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Home » Uncategorized » 6 Best Herbal Adaptogens

6 Best Herbal Adaptogens

Did you know that ginseng is just one of a class of herbal remedies called adaptogens? Here’s an introduction to adaptogens, with more information about the specific effects and uses of each.

The term was coined in 1947 by a Russian scientist, N.V. Lazarev, who was interested in substances that helped the body adapt to physical and emotional stress. Lazarev thought that adaptogens should:

Produce a nonspecific (total body) response that increases resistance against harm from physical and emotional stress (disease, anxiety, etc.)
Have a normalizing effect, improving the function of many body systems
Be nontoxic, causing no significant side effects

Since that time, the term adaptogen has been generalized to include herbal remedies that don’t necessarily boost energy or counteract stress, but still have a number of benefits including enhanced immune function, antioxidant action and physiological normalization.

Ginseng: Total-body Tonic

A great deal of research shows that ginseng significantly improves athletic performance and relieves fatigue.

Ginseng also relieves the ravages of stress. Japanese researchers showed that the herb reduces the secretion of stress-related hormones.

Ginseng also improves immune function. University of Southern California researchers report that, in vitro, the herb increases production of interferon, the body’s own antiviral compound.

Another Korean study showed that ginseng reduced blood pressure, a key risk factor for heart disease and stroke. A Russian animal study suggested that the herb also normalized hearth rhythm.

Ginseng also helps treat diabetes. University of Toronto researchers gave the herb (3 grams) to diabetics before a meal. Blood sugar typically rises after eating. But 40 minutes after eating, the ginseng group’s blood sugar was lower.

Eleuthero: Echoing Ginseng

Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is often called “Siberian ginseng,” but it’s not a ginseng. True ginseng grows as a ground cover. Eleuthero is a shrub that grows to more than 6 feet tall in China and Russia.

Eleuthero has been shown to increase energy and stamina, improves immune function and increases production of interleukin-1 and -6, important immune proteins. A Russian study showed that eleuthero boosted the immune systems of people with cancer.

However, side effects are possible: drowsiness, anxiety, irritability, headache and insomnia. Don’t take it if you’re pregnant, nursing, running a fever, or if you have high blood pressure.

Rhodiola: A Russian Restorative

Found in arctic areas of Europe and Asia, rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) is a perennial succulent plant with a thick medicinal root.

Several Russian studies showed that rhodiola helped students perform better under academic pressure, “Rhodiola is the best adaptogen for mind and memory problems,” Hobbs says. “I prescribe it for people who complain of fuzzy memory. They’ve reported good results.”

Rhodiola also reduces stress. According to a comprehensive review publishedin HerbalGram, the journal of the American Botanical Council, it reduces levels of stress-related hormones, and boosts levels of the body’s own feel-good compounds, endorphins.

Ashwagandha: Antioxidant All-star

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is called “Indian ginseng,” because its effects are similar to Panax ginseng. Several Indian animal studies showed ashwagandha improves stamina and reduced the damage caused by various stressors. It stimulates the immune system and has powerful antioxidant action. Antioxidants reduce risk of cancer and heart disease. Indian animal studies show intriguing cancer-preventive action.

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