Adaptogens restore & normalise physiological functions in the event of stress. Adaptogens specifically help our bodies adapt to changes in what is known as our circadian rhythm or body clock due to seasonal changes, shift work and crossing time zones. They prevent the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Rhodiola / Hong Jin Tian 红景天 Rhodiola rosea, Siberian ginseng / Ci Wu Jia 刺五加 Eletherococcus senticosus, Gotu cola / Indian Brahmi / Beng Da Wang 崩大碗 Centella asiatica, Withania / Ashwagandha / Indian ginseng / Shui Qie 睡茄 Withania somnifera, Tulsi/ Holy Basil Ocimum sanctum
- Adrenal exhaustion
- Depression / Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Memory enhancer
- Performance enhancer
- Lowers cortisol levels during times of stress
- Boosts immunity
- Increase energy levels
- Improve resistance to stress
- Improve concentration
- Improves the symptoms of SAD
Rhodiola Rhodiola rosea– Rhodiola is an adaptogen, antidepressant, anticancer, anti-TB. Cardioprotective and stomachic and central nervous system enhancement. It is a popular plant in traditional medical systems in Eastern Europe and Asia with a reputation for stimulating the nervous system, decreasing depression, enhancing work performance, eliminating fatigue, and preventing high altitude sickness. Rhodiola rosea may be effective for improving mood and alleviating depression. Pilot studies on human subjects showed that it improves physical and mental performance, and may reduce fatigue. Rhodiola optimises serotonin and dopamine levels due to monoamine oxidase inhibition and its influence on opioid peptides such as beta-endorphins. Studies have shown that use of this herb can increase brain serotonin by up to 30%.
Rhodiola has been categorised as an adaptogen by Russian researchers due to its observed ability to increase resistance to a variety of chemical, biological, and physical stressors. Research indicates Rhodiola useful in treating aesthenic conditions Research also indicates great utility in asthenic conditions () developing subsequent to intense physical or intellectual strain. (pertaining to a condition of weakness, feebleness, or loss of vitality and can include decline in work performance, sleep difficulties, poor appetite, irritability, hypertension, headaches, and fatigue) developing subsequent to intense physical or intellectual strain. The adaptogenic, cardiopulmonary protective and central nervous system activities of Rhodiola rosea have been attributed primarily to its ability to influence levels and activity of monoamines and opioid peptides such as beta-endorphins. Used by the Russians and Scandinavians for more than 35 years, rhodiola has been shown to be useful in these high latitude countries to combat the negative effects of lack of sunlight and SAD. In Russia and Scandinavia, Rhodiola has been used for centuries to cope with the cold Siberian climate and stressful life.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Rhodiola is known as Hong Jin Tian 红景天. Hong Jin Tian is said to be sweet, tart and cold and to enter the spleen, stomach, lung and heart meridians. Rhodiola tonifies Qi to correct Qi deficiency, tonifies the lungs; benefits the brain and mood; arrests bleeding; dissolves blood stasis and eliminates swellings. It is indicated for Qi deficiency with weak body, feeling cold after sickness, shortness of breath and weakness. It is also used to treat coughing up blood, pneumonia, erectile dysfunction and leucorrhoea in women.
Siberian ginseng Eletherococcus senticosus – Siberian ginseng has been used for centuries in Eastern countries, including China and Russia. Prized for its ability to restore vigour, increase longevity, enhance overall health, and stimulate both a healthy appetite and a good memory, it is widely used to help the body adapt to stressful conditions and to enhance productivity. Siberian ginseng is considered to be an adaptogen. This means it helps in stressful circumstances and also helps return the body to a normal balance. The active ingredients in Siberian ginseng, called eleutherosides, are thought to increase stamina and to stimulate the immune system. Siberian ginseng may help the body deal with physically and mentally stressful exposures, such as heat, cold, physical exhaustion, viruses, bacteria, chemicals, extreme working conditions, noise, and pollution.
In TCM it is known as Cì Wǔ Jiā 刺五加. Ci Wu Jia is said to be sweet, slightly bitter and warm and to enter the spleen, lung, heart and kidney meridians. Ci Wu Jia tonifies Qi and fortifies the spleen and is indicated for lung and spleen Qi deficiency. It not only supplements spleen Qi and boosts lung Qi, but also dispels phlegm and eases shortness of breath. Ci wu jia tonifies the kidney to treat sore lower back and knees in kidney deficiency and warms and assists Yang Qi while strengthening sinew and bone. In TCM Ci wu jia is also used to treat impotence, growth retardation in children, and wind damp invasion (bi) patterns and to calm the spirit and treat heart and spleen deficiency, manifesting in insomnia or forgetfulness.
