptogen Chai is full of adaptogen mushrooms, spices, and a teeny tiny dose of caffeine from the cacao and black tea.

The adaptogen mushrooms bring the focus while the spices bring the fire. Every time I drink either of them, I feel a boost of energy almost immediately without the heaviness that coffee leaves in my body.

The Adaptogen Chai

The Adaptogen Chai is a blend of Chaga, Reishi, Maitake, and Lion’s Mane mushrooms, organic masala chai herbs (ginger, cardamom, clove, anis seed, fennel seed, black pepper, and nutmeg), cacao and black tea. The boost you get from our Adaptogen Chai is more like a smooth lift into a higher dimension of your more productive, and clear-headed self.

The Adaptogen Gold

If you’re looking for a calming factor with a slightly spicy twist (thanks to the ginger), Adaptogen Gold is our spin on classic golden mylk and loaded up with tasty mushrooms. The ingredients for the Adaptogen Gold are turmeric, cinnamon, carob, Lion’s Mane, Reishi, Cloud Ear mushroom, celery seeds, anis seeds, black pepper, nutmeg, and cardamom.

We Suggest Using Our Adaptogen Drinks Like…

Grab a cup of Adaptogen Chai or Adaptogen Gold in the morning and/or afternoon. The mushrooms, spices and small amount of caffeine from the tea and cacao (in the Chai) give you a gentle kick-start into your day without the highs and lows of coffee. The Adaptogen Gold has no caffeine so if you’re sensitive to caffeine, you’ll want this one in the evenings (or any time of the day really).

Try them for yourself and see how you feel! They taste muy bien. Scroll down for a recipe on how to make Rosebud Spiced Adaptogen Gold.

Recipe for Rosebud Spiced Adaptogen Gold


Rosebud spiced turmeric latte made with Wild Leaves and Adaptogen Gold and cardamom
Rosebud spiced Adaptogen Gold

Step 1:

Put your favorite (plant) mylk in a pot or cup.

Step 2:

As you're warming it up, take 1 heaping teaspoon of Adaptogen Gold, half teaspoon cardamom and 2 rosebuds or a small handful of petals and put it in the pot.

Step 3:

Warm it all up together.

Step 4:

Add your favorite sweetener (or not) and pour the blend into a mug and stir.

Drink warm and enjoy!

The herbs and spices you'll need:

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