What are adaptogens?

Tempo de Leitura: 2 minutos

Adaptogens are pharmacologically active compounds or plant extracts of different plant classes (for example: Araliaceae—Panax ginseng, Eleutherococcus senticosus, Asteraceae—Rhaponticum carthamoides, Crassulaceae—Rhodiola rosea, and Schisandraceae—Schisandra chinensis). They have the ability to increase body stability against physical loads without increasing oxygen consumption. The intake of adaptogens is associated not only with the body’s better ability to adapt to stress and maintain/normalize metabolic functions, but also with better mental and physical performance.

Classes of adaptogens

There are two main classes of adaptogens. The first class includes plant adaptogens, while the other includes synthetic adaptogens, also called protective acts. Although plant adaptogens have been used by people since ancient times, the term “adaptogen” is relatively new – it was introduced in 1947 by Soviet scientist Lazarev. It defines adaptogens as substances that cause non-specific resistance of living organisms.

Biological effects and mechanism of action

The biological effects of plant adaptogens are related to the complex of biologically active compounds they contain. Plant adaptogens have a very rich phytochemical composition. Some of the most important phytochemicals with adaptogenic properties are: triterpenoid saponins (in Panax ginseng — ginsenosides; in Eleutherococcus senticosus — eleuterosides); phytosterols and ecisone (in Rhaponticum carthamoides); lignanas (in Schisandra chinensis); Alkaloids; flavonoids, vitamins, etc.

The mechanism of action of plant adaptogens is complex and not fully understood. Recent studies report that the intake of plant adaptogens such as eleutherococcus senticosus root extracts, Schisandra chinensis root, Rhodiola rosea root affect the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and some stress mediators. In addition, the intake of such extracts affects the levels of nitric oxide, lactate, blood glucose, cortisol, plasma lipid profile, liver enzymes, among others. The current and potential uses of these medicinal plants are associated with mental illnesses and behavioral disorders, cognitive functions and stress-induced diseases (anxiety, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes). In addition, the intake of plant adaptogens is not associated with serious side effects.


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Article: AdaptogensTodorova V, Ivanov K, Delattre C, Nalbantova V, Karcheva-Bahchevanska D, Ivanova S. Plant Adaptogens-History and Future Perspectives. Nutrients

. 2021;13(8):2861. Published 2021 Aug 20. Doi:10.3390/nu13082861

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