Wellness

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Megan Tries It

Adaptogens for Focus and Calm

Megan O’Neill is new to goop—and the initiation process involves a pretty fantastic learning curve. Here, her adventures in onboarding, goop-style:

I’m pretty great at weekend mode. There’s lots of action in the kitchen (the Detox Granola Bars from goop are delightfully chewy and coconut-y, and I make them for the week ahead so I’m prepared when sweet things I don’t want polluting my system materialize in the office). There’s also lots of gallivanting around Brooklyn to pop into my favorite boutiques, a respectable amount of nighttime cocktails, maybe a trip to an infrared sauna, and a yoga class or two. Saturday is pure amnesic bliss; Sunday is…happy enough; Sunday night, not so much.

I love my job, but the cruel tailspin that is Monday morning for me is really rough. Anxiety creeps up the second my eyes flit open, and all day I’m more distracted than the other six days of the week. In response, I’ve developed a morning routine that overflows with stress-easing rituals and potions but still, they’re only half a match for Mondays.

I’ve discovered something of a trick, and I think I’ll be doing it for the rest of my days: Adaptogens. Herbs and botanicals from ginseng to certain mushrooms, adaptogens are said to help the body deal with both mental and physical stress, and they’re seriously worth investigating. Used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, many adaptogens have clinically proven anti-anxiety, mood-balancing effects and are even shown to increase cognitive function.

After trying a sizeable shelf full of different adaptogenic powders, the two that made the biggest difference for me were Brain Dust from Moon Juice and Mucuna Pruriens from Sun Potion. Brain Dust is a blend of six different organic adaptogens, including ashwagandha; and Lion’s Mane, a mushroom. It’s spiked with stevia, which tempers the intense bitterness of ashwagandha and lends a subtle, pleasant sweetness.

  • Moon Juice Brain Dust
    goop, $38

    Brain Dust™ is an enlightening edible formula alchemized to align you with the mighty cosmic flow needed for great achievement. Now in an extra-potent, supercharged blend, we recommend adding one teaspoon of this refreshed formula to 8oz of any hot or cold liquid (it’s especially good with nut milk, water, or tea). Makes approximately 25 servings depending on taste and desired level of potency.

The only thing in Sun Potion’s mucuna pruriens are extracts of the beans of the mucuna pruriens plant. Used in Ayurvedic medicine—and also in traditional Western medicine—as an experimental treatment for Parkinson’s disease, mucuna’s potency comes from its high concentrations of L-dopa, an amino acid that our brains turn into dopamine (the neurotransmitter associated with a vast range of brain functions). The powder is the tiniest bit bitter if you’re sampling it straight, but the taste is so mild that it’s barely detectable in tea.

  • Sun Potion Mucuna Pruriens
    goop, $36

    An organic cold-water extract powder which contains 15% L-dopa. May support mood, brain function, and overall wellbeing. Mix ½ teaspoon (2 grams) in water or tea. Excellent addition to milk potions, elixirs, smoothies, raw treats, soup, and more.

Both powders turbocharge a tea, coffee, latte, smoothie, lemonade, water, soup—really, anything. It’s a mucuna day when I’m feeling less-than-sharp and am low on sleep. The intense jolt it gives me is real (in Central America, one of the many places where mucuna is cultivated, people drink it as a coffee substitute; all that L-dopa). Brain Dust is the antidote when my discouraged mood is my biggest roadblock, and I need help shifting out of it. I measure out either half a teaspoon of mucuna or a full teaspoon of Brain Dust (it tells you how much on the back of each one), vigorously mix it up until no clumps remain, and let my adaptogenic-charged morning drink (lately I’ve been going for a Sencha green tea) work its magic. Soon after, I’m in the zone, feeling strangely more on top of my ever-expanding inbox and mounting tasks. Of course, people respond to things very differently and placebos themselves can be very effective, but I don’t think I’m imagining my laser focus. My words flow more freely as I type, and I don’t need to take as many breaks to gaze out the window or scroll Insta.

Monday morning will never not be Monday morning, but my new adaptogen-infused Sencha routine is helping make the transition from my beautifully lazy weekends smoother: Sunday night has become remarkably less terrifying, and weekend mode lasts a few fabulous hours into Monday.


These are the musings and opinions of Megan O’Neill based on her own personal experience. Individual responses can vary greatly.

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