Anastasiia Myronenko is a Medical Physicist actively practicing in one of the leading cancer centers in Kyiv, Ukraine. She received her master’s degree in Medical Physics at Karazin Kharkiv National University and completed Biological Physics internship at GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research, Germany. Anastasiia Myronenko specializes in radiation therapy and is a fellow of Ukrainian Association of Medical Physicists.
Today no one is safe from stress and tiredness. In addition, every day, we are exposed to various environmental influences, such as ecology, household chemicals, unhealthy substances in products. Of course, all these factors are reflected in our health. Therefore, sooner or later, there comes the point when the body ceases to resist. Thus, insomnia appears, and we begin to react sharply to stress, then irritability, weariness, depression and it is not too far from chronic ailments. Right here, adaptogens can help.
What are adaptogens?
The term "Adaptogens" was first introduced in 1947 by the Russian scientist N. V. Lazarev, who studied how to raise the body's steadiness to "adverse effects". Later, with this name, scientists “awarded” a group of herbal preparations that have a tonic effect on the body. You can also find these same additives called “tonics”. Adaptogens are drugs that help us adapt to certain conditions, meaning they can increase the body's resistance to a wide range of various unhealthy effects.
In turn, adaptation is a totality of physiological characteristics that govern the balancing of the body with environmental factors. The effect of adaptogens on the body's systems is determined by the specific structure and set of biologically active chemicals that enter into the composition. Therefore, for example, in adaptogen plants, the active beginning can be polysaccharides, glycosides, flavonoids and glycopeptides.
How do adaptogens work?
Scientists confirm that adaptogens suppress the excretion of stress hormones. Their strength implies that they help the body adapt to physical (heat, cold and physical activity), chemical (toxins and heavy metals) and biological (bacteria and viruses) types of stress. This means that daily stressful situations will affect the body with less force, without knocking out the usual rhythm of life. This will allow us to solve all problems with less health damage, leaving more life energy, keeping calm, and normalising sleep.
Adaptogens act on many levels:
- augment the level of ATP (responsible for the energy level) and creatine phosphate (controlling power);
- contain potent antioxidants that protect mitochondria, cell membranes and DNA from damage;
- improve the functioning of the cardiovascular system and augment the supply of oxygen to tissues;
- increase the synthesis of proteins and other substances responsible in the body for "repair damage".
This combination of unique properties makes adaptogens ideal supplements for augmenting power, speed and stamina.
Adaptogens, as a rule, work a little differently than caffeine. At the level of sensations, you will notice that your body will function at the optimal level. Moreover, the difference with caffeine is as follows: it will seem to you that this effect comes from you, and not from a portion of the supplement. It gives even greater psychological strength and emotional stability because it inspires absolute confidence in your abilities.
One of the best indicators that the “process has begun” is the lack of moral resistance to physical activity. If you have recently literally forced yourself to go training, adaptogens will help to cope with this situation.
What makes adaptogens so special is the fact that they help modulate the body’s stress response. Your body and mind retain the ability to "be adequate" even in conditions of intense physical, mental, emotional or chemical stress.
Which kinds of adaptogens are in existence?
Adaptogens can be:
- Synthetic - pharmacy drugs manufactured by the pharmacological industry.
The first four classes of adaptogens have been well-known for thousands of years. There are quite a few herbs that also have adaptogenic properties.
The most famous are Eleutherococcus, Rhodiola Rosea, Astragalus, Ginseng and many other herbs. Several products can also be attributed to plant adaptogens: garlic, sea buckthorn, ginger and others.
Mummy belongs to mineral adaptogens.
Peat, sapropels, coals and other organic compounds that are formed under the influence of microorganisms under certain environmental conditions on decomposing animal and plant residues are natural.
The class of adaptogens of animal origin, as well as plants, is vast. It includes beekeeping products, antler deer, shark fat, salmon, dairy products.
The forms of release of adaptogens are different. Herbal adaptogens can be bought in the form of tea, alcohol tincture, extract or herb. Mineral and animal origin are most often produced in the form of tablets, powder or capsules.
As already known, the term “Adaptogen” was first proposed in 1947 by scientists from the USSR, namely N. V. Lazarev, when he described various herbs with the following definition: adaptogens of plant origin, which can nonspecifically improve the human body.
According to the initial definition of adaptogens, these substances must meet three criteria: first, adaptogens must be non-specific and must help the human body withstand a wide range of adverse conditions, such as physical, chemical or biological stress. These may include environmental pollution, climate change, radiation, infectious diseases, and interpersonal disharmony. Secondly, adaptogens should support homeostasis in humans; that is, these substances can compensate or resist physical disorders caused by external stress. Thirdly, adaptogens should not harm the normal functions of the human body.
The next was the Soviet scientist I.I. Brekhman, who studied ginseng in 1950. He expanded the concept of adaptogens as follows: drugs that perform functions similar to adaptogens can help the body maintain ideal homeostasis in adverse or stressful conditions.
Again, Brekhman and Dardymov in 1969 additionally determined plant adaptogens. According to this definition, plant adaptogens meet four criteria: first, plant adaptogens must reduce the harm caused by stressful conditions such as fatigue, infection, and depression; secondly, plant adaptogens should have a positive, stimulating effect on the human body; thirdly, unlike traditional stimulants, the excitatory effects caused by plant adaptogens should not cause side effects, such as insomnia, low protein synthesis or excessive energy consumption; fourthly, plant adaptogens should not harm the human body.
In the 1990s, a group of scientists consisting of Hildebert Wagner, George Wickmann and Alexander Panosyan conducted many studies on adaptogens. It proposed the following definition: adaptogens are natural bioregulators that increase the ability to adapt to environmental factors and avoid damage caused by these factors. The advantage of adaptogens is that they minimise the body’s reaction to stress, reducing adverse reactions during the anxiety phase and eliminating or at least reducing the onset of the depletion phase, which is part of the so-called general adaptation syndrome.
