Anna Evans

Adaptogens by Melissa Petitto, R.D.

Unveiling nature's secret: harnessing the power of intelligent plants with 'Adaptogens' by Melissa Petitto, R.D.

“In this book, Melissa Petitto, R.D., offers a great overview of adaptogens – their traditional uses, their modern applications, and how they can be safely and creatively included in your everyday health routine.”
– Dr. Luc Maes, N.D., Director, The Maes Center for Natural Health Care, Santa Barbara

In today’s modern world, stress seems to surround us from all directions, be it environmental factors impacting our body or psychological triggers triggering our fight-or-flight response, leading to cortisol release. Thankfully, adaptogens come to the rescue, containing amino acids and vitamins that effectively manage the harmful effects of stress on our bodies. Although relatively new in the western world, adaptogens have been a foundation in medicine for quite some time.

Adaptogens are intelligent plants with various abilities to help our bodies resist environmental toxins, emotional trauma, and mental fatigue. They target and support our adrenals, assisting in managing stress and anxiety by regulating cortisol, the stress hormone. When integrated into our daily routine, adaptogens can effectively reduce the impact of stress hormones, promoting healthier responses to stress and restoring balance (homeostasis) in our bodies.

The book ‘Adaptogens: A Directory of Over 70 Healing Herbs for Energy, Stress Relief, Beauty, and Overall Well-Being’ written by Melissa Petitto, R.D. offers a simple yet insightful explanation of the history and science behind these remarkable herbal remedies. It provides a comprehensive directory of adaptogens, empowering you to identify which products and powders align best with the specific stresses in your life. Lastly, the book treats you to a collection of delicious and nutritious recipes, completing the journey towards a healthier and stress-resilient lifestyle.

Author’s background

Melissa Petitto, R.D. is a culinary virtuoso who crafts personalised dishes to cater to dietary preferences. Raised in a multicultural home in Birmingham, Alabama, she developed a passion for food early on.

Melissa Petitto (r)

After graduating from Johnson & Wales University with a degree in Culinary Nutrition, she furthered her education at Emory University Hospitals with a dietetic internship. Upon passing her registered dietician’s exam, Petitto made the move to New York City to pursue her career goal of becoming a personal chef.

Petitto is the author of Acai Super Berry CookbookAn Apple A Day30 Minute Paleo MealsThe CBD Handbook, and Red Hot Sriracha. She collaborated with Hilaria Baldwin on The Living Clearly Method. Whether cooking dinner for an individual client or a dinner party of twenty-five, Melissa Petitto exudes the passion she feels for nutritious food and its role in a family’s life.

What is the book about?

‘Adaptogens’ is a concise guide exploring herbs, foods, and supplements that aid the body in coping with stress over time. The author introduces the concept of adaptogens and presents a directory of their profiles. Each profile includes the common and scientific names, a brief historical background, the associated health benefits, safety considerations, and dosing information (often advising readers to consult their doctor).

With approximately 40 in-depth adaptogen profiles and 10 concise superfood/powder profiles, the book offers a comprehensive understanding. Additionally, the author shares a selection of recipes featuring combinations of these adaptogens, ranging from beverages to soups and spreads.

Key takeaways from ‘Adaptogens’

1Adding adaptogens to your life could lead to many amazing results

Integrating adaptogens into your daily routine can yield remarkable results, such as:

– enhancing immunity and safeguarding against diseases,
– boosting energy levels,
– alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety,
– supporting cognitive function,
– reducing fatigue and improving focus,
– restoring metabolic balance,
– enhancing libido,
– curbing cravings for unhealthy foods,
– promoting harmony and elevating consciousness,
– fostering overall well-being

2Adaptogens are not a quick fix

While adaptogens can offer impressive benefits in enhancing our biological resilience and cellular communication, it’s essential to remember that they are not a quick fix or the sole solution to modern-day stress. Instead, they serve as valuable additions to our lives, supporting us in coping with the constant stressors we face, such as overscheduling and digital connectivity. Adaptogens cannot replace fundamental lifestyle factors like sufficient sleep, balanced nutrition, exercise, time in nature, and nurturing relationships, which are vital for maintaining overall well-being.

