Talking Adaptogenic Herbs and Sustainable Sourcing With Gaia Herbs

Last Update: October 10, 2023

Adaptogenic herbs, a classification of herbs that help the body adapt and thrive under various stressors, have become sought-after among those seeking natural solutions to things like stress, digestive ailments, and trouble sleeping. These herbs have been used for centuries in traditional wellness practices worldwide, including traditional Chinese medicine, ayurveda (the traditional wellness practice of India), Native American folklore, ancient Andean medicine, and many others. 

Adaptogens are also the key ingredients in Gaia Herbs herbal supplements and wellness products. The brand has been an industry leader for more than 30 years, so when we set out to find answers to your most pressing questions about adaptogens, we went straight to the source. 

We spoke to the team at Gaia Herbs to learn about how the brand was founded, how they sustainably source their herbs and other natural ingredients, and the beneficial properties of some of the most popular adaptogenic herbs. 

Can you tell us a bit about the history of Gaia Herbs?

“Gaia Herbs was founded in 1987 with a mission to nurture the connection between people and plants to deliver nature’s vitality. Part of that commitment included making high-quality herbal supplements, but we also wanted the purest products possible, which meant growing many of our own herbs and sourcing the best-quality herbs we couldn’t grow ourselves.

Today, our 350-acre herb farm in Western North Carolina is a living laboratory for the latest organic planting and cultivation methods. Each year, we produce over three million individual plants, representing 20-40 species of herbs. We also achieved the Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC)™ standard at the silver level by the Regenerative Organic Alliance in 2022 and are committed to going for gold status in the next couple of years.”

What sets Gaia Herbs apart from other herbal supplement brands?

“Here are the top five things that set our Gaia apart from other herbal supplement brands, and have allowed us to keep growing and thriving in an ever-changing industry:

  1. Our commitment to growing and sourcing the highest-quality raw materials. Not just in terms of organic and wild-crafted (although that’s important!), but we also seek to buy herbs from socially responsible growers who are the best at what they grow.
  2. Full traceability of raw materials through our Meet Your Herbs Program. This platform provides:
    • Full transparency and tests for the absence of microbes, yeast, mold, and other pathogens
    • The predetermined levels of specific biomarkers, such as curcumins in turmeric
    • DNA-validated confirmation of genus and species
    • The origin of the herbs you’re getting, specific to that exact bottle
  3. Unique formulas that deliver results. Gaia Herbs is rooted in traditional herbalism and science. This allows us to create unusual and highly effective formulas that support various aspects of health and well-being.
  4. Full-spectrum herbal supplements. Our philosophy has always been to use full-spectrum extracts. These represent the whole plant as nature intended versus using single, chemically isolated compounds. As our Vice President of Scientific Affairs says, “Extracting one active constituent or concentrating a single phytochemical is like trying to write a symphony using only one note.”
  5. Exceeding industry standards in manufacturing and testing. Our facilities are cGMP-compliant, but we take it a step further, demonstrated in our ISO-certified laboratory, meticulous record keeping, and an open public invitation to the FDA to inspect and evaluate our practices and products.” 

Gaia uses adaptogenic herbs in most products. Can you share what those are and why they may be beneficial?

“Adaptogens are some of our best-sellers for good reason: they provide broad-spectrum support to meet the needs of today’s busy and increasingly health-conscious society. So, what are adaptogens?

Adaptogens are a type of herb or substance that helps the body adapt and thrive under various physical, mental, and emotional stressors. The term “adaptogen” was first used in the 1940s by a scientist in Russia to describe the properties of Schisandra chinensis or the Chinese magnolia-vine plant.

Research tells us adaptogens work by supporting normal output and function of stress hormones via the hypothalamus pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis, which acts as the body’s hormonal response system to stress. Adaptogenic herbs, plants, and mushrooms have been used across cultures for centuries and may provide many benefits during stress or transition.”

What are some of the adaptogenic herbs you use in Gaia products? What makes them beneficial?


“Also known as “Indian Ginseng” or “Winter Cherry,” ashwagandha is a root prized for over 2,000 years in ayurveda. Gaia’s organic Ashwagandha Root comes from India, where our supplier has a state-of-the-art processing facility that ensures the highest quality end product.”