Thanks to continuous research conducted for more than half a century, the concept of adaptogens has continuously been modified and improved. In 1998, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defined the adaptogen as a new type of metabolic regulator that has been proven to help adapt to the environment and prevent external harm. An adaptogen is commonly used as a functional term.
American herbalist Jans thought that adaptogens could improve our ability to recognise, respond, and recover. He divided adaptogens into three categories, including primary and secondary adaptogens and adaptogen companions, based on his clinical experience. Primary adaptogens meet the traditional definition of adaptogens and satisfy specific criteria. The criteria include: numerous scientific studies have confirmed their adaptogenic properties, a guarantee of general resistance and nonspecific action in the human body, the preservation or restoration of homeostasis, as well as adverse or toxic effects after prolonged use.
Additionally, some accurate scientific experiments have shown that adaptogens can enhance the resistance of the human body to various external stimuli as non-specific regulators. Adaptogen function mainly due to exposure to the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system (HPA axis) in response to stimulation by external stress. Primary adaptogens can not only maintain or restore homeostasis and allostasis but can also contribute to the anabolic recovery. Primary adaptogens can cause a positive reaction to stress and associated hormonal expression. Primary adaptogens enhance the functioning of each system, promote an optimal response, help restore function and help regulate energy use, improving the purpose of the neuroendocrine system and improving cellular energy transfer, which can make the body use oxygen, glucose, lipids and proteins very efficiently, thus providing us constant supply of energy.
Another category of adaptogens is secondary adaptogens, which meet most of the traditional definitions of adaptogens, but not all the criteria for primary adaptogens. Secondary adaptogens cannot directly affect the HPA axis. However, these adaptogens can modify the immune, nervous and endocrine systems. Secondary adaptogens have several standard features. Firstly, these adaptogens usually affect the immune, nervous and endocrine systems; secondly, these adaptogens do not directly change the HPA axis; thirdly, these plant adaptogens include fatty acids, sterols, and phenols; fourthly, these substances can enhance anabolism. While secondary adaptogens may fit most of the qualifications of primary adaptogens, they have yet to be widely studied.
Another category is adaptogen companions, which may not meet all traditional standards, but may have a beneficial effect on the HPA axis and anabolism to support adaptogen functions. Although these types of medicinal plants have similar functions with the two other types of adaptogens mentioned above, these plants cannot formally be called an adaptogen. Thus, these plants are classified as adaptogen companions because they can act synergistically with the other two types of adaptogens mentioned above, thereby improving the action of adaptogens.
Studies have shown that adaptogens help to avoid the critical point when the body is unable to cope with "piled up" problems. The essence of their action is to help the body cope with stress, fatigue and the adverse effects of the environment.
Varieties of adaptogens
Of all the medicinal plants known to man, only a few are recognised as adaptogens, because by definition these herbs should contribute to an overall increase in health with a particular emphasis on reducing stress and they should have a high level of safety.
Each class of adaptogens has useful and healing properties inherent only to it.
In Chinese medicine, schizandra berries are considered unique because they have all five flavours: spicy, salty, bitter, sweet and sour. Although few people know about it, Chinese magnolia-vine is a powerful plant adaptogen, because it has a stabilising effect on the whole body.
It improves the liver and adrenal glands, physical and mental performance, protects against oxidative stress, increases cell energy, raising the level of nitric oxide in the body.
Schizandra has outstanding abilities to detoxify the liver and even treat chronic hepatitis. Since hair, skin and eyes are a reflection of liver health, schizandra is also an excellent choice for body beauty.
Antioxidant properties of five-flavour-fruit rejuvenate the skin, protecting the lipid membrane in the skin cells from oxidative damage, which is visually manifested in the reduction of wrinkles, strengthening of joints and healthy tissues.
Other benefits include treating pneumonia, gastrointestinal diseases, stomach ulcers, chronic gastritis, and reducing allergic reactions.
Tulsi is one of the healthiest herbs in India; it has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for more than 3000 years. In addition to its traditional use as a tonic, conventional Indian medicine recommends tulsi tea as an expectorant for bronchitis, as well as to relieve vomiting and other indigestion.
Modern herbalists use tulsi mainly to treat the nervous system, including strengthening memory, recovering from head injuries, and treating depression. Tulsi's immunostimulating properties are useful for treating allergies.
Sacred basil is used as a tonic, antioxidant, antiviral, carminative, diuretic and expectorant.
Tulsi is a member of the peppermint family. In addition to its calming properties, it has other advantages:
- Acne treatment. Tulsi is commonly used for skincare, especially in the treatment of acne. In 2006, the International Journal “Cosmetic Science” published the results of a study that evaluated the effectiveness of three different types of basil oils from Thailand.
After testing, they found antimicrobial properties, due to which 3% concentrated Tulsi essential oil was recognised as the most effective against bacteria that cause acne.
Researchers noted that the main compound in this oil is eugenol, the active ingredient also found in clove oil, which cures many skin diseases.
- Cancer Prevention. Holy basil can prevent cancer, as it contains significant immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory substances. They protect vital organs, relieve pain, stress and fever and make the body less susceptible to the development of cancer cells.
It is known that phytochemicals in this adaptogen prevent cancer of the oral cavity, liver, skin and lungs, increase antioxidant activity, cause the death of cancer cells and prevent the growth of blood vessels, which contributes to the growth of cells when metastases stop.
- It regulates sugar levels. Tulsi is a natural remedy for diabetes. Numerous studies have confirmed that it lowers and maintains healthy blood sugar levels.
