Open Access Articles- Top Results for Adaptogen


File:Panax quinquefolius.jpg
Panax quinquefolius or ginseng, an herb often claimed to have adaptogenic effects.

Adaptogens or adaptogenic substances, compounds, herbs[1] or practices[2] refer to the pharmacological concept[3] whereby administration results in stabilization of physiological processes and promotion of homeostasis, an example being by decreased cellular sensitivity to stress. The European Medicines Agency states in a 2008 reflection paper that the concept requires additional clinical and pre-clinical research, and is therefore not accepted into canonized terminology.[4]

Normally pharmacological theory abides by the receptor theory of drug mechanism,[5][6] and the scientific community calls into question the validity of the concept of adaptogens, while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Medicines Agency accept the phenomena theoretically.[4]

In herbal medicine the categorization of different herbs as adaptogens is very popular, often with far-reaching claims of increasing longevity, libido and well-being.[citation needed] Most of the studies conducted on adaptogens were performed in the Soviet Union, Korea, and China during the 1980s, and are at large not considered conclusive, having been criticized for various methodological flaws.[citation needed]

Adaptogens have been claimed to treat a wide variety of medical conditions, from fatigue to cancer. However, no herbs that are considered adaptogens by the U.S. FDA have ever been conclusively shown effective in treating medical conditions, and as a result none of them are approved by the FDA to cure, treat, or prevent disease.[citation needed]

Adaptogenic effect of some herbs may hold certain merit on account of substances increasing the bodies own response to oxidative stress, such as Gynostemma pentaphyllum or poor-mans ginseng which has been shown to increase the body's innate response by increased production of superoxide dismutase (SOD).[7]


The concept of adaptogens was originally created by pharmacologist N.V. Lazarev in 1947 to describe novel effects of dibazol 12-benzyl benzimidazol, an arterial dilator developed in France.[3] Adaptogenesis was later (in the former Soviet Union) applied to describe remedies that increase the resistance of organisms to biological stress in experimental and clinical studies.[3] According to the original definition, adaptogens are:
non-specific remedies "that increase resistance to a broad spectrum of harmful factors (stressors) of different physical, chemical and biological natures".[8]
This definition has been updated and today adaptogens are conceptualized as a:
"new class of metabolic regulators (of a natural origin) which increase the ability of an organism to adapt to environmental factors and to avoid damage from such factors."[8]

An extensive amount of research was conducted in the USSR, (by 1984, more than 1,500 pharmacological and clinical published studies),.[8] Adaptogens have even been described as "medicine[sic] for healthy people".[9] In 1998, however, the term adaptogen was allowed as a functional claim for certain products by US Food and Drug Administration[citation needed] and the European Medicines Agency claims "The concept of adaptogens is sufficient to be considered in the assessment of traditional herbal medicinal products (e.g., monograph on Eleutheroccocus root[4])."

Adaptogens in other cultures

The concept of adaptogens as "medicine for the healthy"[9] or in helping the body cope with stress[8] is a great deal similar to many remedies common in chinese herbology, as well as other forms of traditional medicine.[citation needed]

Ayurveda traditional medicine operates with the concept of rasayana. Various substances are classified in this tradition as rasayanas, meaning they are believed to promote physical and mental health, improve defense mechanisms of the body and enhance longevity. Rasayanas are referred to as adaptogens by some researchers.[10] [11]


The mechanism of action of adaptogens has been hard to rationalize. However, by 1965 it had been demonstrated that the adaptogenic effect was dependent on cellular transcription[3][8] By 1980, it was clear that the effect operated on the sympathetic nervous system.[citation needed][clarification needed]

A series of recent pharmacological studies have provided rationale for the effects at the molecular level. The stress-protective activity of adaptogens has been found to be associated with activation of molecular chaperonin Hsp70,[12][13][14][15][16] and other key mediators of the stress response such as cortisol, nitric oxide, stress-activated protein kinase JNK[17] and DAF-16.[18] Studies have demonstrated that heat-shock factor 1 (HSF1) and Neuropeptide Y might be primary upstream molecular targets of adaptogens in neuroglia cells, but the results were only suggestive, not conclusive.[15][16] One recent analysis revealed that a claimed adaptogen extract, ADAPT-232, and some of its components individually, regulated the transcription of genes involved in cellular signaling pathways, most notably those of G protein-coupled receptors.[19]

Repeated vs. single dose administration

The stress protective effect by repeated intake is not the result of inhibition of the stress response, but of adaptive changes in the organism to the repeated stress-mimetic effect of the drug. Adaptogens are stress agonists and not stress-antagonists.[20][citation needed][clarification needed]

Adaptogens vs. stimulants

In spite of their theoretical normalizing effect, certain dosing regimens of supposed adaptogenic plant extracts are claimed to have stimulating effects on the central nervous system. Plant adaptogens are said to stimulate the nervous system by mechanisms which are totally different from those of conventional stimulants as associated with metabolic regulation of various elements of the stress system and modulation of stimulants-response comply.[16][17][clarification needed] Adaptogens are also claimed to be efficacious in the treatment of anxiety disorders.[21]


