The Science Behind The Discovery of Adaptogens

 What are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are biologically active substances found in certain herbs and plants, which help the body and mind of humans and animals adapt to the change and stresses of life.  Elements that promote health by helping people cope with everyday stress, maintain high levels of energy, and free the body from fatigue.

Adaptogens as natural plant substances that:

  1. Increase the body’s ability to cope with internal and external stresses.
  2. Exhibit stimulating effects after both single-time use and prolonged use, leading to increased working capacity and mental performance under stressful and fatigue-inducing conditions.
  3. Normalize the functions of the body.
  4. Are entirely safe and have no negative side effects.


Adaptogen Research

Most of the studies conducted on adaptogens were performed in the Soviet UnionKorea, and China before the 1980s. The world-renowned research scientist, Dr. Israel I. Brekhman PhD, is hailed world-wide as the ” father of adaptogens”, credited with introducing formulas of adaptogens for use. He was a professor of medicine, and a physiological pharmacologist.

His lifetime work is responsible for analyzing and breaking the genetic codes of adaptogenic plants, uncovering the molecular structures of their phyto-chemicals. Creating 40 patents, 22 monographs, several hundred scientific articles, and many books.Combined there is over 45-years of consistent research with thousands of clinical trials, and real data on adaptogen use.


The First Adaptogens

The first energy-boosting adaptogen formula,  featured ‘Eleutherococcus’ also known as Siberian ginseng, a thin, thorny shrub native to forests in southeastern Russia, northern China, Japan, and Korea.

The research has shown to improve endurance, exercise, oxygen uptake, and overall performance in athletes. Recent studies coraborated that those who supplemented with Siberian ginseng for eight weeks had significantly enhanced endurance time and elevated cardiovascular functions.

Adaptogens  contain rare trace minerals, co-enzymes, metabolites, anti-oxidants and vitamins. These phyto-nutrients address entire classes of body functions. They enhance human resistance to a broad variety of physical, emotional, metabolic and environmental stresses, and fill a nutritional void addressed by no other dietary element.

Eleutherococcus, was declared an official herbal medicine by the USSR  and was included in their National Drug Guide, the pharmacopoeia. Adaptogens in specific blends were on par with diabetes medications to help balance blood sugar levels”. Morton Walker medical journal report Innovative Biologics, July 1994.

Another popular adaptogen is Rhodiola (full name: Rhodiola rosea)—native to the arctic and mountainous regions throughout Europe, Asia, and America—also has scientific research behind it alluding to athletic improvement. A 2012 study conducted on cyclists found an improved heart rate response. 


Why are Adaptogens important to our health?

Well, stressors such as: toxins, pollutants, oxidants, and chemicals in processed foods, radiation, depression and fatigue – are now thought to be the cause of DNA mutations that produce cancer. Adaptogens are the missing nutrients from nature that protect us from the chemical hormonal assault of such stressors. The frequency of cancer was 3.3 times lower in the animals taking the Adaptogens than in the control group of animals not given Adaptogens.

Adaptogens  reduce, undo and buffer the damaging chemical effects of stress.
The scientific community tested these particular plant extracts and found dramatic improvements in performance, fewer errors, less illness, less accidents and calmer functioning. The bottom line is that adaptogens are plant substances that help the body to better handle external and internal stressors, they enhance the body’s ability to perform physically, and they increase energy and mental alertness. 


Are Adaptogens New?

No they have been used since 3000 BCE in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine.

Over time  western medical organization have begun to, independently conducted their own research and testing validating the research and results of Brekhman’s work. The Medical Molecular Biology Institute of Heidelburg, Germany, published an important double blind study in the 1990’s testing the Adaptogen, Eleutherococcus Senticosus. This study employing flow-cytometry showed a powerful strengthening of the immune system. Those who received the plant extract during the clinical trials had their immune system markers reveal all T-lymphocyte subsets, including cancer killing cyto-toxic t-cells showed 40 to 80 % increase. Excerpt from a German Study done in 1990 on Eleutherococcus Senticosus as an Immunodulatory Agent.

The National Library of Medicine performed Studies on animals and isolated neuronal cells have revealed that adaptogens exhibit neuroprotective, anti-fatigue, antidepressive, anxiolytic, nootropic and CNS stimulating activity.  Adaptogens increase the body’s ability to cope with both physical and mental stresses .


Reduced Cortisol 

In 1984 a very important scientific paper by the renowned molecular biologist, Dr. Igor Totoroff, showed that these plant extracts had wide ranging effects in different organ systems and could suppress excess cortisol production during stress thus controlling the wide spread damage known to occur from excess cortisol production. These adaptogen extracts also showed increased energy production within human cells. In fact, leading scientific research world-wide is currently conducting ongoing studies and clinical trials, revealing new and amazing benefits for the human body. 

Adaptogens have been used for astronauts for some time.  Restoring the natural balance of the their bodies while protecting them against the stress that is inherent in space flight, such as motion, vertigo, weightlessness and inactivity.

In fact adaptogens have been used by the top sports figures for decades. Elite athletes have routinely for decades included  adaptogenic plants in their training programs giving them a well-documented optimal edge. 

Research has convincingly shown that Adaptogens are a powerful protection against radiation. They increase non-specific resistance to stress. Inhibits free-radical oxidation, accelerates rehabilitative processes, protects vital organs from stress, and has potent anti-viral properties, and has been found to be very effective in helping normalize blood sugar levels. It has been proven that the chemical hormonal assault on the body from stress lowers the immune system responses. The effects from stress upon the immune system are dramatic, immediate and well documented

Popular types of adaptogens

There are several types of adaptogens. Common adaptogens include:

  • American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium): American ginseng offers immune system support (immune-modulators) that helps reduce inflammation to relieve pain (anti-inflammatory). In addition, this type of ginseng combats stress and boosts your nervous system, which improves how your body responds to stimuli (fight or flight). Some studies suggest American ginseng can reset dopamine levels and regulate your mood.
  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): Ashwagandha has a positive effect on the endocrine, nervous, immune and cardiovascular systems by regulating your metabolism and helping you relax by calming how your brain responds to stress. Ashwagandha offers protection for your cells as an antioxidant and reduces swelling (an anti-inflammatory reaction).
  • Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng): This type of ginseng helps relieve both mental and physical fatigue. Ginseng can improve your energy and performance during stressful activities.
  • Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus): Similar to ginseng, eleuthero relieves stress and fatigue. This adaptogen helps boost immune function as an immune modulator.
  • Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea): Rhodiola alleviates symptoms of fatigue, anxiety and depression. Studies show that rhodiola helps improve performance during stressful situations like at work or during physical activity.

How do I take adaptogens?

Adaptogens come from plants, so you can take them in several different ways including:

  • Adding adaptogens to food or beverages.
  • Taking adaptogens as capsules.
  • Using tinctures: a liquid form of a plant extract.

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