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Sensi Magazine

Plant Power

Mar 31, 2019 06:20PM ● By Robyn Lawrence

In 1947, pharmacologist Nikolai Lazarev rebranded the plants, all but forgotten in Western medicine, as “adaptogens” and defined them as nontoxic herbs that protect the body from damaging physical and emotional stress while improving many of its systems and functions. The Soviets kept their research top secret for many years because of the advantage the plants gave their soldiers and citizens in worldwide competition. Soviet scientists continued to tweak adaptogen regimens, and by 1976, the nation’s athletes were dominating the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.

Adaptogens are pretty miraculous. They create and maintain homeostasis in the body, continually restoring its natural balance by slowing systems down when they’re overheating and speeding them up when they’re sluggish. (They can even do both things calm and energize at the same time.) The plants fight fatigue and reduce stress in an age when stress is rampant and linked to the six leading causes of death.

Dr. Joseph Cohen, an osteopathic physician who integrates cannabis into his functional medicine practice in Colorado, says adaptogens do far more than most people realize because bringing the body to homeostasis protects the entire neuroendocrine system and the adrenal glands, where valuable hormones such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine are produced.

Is Cannabis an Adaptogen?
Does Maca Make You Horny?
In his upcoming book, The Cannabis-Friendly Guide to Wellness, Cohen writes about how cannabis works as an adaptogen. He calls the cannabinoid CBD “an adaptogen within an adaptogen” because of its ability to mitigate some of THC’s unwanted side effects. “Cannabinoids do a multitude of things we’re just beginning to understand,” he says. Cannabis is not officially an adaptogen (according to people who think officially), but it meets all the requirements: nontoxic, stress-reducing, balancing. “It does act like an adaptogenic herb because the cannabinoid system is all about homeostasis,” says integrative clinical nutritionist Laura Lagano, cofounder of the Holistic Cannabis Network, a training and education platform for holistic health practitioners. 

More and more scholars and experts are agreeing with her which is pretty amazing for a plant the federal government still considers a Schedule I drug. Medicine hunter and ethnobotanist Chris Kilham, who has been studying and advocating for adaptogens since the 1970's, is among them. “Cannabinoids regulate the cannabinoid system, and the cannabinoid system is a master regulating system of systems,” he says. “That implies all the balancing and harmonizing activities of an adaptogen.” 

Kilham often drinks extracts of the adaptogens rhodiola and golden ginseng mixed with water when he consumes cannabis because he likes how they all work with each other to make him feel. “Rhodiola and ginseng in conjunction with cannabis is mental Windex,” he says. “It sharpens up everything.” 

Kilham is also a longtime promoter of maca, a root plant from the Peruvian Andes that can increase energy, and stamina and is especially good for women’s reproductive systems. Kilham’s wife, Zoe Helene, founder of progressive feminist advocacy group Cosmic Sister, has taken maca supplements several times over the years but would always stop because it made her so horny an effect many people welcome. 

“After about a week of taking maca, I feel like a 14- year-old dealing with her first lustful crush, and my husband travels a lot!” says Helene, who recently began taking maca again because nothing relieves her perimenopause symptoms. 

It’s worth it, she says. “I’ve just had to embrace the increased libido boost.” 

Feel-Good Food
Adaptogens such as maca, ashwagandha, rhodiola rosea, and matcha are the new star ingredients on Instagram and Pinterest and on shelves in natural food sections everywhere. 
If you want to avoid shelling out the high prices these hot new products command, it’s easy enough to incorporate adaptogens into your home cooking. You can find edible forms, from fresh to powdered, of most adaptogenic herbs in natural products stores, Asian markets, and online. 

The recipes found here call for cannabis-infused coconut milk, which is great to have around for stirring into tea and coffee or splashing over fresh berries. 

Green and Golden Coconut Milk Nightcap

{ SERVES 1 }


You’ll use only a teaspoon of the herb and spice blend in this recipe, so you can store the rest in an airtight container and combine it with cannabis-infused coconut milk for a healthy warm drink. You can also make this with nut milk.

* 1⁄4 cup powdered ashwagandha root

* 1⁄4 cup powdered schisandra berries

* 1 cup rose petal powder

* 1 tsp cinnamon

* 1 tsp nutmeg

* 1 cup cannabis-infused coconut milk

* Maple syrup or honey, to taste

· Blend together ashwagandha, schisandra, rose petal powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

· In small saucepan, gently heat coconut milk until warm but not boiling. Pour into a mug and stir in 1 tsp of herb mixture.

· Add sweetener and enjoy.


