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Anxiety & Stress

Ashwagandha vs Rhodiola vs Reishi

Adaptogen food selection with herbs and spices

Written By: Emily Spring

There are many factors that can cause stress and anxiety in our daily lives—whether it’s bumper-to-bumper traffic causing you to be late for work or relational stressors that prevent you from feeling your best. 

However, there are many avenues and herbal supplements to reduce cortisol levels and help us deal with day-to-day worries—namely, Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and Reishi. 

As we traverse down this age-old avenue of plant-based supplements, we’ll explore each supplement in detail, reviewing the benefits, side effects, and proper usages of each.

Getting to Know Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is an ancient herb grown in Asia and Africa that has been used in Indian medicine for thousands of years. Recently, it has been gaining popularity worldwide as a supplement used for its numerous reported benefits. 

Top Uses and Benefits of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is an age-old remedy that touts many benefits that have been used in ancient Ayurvedic practices. More specifically, Ashwagandha health benefits include:

  • Stress relief – We started by talking about stress and there’s a reason: Ashwagandha’s most popular use is to relieve feelings of unease or nervousness. In human studies, Ashwagandha has been shown to successfully reduce cortisol levels and reduce stress when compared to a placebo.1 Since it is categorized by the FDA as a supplement, it cannot be used as a drug to treat anxiety disorders, but for those of us who want to reduce our general stress level and anxiety, Ashwagandha has been shown to work.

  • Stiff joints – Stress relief may be the main benefit of Ashwagandha, but it isn’t the only one. If you experience joint discomfort or a joint-related injury, Ashwagandha can help to reduce aches and help your body function normally. However, unless stated by a doctor, Ashwagandha shouldn’t take the place of your normal pain meds. But it may help you need them a little less often.

  • Brain function – Looking for a little memory boost? Ashwagandha may be able to help there too. In animal studies, Ashwagandha has been shown to help slow the degeneration of neural pathways which may help your memory and overall brain function.2 So, if you’re looking to jumpstart your study session or bolster your memory for upcoming years, an Ashwagandha supplement may be the right choice for you.

  • Fertility – Ashwagandha has been shown to increase testosterone levels in men. This can help men build their muscle mass and overall strength, as well as mitigate fertility issues.3
  • These are only some of the potential benefits of Ashwagandha, but knowing the benefits can give you a glimpse into the possibilities of Ashwagandha as a supplement.

    Easy to take Ashwagandha for Stress. Shop now!

    Wondering how to take Ashwagandha? In addition to taking Ashwagandha on its own, you may want to take it with other herbs and supplements to maximize its effects. Our Be Calm capsules combine Ashwagandha with CBD and other herbs like Holy Basil and Albizia Flower to help you:

    • Regulate your stress hormone response
    • Support your nervous system
    • Enhance your overall joy

    How to Take Ashwagandha

    Most people benefit from taking Ashwagandha in a capsule or powder form, which can be swallowed directly or mixed into yummy concoctions like mixed-berry smoothies or early-morning tonics. Generally, it’s recommended to take Ashwagandha in the morning or at night to experience its full benefits. 

    However, as long as you’re taking it daily, you should be able to experience the full benefits of the ancient herb. Just don’t take it on an empty stomach, as it can lead to adverse effects. 

    Side Effects

    Ashwagandha is safe for most people. But, if you are pregnant or nursing, it is recommended that you avoid Ashwagandha. An Ashwagandha supplement may also have negative interactions with some drugs. As such, you should talk to your doctor before starting an Ashwagandha supplement regime to avoid any unintended interactions.

    There are a few potential side effects when taking Ashwagandha. Although none are considered serious. They include:

    • Upset stomach
    • Nausea
    • Diarrhea
    • Vomiting

    If you experience any of these symptoms, you may need to adjust your dose or stop taking Ashwagandha. 

    Getting to Know Rhodiola

    The next stop in the stand-off between Ashwagandha vs Rhodiola vs Reishi is Rhodiola. Rhodiola is another herb, but it is native to Asia and Europe. It’s often grown in cold, high altitude regions.4 

    Similar to Ashwagandha, it can be taken as a supplement to provide the body with holistic health and wellness. 

    Top Uses and Benefits of Rhodiola

    Much like Ashwagandha, Rhodiola isn’t a one-trick pony. It also has many potential benefits, which differ a bit from those purported by Ashwagandha:

  • Provides stress relief – Okay, so you don’t see differences right away. Rhodiola is also used to help relieve stress. But unlike Ashwagandha, which helps relieve stress by reducing your cortisol level and inhibiting the stress response, Rhodiola relieves stress by reducing symptoms of burnout.

  • Helps with fatigue – So how does Rhodiola help with burnout? Well, first off, it helps keep you from experiencing high levels of tiredness. Burnout is a real problem in modern society and Rhodiola has been shown to help people cope with the symptoms of mental fatigue so they don’t feel so run down.

  • Elevates moods – In one study, Rhodiola was tested against sertraline, a drug used to treat moderate depression. While it was not as effective as sertraline, it did show some efficacy and had greatly fewer side effects than the pharmaceutical 5

    Rhodiola should not be used in place of modern medicine to alleviate depression, but it may help some people deal with unhappy thoughts.
  • Before taking any medications, over-the-counter drugs, supplements or herbs, consult a physician for a thorough evaluation. A qualified physician should make a decision based on each person's medical history and current prescriptions.

