adaptogenic drinks

Explore the new world of alcohol-free, adaptogenic drinks

What are adaptogenic drinks and how do they work?

Adaptogenic drinks are gaining in popularity as many of us are looking for a grown-up alternative to non-alcoholic drinks.

If you want to discover the ‘secret’ ingredients that give adaptogenic drinks that little buzz, then read on. In short, how can adaptogenic drinks give a sense of calm that let’s face it, a glass of soda just wont!

Coupled with the hangover, scientists now know that alcohol disrupts the trillions of microbes in our gut – the gut microbiome – which are central to our physical and mental well-being.

In fact, alcohol can cause an imbalance in good and bad bacteria that can lead to inflammation, a leaky gut, bacterial overgrowth. What’s more, it can reduce the ability of our good gut bacteria to support our bodies.

  • So, what’s a wine lover to do?

So far, non-alcoholic options have been limited to bland sodas or overly sweet 0% wine or beers. But let’s be honest, we all want that drink to make us feel at least something!

Luckily, some exciting changes are happening on that front.

Enter the growing range of so-called functional beverages, including adaptogenic drinks. Here we take a look at what they are and test out some of the top brands:*

First, what are adaptogenic drinks?

In brief, adaptogenic drinks contain active botanical ingredients that may enhance mood, energy, cognitive performance and stress resilience.

Basically these drinks aim to offer the ‘good effects’ and the ‘highs’ associated with alcohol, without its adverse effects.

How do adaptogenic drinks work?

So how can adaptogenic drinks offer the ‘fun effects’ of alcohol, without the downsides?

In order to achieve their effect, functional drinks contain active botanicals that affect our mind and our mood.

For example, some common active botanicals include:

  • Ashwaganda
  • Lemon balm
  • Ginseng
  • Bacopa
  • Rhodiola
  • Lion’s Mane mushroom
  • Cannabidiol
  • Schisandra

What are the effects of ashwagandha?

  • Ashwagandha is a plant used for centuries in traditional Indian medicine, also known as Ayurveda
  • For example, potential health benefits include reducing stress, improving mood, enhancing energy, and supporting the immune system

What are the effects of Lemon balm?

  • Lemon balm belongs to the mint family and grows in many parts of the world
  • For instance, it may affect your body and mind by helping you relax, reduce stress, and make you feel more calm. Also, it may improve your mood and lower anxiety

What are the effects of ginseng?

  • Ginseng has been used for centuries in traditional medicine, especially in Asia and North America
  • For example, it may increase energy and reduce fatigue, improve brain function and cognition 

What are the effects of bacopa?

  • Bacopa is used in some traditional medicines, especially in India, where it is called brahmi
  • For instance, this adaptogen may benefit the brain, e.g. by improving memory, learning, and mood

What are the effects of rhodiola?

  • Used for centuries in traditional medicine, especially in cold parts of Europe and Asia, rhodiola is considered an adaptogen. In essence, this means it can help the body adapt to different kinds of stress and balance its functions.
  • Specifically, it’s believed to increase energy and reduce fatigue

What are the effects of Lion’s Mane mushroom

  • Lion’s Mane mushroom is used for both food and medicine in some Asian countries
  • E.g., it is believed to relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety; it may reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain, which can affect mood and mental health

What are the effects of cannabidiol (CBD)

  • CBD comes from the cannabis plant but it does not make you high
  • E.g. it may reduce stress, symptoms of anxiety and depression, relieve pain and inflammation

What are the effects of schisandra?

  • Schisandra is a plant that has been used in traditional medicine, especially in China and Russia, and is considered an adaptogen
  • It’s believed to enhance physical and mental performance. Specifically it may increase energy and endurance among other benefits on the body and mind

Which adaptogenic drinks are worth trying?        

Three of the most popular adaptogenic drinks in the UK are:

Having tried all three, they definitely pack a punch beyond their refreshing flavour. Undoubtedly they could be a real alternative if you’re looking for a grown-up drink with that boozy buzz, minus the alcohol.

1. Three Spirits

What’s the deal: The Three Spirit plant-based alternatives to alcohol utilize the power of active botanicals to achieve their effect. In essence, they blend adaptogens, nootropics, herbs, distillates and ferments to give a powerful ‘natural buzz’.

These elixirs are designed by plant scientists and bartenders to enhance your mood, rhythm and mind throughout the day and into the night, according to Three Spirits.

These elixirs taste delicious on the rocks, with mixers and in cocktails.

How Three Spirits adaptogenic drinks work:

In summary, their hero ingredients include:

  • Lion’s Mane mushroom
  • Ashwaganda
  • Schisandra
  • Guayusa
  • Cacoa
  • Passionflower
  • Lemon balm
  • Tulsi
  • Turmeric

The Livener – energizing

Described as an “invigorating elixir” this is your perfect party pick-me-up.