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  2. ^ Smirnova, AV; Naumcheva, NN (2008). "[Solar activity and cardiovascular diseases].". Klinicheskaia meditsina 86 (1): 10–7. PMID 18326276. 
  3. ^ a b c d Brekhman, I. I.; Dardymov, I. V. (1969). "New Substances of Plant Origin which Increase Nonspecific Resistance". Annual Review of Pharmacology 9: 419–430. PMID 4892434. doi:10.1146/ 
  4. ^ a b c EMEA/HMPC/102655/2007. Reflection Paper on the Adaptogenic Concept. European Medicines Agency, London, 8 May 2008.
  5. ^ Kenakin T (2008). "What systems can and can't do". Br. J. Pharmacol. 153 (5): 841–3. PMC 2267279. PMID 18204481. doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0707677. 
  6. ^ T. Kenakin (2004) Principles: Receptor theory in pharmacology Trends Pharmacol Sci Vol 25 No.4
  7. ^ Liu, et al (1992). "Therapeutic effect of jiaogulan on leukopenia due to irradiation and chemotherapy". Zhong Guo yi Yao Xue Bao 7 (2): 99. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Panossian, A.; Wikman, G.; Wagner, H. (October 1999). "Plant adaptogens. III. Earlier and more recent aspects and concepts on their mode of action" (PDF). Phytomedicine 6 (4): 287–300. PMID 10589450. doi:10.1016/S0944-7113(99)80023-3. 
  9. ^ a b Lesser, Frank (18 September 1980). "Letters: Eleutherococcus". New Scientist 87 (1219): 885. Retrieved 10 January 2013. Soviet authors in this field ... lay emphasis not on the treatment of disease, but on the use of eleutherococcus and ginseng among others 'as medicines for healthy people', as Professor Brekhman said in a lecture at Chelsea College last year. 
  10. ^ Bhattacharya, S. K.; Bhattacharya, A; Chakrabarti, A (2000). "Adaptogenic activity of Siotone, a polyherbal formulation of Ayurvedic rasayanas". Indian journal of experimental biology 38 (2): 119–28. PMID 11218827.  edit
  11. ^ Rege, N. N.; Thatte, U. M.; Dahanukar, S. A. (1999). "Adaptogenic properties of six rasayana herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine". Phytotherapy Research 13 (4): 275–91. PMID 10404532. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1099-1573(199906)13:4<275::AID-PTR510>3.0.CO;2-S.  edit
  12. ^ Panossian, A.; Wikman, G. (September 2009). "Evidence-based efficacy of adaptogens in fatigue, and molecular mechanisms related to their stress-protective activity" (PDF). Current Clinical Pharmacology 4 (3): 198–219. PMID 19500070. doi:10.2174/157488409789375311. 
  13. ^ Panossian, A.; Wikman, G.; Kaur, P.; Asea, A. (June 2009). "Adaptogens exert a stress-protective effect by modulation of expression of molecular chaperones". Phytomedicine 16 (6–7): 617–622. PMID 19188053. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2008.12.003. 
  14. ^ Panossian, A.; Wikman, G.; Kaur, P.; Asea, A. (2010). "Molecular Chaperones as Mediators of Stress Protective Effect of Plant Adaptogens". Heat Shock Proteins and Whole Body Physiology. Heat Shock Proteins 5. Springer. pp. 351–364. ISBN 978-90-481-3380-2. doi:10.1007/978-90-481-3381-9_20. 
  15. ^ a b Panossian, A; Wikman, G; Kaur, P; Asea, A. (2011). "Adaptogens (ADAPT-232) stimulate neuropeptide Y expression in neuroglia cells. 59th International Congress and Annual Meeting of the Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research, 4th-9th September 2011, Anatalya, Turkey". Planta medica 77 (12): 1248. doi:10.1055/s-0031-1282146. 
  16. ^ a b c Panossian, Alexander G.; Wikman, Georg; Kaur, Punit; Asea, Alexzander (2012). "Adaptogens Stimulate Neuropeptide Y and Hsp72 Expression and Release in Neuroglia Cells". Frontiers in Neuroscience 6: 6. PMC 3269752. PMID 22347152. doi:10.3389/fnins.2012.00006. 
  17. ^ a b Panossian, A., Hambartsumyan, M., Hovanissian, A., Gabrielyan, E., and Wilkman, G. (2007). The Adaptogens Rhodiola and Schizandra Modify the Response to Immobilization Stress in Rabbits by Suppressing the Increase of Phosphorylated Stress-activated Protein Kinase, Nitric Oxide and Cortisol. Drug Targets Instights 1, 39-54.
  18. ^ Wiegant, F. A. C.; Surinova, S.; Ytsma, E.; Langelaar-Makkinje, M.; Wikman, G.; Post, J. A. (February 2008). "Plant adaptogens increase lifespan and stress resistance in C. Elegans" (PDF). Biogerontology 10 (1): 27–42. PMID 18536978. doi:10.1007/s10522-008-9151-9. 
  19. ^ Panossian, Alexander G.; Hamm, Rebecca; Kadioglu, Onat; Wikman, Georg; Efferth, Thomas (2013). "A1. Synergy and antagonism of active constituents of ADAPT-232 on transcriptional level of metabolic regulation of isolated neuroglial cells.". Frontiers in Neuroscience 7: 16. PMID 23430930. doi:10.3389/fnins.2013.00016. 
  20. ^ Panossian, A.; Wagner, H. (October 2005). "Stimulating effect of adaptogens: An overview with particular reference to their efficacy following single dose administration" (PDF). Phytotherapy Research 19 (10): 819–838. PMID 16261511. doi:10.1002/ptr.1751. 
  21. ^ A. Panossian and G. Wikman (2005), "Effect of adaptogens on the central nervous system", Arquivos Brasileiros de Fitomedicina Científica 3: 29-51) [1]