For example, basil extract lowers sugar levels by more than 36% when normal and by 18% in rats with diabetes.
- It decreased cortisol levels. The hypoglycemic effect of tulsi is due to its ability to regulate cortisol levels. This stress hormone is the main reason for the astounding number of cases of diabetes, obesity, and decreased immune function. It negatively affects bone density, damages memory, and learning abilities.
This is not a plant, but a mushroom, which is also called the “immortality mushroom”, because it contributes to longevity. Reishi mushroom is an edible type of medicinal fungus that has been known for various healing abilities for thousands of years. It is incredibly anti-inflammatory, enhances immunity, and helps to cope with fatigue, heart diseases, respiratory diseases and liver diseases.
Numerous studies have proven its ability to enhance immunity. It increases the release of natural killer cells, which kill various types of mutated cells in the body, and also prevents the formation of internal blood clots.
Reishi mushroom can treat:
- pain infections;
- food allergy symptoms;
- digestive disorders, such as leaky gut syndrome;
- insomnia and other sleep disorders;
- anxiety and depression;
- stops the growth of tumours;
- fights HIV viruses and hepatitis.
Bacopa Monnieri, also known as Brahmi, is a perennial herbaceous creeping plant with small juicy leaves and small white or blue tubular or bell-shaped flowers that can grow in water. The plant has nootropic and neuroprotective properties, antioxidant and anticonvulsant activity, which can act as an analgesic.
- Classification. Bacopa Monnieri is a species of perennial herbaceous creeping plants of the genus Bacopa. The genus of aquatic plants of Bacopa includes another 70 to 100 different species. Among them, besides Bacopa Monnieri, Bacopa beautiful (Latin: Bacopa speciosa) is a prevalent decorative garden plant, notable for its long flowering and an abundance of elegant small white flowers. The genus Bacopa belongs to the family Plantain (lat. Plantaginaceae).
- Spread. Bacopa Monnieri can be found in marshy areas throughout India, and the plant also grows in China, Nepal, Pakistan, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Taiwan, Hawaii and other southern US states.
- Chemical composition. The chemical composition of plants is well-understood. It has been established that Bacopa Monnieri contains phenols, flavonoids, alkaloids, sterols, saponin derivatives - bacosides (bacogenins, juubogenins, pseudojubogenins), saponins (mountain, d-mannitol, her saponin). Luteolin, apigenin, her saponin, herpes, quercetin, glucoside beta-sitosterol and betulin acid were found in the Brahmi.
- Pharmacological properties. Bacopa Monnieri, known as Brahmi in Ayurveda, has been the subject of several scientific studies. In vitro bacopa, Monnier showed antioxidant activity. Animal studies have shown that Brahmi can increase cerebral circulation, activate the production of choline acetyltransferase and suppress acetylcholinesterase. Some studies have confirmed the suggestion that Bacopa can protect against neurodegenerative diseases. Biomedical studies of the effects of Bacopa Monnieri on people with cognitive personality disorders still have an insufficient evidence base. Still, scientists are confident that the plant has great potential in this area.
- Application in traditional medicine. Bacopa Monnieri has found full application in folk medicine. She is considered an effective remedy for depression, anxiety, headaches and nervous disorders. It is taken with a decrease in learning ability during severe mental stress. It is suggested that it can help children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Healers recommend Bacopa Monnier for epilepsy and seizures of nervous origin. The plant is used in the treatment of cough, tonsillitis, sinusitis and frontal sinusitis. It is believed that the grass helps to recover from traumatic brain injuries, strokes and heart attacks. Brahmi can act as a wound-healing agent. It is widely used in the treatment of ulcers, tumours, various skin diseases. It is drunk as an adaptogen and an immunostimulating agent.
Asian ginseng is the most famous adaptogen and the most powerful of 11 different varieties of ginseng. It has a light, fork-shaped root, a relatively long stem and oval-shaped green leaves.
American ginseng can not be used for medicinal purposes until he is six years old. This is a rather expensive acquisition, and due to over-harvesting, it is already in danger of extinction in the wild. Siberian ginseng has similar properties, but most studies relate to Asian ginseng.
What is Asian ginseng useful for?
- It improves heart function, lowers cholesterol, and its antihypertensive effect protects against heart failure. It prevents many heart diseases.
- It reduces the risk of stroke. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of ginseng prevent the death of neurons in stroke.
- Treatment of erectile dysfunction. In 2008, South Korea proved that ginseng helps treat erectile dysfunction. It enhances the sexual activity and increases sperm production.
- It also improves mental abilities. One study at a medical centre in Maryland shows that Asian ginseng improves performance by indicators such as oral arithmetic, concentration, and memory.
- It reduces colds. It is known that ginseng stimulates the immune system, so those who take it are usually less likely to get sick, and if they do, the recovery occurs faster.
For proof, we present the results of one experiment. Participants who took 400 mg of ginseng per day for four months during the flu season reported a reduction in colds and milder symptoms. Of the ginseng group, 10% reported having two or more colds during the winter, compared to 23% of the placebo group. Additionally, the common cold lasted about 11 days in the ginseng group and 16.5 days in the placebo group.
Tree of life
The Crassula, known as the money tree or living tree, belongs to the family Crassulaceae. Only this genus has up to 350 species, most of which grow in South and Tropical Africa, as well as in Madagascar. Moreover, its medicinal properties are known almost all over the world.
An ornamental plant that can be found at home is also called Crassula ovata. It is a squat tree with a hard trunk and oval fleshy leaves. It is believed that it not only attracts money to the house but also predicts quick wealth if it blooms. Few, however, know that the Crassula blooms quite rarely.
