Text by Lauren Haynes
Adaptogens are magical. They’re the longevity herbs that everyone says don’t exist. In fact, reishi mushroom, which is an adaptogen, was traditionally called the “mushroom of longevity” in China, where it has been used for millennia. Initially discovered and researched by the Soviets in the 1960s, adaptogens are characterized by their ability to normalize body functions, buffer the negative effects of stress, and produce no side effects of their own when taken over a long period of time. The term “adaptogen” is literal; these herbs help your body and mind adapt to new situations. So when you’ve just had a baby you need adaptogens. When you’re going through a break-up, adaptogens can help. Moving? New job? Adaptogens.
While all adaptogens work similarly to help keep you on an even keel, another great thing about them is that different adaptogens (there are only twelve classified as official adaptogens) have affinities for different body systems. The adaptogens in this elixir are specific to the female reproductive system, making them perfect for women of all ages, whether you’re struggling with fertility issues, are a new mother, or are fanning the flames of menopause.
This walnut milk adaptogen elixir was specifically formulated for postpartum care, to provide energy sans caffeine, regulate the hormones, nourish the womb space, and increase breastmilk flow. It contains ashwagandha, maca, and shatavari, which are all amazing female-centric adaptogenic herbs. They are all roots, making this combo both nutrient dense and grounding. Paired with superfoods high in omega-3s, calcium, folate, magnesium and iron like walnut, tahini, and chocolate, this elixir will give your mind a gentle lift while covertly nourishing every bit of your body. This creamy elixir is 100% medicinal, right down to the sprinkle of cinnamon on top.
An intro to the herbs in this walnut milk adaptogen elixir:
or lepidium meyenii, is a Peruvian radish that tastes like caramel. It’s renowned for balancing hormones, giving energy and stamina, increasing sex drive, supporting good moods and overall brain health, fertility, maintaining bone density, lessening menopausal symptoms, and being rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, vitamins b and c.
or asparagus racemosus, is an adaptogen that doubles as a galactagogue (breast milk stimulant and enhancer), immune tonic, antibacterial, aphrodisiac, and demulcent (moistens the body). This plant, which is the root of an Indian asparagus variety, enhances physical strength, maintains youthfulness, and improves memory and intelligence. “Shatavari” translates to “she who has 100 husbands” and had been used for centuries to promote fertility in men and women. It’s a wonderful female reproductive tonic, and is highly useful for balancing hormones to improve fertility in both sexes. It works great in combination with ashwagandha for anemia, fertility and fatigue, and has been traditionally taken in milk as an herbal beverage.
or withania somnifera, is the root of a plant in the nightshade family and is a calming adaptogen. Ashwagandha helps you have more energy and mental clarity by nourishing and grounding, rather than stimulating. It can also help reduce the effects of little sleep and stressful living, which may be the case in most of our lives but even more so with a new baby. In ayurvedic medicine, this herb is thought to increase stamina and enhance recuperating abilities, like after childbirth. It’s highly nutrient dense, and has been used as an aphrodisiac and to relieve sore lower backs. It enhances endocrine function, helping to rebalance the thyroid, testes and ovaries, and adrenal glands. Very effective for anxiety, cloudy thinking, stress-induced insomnia, and nervous exhaustion. Rich in iron and used to treat iron-deficient anemia.
All of the other ingredients in this walnut milk adaptogen elixir have medicinal merit as well. Calcium, magnesium, and good quality fats are all integral parts of living a calm and anxiety-free life. Did you know that your nerves are coated in fat? A balanced omega intake (high in 3’s, low in 6’s) is critical to maintaining nerve health. Walnut milk is super high in omega-3 fats, as well as protein, iron, potassium, calcium, and fiber to boost you and baby’s brain health. Dates and tahini are two of the highest plant sources of calcium, as well as magnesium, iron, fiber, and a whole wealth of phytonutrients. Foods are truly medicines.
For more reading on adaptogens, I highly recommend the book Adaptogens by David Winston and Steven Maimes. For further reading on natural postpartum care Natural Health After Birth by Dr. Aviva Romm is great.
Mountain Rose Herbs is a great resource for buying medicinal herbs if you don't have an herb shop nearby.
For Walnut Milk
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup walnuts, soaked overnight & rinsed
- 2 dates, pitted
- Pinch of sea salt
- 2 cups homemade walnut milk, or other nut milk (recipe below)
- 2 teaspoons Shatavari powder
- 1 tablespoon Red Maca powder
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon Ashwagandha powder
- 2 teaspoons tahini
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Dash of cinnamon
To make walnut milk:
- Combine soaked walnuts, dates, water and sea salt in a high powered blender like a Vitamix (a regular blender will do if you don't have one!).
- Blend on high until the almonds are completely pureed and the mixture is homogenous.
- Strain mixture through a nut milk bag or (in a pinch a triple layer of cheese cloth OR cheap pantyhose happen to work too!)
To make the latte:
- In a heavy-bottomed pot, warm the milk over gentle heat.
- Whisk in the herbs until fully incorporated. Then whisk in the tahini and honey.
- Blend for ten seconds in a high-speed blender for maximum froth. and enjoy!