The word adaptogen came into existence around sixty years ago, when the term ‘adaptogen’ was first introduced by Russian scientist N. V. Lazarev in 1947 to describe a substance which was known to increase “non-specific” resistance to adverse influences to organism and stress. Adaptogens, are the substances that enhance the ability to adapt in unfavourable condition (whether hectic schedule, heat or cold, noise, high altitudes or any number of other stressor or to resist mental or physical stress, such as anxiety, trauma and fatigue. Administration of adaptogens result in stabilization of physiological processes, maintain homeostasis and provide strength, energy, stamina, endurance, as well as improve mental clarity. Many adaptogens are anti aging herbs, substances, compounds, herbs or practices refer to aid longevity by protecting against oxidative damage to cells.
The few of examples for herbal adaptogens may include:
Ashwagandha(Withania somnifera): The world Ashwagandha means ‘Smell of Horse,’ which refers to the fresh root’s with distinct horsey odour, and the traditional belief confer the strength and virility of a horse. The plant often called Indian ginseng, and supplemented as an adaptogen herb that provides neuroprotection, anti-cancer effects, enhanced vitility, and improves overall health and longevity. An interesting fact about plant is that it has completed over 4,000 years of traditional use in India.
Astragalus: is one of the more famous tonic herbs from China, used as natural immune system booster and often added to formulations used to treat weak patients. Numerous studies showed that the herb improved immune function by increasing natural killer cell activity, increasing T cell activity and enhancing macrophage activity in immune-compromised patients. It is also antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, cardiotonic and hypotensive with clinical trials reporting favourable outcomes in the treatment of various disorders such as cold, upper respiratory infections, lowering blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and hepatitis etc.
Cordyceps fungus: The cordyceps fungus was first reported from high plateaus and mountainous regions around Tibet and western China 1,500 years ago. The most widely used species for herbal medicinal purposes is cordyceps sinensis. Often referred to as the “club fungus” due to its clublike shape. Specific adaptogenic benefits of Cordyceps include increasing oxygen capacity and ATP production within muscle cells. Studies have also revealed strong indications that cordyceps has strong athletic-enhancing properties, increasing endurance and reducing fatigue in endurance athletes. Cordyceps sinensis has been shown to be effective in treating chronic hepatic (liver) diseases, hypercholesterolemia, many aging disorders, renal (kidney) disorders, effective at increasing libido and various steroid hormones of youth, it has an anticancer effect, antiasthmatic effect, antioxidant effect and is immunomodulatory.
Goji berry(Lycium barbarum): Goji berry grows naturally from the extreme rugged Himalayan mountains to the searing hot lowland. Goji berry also known as Chinese wolfberry, is well known for it’s neutral or balanced energy, tonifying effect on the Blood, Kidney, Liver, and Lung. A daily dose of 15-30g (roughly four to six dried berries/g) of goji berries contributes in longevity and endurance. The chemical profiling of goji berry contains: ~13% complete vegetarian protein, ~8.2% essential fatty acids, ~67.7% carbohydrate, vitamin A, B1, B2, B5 (in small amounts) and B6 and with an ORAC value of 25,300.
Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum): Holy basil also known as Tulsi, means “the incomparable one, is a plant originally from India and is used in Ayurvedic medicine as an “adaptogen” to counter life’s stresses. It is considered a sacred plant in Hindus mythology and is often planted around Hindu homes. The leaves, stems, and seeds are used in ayurvedic medicines for its diverse healing properties. Due to the strong aroma and astringent taste, in Ayurveda, it is regarded as a kind of “elixir of life” and believed to promote longevity.
Golden root (Rhodiola Rosea): Rhodiola rosea is popularly known as golden root or Arctic root used in traditional medical systems in Eastern Europe and Asia and attributed for stimulating nervous system. The extracts of this plant produce favourable changes in a variety of physiological function, including neurotransmitter levels, central nervous system activity, and cardiovascular function. a variety of phytochemicals has been identified from the roots and above-ground parts of Rhodiola rosea however the stimulating and adaptogenic properties of Rhodiola rosea were attributed to two compounds isolated from its roots, such as p-tyrosol and the phenolic glycoside rhodioloside.