3Adaptogenic plants are safe, but everything must come in moderation

Adaptogenic plants are considered safe and non-toxic; however, it’s essential to exercise caution as excessive use may have adverse effects. Allergic reactions or sensitivities to certain plants, as well as potential interactions with medications, could occur. Keep in mind that some adaptogens may not be safe for pregnant women or individuals taking immunosuppressant medications. To ensure your safety, it’s highly recommended to consult a trusted professional, whether it be a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor, a naturopath, or a Western physician.

4Benefits from adaptogens take 6-8 weeks to appear

The benefits of these intelligent plants may take time to appear, typically showing their best effects when taken consistently for 6 to 8 weeks. If you don’t notice immediate results, don’t be disheartened; be patient and give them the full time to work their magic. Adaptogens are designed to adjust to our ever-changing lives. As we encounter different stress levels, lifestyles, and health challenges at various stages of life, an adaptogen that suits one phase might not be as effective in another.

Table of contents

  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • Adaptogen Directory
  • – Other Superpowders
  • – Drinks
  • – Soups & Sauces
  • – Desserts
    Works Cited

Overall rating & strengths and weaknesses, according to readers’ reviews

The book has gotten 4.05 ⭐️ on GoodReads.


  • Serves as an ideal resource for those specifically interested in adaptogens rather than general medicinal herbs.

  • Designed to cater to beginners, offering easily digestible information without overwhelming details.

  • The layout boasts both aesthetic appeal and excellent organisation, complemented by beautiful photos of the featured adaptogens.

  • Includes the directory that helps navigate through various adaptogens. It is organised in alphabetical order by Latin name.


  • Lack of user-friendly recipes: some of the readers mentioned that the book calls for a majority of ingredients they’ve never heard of or seen in a store.

  • Not enough information about how to use the herbs.

  • Doesn’t provide guidance on making your own tincture or gathering adaptogens.

Best quotes from ‘Adaptogens’

“Adaptogens target and support our adrenals, the glands that handle hormonal response to stress and help us manage our anxiety and fatigue. Beyond this, they have an uncanny chameleon-like ability to adapt to our bodies’ specific needs and restore homeostasis.”
“What I love most about Ayurveda is this: balance is the natural order, imbalance is disorder. Health is order, disease is disorder. When you understand your own body, you can reestablish order with diet, lifestyle, and herbs.”
“Adaptogens are meant to be consumed with intention, using your five senses to fully allow them to nourish your mind, body, and soul. Sometimes taking them in pill form is easiest, but when you consume them through a latte, a soup, a pudding, or a truffle, you get to fully be present and savor them in that moment.”

Final takeaway

‘Adaptogens’ by Melissa Petitto, R.D. is designed to cater to beginners, offering easily digestible information without overwhelming details. However, the recipes shared in the book are not always ‘user-friendly’ and the text could benefit from adding more information about how to use herbs and gather adaptogens. On the bright side, it’s very aesthetically pleasing and incorporates vibrant images of herbs and recipes. Overall, ‘Adaptogens’ is a valuable resource for understanding and incorporating intelligent plants into our daily lives to manage stress and support our physical and mental health.

Where to buy

You can buy ‘Adaptogens: A Directory of Over 70 Healing Herbs for Energy, Stress Relief, Beauty, and Overall Well-Being’ in many bookstores and online platforms, including Amazon, where it’s available in hardcover and Kindle formats.

Healthypedia FAQ

Adaptogens are natural substances, often derived from plants and herbs, that help the body adapt to stress and promote balance in various physiological functions.

The effects of adaptogens may vary from person to person, but they often work best when taken consistently for 6 to 8 weeks.

While adaptogens are generally safe, it's essential to consult a healthcare professional before use, especially for pregnant women, those taking immunosuppressant drugs, or individuals with specific health conditions.

Adaptogens offer various benefits, such as enhancing immunity, reducing fatigue, improving focus, balancing mood, and supporting cognitive abilities.

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