Cannabis-Infused Coconut Milk


* 32 ounces organic coconut milk

* 1⁄2 gram cannabis flower or trim

* Double boiler

* Fine mesh strainer

* Cheesecloth or paper coffee filter

· Break cannabis into small pieces using your fingers or a knife. Combine with coconut cream in a saucepan over a double boiler and heat over medium heat, stirring often.

· When it nears a boil, reduce heat and simmer gently for 45 minutes. Do not let it boil.

· Remove from heat and let cool.

· Place cheesecloth or coffee filter in fine mesh strainer and place over a jar or bowl. Pour coconut cream through to catch solids. You may have to pour through a couple times before cream runs clear. Squeeze out last drops of coconut cream and discard or compost cannabis and cheesecloth.



American Ginseng {Panax quinquefolius}

FLAVOR: Bitter, slightly sweet

BENEFITS: Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, boosts energy, lowers blood sugar, reduces stress

TREATS: Autoimmune disorders, bronchitis, asthma, jet lag, metabolic syndrome, adrenal deficiency, diabetes, immune depletion, sexual dysfunction (male)

HOW TO EAT IT: Eat the root raw, steamed, or slightly cooked; add powder to smoothies or yogurt


Asian Ginseng {Panax ginseng}

FLAVOR: Sweet, slightly bitter

BENEFITS: Calming; boosts mood, memory, focus, and performance; aphrodisiac

TREATS: Stress, depression, insomnia, diabetes, cachexia, erectile dysfunction

HOW TO EAT IT: Make into tea, tonic or tincture; chop root and add to soup, stew, or stir-fry


Goji Berry {Lycium barbarum}

FLAVOR: Tart cherry, cranberry, tomato

BENEFITS: Anti-inflammatory; strengthens weak muscles; tonic for heart, kidneys, liver, and blood; improves vision, focus, energy, and sexual performance; strengthens immune system

TREATS: Muscle soreness and spasms, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome

HOW TO EAT IT: Substitute dried berries for raisins; add hydrated dried berries to rice, sauces, stews, or salsas; add to salads and smoothies


Holy Basil {Ocimum sanctum}

FLAVOR: Bitter, spicy

BENEFITS: Antioxidant, neuroprotective, reduces stress, antidiabetic, antibacterial, antiviral, diuretic, stabilizes blood sugar; improves respiration, aphrodisiac

TREATS: Acne, PTSD, bulimia, hypoglycemia, arthritis, bronchitis, vomiting

HOW TO EAT IT: Fresh or dried leaves as tea or a tincture; add fresh leaves to salads


Maca {Lepidium meyenii}

FLAVOR: Malty, caramel, butterscotch

BENEFITS: Boosts energy and stamina, aphrodisiac, improves sperm count, relieves stress

TREATS: PMS, menopausal symptoms, anemia

HOW TO EAT IT: Add powder to beverages and yogurt; roast or boil root; use maca flour to make bread; eat leaves in salads


Schisandra {Schisandra chinensis}

FLAVOR: Sweet, salty, spicy, sour, bitter

BENEFITS: Anti-inflammatory, astringent, cardiotonic, improves gastrointestinal health, boosts memory, protects liver

TREATS: Respiratory or digestive illnesses, heatstroke, frostbite, exhaustion, urinary incontinence, diarrhea, asthma

HOW TO EAT IT: Make a tea, tincture or syrup from dried or fresh berries; add powder to smoothies or yogurt


Eleuthero {Eleutherococcus senticosus}

FLAVOR: Sweet, slightly bitter

BENEFITS: Antioxidant, mild anti-inflammatory, nervine, immune support, lowers blood sugar, improves memory

TREATS: Bone marrow suppression, angina, insomnia, appetite loss, joint pain, mild depression, chronic fatigue

HOW TO EAT IT: Use ground root to make tincture, tea, or tonic; steam and slice roots and add to stir fries or drizzle with honey


Ashwagandha {Panax quinquefolius}

FLAVOR: Bitter, sweet

BENEFITS: Anti-inflammatory; balances mood; antioxidant; astringent; normalizes blood pressure, general health, and vitality; uterine and fertility tonic; rich in iron

TREATS: Fatigue, insomnia, ADD, anxiety, chronic fatigue, spasms, fibromyalgia, mild Tourette’s syndrome, osteoarthritis, anemia

HOW TO EAT IT: Make into tea, tincture or tonic; add powdered root to smoothies and yogurt

Maca, Cannabis & Coconut Frappe {Serves 1}

* 1/2 cup maca powder 
* 1/2 cup cannabis-infused coconut milk
* 2 tbsp maple syrup
* 2 cups ice
* 1/4 tsp almond extract
* 1 tbsp ground cinnamon

· Place all ingredients in a blender and  blend until smooth. Serve immediately.