Lifestyle: Adaptogens and Herbs

Botanicals (herbs) and botanical extracts constitute the basis for most traditional forms of medicine around the world. The most popular botanicals used across the world have been evaluated using scientific analytical and clinical research methods, but many have not been described beyond a rudimentary level.

Adaptogen was termed by Nicholia Lazarev in 1962, a Russian physician and pharmacist. He pioneered the early research of these botanicals. Outside of herbalist circles in the West, the term is not well known. It is known that certain botanicals have the ability to increase non-specific resistance to stress. Clinical research has been slow to recognize their application on the human body. This is due to their non-specific nature of their effects and difficulty measuring animal and human response to stressors.

An adaptogenic herb increases the resistance to physical and psychological stressors, those which have a non-specific immune-modulating effects, those that increase energy, and other botanicals that are referred to as “tonics”.

These herb preparations are considered to be balancing in their non-specific effects on the body. They down-regulate or up-regulate the same organ, tissue, or body system, pending on the physiological need. These botanicals are often mixed with other herbs of more than one adaptogen creating the basis of traditional herbal preparations.

Allopathic Western medicine is usually unfamiliar with agents that function as adaptogens. This is because single pharmaceutical agents rarely modulate body systems in this manner. Several of the most common adaptogenic herbs have been studied with diagnostic criteria and clinical trial end-points in mind.

5 Researched Adaptogens and Their Therapeutic Action

1) Eleuthero Root

Encourages quicker recovery time from acute stress and intense exercise, improves learning and memory, regulates blood sugar levels, antiviral, anticancer, enhances liver detoxification, increases immunity.

2) Rhodiola Root

Increases physical endurance and learning capacity, balances the HPA axis stress response, assists in weight reduction, cardioprotective, improves sleep, and reduces chronic inflammation.

3) Schisandra Seed/Fruit

Improves resistance to stress regardless of physiological response, protects DNA from damage, liver protective, chemoprotective, cardioprotective, antiulcer, and antioxidant activity against free radicals.

4) Ashwaganda Root

Antistress protection, enhances productive performance and bone mineralization, anti-inflammatory, liver-protective, cardioprotective, antiparasitic, and anticancer.

5) American Ginseng Root

Anti-fatigue, anti-aging, increases muscle strength, enhances performance of mental activity, HPA axis regulation, enhances immune system, improves glucose and insulin regulation, anti-inflammatory, liver protective, and stimulates nerve growth.