Enjoy the mood boosting benefits of guayusa, guava leaf and schisandra and big flavours from vibrant berries, bright aromatics and heat.

Social Elixir – elevated but calm

Basically, the “ultimate social companion and mood elevator”, according to Three Spirits.

Experience the benefits of “lion’s mane mushroom, yerba mate and damiana. Full-bodied and bittersweet with a curious savoury bite”.

Nightcap – mellow

Described as an “indulgent elixir made with tree saps, aromatic plants and ancient remedies to relax and unwind”.

Taste: complex notes of wood and bright spice with a calm, dreamy feeling.

The Starter Pack I purchased offered a decent size of each of the ‘elixirs’, so I could try the different tastes and their effects. To fully experience the flavours I served them neat, over ice.

I especially loved the Nightcap for its intense and complex flavours, missing in traditional non-alcoholic drinks, and will definitely repurchase all three.

2. Sentia GABA spirits

What’s the deal: Sentia Spirits target a neurotransmitter called GABA (short for gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA is an important chemical messenger that helps you feel calm and relaxed.  

According to Sentia Spirits, their drinks are design to:

Elevate your mind by harnessing the power of your brain’s GABA levels – the secret behind alcohol’s widespread appeal

How Sentia GABA adaptogenic drinks work

Because it’s been designed by a team of botanists and scientists, Sentia’s unique blend of powerful, plant-based ingredients has been scientifically proven to activate ‘GABA’ in the brain. Essentially, GABA is the neurotransmitter responsible for those sensations of sociability – meaning you can come together and connect, with a good drink, without the alcohol.

Sentia Spirits feature an impressive list of active botanicals; some of their star ingredients include:

Sentia Black – the party starter

  • Schisandra (schisandra chinensis)
  • Ginseng (panax ginseng)
  • Gotu kola (hydrocotyle asiatica)
  • Nigerian ginger (zingiber officinale)
  • Ginkgo (ginkgo biloba)
  • Indonesian cacao (theobroma cacao)
  • Angelica root (angelica archangelica)
  • Wormwood (artemisia absinthium)
  • Magnolia bark (magnolia officinalis)
  • Sage (salvia officinalis)

Sentia Red – for relaxation

  • Magnolia bark (magnolia officinalis)
  • Ashwagandha (withania somnifera)
  • Rhodiola (Rholdiola Rosea)
  • Linden flower (tilia cordata)
  • Passionflower (passiflora incarnata)
  • Tulsi (ocimum teniflorum)
  • Hawthorn(crataegus monogyna)
  • Damiana (turnera diffusa)
  • Gentian (gentiana  lutea)
  • Aronia concentrate (aronia melanocarp)

My experience

GABA Spirits reminds me a little bit of Jägermeister, with the spicy herby notes. They pack a punch and are a nice, grown-up flavour that I would definitely re-purchase.

Sentia Spirits contains liquorice; avoid excessive consumption if suffering from hypertension.

3. TRIP CBD Infused

What’s the deal: TRIP CBD Infused drinks contain, as the name implies, CBD, the non-psychoactive compound found in hemp plants. If you’re looking for a drink without alcohol with less calories, then a CBD drink might well be a good option.

Essentially, cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds found in the cannabis sativa plant. In fact, the cannabis plant produces over 100 cannabinoids, each with different properties The two most well-known cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD.

Unlike THC, CBD does not get you high.

How does CBD adaptogenic drinks work?

According to TRIP: Our bodies have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) – a network of tiny receptors found throughout the body that play a crucial role in regulating the body’s optimal balance.

Basically, CBD can help you unwind and reduce anxiety, giving a feeling of calm, by blocking signals in the ECS.

TRIP DRINKS are infused with 15MG CBD and come in a variety of flavours:

  • Elderflower Mint
  • Peach Ginger
  • Lemon Basil

My experience

As a matter of fact, I purchase TRIP CBD Drinks on the regular! I love the subtle but calming effect, without drowsiness or other side effects.

Summary: Benefits of adaptogenic drinks

To conclude, with the multitude of different herbs and spices in these delicious, adaptogenic functional drinks, it’s probably a stretch to look at any specific effects of these herbs on the gut microbiome.

However, if you’re looking to reduce your alcohol intake (which will definitely benefit your gut microbiome), or simply enjoy something different, the growing range of adaptogenic drinks offer a real, grown-up solution.

You can check out their full ranges here:

NB Even though these adaptogenic are non-alcoholic, don’t drink them and drive! Always read the label and check with a doctor if you’re in doubt about taking any of the ingredients.

*This article contains affiliate links, but the products featured have been independently purchased for our own testing purposes

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