In addition to mystical properties, this plant also has healing properties, not inferior to the "home doctor" of aloe in them.
The benefit of the tree of life
The composition of the money tree includes a large number of useful trace elements and volatile oils that allow the use of medicinal properties in several diseases. Most often, the medicinal properties of a fat woman are used as an antibacterial and antiviral drug. It is used:
- When wounds, insect bites and their disinfection heal, the juice of the plant also prevents the appearance of oedema and eliminates itching;
- To combat herpes, corns and corns;
- To relieve attacks of varicose veins, arthritis, arthrosis, haemorrhoids, and gout;
- For diseases of the throat and severe cough;
- It can be used for stomach and duodenal ulcers.
It’s not just for Feng Shui fans who love Crassula or the tree of life, who believe that broad leaves can absorb unfavourable energy at home. It is often used in folk medicine along with aloe and other plants.
Peruvian ginseng root similar to a turnip. This is an adaptogen from the mountains of Peru, from which its name came from. However, this is far from being a relative of ginseng. Peruvian maca is a biennial herb belonging to the family of cruciferous vegetables, like turnips, mustard, and cabbage.
The Incas believe that the Maca root gives courage and strength to soldiers, and also enhances libido.
Maca’s root has been a staple of Andean cuisine for over thousands of years, so Peruvian ginseng is safe to eat. It is usually fried or boiled before use. Flour from the root is used for baking bread and pancakes. Leaves are eaten like vegetables.
Maca is usually available at stores in the form of a powder that athletes use to increase stamina, alleviate stress, and improve mood. And plant hormones help reduce the symptoms of PMS and other problems that occur during menopause.
Shatavari is a creeping plant, up to two meters tall, that grows everywhere in India and the Himalayas and prefers mountainous and rocky terrain. In addition to India, it grows in South Asia, Australia and parts of Africa.
It has small shiny dark green leaves resembling coniferous needles, white flowers and black-purple berries.
Shatavari has been used in Ayurvedic and Tibetan medicine since ancient times. It affects all body tissues, stimulates the digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular, reproductive systems. In medicine, leaves and, mainly, the roots of the plant are used.
It contains proteins, alkaloids, saponins, tannins, bioflavonoids, vitamin B, calcium and zinc. The alkaloid Shatavari I-V supports the body's natural production of estrogen.
Shatavari has antioxidant, antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, emollient, astringent and antispasmodic properties.
The composition and properties of Shatavari
Shatavari is a natural and safe (provided that it is used correctly) medicine, in which an incredible amount of precious substances is concentrated. This plant contains components that cannot be created under laboratory conditions.
Here is just a part of the Shatavari:
- Bioflavonoids. They are considered a natural antioxidant that can slow down premature ageing
- Proteins are the primary building material of all cells and tissues of the body
- Steroid glycosides
- Asparagine. This substance has a beneficial effect on the state of blood vessels and the heart, strengthening them and making them more resistant to the impact of negative factors
- Phytosterols. They help to establish the work of hormonal and reproductive systems
- Phytoestrogens. They help to balance hormonal balance and thereby treat diseases caused by hormonal disorders
- B vitamins also called "beauty vitamins."
When using Shatavari, you can count on the complex effect of the reception.
The tool has the following properties:
- It helps to eliminate malfunctions of the menstrual cycle, normalise it;
- Due to the content of natural hormones, it can be used after surgical removal of the uterus, as well as for the prevention of the formation of tumours.
- During menopause or PMS, it smooths out unpleasant symptoms. It acts as an effective painkiller. Compared to synthetic drugs, which have a very negative effect on the state of specific organs (especially the gastric mucosa), Shatavari is safe in this regard.
- It activates the ovum, which helps pregnancy faster. Shatavari is a famous Ayurvedic treatment for infertility.
- Counteracts the occurrence of spontaneous miscarriage.
- If a person has muscle cramps, myalgia, or joint mobility is impaired, Shatavari should help.
- It is similar to that of an aphrodisiac. It enhances sexual desire and makes it possible to get even more pleasure from intimate relationships.
- It helps stop bleeding due to coagulation properties.
- It acts as an antiseptic, cleanses the genital tract from pathogenic microflora, and eliminates vaginal dryness.
- Increases breast milk volume.
- Normalises fluid balance in the body. It helps very well with diarrhoea and prevents dehydration.
- Activates blood formation processes.
- Soothes relieve bodily, and psycho-emotional stress increases stress resistance.
- Strengthens the nervous system, replenishes vital energy, inspires, gives strength to new achievements.
- Eliminates oedema, removes excess fluid from tissues.
This is not the whole range of Shatavari action. The drug in the form of a powder is used in cosmetology, making masks based on its extract. Also, infusions and decoctions are prepared directly from this plant, which can be used not only to saturate the body with valuable substances from the inside but also to achieve a faster external effect. With the help of Shatavari, the condition of the skin and its colour improves, wrinkles are smoothed out, wounds heal, rashes are eliminated. The plant is also able to provide a powerful antibacterial and disinfectant, so it helps fight serious skin infections.
It is a powerful herb in Ayurvedic treatments, also known as Indian Ginseng. In eastern medicine, it has been used for over a thousand years.
Some benefits of ashwagandha:
- Improves mood, relieves anxiety due to lower levels of cortisol;
- Prevents cancer;
- Increases sexual desire;
- Supports the female body during menopause;
- Improves memory.
One 2012 study showed that menopausal women experience significant improvement in their general symptoms, such as irritability, anxiety, and hot flashes, after taking this herb.
Ashwagandha is good for the brain because it contains antioxidants that destroy free radicals.
