Why you should know about adaptogenic herbs ? Overall help your health
I feel like I am asking myself the same questions a lot of people around the world have about the necessary changes to our lifestyle and to health and diet in particular. The trigger came to me when I read an article by a nutritionist in Lausanne on the powers of a series of herbs coming from all over the world and still mysterious but capable of both improving our immunity, muscle recovery and our cognitive abilities – without the drawbacks of conventional stimulants. My specialty is quite different, however my rational culture pushed me to seek co nfirmation of the scientific validity of the adaptogenic herb concept. I asked the question to the Department of Science and Technology of the Municipal Library of Lyon. Here is their response:
“The concept of adaptogen and pharmacology
The term “adaptogen”, although widely used, does not really have an official definition. This notion is difficult to integrate and assess in the context of Western medicine. Herbal adaptogens do not work in a specific pharmacological way. They are neither anxiolytic nor anabolic. Their clinical evaluation is therefore complex and the studies can prove to be contradictory or sometimes questionable from a methodological point of view. These properties also question clinical trial protocols that are not necessarily suited to the evaluation of these plants, whose multiple mechanisms are sometimes difficult to objectify. The properties of adaptogenic plants are therefore mainly recognized on the basis of traditional use and old use. Adaptogenic plants do not fit into current classical pharmacological models. This is the reason why pharmacologists do not recognize this term. On the other hand, the concept of adaptogen is taken into consideration by bodies such as the EMEA (the European Medicines Agency) which has drawn up a discussion paper on the concept of adaptogen. Likewise the ANSM (National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products) regularly publishes opinions of the French Pharmacopoeia Committee on certain medicinal plants and essential oils: such as Rhodiola rosea (rhizome and root), of which the therapeutic indications mention the improvement of cognitive functions under stress. We speak of an adaptogenic plant.
The concept of an adaptogenic plant emerged in the 1950s thanks to the work of Russian researcher and pharmacologist Nicolai Lazarev. During his studies with plants, he noticed that some of them increased the body’s natural capacities to react and resist in stressful situations. To better understand their unique functioning, research continued. In the 1960s, the work of scientist Israel Brekhman shed light on the adaptogenic nature of eleutherococcus, a plant in the same family as ginseng. We then discover that an adaptogenic plant not only increases the body’s resistance to stress but also that it exerts a stimulating action. Dr Lazarev had developed three criteria for classifying a substance as an adaptogen. She must : – Causing a minimum of variation in biological functions. – Increase the resistance of the body in a non-specific way against various aggressors. – Have a normalizing effect improving several conditions or states and not worsening any (normalization of an organ or physiological function). The action of the adaptogenic plant takes place through the totum of the plant. We can see that these plants belong to distinct and sometimes distant botanical families and species, spread over the five continents. Note also that before the studies carried out in the second half of the twentieth century by scientists, certain adaptogenic plants were used by a set of traditional medicines: – Traditional Chinese Medicine for ginseng, and eleutherococcus, schisandra, astragalus, shiitake, maitake. – Traditional Russian Medicine for eleutherococcus, rhodiola, ginseng. – Traditional Peruvian Medicine for maca. – Traditional Polynesian Medicine for noni. – Ayurvedic medicine for ashwaganda. – Medicine from Greece and Ancient Rome for romari.
