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What are Adaptogens and How Can They Help You Balance Highs and Lows?

Steven Izen, founder of adaptogen company Elements, discusses how entrepreneurs can benefit from super plants.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I was first made aware of adaptogens when my friend, and fellow Entrepreneur Insider expert, Amina Al Tai, mentioned them in her Instagram Story. She’s a holistic business and mindset coach, and I initially thought she discovered some new secret magical potion to aid in self-care. Later, I found out they’ve been used for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions. 


Adaptogens are non-toxic plants that proponents say help our bodies resist stressors, physical, chemical or biological. Steven Izen, founder of Lokai, is helping to lead the charge of awareness during adaptogen's current renaissance with his new brand, Elements. Per their website: “Our concentrated tonics are powered by adaptogens — superplants that have learned to adapt in stressful environments and can help teach your body to do the same.”

Image credit: Elements

I recently had a chance to try out Elements Focus formula, it’s the real deal. I grabbed my noise-canceling headphones, hit play on the Deep Focus Spotify playlist, put a few drops of Elements in my water and I was good to go. I was able to lock in and complete my work without feeling like I was racing towards a caffeine crash. Beyond that, it was good to know I could safely take it in the afternoon without worrying about being up all night. (Unfortunately, my kids had other plans, but at least it wasn’t the caffeine keeping me awake.)

During our discussion, Steven explains how Elements came to be, the benefits of adaptogens and he passes along valuable advice for other entrepreneurs looking to launch their passion project.

Adaptogens' power to bring balance to people’s lives

"My first brand, Lokai bracelets, are filled with water from Mt. Everest and mud from the Dead Sea — elements from the highest and lowest points on earth — to remind the wearer to stay humble when you’re on top of the world and hopeful when you’ve hit a low.  

But balance is a journey, and sometimes we need a little more help to find the center. So I set out to develop a brand that continued to deliver balance, physical balance, through functional wellness drinks. Knowing the importance of efficacy, the tonics were formulated with science in mind. I enlisted one of the foremost food innovation agencies, a licensed ethnobotanist, and a scientist to help source ingredients and master blends that deliver vitality, focus, calm and rest. After two years of development, Elements was born."

Related: Wellness Brand Moon Juice Has Plenty of Haters -- and Its Founder Is Cool With That

What are adaptogens?

"Adaptogens are superplants that help your body adapt to stress. They work like a thermostat. They read when your adrenal response is too high or too low, and work with your body to balance stress levels. When you experience ongoing stress (like most people today) your body is flooded with cortisol (the stress hormone), which can cause fatigue, distraction, restlessness and occasional stress. Our four adaptogenic tonics work with your body to bring it back to center whenever and wherever you feel most off balance."  

How adaptogens benefit entrepreneurs

"Entrepreneurs typically work long hours, neglect sleep and operate at high levels of stress. Focus, which is currently our best-selling product, gives you the ability to zone in and crank through the emails or spreadsheets we are all buried in at the office. Unlike other stimulants that give you the jitters or cause you to crash, Elements are good for your body and will leave you feeling great at the end of a long day. 

As an entrepreneur, husband, and new dad, I’m constantly drinking Elements throughout my day to help keep myself balanced. In a typical day, I drink vitality around 6:30 am to give me that boost of energy to go to the gym. At 1 pm, I drink Focus at work and Calm after work to unwind and quiet my mind so I can spend quality time with my family."   

Related: 8 Self-Care Tips From Wildly Successful Entrepreneurs

The impact of Lokai’s charitable donations

"The Lokai Circle has raised over $8 Million for various charities. We collaborate with hand-picked organizations that can help us make a difference, some by request of our community and others that we are passionate about as a brand. We are thoughtful with our donations and where the funds will be used in order to be as transparent as possible. ‘Social good’ is a crowded space, and we want to make sure our customers know how they are doing their part.  

To date, we have rescued more than 7,300 animals through the Humane Society’s Emergency Rescue Fund, planted over 200,000 trees as part of The Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees Campaign, granted 70 wishes for children with critical illnesses with Make-A-Wish, provided 70,000 people with clean and safe drinking water in partnership with charity: water, given 25,000 doses of life-saving medication to people through (RED)’s work around the world, independently funded five research grants to advance progress at the Alzheimer’s Association, and so much more.

I have always believed that giving back brings balance, so to see these kinds of numbers is truly humbling. Our work with Alzheimer’s Association will always be especially close to my heart because of my Grandfather’s struggle with the disease which was my inspiration for founding Lokai. I believe it’s important that we all, in our own way, strive to leave this world a better place than when we found it."

Related: 10 Wealthy Entrepreneurs Who Give the Most to Charity

Stevens' advice for other entrepreneurs

"I’ll never forget when I was in my last year of college my dad told me, 'A lot of people have great ideas, it’s how you execute it that matters.' It may seem obvious but it really rang true for me. From that moment on, I sought to bring Lokai and later Elements to life through hard work and perseverance. The most successful entrepreneurs I know always follow through on what they say they are going to do no matter how much work or how hard it is. The hardest things in life are always the most rewarding."  

Terry Rice

Written By

Entrepreneur Staff

Terry Rice is the Business Development Expert-in-Residence at Entrepreneur. As the founder of Terry Rice Consulting, he helps entrepreneurs monetize their knowledge without sacrificing their health, family or personal interests. His previous experience includes consulting roles at both Adobe and Facebook.