Adaptogens Enhance Your Body’s Ability to Adapt and Protect Itself from Stress
Even a brief amount of stress can cause your body to undergo changes at the cellular level, and it can take weeks to get back to normal. Cells maintain their stability through intricate mechanisms, and stress can compromise these controls. Cell damage can contribute to a variety of health threats, including premature aging and a decline in immune function.
Adaptogens are substances that can help your body better deal with stress and improve longevity and well-being. We offer pure products made from one of the highly prized adaptogens found in nature, Siberian Chaga.
What Are Adaptogens?
The term “adaptogen” is not yet widely known in the U.S., but it was very familiar to nutritional scientists of the former Soviet Union. Adaptogens were identified by Professor Nikolai Lazarev in the early 1940s, and later more specifically defined by his protégés Dr. Israel I. Brekhman and I. V. Dardymov. In one of their most exciting discoveries, they found the root of the Eleutherococcus senticosus maxim shrub in Eastern Siberia, also known as Eleuthero. This root became known as the “King of Adaptogens.”
According to these scientists’ criteria, adaptogens:
- Show non-specific protective effects, increasing bodily resistance to physically, chemically, or biologically noxious agents or factors;
- Improve the body’s ability to regulate internal and external stress, without being stimulatory;
- Are nontoxic, have no harmful side effects, and do not disturb normal body functions
“Non-specific” means that adaptogens do not act purely on one part of the body. Their effects are not specific; rather, they affect the body in general.
In 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allowed the term “adaptogen” to be used as a functional claim for some products. In recent years, the definition has been updated, and adaptogens are now described as a new class of metabolic regulators of natural origin that increase an organism’s ability to adapt to environmental factors and avoid damage caused by them.
Benefits of Adaptogens
Chinese herbalist Li Shi-Chen wrote that he would “rather take a handful of Eleutherococcus than a cartload of gold jewels.”Research has suggested that adaptogens can support and strengthen the health of the body in a number of ways:
Boost Immune System – Adaptogens are not treatments or cures, but they are unique in their ability to enhance the body’s natural defense mechanisms against the stresses of daily life to support health. Adaptogens work in synergy with normal bodily processes without any serious side effects. The exact mechanisms of adaptogens are complex and not yet well understood, but we do know that they support the immune system and general health of the body. If you’re taking prescription medication, you should check with your doctor to make sure that adaptogens will not interfere with the effects of your medication.*
Reduce Harmful Effects of Toxins and Radiation – Adaptogens can help reduce the harmful effects of free radicals, caused by overexposure to sun, consumption of fatty foods, radiation, pollution, and smoke. Free radicals damage cells, accelerate the aging process, and interfere with healthy functioning of the body. Adaptogens help you bounce back faster from external and internal stress, and they also support your body in restoring immune function.*
Types of Adaptogens
Here are the most well-known adaptogens, with details on some of the most common:
Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) – Reishi, or lingzhi, mushroom translates in Vietnamese to “supernatural mushroom”. It has been prized in East Asia for more than 2,000 years, and is one of the oldest mushrooms known to have been used for medicinal purposes. Its first documented use was in the Eastern Han Dynasty, where in the Book of Han, it was referred to as “The Mushroom of Immortality.” Reishi mushroom is best known for its ability to support the immune system.* Reishi mushrooms grow on decaying tree stumps in East Asia and North America. Of the six colors of reishi mushroom, it is the red variety that is used in alternative medicine. In traditional Chinese medicine, reishi mushrooms are most often dried and ground into a powder for tea. Scientific research conducted by Jin X, Ruiz Beguerie J, Sze DMY, Chan GCF showed that patients who had been given Ganoderma lucidum along with chemo/radiotherapy were more likely to respond positively compared to patients who received chemo/radiotherapy alone. (Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi mushroom) for cancer treatment.) Another study from 2008 showed that reishi extract improved immune function.*(http://idosi.org/aejb/1%283%2908/8.pdf)
Eleutherococcus (Eleutherocóccus senticósus) – This adaptogen is also known as Eleuthero,and it used to be known as Siberian Ginseng. For many years, Russian Olympic teams used the adaptogen Eleuthero to support their athletes. The athletes that Professor N. V. Lazarev and his researchers studied reported that Eleuthero helped enhance their athletic performance, increase stamina, and shorten recovery after strenuous workouts. This normalizing effect meant they could increase the number of workouts and take shorter breaks to recover.
Dr. Stephen Fulder, gerontologist, claimed (in his article “The drug that builds Russians,” The New Scientist, August 21, 1980, pp. 567–9) that extract from the shrub Eleutherococcus improves the mental and physical powers of Soviet athletes, cosmonauts, and workers.
