Adaptogens

Adaptogens
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Adaptogens

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Adaptogens can help adapt to all kinds of stressors and restore body’s balance. Humbled by the innate power and wisdom of adaptogens, we are grateful to share these adaptogens with you. In the attached 6 pages’ content, you will discover 8 adaptogens, including specifications, clinical trials, applications, regulatory info and commercial cases.
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A holistic approach to restore body’s balance
- enhance resistance to stress

The term of adaptogen was first defined by Russian scientists in the 1940s, which needs to meet three criteria: 1) have a normalizing action to adapt to varied environmental and psychological stresses for maintaining homeostasis 2) nonspecific action on the body, supporting all the major systems 3) cause no harm.[1]

Modern science reveals that adaptogens modulate stress through hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and sympatheticadrenomedullary system (SAS), which are responsible for controlling endocrine function, nervous system, some immune function, as well as fight or flight response.[2] Thus, adaptogens can be used as an effective protocol for treating conditions such as anxiety, depression, immune dysfunction, sleep disorders and exhaustion.

There are multiple applications employed in the market, such as dietary supplement, beverage, functional food, etc. The details of adaptogens are presented below.

 

Name

Botanical/Latin name

Specification

Test method

Part used

Asian Ginseng

Panax Ginseng C.A. Meyer

5% Ginsenosides

UV

Root

10% Ginsenosides

UV

80% Ginsenosides

UV

Rhodiola rosea

Rhodiola Rosea L

Salidrosides 1%

HPLC

Root

Salidrosides 3%

HPLC

Rosavins 3% + Salidrosides 1%

HPLC

Ashwagandha

Withania somnifera

2.5% Total Withanolides

UV

Root

Siberian ginseng

Eleutherococcus senticosus

Eleutherosides 0.8%

HPLC

Root

Schisandra berry

Schisandra chinensis

Schizandrins 9% UV

UV

Fruit

Cordyceps

Cordyceps militaris

Beta-Glucan 30%

Megazyme

Fruiting body

Polysaccharides 30%, Adenosine present

UV

Holy basil (Tulsi)

Ocimum sanctum

Eugenol 8%

HPLC

Leaf

Bacopa

Bacopa monnieri

Bacosides50%

UV

Stem and Leaf

Note: 
1) Pure powder and extracted powder(e.g.,4:1) of above-mentioned botanicals(fungi) are available upon your request.
2) The lists of adaptogens may vary from different sources as adaptogens are still under-researched and research is evolving.

3) The raw material of Ashwagandha, Bacopa are imported from India and the raw material of Siberian ginseng is imported from Siberia. The rest are cultivated in China.
4) Standard packaging is 25kg/drum and shelf-life is 24 months.

Although some drugs of modern medicine have been developed to cope with stress, the results are still unsatisfactory. Therefore, adaptogens, as a holistic approach, are gaining more attention in contributing to the prevention and management of stress. It’s worth mentioning that each adaptogen has its own unique properties due to different chemical compounds in these adaptogens. More specifically, some adaptogens are stimulating, some are calming, some are moistening, and some are drying.[3]

In addition, the mechanism distinguishes adaptogens from stimulants. Stimulants give a temporary increase of work capacity, whereas adaptogens are performance enhancers, which means they work longer and do not drop off sharply as stimulants do, but rather “taper off.” [4]

The mechanism of adaptogens and stimulants [5]

Aspects

Stimulants

Adaptogens

Stress protective(neuro-,hepato-,cardio-protective)

No

High

Recover process after exhaustive physical load

Low

High

Energy depletion

Yes

No

Performance in stress

-

Increased

Survival in stress

-

Increased

Quality of arousal

Poor

Good

Addition potential

Yes

No

Side effects

Yes

Rare

The differences in properties between adaptogens and stimulants [6]

Applications:

Note: 
1) It’s advised to take adaptogens for four to six weeks to see the full effect.
2) If you want to develop adaptogen blends, it’s worth noting that several adaptogens have strong flavor(e.g., pungent, bitter). Thus, free samples are welcome to request.
3) RDA for these adaptogens is not determined by EFSA yet. Generally speaking, two capsules of 400-500 mg per day is recommended. For powder form, the recommended dosing is 2 grams and take one or two times per day.[7]