An adaptogen supports the body in overall stress relief, regardless of the nature of the stress. It differs from only stimulating substances and plants: classic stimulants such as caffeine increase the level of performance in a short period of time. However, after this initial period of high energy, there is a sharp decrease in working capacity. It is also different from plants which moderate the nervous system under stress (passionflower, hawthorn, valerian, lemon balm). It also differs from substances which are specifically immunostimulating (blackcurrant, rose hips, echinacea, etc.) The adaptogen, on the other hand, shows a constant level of performance over time. After reaching its maximum, it is not followed by a drop in working capacity. Compared to conventional stimulants, it does not drain the body of its resources and does not give side effects such as withdrawal syndrome. Adaptogenic plants help regulate the functioning of the body by increasing resistance to stress and fatigue and by improving physical performance and mental capacities. Some of these plants include ginseng, eleutherococcus and rhodiola. (Extract from the thesis of Camille Bloch of the Faculty of Pharmacy Lorraine University: Improving the mental and physical performance of the athlete based on herbal medicine, Increase in performance by adaptogenic plants) “
The list of adaptogenic plants recognized as adaptogens in herbalism
1. Ayurvedic rasayana herbs:
Ashwagandha root (Withania somnifera), Holy basil leaf “tulsi” (Ocimum sanctum, O. gratissimum), Turmeric root (Curcuma longa), Gotu Kola leaf (Centella asiatica,) Shilajit resin (Asphaltum bitumen,) Asparagus root “Shatavari” (asparagus racemosus), Guduchi root / stem (Tinospora cordifolia), Amla “Indian gooseberry” (emblica officinalis), Masala Chai spices: Ginger root, cardamom pods, cinnamon bark, Triphala formula three dried fruits: amalaki, haritaki and bibhitaki Tribulus (Tribulus terrestris) Bacopa “brahmi” (Bacopa monnieri) Mucuna (Mucuna pruriens)
American Ginseng Root (Panax quinquefolium), Xi Yang Shen Asian ginseng root (Panax ginseng), Asparagus root (Astragalus membranaceus), Tian Men Dong Astragalus root (Astragalus membranaceus), Huang Chi (Qi) Cistanche Root (Cistanche Tubulosa,) Rou Cong Rong Chinese cinnamon bark (Cinnamomum cassia), Guizhi and Rougi Codonopsis root (Codonopsis pilosula, C. tangshen) ,Dang Shen Cordyceps fungus / mycelium (Cordyceps sinensis), Dong Chong Xia Cao Coriolus fungus (Trametes versicolor), Yun Zhi Chinese Angelica Root (Angelica sinensis), Dang Gui, Tang Kuei Eleuthero root “Siberian ginseng” (Eleutherococcus senticosus), Eucommia bark (Eucommia ulmoides), Du Zhong Fo-ti root (Polygonum multiflorum), He Shou Wu Green Chirayta leaf (Andrographis paniculata), Gynostemus leaf (Gynostemma pentaphyllum), Jiaogulan Jujube dates (Ziziphus jujuba), Ta Tsao Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra, G. uralensis), Kan Tsao Lyciet fruits (Goji berries), Gou Qi Zi Whole Noni plant (Morinda officinalis), Ba Ji Tian Maral root (Rhaponticum carthamoides), Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum), Ling Zhi Rehmannia root (Rehmannia glutinosa), Ti Huan Rhodiola root (Rhodiola rosea), Hong Jing Tian Schizandra berries (Schisandra chinensis), Wu Wei Zi Medicinal adaptogenic mushrooms Chaga (Inonotus obliquus), Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), Maitake (Grifola frondosa), Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis), Coriolus (Trametes versicolor), Agaricus blazei (Agaricus subrufescens), Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus), Shiitake (Lentinula edodes), Birch Polypore (Piptoporus betulinus).
Dandelion leaf and root (Taraxacum officinale), Nettle Leaf (Urtica dioica,) Medicinal mushrooms Amazonian adaptogenic herbs: Cat’s claw bark (Uncaria tomentosa), Pau D’arco bark (Tabebuia Serratifolia), ChancaPiedra plant (Phyllanthus niruri), Bark and root of Chuchuhuasi (Maytenus Macrocarpa), Clavo Huasca plant (Tynanthus Panurensis), Grvaiola / Soursop: bark, leaves, roots, fruits and seeds of fruits (Annona Muricata).
Most adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms are safe for regular use. However, like any other new natural product, the best is to validate it with an health specialist (such as an advisor in a natural products store or even your pharmacist) to make sure that you have no contraindication. It is better to avoid taking Chinese herbs when you are sick or going on a diet or fasting. These statements have not been evaluated by Health Canada or the FDA. It’s not about diagnosing, treating, or preventing disease, it’s about helping your overall health.