Antioxidants such as vitamin E, C, and beta-carotene can cleanse the body of free radicals with the progression of Alzheimer's disease. Ashwagandha has more effective lipid oxidation than commercial antioxidants.
Astragalus is a plant from the family of beans or legumes, with a long history of using it as a means to strengthen the immune system and fight diseases.
It is one of the essential plants that have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years as an adaptogen and anti-stress component.
The only part of astragalus used for medicinal purposes is its root, which is taken from 4-year-old plants. For the treatment of diseases, the root segments of only two types of astragalus (membranaceus and Mongolians) from more than 2,000 of its varieties are suitable.
Astragalus contains three components that allow it to have such a positive effect on human health: saponins, flavonoids and polysaccharides, which are active compounds also found in certain plants, including some fruits and vegetables.
Saponins are known for their ability to lower cholesterol, increase the activity of the immune system and prevent cancer.
Flavonoids found in astragalus provide increased health through a cellular signalling system. They have antioxidant properties, free the body from free radicals and control their level, and can also help prevent the occurrence of heart disease, oncology and disorders caused by the immunodeficiency virus.
It is known that polysaccharides have antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, among other features that are incredibly beneficial for health.
Useful properties of astragalus
Today, the healing properties of astragalus are used to treat many different disorders and diseases.
In traditional Chinese medicine, astragalus is referred to as a means of protecting a person from the effects of stress, both physical and mental. Astragalus has a positive effect on the outcome of many disorders, as well as on the functions of several systems of our body.
In general, the most potent effect of astragalus is its ability to prevent cell death, protecting them from the impact of various harmful elements and negative processes, such as free radicals and oxidation.
According to current scientific research, astragalus includes the following health benefits:
- Acts as an anti-inflammatory;
- Strengthens the immune system;
- Slows or prevents tumour growth;
- Protects cardiovascular health;
- Regulates and prevents the development of diabetes and its complications;
- It has antioxidant and anti-ageing properties;
- Speeds up wound healing;
- Facilitates the side effects of chemotherapy;
- Treats colds and flu;
- It helps treat chronic asthma.
There is also evidence that astragalus can successfully:
- Prevent collagen degradation;
- Contribute to the restoration of lung tissue affected by bronchopulmonary dysplasia in newborns;
- Inhibit the herpes simplex virus of the first type;
- Prevent the replication of viruses such as Coxsackie B-3, a virus that causes disorders ranging from mild stomach upset to severe heart disease complications;
- To cure inflammation associated with allergic dermatitis (an allergic reaction that occurs on the skin);
- Participate in the treatment of hepatitis by inhibiting hepatitis B virus cells in the liver;
- Treat HIV-infected patients by protecting T-helper cells and helping them fight the virus for much longer;
- They are used as a mild diuretic.
Astragalus root belongs to adaptogens and has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine as a medicine for various diseases.
There are several ways to use a medicinal plant; from herbal tea with astragalus to topical cream containing astragalus. Moreover, astragalus can be included in various recipes.
Centella Asiatica (she is also Gotha Koru or tiger grass) is a herbaceous flowering plant, a species of the genus Centella of the Umbrella family (Apiaceae).
The plant is widespread in Asia and Australia, used as a food and medicinal plant.
Centella Asiatica is common in Sri Lanka, in India, Northern Australia, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Melanesia and Papua New Guinea. It grows mainly in humid lowlands and along ditches.
Pharmacological properties and use in medicine
The main thing you need to know about Centella is one of the few safe, natural antioxidants, whose effect when applied externally is scientifically proven.
Centella perfectly heals wounds, has anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing effects. It stimulates the synthesis of type I and type III collagen, which is less and less produced in the skin with age.
Cosmetics with Centella entirely remove irritation, make the skin more elastic, fight free radicals and weaken the effects of UV rays.
Centella Asiatica is known as the most crucial anti-ageing agent in Ayurvedic medicine. According to the treatment methods adopted in it, this is the primary tool for stimulating and strengthening nerve and brain cells. Doctors believe that it improves intelligence, improves memory, increases life expectancy, slows down ageing and gives strength in old age. The use of preparations from Centella strengthens the immune system, cleansing and nourishing it, and also increases the adrenal glands. At the same time, it is a potent blood purifier with a specific effect in chronic skin diseases, including leprosy and syphilis, eczema and psoriasis. The plant is effective for intermittent and intermittent fevers, such as malaria. In the form of a milk broth, it serves as an excellent tonic for the nervous system.
In Southeast Asia, Centella is used as a stimulant and tonic to improve metabolism in bronchitis, bronchial asthma, and tuberculosis. The plant is included in the Pharmacopoeia of India and the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, is used as a diuretic, antiseptic, laxative, antirheumatic agent and in dermatology. In Madagascar, it is used to treat leprosy and tuberculosis.
In Vietnamese medicine, for the treatment of colds, fevers, headaches, Centella grass is taken in the form of a decoction. For the treatment of abdominal pain, diarrhoea, dysentery, nephrolithiasis, urolithiasis, plant juice is taken with dysmenorrhea and lumbago - dry powder from a plant.
Centella Asiatica, as a medicinal plant, is gradually gaining more and more popularity in different countries. It is widely used both in mono-and complex preparations for strengthening the nervous system, with haemorrhoids, varicose veins, cellulite, cervical dysplasia, periodontitis, obesity, memory impairment and other intellectual functions, encephalopathy (including perinatal). Centella is used as a prophylactic for senile dementia, for rehabilitation after traumatic brain injuries, neuro-emotional disorders, with hypertension, lymphocytosis, calf seizures, and leg fatigue. It is believed that it is effective in various skin injuries (wounds, ulcers, burns, etc., including after surgery), trophic ulcers, scleroderma, uterine circulation disorders and fetal hypoxia during pregnancy.