Gotu cola Centella asiatica – Gotu cola is an adaptogen, anti-inflammatory, cardiac, depurative, diuretic, febrifuge, hypotensive, nervine, sedative, tonic and vulnerary. In Ayurvedic medicine centella is know n as Mandukaparni or Indian Brahmi meaning 'bringing knowledge of the Supreme Reality' sharing the name Brahmi with the herb bacopa. Some texts state that Mandukaparni is the same as Brahmi (Bacopa monniera) in action. Mandukaparni is a useful treatment in a range of mental and cerebrovascular conditions including epilepsy, stroke, dementia, memory loss, poor concentration, and attention deficit disorder. It has been suggested that regular use of the herb can rejuvenate the nervous system and it therefore deserves attention as a possible cure for a wide range of nervous disorders including multiple sclerosis Generally speaking, Mandukaparni is used in cognitive dysfunction where Pitta is the predominant dosha, best used as the fresh juice, 25 ml twice daily. It is indicated for virtually all skin conditions including leprosy, scrofula, seborrheic dermatitis, 'dish pan' hands, eczema, psoriasis and insect bites and stings. As an alternative to antibiotics, Mandukaparni is used in combination to treat infectious conditions. Mandukaparni, along with other immunomodulants such as Huang qi (Astragalus membranaceus) and Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera root), should be considered an adjunct in the treatment of immunodeficiency diseases. As an adaptogen it will lower the high cortisol levels caused by changes in circadian rhythms such as those experienced in winter and shift work.
In TCM Gotu cola is called Beng Da Wang 崩大碗. Beng Da Wang is said to be cold, acrid, bitter and enter the bladder, spleen and stomach channels. It is indicated for inflammation and swelling, wounds, ridding of toxins, damp heat infections, bladder infection, infectious diarrhoea, antipyretic,hypertension, psoriasis, eczema, laryngitis, bronchitis, venous insufficiency, varicose vein, venous ulcers,rheumatoid arthritis,hemorrhoids,balancing the nervous system, improving memory, strengthening circulation and blood vessels, nerve regeneration, inhibiting the forming of too much collagen inside scar tissues and impotence.
Withania/Ashwagandha Withania somnifera - Withania is an abortifacient, adaptogen, antibiotic, aphrodisiac, astringent, deobstruent, diuretic, narcotic, sedative and tonic. Ashwagandha is one of the most widespread tranquillisers used in India, where it holds a position of importance similar to ginseng in China, also referred to as Indian ginseng due to its rejuvenating properties. In Sanskrit ashwagandha means “the smell of a horse,” indicating that the herb imparts the vigour and strength of a stallion. It is traditionally prescribed to strengthen the immune system after illness. Ashwagandha is also used to enhance sexual potency in both men and women. It acts mainly on the reproductive and nervous systems, having a rejuvenative effect on the body, and is used to improve vitality and aid recovery after chronic illness. Internally, it is used to tone the uterus after a miscarriage and also in treating post-partum difficulties. It is also used to treat nervous exhaustion, debility, insomnia, wasting diseases, failure to thrive in children, impotence, infertility, multiple sclerosis etc.
Historically, the plant has been used as an aphrodisiac, liver tonic, anti-inflammatory, astringent, and more recently to treat bronchitis, asthma, ulcers, emaciation, insomnia, and senile dementia. Clinical trials support the use of ashwaganda for anxiety, cognitive and neurological disorders, inflammation, and Parkinson's disease. Ashwaganda's chemopreventive properties make it a potentially useful adjunct for patients undergoing radiation and chemotherapy. Ashwaganda is also used therapeutically as an adaptogen for patients with nervous exhaustion, insomnia, and debility due to stress, and as an immune stimulant in patients with low white blood cell counts. As an adaptogen it will lower the high cortisol levels caused by shifts in circadian rhythms such as those experienced in winter and shift work. The leaves contain hyperforin thought to be able to reduce depression and increase serotonin.
In TCM Withania is called Shui Qie 睡茄. Research has shown that Shui Qie increases semen quality, reduces oxidative stress, exhibits an anti-stress effect and is prescribed for weakness in bones and muscles, spermatorrhoea, constipation, senility, loose teeth, lack of libido in men and women and premature ageing.
Tulsi/ Holy Basil Ocimum sanctum - Tulsi or Holy basil is adaptogenic, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer, antioxidant, aphrodisiac, cardiotonic, hypoglycaemic, , immune stimulant, mucolytic, nervous system tonic. Studies show that the herb’s phytochemicals including flavonoids, eugenol, and carnosic acid, among others have COX-2-inhibiting properties and are strongly anti-inflammatory and anticancer.
Tulsi is an important herb in India’s traditional system of medicine of Ayurveda and is known as one of the world’s most sacred herbs. Tulsi, translates as incomparable one. It is said to elevate the mind, heal the body, and uplift the soul. In Ayurveda Tulsi is classified as a “rasayana,” delineating its MVP (most valuable player) status in the realm of adaptogenic herbs. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Tulsi is regarded as a Shen tonic, Shen meaning the mind.
Tulsi addresses physical, chemical, metabolic and psychological stress through a unique combination of pharmacological actions. Tulsi protects DNA in organs and tissues against chemical stress from industrial pollutants, heavy metals and radiation, and protects against physical stress from prolonged physical exertion, ischaemia, physical restraint and exposure to extreme cold heat or noise. Tulsi counters metabolic stress through normalisation of blood glucose, blood pressure and lipid levels. Tulsi counters psychological stress through positive effects on memory and cognitive function and through its anxiolytic and antidepressant properties.
Tulsi has broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity obviously useful in today’s antibiotic resistant pandemic. In India, as an immune stimulant and mucolytic expectorant, Holy Basil is brewed a tea to treat colds and influenza. Holy Basil is considered to be a powerful prophylactic (life-extending) herb. The flavonoids in Tulsi leaves reduce the risk of platelets forming clots on the arterial wall, preventing coronary heart disease and heart attacks.