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Adaptogens Part 3: Adaptogens vs. Stimulants

The adaptogenic benefits of jiaogulan (aka Gynostemma) include improved athletic performance and mental acuity. For this reason many people confuse adaptogens with stimulants like caffeine.

But the stimulant effects of adaptogens and the mechanisms at work are very different. For example, we all know that drinking a cup of coffee before bed keeps many people awake at night. On the other hand, a cup of jiaogulan both improves alertness and helps you sleep, because the benefit results from improved blood flow instead of chemical responses.

For more on the differences between stimulants and adaptogens I repeat here a comparison chart from the Wikipedia entry on adaptogens.
There are important differences between the stimulating effect of adaptogens and other stimulants of the central nervous system as summarized:

Effect Stimulant Adaptogen
Effect Stimulant Adaptogen
Recovery process after exhaustive physical load Low High
Energy Depletion Yes No
Performance in Stress Decrease Increase
Survival in Stress Decrease Increase
Quality of Arousal Bad Good
Insomnia Yes No
Side Effects Yes No
DNA/RNA and protein synthesis Decrease Increase
Example Caffeine Jiaogulan

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