At the word "licorice" most people recall black, viscous sweets. In ancient Egypt, Greece, India and China, this was one of the most important plants.
Licorice is a relative of beans and lentils. The most amazing property of this plant is its sweetness. It is 50 times sweeter than sugar. The Chinese call it Gan Cao (sweet root). The name "licorice" is a distorted transcription of the Greek word glycyrrhiza, which also translates as "sweet root."
It is part of many traditional herbal formulas because it neutralizes the unpleasant taste of other medicinal plants.
According to Chinese herbalists, a small amount of licorice increases the effectiveness of the formula, reduces the toxic effects of other herbs and prevents possible side effects.
- Anti-inflammatory effect
The main negative property of sugar is that it provokes inflammation. Licorice, despite its sweet taste, has been used for centuries against inflammation and the treatment of irritated mucous membranes. Licorice helps with diseases of the digestive tract: stomach ulcer, leaky gut syndrome, hepatitis and acid reflux.
Licorice also helps with pneumonia. It is a common component of natural cough syrups. In June 2003, Lancet magazine wrote that it suppresses the SARS virus.
Another property of this plant is the neutralisation or reduction of toxic effects. Licorice removes the toxic effects of aspirin, strychnine, cocaine, caffeine, tobacco and other substances.
- Plant for hormonal balance
Licorice normalises the work of the adrenal glands - tiny glands located on the kidneys that produce substances that regulate the response to stress.
This is one of the best plants for treating adrenal gland disorders, for example, Addison’s disease (a condition where the adrenal glands do not produce enough hormones) and polycystic ovary syndrome, which are characterised by elevated levels of male hormones in women.
Licorice is used in the treatment of steroid dependence, PMS and other hormonal ailments. It boosts immunity.
Recent studies have shown that licorice is useful in treating prostate and breast cancer.
- Safe use
Licorice is an adaptogen. It helps the body adapt to stress. Unlike other adaptogens (ginseng, ashwagandha and poppy), which are taken in large doses for a long time, licorice should not be abused.
Licorice, which gives liquorice a sweet taste, in large doses causes unpleasant and dangerous side effects. Licorice increases blood pressure and removes potassium from the body. Therefore, people suffering from oedema, liver and heart disease, you need to consult a doctor before taking licorice.
Low salt intake and high potassium intake reduce these side effects. In parallel with licorice, it is better to use avocados, coconut water and other foods rich in potassium.
To reduce side effects and increase the effectiveness of licorice, an additive has been created from which most of the licorice (DGL) has been removed. However, licorice also has useful properties, so many physiotherapists prefer to use natural licorice root extract rather than DGL.
Licorice is available in the form of medicine and capsules, and tea is also made from it.
Rosemary is an eternally green shrub plant, the leaves and twigs of which are widely used in cooking, traditional medicine, and cosmetology.
This plant is better known as a spice, but it is also a powerful adaptogen.
Rosemary is a semi-shrub type of plant. Twigs are long, and the leaves are needle-shaped. On the one hand, they are emerald in colour, and on the reverse, they have a silver-white hue. The leaves are dense and elastic to the touch.
Rosemary is saturated with a vast amount of vitamins, antioxidants, minerals. Therefore, this seasoning is called medicinal for a reason.
The composition includes:
The content of vitamins PP, B, A, C is noted in rosemary. Also, this seasoning has useful dietary fibre, ashes, essential oils.
The following positive properties of rosemary are noted:
- Relieves inflammation, has a mild antiseptic effect;
- Active with antibacterial, antiviral prophylaxis;
- Moisturises and tones the skin, mucous membranes;
- It softens pain in the oral cavity during inflammatory processes (stomatitis, pharyngitis, tonsillitis);
- It relaxes the nervous system and eliminates insomnia;
- It stabilises the cycle in women, helps eliminate cramping, and pain during critical days;
- It has a beneficial effect on the hematopoietic system;
- Effective in stabilising male sexual function.
In folk medicine, rosemary leaves and shoots are used. Now, based on this plant, many combined preparations are made. The easiest way to add to dishes as a seasoning, one should brew it like tea. In addition, rosemary essential oil is widely used in cosmetology.
Milk Thistle is a medicinal and ornamental plant in the aster family. This is an annual or biennial tall plant (about 1.5 m) with variegated decorative leaves.
Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) comes from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, from where it spread throughout the globe.
In the last century, the biochemical composition of spotted milk thistle was determined at the Munich Institute of Pharmacy. It turned out that it contains a rare biologically active substance silymarin, as well as many other medicinal components (a total of about 200 valuable parts).
Various thistles have been treated since ancient times, moreover, the most severe illnesses, and very successfully. It is considered a healing plant in the treatment of liver diseases: cirrhosis, jaundice, its damage from alcohol, drugs, toxins, radiation. Milk Thistle is also used in the treatment of cholecystitis, inflammation of the bile ducts and cholelithiasis, diseases of the spleen, thyroid gland, blood, salt deposits, veins, oedema, dropsy, obesity, radiculitis and joint pain, haemorrhoids, allergic diseases.
In dermatology, milk thistle is used to treat vitiligo, psoriasis, baldness, and blackheads. In folk herbal medicine, a decoction of the roots of milk thistle is used for toothache in the form of rinses, with diarrhoea, urinary retention, radiculitis and seizures.
Juice from its leaves is drunk with constipation, inflammation of the colon and gastric mucosa. Milk Thistle seed flour lowers blood sugar, cleans even slowly slagged blood, and helps cure varicose veins.
Milk Thistle is useful not only to sick but also to healthy people: its use increases the ability of the liver to cleanse the body of toxins. It's a significant property that it has no contraindications and side effects.
