Today’s Extra: These Herbs Can Help Protect You from Pollution

These Herbs Can Help Protect You from Pollution

By: Jordyn Cormier

Adaptogens are substances that help your body tolerate stress, but that doesn’t just mean mental stress—like hitting deadlines or juggling schedules. Adaptogens can be powerful allies in helping our bodies better deal with the stressors of our environment, too.

From growing chemical pollutants to UV damage, here are some of the best adaptogens for serious environmental support.


There are around 80,000 different man-made chemicals infiltrating our daily lives through everyday products and activities.

Cadmium is a highly hazardous and common environmental pollutant, found in car exhaust, cigarette smoke, and even our vegetables. That’s right: years of industrialization have caused this toxic heavy metal to build up in our soil, which poses a serious threat to our produce quality—and our health.

Luckily, holy basil (aka tulsi) bears tremendous potential in detoxifying heavy metals like cadmium from your body. In fact, studies have shown that regular consumption of tulsi can prevent cadmium accumulation and the tissue damage that usually accompanies it.

Other heavy metal-fighting herbs include ashwagandha, ginseng, and gymnema sylvestre.


Intense UV exposure from the sun can result in significant free radical damage, even after just one burn. Golden serpent fern is excellent if you’re looking for a little adaptogenic sun support.

In one study, participants who consumed this herb before exposure to intense sunlight exhibited much less severe inflammation and sun damage than participants who didn’t consume the plant. The evidence is so compelling, some people even call it an ‘internal sunscreen’.

This fern is also packed with antioxidants, inhibits the development of free radicals and may even stimulate collagen production.



The polyphenols found in green tea might actually also bear promise in protecting you from UV damage.

In one study, a group of women was given green tea to drink over the course of a few months, while others drank water. After 12 weeks, the green tea-drinkers experienced a 25 percent reduction in sunburn when exposed to UV light, whereas the water drinkers experienced no change.

The powers of green tea are pretty fascinating. In fact, other research has also shown that it mitigates UV damage to skin cells when applied on the skin as a topical extract.

Of course, adaptogens aren’t going to work miracles if you’re drowning in environmental stressors and pollutants. But, when it comes to fighting the minor, ubiquitous environmental taxes we encounter on a daily basis, adaptogens can provide some much needed support.

Just remember that, when it comes to sun protection, adaptogens are a replacement for a quality SPF sunscreen. Adaptogens can offer tremendous support, but they are NOT interchangeable. (Maybe someday we’ll be eating our sunscreen, but the science just isn’t there yet.)




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