by Dr. Paul Jaconello
Doctor Jaconello is the Medical Director of the Jaconello Health Centre for Nutritional and Preventive Medicine
What is an adaptogen? This term was coined by the Russian investigator, N.V. Lazarev in 1947 who found that certain chemical compounds produced a state of non-specifically increasing resistance of an organism, which he named adaptogens. These compounds improve the ability of the individual to respond to stress.
In fact, the use of plant medicinal substances have been used as adaptogenic functional agents as far back as 1000 years ago and were described in Russia, China, India, Polynesia, North America and Africa.
An adaptogen must possess three qualities: it must be safe, have a balancing effect irrespective of the direction of pathology of too much or too little and must exert a non-specific action on increasing the organism’s response to stress.
Medicinal plants extracts that have adaptogenic properties have multiple effects on many different functions including modification of secretion of hormones receptor site activity, metabolism and detoxification which have an impact on the neuroendocrine/immune systems with a consequential increase of performance. These plants include Panax ginseng, Siberian ginseng, Ashwagandha (Indian ginseng), Rhodeola (Artic Root) and Cerdyceps (Caterpillar fungus).
Panax ginseng helps to normalize stress-induced symptoms, increase response to heavy exercise, reduce fatigue and normalize blood pressure. It also can enhance immunity, better reaction time and improve abstract thinking. In clinical medicine, it can be used as an adrenal supporting agent, improve blood sugar control in the diabetic and help relieve fatigue and improve stress induce depression. Many individuals who use Panax ginseng state they have a better state of wellbeing.
Siberian ginseng has completely different chemical constituents than Panax. It has the same find of clinical applications such as in adrenal supportive therapy and management of stress and fatigue. Because of its immune system enhancing activity, Siberian ginseng can have a beneficial effect in the management of chronic fatigue syndrome. It also improves the ability to enhance athletic performance (more so than Panax ginseng).
Indian ginseng appears to be active in improving resistance to exercise-induced stress, has antioxidant properties and has regulating effects on adrenal gland activity.
Rhodeola enhances memorization and concentration over prolonged work periods. It also has cardio protective and stress adaptogenic effects. It has been shown to reduce stress-induced fatigue and improve mental performance in healthy physicians and prevent fatigue induced by the stress of examinations. Cordyceps can normalize immune function and support kidney, lung, liver, immune, nervous system and cardiovascular function.
The appropriate use of these botanical medicines provides a wide range of effects on clinical and human function and with their low toxicity and adaptogenic properties provide a welcome benefit not seen using single molecules for single out come variables.
Paul Jaconello, M.D.
Doctor Jaconello is the Medical Director of the Jaconello Health Centre for Nutritional and Preventive Medicine.
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