Not everyone has heard of such a plant, but Chinese medicine for centuries simply can not imagine itself without it. It is a codonopsis shorthaired (Codonopsis pilosula). This plant is widely used in Chinese and Korean medicine. It is considered a substitute for ginseng, for which he is called the ginseng of the poor. This perennial herb of the Campanulaceae family lives wild only in the Far East.
Codonopsis grows among bushes, in forest glades, edges, along the banks of ponds in small groups. Its root is thick, like a radish, about 1.5 cm in diameter. The leaves on both sides are densely covered with tiny hairs. The flowers are yellowish with a purple tint and the same dark specks.
The roots contain carbohydrates, sterols, including (3-sitosterol, triterpene saponins, coumarins, lipids. The grass contains flavonoids.
As a medicinal raw material, mainly roots, but sometimes grass, are used. The roots are dug up in the fall after the stems have dried. They are not washed, but dried in the sun, after which they shake off the remaining earth. And then the raw materials are dried in the attic or the dryer. The grass is harvested during flowering.
Codonopsis increases the number of red blood cells and the amount of haemoglobin in them but reduces the number of leukocytes. It lowers blood pressure, while many other adaptogens increase it and therefore are contraindicated in hypertension. In addition, it increases the body's resistance to stress - the positive results of treatment with codonopsis of impotence caused by atherosclerosis and nephritis. A decoction of the roots is used to restore the body after severe illness and stress, especially accompanied by increased pressure.
Acting more gently than ginseng, it reduces the production of adrenaline. In addition, it is used for general physical and mental fatigue and digestive problems. Sometimes Chinese doctors prescribe it as a milk product for nursing mothers. It is useful as an expectorant.
In addition to codonopsis of shaggy, Chinese medicine uses codonopsis of Ussuri and lanceolate, mainly as a tonic and anti-ageing agent.
Rhodiola Rosea (Arctic root, pink root, golden root and king root) is the most effective and versatile representative of the elite class of medicinal plants called adaptogens. This is a wild plant growing at high altitudes from 2400-300 m above sea level in the mountains of Siberia, Georgia and Scandinavia. For centuries, people living at these heights have collected the roots of this plant and used them to survive in harsh conditions. Extracts of this plant were used to treat infections and increase energy and physical strength, improve brain function, fertility and sexual function.
Today, due to the growing demand for adaptogens, the wild-growing Rhodiola Rosea is a protected species. The plant began to be actively cultivated in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.
Benefits and effects of Rhodiola:
- Many bioactive compounds.
Rhodiola Rosea root contains dozens of bioactive compounds that have an individual and synergistic effect, for example, antioxidant, antidepressant or reducing fatigue. Genomic studies show that a single dose of Rhodiola Rosea extract can affect the activity of over 800 genes.
- Increasing and conserving energy - reducing tiredness.
Unlike synthetic drug stimulants, Rhodiola Rosea increases energy levels gradually. The effect lasts about 8 hours, then the energy level gradually decreases. As a result, Rhodiola does not cause addiction or withdrawal.
In general, Rhodiola Rosea increases the ability of cells to produce high-energy molecules. As a result, many types of cells - muscle cells, neurons, etc. receive enough energy to continue to function normally for a longer time. Moreover, the cells have enough power to maintain the mechanisms of cellular recovery. In addition, Rhodiola Rosea protects cells from oxidative damage, toxins, hypothermia or overheating, infections, low oxygen levels and other forms of stress.
Rhodiola Rosea can help reduce fatigue caused by many different causes, including fatigue due to stress, overwork, illness, sleep deprivation, and ageing.
- Get smarter in a natural way.
Many studies have shown that Rhodiola Rosea can improve cognitive function, memory, and mental performance, especially under stressful conditions. For example, participants in randomised controlled trials (RCTs) who took Rhodiola Rosea made fewer errors compared with those given a placebo. In addition, with an increase in the duration of testing over many hours, the difference in working capacity became even higher, which means that subjects taking Rhodiola were able to maintain a higher level of working capacity without mental exhaustion for up to 8 hours.
- Mood improvement.
Rhodiola Rosea can be used to treat mild to moderate forms of depression, especially the type of depression in which a person feels tired and lethargic. In addition, Rhodiola can be taken as an adjuvant to improve the response to prescription antidepressant therapy. Only about 30% of people taking prescription antidepressants reach complete remission. Most patients have only a partial improvement, sometimes residual symptoms persist. In many cases, it may be helpful to add pink Rhodiola to the diet.
- Altitude sickness.
Rhodiola Rosea has been used for centuries by residents of the mountains to maintain strength and endurance. Studies show that Rhodiola improves the ability of animals to adapt to low oxygen environments. In our clinical practice, we have found that people travelling to high altitude areas can prevent the onset of symptoms of altitude sickness by taking Rhodiola before and during the trip.
On trips with a change of time zones, many have jet lag. Receiving Rhodiola Rosea in the morning upon arrival at your destination and over the next few days may shorten the period for adapting to another time zone.
- Reproductive function.
In traditional folk medicine, Rhodiola Rosea has been used to increase fertility in men and women.
In one small study, a Russian gynaecologist found that about 50% of women with amenorrhea (lack of menstrual cycles) who took Rhodiola Rosea recovered normal menstruation, and about a half of these women were able to get pregnant.
Fertility declines around the world, which may be caused by chemical pollutants in the environment and food. In addition, in many countries, people postpone conception, giving birth to children over the age of 30. Fertility decreases with age in both men and women.
Siberian ginseng cannot be considered true ginseng. This shrub grows in China and Russia. Chinese healers appreciate it because it has adaptogenic properties and has a strong reputation as an energy accelerator.
