Packed with herbs, roots and mushrooms, tonics and elixirs sound like liquid sorcery but are just what the doctor ordered.

Cold pressed juices seem beyond reproach, but don’t let those shades of green fool you! These “healthy” drinks are almost always high in sugar and low in healthy fiber. As an alternative, many wellness experts are turning their attention to tonics and elixirs which are more likely to deliver whole-food nutrition. Both tonics and elixirs are a mix of herbs, roots, spices, flowers, and other natural remedies, but while tonics improve overall health, elixirs treat specific ailments, like headaches and digestion issues. 

“These powerful potions are full of so many amazing nutrients and the best part is that you can customize them to suit your mood and flavor preference,” says Lorna Jane Clarkson. “A regular juice will be around 600 mL or more of liquid. Elixirs are smaller and will exert around 200 mL but contain more ingredients – it’s basically compacting much more into a smaller amount so you’re left with a more powerful drink.

Dr. Michael Forman, DOM adds that  some tonic herbs like withenia, ginseng and eleuthero are especially great for athletes because these herbs are adaptogenic in nature, which means they can regulate hormone and organ function and reduce the effects of various stressors. “The term was coined by Russian scientists in the late forties when they were charged with the task of finding herbal substances that could give Soviet athletes and dancers a competitive edge. This allowed them to restore immune levels, preserve cortisol levels and provide an overall sense of vitality to the body.”

You’ll find many tonic herbs and elixirs popping up at  holistic wellness centers like Naturopathica where options include the ‘Skin Radiance Tonic’  which works to improve chronic imbalances. and the ‘Long Night Elixir’ which helps to move through a specific imbalance – such as sore muscles – quickly. “The powerhouse ingredients are our herbal tinctures, which are liquid extracts that deliver the therapeutic benefits of herbs into the bloodstream. Tinctures have been used throughout history to address everything from stress to migraines and menstrual cramps. The ‘Green Coffee Energy Tincture’ will give you a jitter-free boost, while the ‘Echinacea Immune Tincture’ will help you fight a cold,” says Barbara Close, founder and CEO of Naturopathica.

Other brands getting into the game include Lifehouse Tonics, which uses medicinal mushrooms, Chinese herbs, Ayurvedic elements and superfoods to create tonic smoothies and steeped elixirs. Each type of mushroom used in the elixirs and tonics is blended with herbs and other natural ingredients to elicit a specific response from the body (i.e. Energizing, Uplifting, Fortifying, etc.).

Looking for an at-home solution? Colleen Kelly and Genevieve Murphy, brand managers at Montauk Juice Factory suggest opting for ashwagandha. “It has been used for thousands of years and is one of the most highly prized herbs in the ancient tradition of Ayurveda. Ashwagandha is known to increase vitality, promote longevity, strengthen the immune system and promote internal balance and stability.” To make your own brew tlet the ashwagandha steep in boiling water for 5-7 minutes and combine it with lemon and raw honey.

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