Find it in… Ashwagandha Root, Ashwagandha Gummies, Adrenal Health Daily Support®, Adrenal Health Nightly Restore®, SleepThru®, Thyroid Support®


“Cordyceps is a fungus used in traditional Chinese medicine to help maintain energy, endurance, and stamina. Our Cordyceps are 100% mushroom extracts — no fillers, starch, grains, or mycelium.”

Find it in… Adrenal Health Daily Support® 


“Also known as Siberian ginseng, eleuthero is a root commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine for promoting healthy energy and stamina, and helping maintain harmony during times of stress or overwhelm.”

FInd it in… Adrenal Health Jump Start®, Mental Alertness® 

Maca Root

“Also known as “Peruvian Ginseng,” maca root was used extensively among the ancient Incas for healthy energy and stamina. Gaia Herbs’ organic Maca Root is gelatinized for easy digestion.”

Find it in… Maca Root Capsules, Male Libido® 

Reishi Mushroom

“Also known as “the mushroom of immortality,” reishi mushroom is a cherished staple in traditional Chinese medicine for maintaining a healthy immune system, supporting heart health, and helping with stress. Our Reishi supplements are 100% mushroom extracts — no fillers, starch, grains, or mycelium.”

Find it in… Adrenal Health Nightly Restore® 


“Also known as “Siberian Ginseng”, rhodiola is used extensively in Russian folklore to promote healthy stamina and energy. Rhodiola is popular with those who are regularly physically active.”

Find it in… Rhodiola Rosea, Adrenal Health Daily Support®, Adrenal Health Jump Start®


“Possibly the most cherished spice in ayurveda and one of the most-studied plants in the world. Gaia Herbs’ Turmeric extracts utilize the whole plant and provide foundational support for various organs and systems. They also contain black pepper to optimize absorption. Our Turmeric is fair-traded and grown in an agroforestry setting in Nicaragua and Indonesia.”

Find it in… Golden Milk, Turmeric Supreme Extra Strength, Turmeric Supreme® Sinus Support, Turmeric Supreme® Pain P.M. 


“Schisandra is a traditional Chinese herb from which the term “adaptogen” was coined. Schisandra supports a healthy stress response and normal immune function.”

Find it in… Adrenal Health Jump Start®, Thyroid Support®, Adrenal Health Daily Support® 

We know you’re now a B-Corp — congrats! How does that influence how you source your ingredients?

“Thank you! We take sourcing our herbs and ingredients very seriously.

Many of our herbs are grown on our own organic farm, which allows us to control quality, harvesting time, and other aspects of growing and cultivation. However, even 350 acres is not enough growing space to meet the demands for Gaia Herbs products.

The rest of the herbs and ingredients used in our products are sourced globally from other producers and farmers who share our commitment to quality, sustainability, and ethicality. We also seek to source from growers and suppliers located as close to our headquarters as possible. This helps reduce our carbon footprint. Due to issues with growing, over-harvesting, and social practices, it is becoming important for supplement companies to source ethically traded raw materials. We have taken this issue seriously by recently adding 27 certified ethically traded ingredients, bringing our grand total to 35, including ingredients that are certified ROC™ (Regenerative Organic Certified). We also became a certified partner and brand holder for FairWild™ Foundation, a non-profit leading ethical wild plant trade worldwide. We are also in the process of being audited to be Fair for Life certified

It’s an ever-changing landscape, but we are dedicated to continuing our efforts to source herbs of the highest quality from high-integrity suppliers. Becoming a Certified B-Corp and Public Benefit Corporation (PBC) is an extension of our commitment to operate responsibly to improve human health and well-being through natural products produced using sustainable and ethical methods.

Also, anyone who wants to learn more about adaptogens or Gaia Herbs can visit our company blog, Seeds of Knowledge, where we delve deeper into herbs and wellness trends.  Our 2023 sustainability report is a great place to learn more about what we’ve done and what we’re doing to enhance our commitment to people and planet.”

This article is related to:

Adaptogens, Herbs, Supplements

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Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts is Thrive Market's Senior Editorial Writer. She is based in Los Angeles via Pittsburgh, PA.

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