Adaptogen Mood Boost Cocoa

Social media has been abuzz with the term adaptogen in recent years, but for very good reasons.  They are a superb preventative and remedy for the regulation of stress hormones, support of the immune system, lowering inflammation, general longevity, and a good dose of antioxidants to boot.  But did you know that a select few of them are excellent at assisting the brain with feel-good hormones?

I got reacquainted with my favorite adaptogens last year when my mood took a dive.  I felt anxious all the time and my mood was low.  Still, I had energy to get up in the morning and get all my to-do’s done. It was just that the spark, the part of me that provided creative drive and the desire to seek life’s gold linings was gone. Dinner used to be a creative outlet for me, but eventually even that became a drag. I was suffering from a big case of ennui. The hardest part of identifying what I was moving through was that it wasn’t completely crippling, I just felt really stuck.

Enter adaptogens.  Enter exercise.  Enter more quality sleep.  I’d say these are the three major factors that helped get me going again. There always has to be real, markable lifestyle changes along with taking herbs for there to be long term change.  Herbalism is not a magic bullet; they work more slowly compared to allopathic medicine, especially if low mood or stress has been your companion for some time.  With consistency over time, however, they are incredibly effective. Some folks notice a difference within a week, especially if the chosen herb is well suited to both your symptoms and constitution. For others, it may take a few weeks.  As we say in the herbalism realm, “Treat the person, not the disease.”

In this Mood Boost Cocoa I’ve included three adaptogens- ashwagandha, rhodiola, and chaga. Ashwagandha and rhodiola are unique adaptogens in that they are both less likely than other adaptogens to be overstimulating.  In fact, ashwagandha is a specific for calming the nervous system. I think of ashwagandha as the caregiver here. It’s nurturing and soothing.

Rhodiola is wonderful at helping the body and mind regain that lost vitality and boost mood. It’s has this seemingly contrary ability to relax tension in the body and soothe nervousness, while also revitalizing you. Like your best friend, it makes you feel comfortable, calm, carefree, but lifted. More specifically Rhodiola increases key feel good hormones like serotonin and dopamine, and over time increases the output of beta-endorphin from the pituitary gland.

What’s better than either of them, however, is both of them working together.  They reduce cloudy thinking, fatigue, stress-induced insomnia, and are shown to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression.  In tincture formulas, I also like to put these two powerhouses with Passionflower (another known anti-anxiety herb), nervines like Blue Vervain, and nootropics (herbs that increase peripheral circulation, especially the brain).  In fact, Wild Taproot’s Sunday formula is just that- a great all around formula for enhancing mood, lowering stress, and increasing vitality.  Tinctures are wonderful because of their ease and convenience, which really is essential, but I also love building my wellness regime right into my food.  It always serves as a great reminder that ultimately, everything we put into our body is medicine or poison, healing or harming.

For this recipe, I made a whole batch of Mood Boost Cocoa Powder so I can whip it up anytime I like. But don’t fear!  It makes approximately 12 servings, so you won’t be left with so much that it will go bad before you’ve used it up.  I’d store it in an air tight container somewhere cool and dark.  A pantry or cupboard is perfect.


Mood Boost Cocoa Powder

Makes 12 servings

1 tablespoon ashwagndha powder

1 tablespoon rhodiola powder

1 tablespoon chaga mushroom powder 

10 tablespoons roasted cocoa powder 

1 tablespoon Bitter Orange Peel Powder 

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste


Mood Boost Cocoa

1 cup homemade almond milk, or a clean brand of choice (I love MALK)

1 tablespoon of Mood Boost Cocoa Powder 

2 teaspoons coconut sugar, or to taste



Simply pour your cup of almond milk, 1 tablespoon of Mood Boost Cocoa Powder, and 2 teaspoons of coconut sugar in a saucepan and allow to heat up over medium heat.  Whisk the milk and powder until it is well incorporated.  Then I like to allow it to simmer on low for about 5 minutes.  This allows the medicinal constituents of the ashwagandha, rhodiola and chaga to decoct in the fats and water of the almond milk.  Pour into your favorite mug through a small strainer and enjoy!



**When I think of long term work on anxiety and depression, remember that therapy might be needed to override the thought patterns and perspective one develops.  Even with allopathic medicine, more chronic or debilitating forms of anxiety and depression need conjunctive therapy, and its never a bad idea to seek out a professional therapist’s advice. It’s the ultimate self-care.**


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