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What is an adaptogen?

You have heard me mention several times that jiaogulan is the most powerful adaptogens so far identified. But many people are not familiar with the concept of adaptogens. So, for the next few posts I'd like to focus on adaptogens and why they are important to your health.

Let's start with answering the question, "What is an adaptogen?"

The term "adaptogen" was fist coined in 1947 by Russian born scientist Dr. A. V. Lazarev to describe herbs that "increase resistance to a broad spectrum of stressors of different physical, chemical and biological natures." You can read more about that on Wikepedia at this link, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adaptogen.

In layman's terms, when something happens that causes stress on your body, adaptogens like jiaogulan help you resist the effects and recover more quickly. Things that cause stress might include, illnesses, chemical imbalances, over-exertion, psychological stress or exposure to drugs or chemicals.

Just as an example, if a runner is training for a marathon, the training regimen puts a lot of stress on the body. All this stress can not only hurt the runner's performance but can result in other health issues like a weak immune system, high blood pressure or joint swelling. Adaptogens have been shown in studies to; improve the runner's performance, reduce recovery times between training sessions and reduce the incidence of secondary health issues.

Western medicine has been slow to adopt the idea of adaptogens but the FDA does now allow companies to include the word adaptogen as a "functional claim." Recent research has helped scientists better understand the biological mechanisms at work. These mechanisms vary amongst different adaptogens but seem to focus on helping the neuro-endocrine system return to a balanced state more quickly after responding to stress event.

I'll talk more specifically about these biological responses in my next post.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you. 

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