Iowa University conducted a study in which patients were suffering from chronic fatigue participated. After taking Eleutherococcus for two months, participants reported that they had become much more active.
Other proven benefits of Siberian ginseng:
- powerful antiviral effect;
- heart health support;
- lower levels of triglycerides, cholesterol and blood sugar;
- normalisation of heart rhythms.
Many herbalists prescribe Eleutherococcus to relieve chronic stress and stress-related conditions. Equally suitable for both men and women, especially older people.
Eleutherococcus is an excellent adaptogen for athletes because it increases stamina, shortens recovery time and protects the immune system during training.
However, if taking large doses, such side effects are possible: headache, drowsiness and insomnia and anxiety. Those with fever or hypertension, as well as pregnant and lactating mothers, should avoid Siberian ginseng.
Aloe Vera is a succulent plant, belonging to the family of Liliaceae (Liliaceae) along with garlic and onions. It is used for various healing purposes, both internally and externally.
Aloe contains more than 200 active ingredients, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, polysaccharides, and fatty acids - it is not surprising that it is used for a wide range of ailments. The stem of Aloe Vera is a jelly-like texture consisting of approximately 99% water. Man has been using it for therapeutic purposes for over 5000 years.
The list of healing effects of this wonderful plant is endless. Here are some of them:
- Improves digestion. Just as aloe vera soothes the skin, it has an anti-inflammatory effect on the stomach and intestines. It can help get rid of heartburn, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome. By the way, this juice also increases the number of beneficial bacteria in the intestines.
- Increases immunity. If you include aloe vera juice in your diet, you can get a portion of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and amino acids that help strengthen the immune system. Aloe vera is also considered one of the best means to maintain acid-base balance. This means that the plant reduces the inflammatory processes in the body.
- Promotes heart health. There are several ways to improve heart health with aloe vera. Firstly, the polyphenols found in the plant reduce the risk of heart disease. Secondly, regular consumption of aloe vera juice lowers cholesterol, lowers high blood pressure and improves blood circulation.
- Improves the functioning of the liver. Aloe vera is a cocktail of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, as well as an excellent detoxifier. It contains a large number of trace elements that affect the cleansing and harmonious functioning of the body.
- Normalises weight. Since aloe vera juice improves digestion and triggers detoxification mechanisms, it helps maintain a healthy weight. When organs function optimally, the body is more easily released from toxins, and the energy level increases - this gives a severe impulse to metabolism.
- Reduces stress. Not only does the body receive bonuses from consuming aloe vera juice. Mental health also takes part in the universal “fun." Aloe vera is an adaptogen, which means the body adapts to stress. If you drink a glass a day, you can feel how your mood will become more stable, the nerves will calm down, and the problems will not cause feelings of anxiety.
- Cleanses the skin. Everyone knows that aloe vera is the saviour of our skin. However, the healing effect is not the only benefit aloe vera has to offer. The antioxidants found in the plant successfully fight free radicals, which play a crucial role in the ageing process. Aloe vera juice also contains natural hormones that promote the growth of new cells and the production of collagen.
Advantages and disadvantages of adaptogens.
Already both time and science have proved the effectiveness of adaptogens - a positive effect on the body through exposure to the endocrine, nervous and immune systems.
Among the effects that can be achieved by the use of adaptogens, the following are distinguished:
- increased performance, physical endurance;
- reduction in recovery time after intense training;
- improving heart function;
- enhanced protein synthesis;
- the body's resistance to temperature changes, change of time zones.
However, despite an extensive list of advantages, adaptogens have contraindications and side effects.
Contraindications and side effects:
Contraindications for taking adaptogens are:
- Insomnia and irritability of the nervous system;
- Myocardial infarction in the acute phase and high blood pressure;
- Use by children;
- Use by pregnant and breastfeeding women;
- Acute infectious diseases, high fever.
Regarding side effects, plant adaptogens have practically none. They do not give a toxic effect even in large doses. Rare but possible side effects include:
- Allergic reactions and individual intolerance;
- Increased tone of the myometrium.
All these side effects are reversible, which means that they disappear after taking the adaptogent.
- Natural preparations should be taken in the morning, as they can cause insomnia. A slight increase in body temperature is also possible - therefore, it is necessary to take adaptogens with caution in the summer. Individual intolerance includes loss of appetite, allergies, itching, headaches.
- Adaptogens are taken in courses of no longer than 1.5 months. They can be addictive, and the body will cease to protect itself on its own. If you are engaged in power sports, then the dosage of adaptogen needs to be increased - by 20%. Before use, consult a doctor.
- As a rule, take drugs two times a day in equal doses. It is essential to drink plenty of water, regardless of their form of release.
Currently, studies have confirmed that the following plants are true adaptogens: Schizandra, Holy basil, Reishi mushroom, Bacopa, Ginseng, Tree of life, Maca, Shatavari, Ashwagandha, Gotu kola, Licorice, Astragalus, Eleuthero, Rosemary, Milk thistle, Codonopsis, Rhodiola and Aloe vera.
Based on the results of some studies, it can be concluded that more and more studies focus on this area over the past ten years, and from 1999 to 2018, it shows an increasing trend, and this indicates that it is still a right direction to explore. In addition, many published articles focus on pharmacology, pharmaceuticals, biochemistry, molecular biology, plant sciences, and agriculture. It is still worthwhile to show its historical development and find out the relationship between the adaptogen, tonics and ginseng-like herbs all over the world, which can provide a hint for further studies of the adaptogen of plant origin. Summarising the results of all studies devoted to understanding the term “adaptogen” and its effect on the human body, we can draw the appropriate conclusion. In essence, adaptogens are herbs that can help the human body to withstand environmental stress to maintain homeostasis without intoxication.