Russian cosmonauts in the past took only vitamins, minerals, and Eleuthero, to help counteract the stressful effects of weightlessness. Eleuthero was shown to improve their adjustment to weightlessness and re-adaptation to gravity, and to support health, mental focus, and immunity.*
Ginseng– Ginseng is a slow-growing plant with fleshy roots that thrives in North America and East Asia, typically in cooler climates. Different varieties of ginseng have been used in traditional medicine in Asia and North America for many years. Ginseng is one of the most popular herbs in the world used to support health. Today, you can find products containing ginseng extract in most any American convenience store. The two main types of ginseng are:
- American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) – This herbaceous plant, native to eastern North America and also grown in China, has been used in Chinese and Native American traditional medicine. It is used to help regulate stress, support the immune system, support digestion, stimulate appetite, support healthy levels of iron in the blood, support health in people with diabetes symptoms, promote healthy sleep, promote recovery from hangover, support joint health, and promote health in a host of other ways.*
- Panax Ginseng (Asian Ginseng) – Panax Ginseng is an adaptogenic herb and species of ginseng found in North America and East Asia, usually in cooler climates. Panax Ginseng is used in folk medicine to support healthy function of the body in a variety of ways.*
Rhodiola rosea – Rhodiola rosea, commonly known as golden root, rose root, or Arctic root, is a flowering plant that grows in cold regions in the Arctic, Central Asia, North America, and Europe. The plant has been classified as an adaptogen by Russian researchers, and has been used in traditional medicine in Russia, China, and Scandinavia to improve health.
In 77 A.D., in his classic medical text De Materia Medica, Greek physician Dioscorides documented the plant’s medical applications. Some studies have found that it may help support mental balance, enhance physical and mental performance, and promote strength and stamina. It’s also been shown that rhodiola can help reduce fatigue and shorten recovery time after prolonged workouts. This adaptogen could increase attention span, support memory, and promote muscle strength. It could also have anti-toxic action and provide support to the body for altitude sickness. Rhodiola can also promote improved energy, cognitive function, and detoxification. It may also support improved sexual function.
A study published in the Nordic Journal of Psychiatry in 2007 showed that rhodiola can support improved mood in patients with mild to moderate depression. Several studies have shown that rhodiola can support improved mood and energy in individuals struggling with depression and fatigue. A study of people with stress-related fatigue in Sweden showed that rhodiola can promote improved energy, mental performance, and feelings of calmness. Another study reported in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that rhodiola can support improved mood in people with generalized anxiety disorder. A study in Armenia also showed that it can support improved overall mood.
Schisandra – Schisandra, also known as magnolia vine, is a twining shrub and adaptogen that grows in Asia and North America. In Chinese it is called Wu Wei Zi, five-flavored berry, because it is sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and pungent. Its dried berries are used to stimulate energy levels, support physical performance and endurance, support healthy blood sugar levels and blood pressure, stimulate the immune system, stimulate recovery after surgery, support skin health, and promote good sleep. It is also used to promote healthy cholesterol levels, support respiratory health, promote nervous system health, regulate PMS symptoms, support healthy sexual function, and regulate mood. Schisandra is typically dried in the sun, but the berries are sometimes deep refrigerated and then used to make health juices, especially in Korea. Athletes including distance runners, skiers, and gymnasts have used schisandra to enhance performance. It is known to support improved concentration, mental alertness, and coordination. Schisandra is available in several forms, including as dried berries and supplement capsules. It has been studied extensively in China and Japan, where it has been shown to support the health of the liver, heart, lungs, and sexual organs.* Schisandra is relatively unknown in the West, but this should change as more people catch on to its numerous health benefits.
Chaga Mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) – One of the prized adaptogens in nature is chaga, the small but mighty medicinal mushroom that we offer in its purest, most potent form in all our products.
Among the first people to use chaga for medicinal purposes are the Khanty (formerly called the Ostyak) in West Siberia, and the word “chaga” is derived from the Khanty language. The Khantydrank chaga in tea form to improve their health in many ways, including to promote general well-being, support detoxification, and maintain healthy digestive function. They made “soap water” from chaga, heating chaga in a fire, then dissolving it in hot water. They used this black water for various cleansing purposes, including general cleansing of the body, hands, and feet, for women during menstruation and after birth, and for washing new-born babies.
Substances with a high ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) value better help your body fight oxidative stress and neutralize free radicals. Chaga extract’s immune-supporting power outshines several known superfoods. Other constituents such as polysaccharides, beta-glucans, and polyphenols provide additional natural support for cellular defenses, and can contribute to boosting energy levels. The potential health benefits of chaga are numerous. Chaga can help support the immune system, detoxify the body, boost energy and stamina, support health digestion, and improve the health of the hair and skin.*
Sayan Health’s chaga teas, extracts, supplements, and powders all contain chaga mushroom.
We will expand this page in the near future to provide more information about these other known adaptogens:
- Codonopsis Root (Codonopsis lanceolata, Dang Shen)
- Goji Berry(Lycium barbarum)
- He Shou Wu (Polygonum multiflorum)
- Holy Basil (Tulsi)
- Indian Ginseng (Withania somnifera, ashwagandha)
- Jiaogulan(Gynostemma pentaphyllum)
- Licorice Root(Glycyrrhiza glabra)
- Prince Seng (Pseudostellaria heterophylla)
We at Sayan Health strongly encourage you to do your own research about adaptogens and their power to help restore the body’s well-being. Browse our product pages to learn more about the many benefits of Siberian Chaga, one of the most potent adaptogens in nature. If you have any questions about adaptogens and their immune-boosting properties, get in touch with us.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product does not intend to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.