  • Improves brain function – This should come as no surprise since your brain tends to function better when you’re less stressed, less tired, and less depressed. More studies need to be done to determine if this is a primary or secondary effect of Rhodiola, but either way, your brain can reap the benefits.

  • Much like Ashwagandha, these are just some of the reported benefits of this herbal supplement. Additionally, you may be able to maximize your results by taking Rhodiola as part of a mixture with other health-promoting herbs and supplements.

    Our Advanced Clear Focus capsules combine Rhodiola with other herbs and mushrooms to create a blend that will help support your brain health and cognition, improve your mood, and boost your stamina. In addition to Rhodiola, each capsule is packed with ingredients like green tea leaf, Lion’s Mane mushroom, and Ginkgo Biloba extract. 

    How to Take Rhodiola

    Unlike Ashwagandha, it’s best to take Rhodiola on an empty stomach and should rarely be taken before you fall asleep. That’s because Rhodiola is best used to improve mental and physical performance.

    As such, Rhodiola should be taken in the morning or early afternoon as a tablet, capsule, powder, or liquid extract. 

    Side Effects

    Rhodiola is also considered safe for most people. Like Ashwagandha, there are a few non-serious side effects, which include:

    • Dizziness
    • Dry mouth
    • Excessive production of saliva

    Adjusting your dosage may help with these symptoms or you may need to stop taking Rhodiola altogether. Additionally, Rhodiola is not recommended for anyone who is pregnant or nursing. As always, if you’re on medication, you should talk to your doctor to avoid any unwanted drug interactions when taking Rhodiola supplements.

    Getting to Know Reishi

    What’s the main difference between Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and Reishi? Well, for one thing, Reishi isn’t an herb. It’s a mushroom. Originating from Asia, you will generally find Reishi mushrooms sprouting in hot humid areas. 

    Top Uses and Benefits of Reishi

    Similar to the herbs we have already discussed, Reishi mushrooms are staples in some eastern medicine where they are said to have many benefits:

    • Boosts the immune system – Reishi mushrooms have been shown to affect the white blood cells in an immune system. Since these are important in fighting off disease, it follows that Reishi may help bolster your immune system.

    • Fights fatigue – People have found that using Reishi may improve stamina to help people feel happier, more alert, and less nervous or stressed.6
    • Improves mood – Reishi supplements may also help to increase feelings of happiness and mitigate unease or nervousness. 

    How to Take Reishi Mushrooms

    When you think of mushrooms, you may think of the fungi that top your pizza or complement your risotto. However, today you are much more likely to see Reishi as a supplement in forms like capsules, tablets, or tea. 

    If you were to eat Reishi in food form, it typically comes dried and can often be tough and bitter.

    At Plant People, we also offer Reishi as part of our WonderDay Mushroom Gummies. In these gummies, we combine Reishi with 9 mushroom extracts like Lion’s Mane, Chaga, and Cordyceps  to provide you with whole-body balance and support. They even come in a wild raspberry flavor to enhance your enjoyment.

    Side Effects

    As with Rhodiola and Ashwagandha, there are some side effects to look out for when ingesting Reishi supplements of any kind, which include:

    • Nausea
    • Insomnia
    • Liver damage

    Let Plant People Lead the Way

    Reishi, Ashwagandha, and Rhodiola are plant and mushroom-based supplements that can have a full-body effect on your overall health and wellness. Together, these supplements can also have a real impact on your mental health, mitigating feelings of unease and nervousness.

    Whether you take Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, or Reishi is up to you—and if you want something especially soothing, consider combining all three. Bringing together the benefits of each supplement may provide the relief you’re looking for. 

    However, be careful to monitor dosage as combining benefits also means combining potential side effects. 

    At Plant People, we want you to feel your best. We’ve created our supplements in ways we believe will help accomplish that goal. Try our Ashwagandha-filled Be Calm supplements, our Clear Focus Rhodiola capsules, and our Reishi Wonderday gummies to help you strike a balance between task-tackling energy and full-body calm.

    Written by Emily Spring 

    Emily Spring is the Director of Marketing at Plant People. A longtime proponent of balanced living, she has enjoyed over 8 years driving growth in the lifestyle, health and wellness sectors with deep experience in functional solutions for optimizing anyone's everyday life.

    Reviewed by Gabe Kennedy

    Co-Founder of Plant People, Gabe Kennedy is an acclaimed chef and entrepreneur. Growing up in a house of healers and herbalists, he is passionate about the power of food as a tool for health, and actualized this passion and belief system into his company, Plant People. Named to Forbes 30 under 30 Gabe has shaped menus and cooked his way around the world with his mission to promote a more communal, green and healthy world.

    Gabe is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. You can learn more about his work at his website.



    1. NIH National Library of Medicine. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of Ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. 
    2. Medical News Today. What are the benefits of Ashwagandha?
    3. Healthline. 12 Proven Health Benefits of Ashwagandha. 
    4. NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Rhodiola. 
    5. Healthline. 7 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Rhodiola rosea. 
    6. Healthline. 6 Benefits of Reishi Mushroom (Plus Side Effects and Dosage). 






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