Monographs on adaptogens:


Panax ginseng is considered to be the most potent adaptogen for boosting mental performance and reducing stress. It’s cultivated on a large scale in China and North and South Korea. [7]

The major biochemical constituents is a range of triterpenoid saponins known as ginsenosides or panaxosides, as well as panaxanes.[7] The other active ingredients include polysaccharides, peptides, phytosterols, polyacetylenes, polyacetylenicalcohols, amino acids, vitamins B1 and B2 and fatty acids.[4]

Selected research studies: The Effects of a Korean Ginseng, GINST15, on Hypo-Pituitary-Adrenal and Oxidative Activity Induced by Intense Work Stress(Flanagan et. al.2018)[8]
10 women and 9 men participated in a double-blinded, placebo-controlled, counterbalanced within-group study. Ginseng supplementation produced stress-inducible dose-dependent reductions in circulating cortisol and increased enzymatic and nonspecific antioxidant activity.

Effects of Panax ginseng extract in patients with fibromyalgia: a 12-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial(Brazet al.2013)[9]
In this study, 38 patients participated. The trial carried out over 12 weeks. Ginseng supplementation reduced pain, fatigue, and anxiety and improved quality of life and sleep quality.

For centuries, Rhodiola rosea has been used in the traditional medicine of Russia, Scandinavia, and other countries. Rhodiola rosea grows primarily in dry sandy ground at high altitudes in the arctic areas of Europe and Asia.[10]

The polyphenol content of Rhodiola rosea is approximately 41.4 ± 3.41%. However major biochemical constituents of Rhodiola rosea is rosavin (such as rosavin, rosarin, rhodionin, rhodiosin, and rosin), cinnamyl alcohol, salidroside, and tyrosol.[4]

Selected research studies: A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the standardised extract shr-5 of the roots of Rhodiola rosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue.(Olsson et.al.2009)[11]
The study with participation of 60 individuals shows that repeated administration for 28 days of R. Rosea exhibits anti-fatigue effect that increases mental performance and decreases cortisol response to awakening stress in burnout patients with fatigue syndrome.

Therapeutic effects and safety of Rhodiola rosea extract WS® 1375 in subjects with life-stress symptoms–Results of an open-label study. (Edwards et.al. 2012)[12]
In this human clinical study, after taking standardized rhodiola extract for four weeks, the participants reported less fatigue, reduced stress symptoms, and improved cognitive function.

Ashwagandha is widely used in Ayurveda. It has horse sweat-like odor. Ashwagandha is native to the drier subtropic regions of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and parts of Africa.[7]

The major biochemical constituents are steroidal lactones, including withanolides A to Y; sitoindosides; alkaloids, including somniferine, withanine, and anaferine. [7]

Selected research studies: Body weight management in adults under chronic stress through treatment with Ashwagandha root extract: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial(Choudhary et.al. 2017).[13]
The study involves 52 participants for 8 weeks. Those who took ashwagandha 300mg has reduced food cravings, less perceived stress, and reduced cortisol levels, body weight, and BMI.

A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults.(Chandrasekhar et.al.2012)[14]
64 participants with a history of chronic stress enrolled in the study, after 60 days of ashwagandha supplementation, the Ashwagandha group showed significant reduction in serum cortisol levels, which indicates improvement of an individual's resistance towards stress.

Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) has been used for thousands of years as a healing remedy in folk medicine. It’s also sometimes called Siberian ginseng. It grows throughout Siberia, northern China, Korea, and northern Japan.[7]

The major biochemical constituents of Eleutherococcus root are believed to be eleutherosides. The Eleutherococcus root extract is standardized in 0.6% to 0.8% of eleutherosides.[4]

Selected research studies: Effects of Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus maxim.) on elderly quality of life: a randomized clinical trial.(Cicero et.al. 2004) [15]
20 elderly volunteers participated in the study for 8 weeks and the result shows that supplementation of E. senticosus improves some aspects of mental health and social functioning after 4 weeks of therapy.

Eleutherococcus senticosus reduces cardiovascular stress response in healthy subjects: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial.(Facchinetti et.al. 2002)[16]
45 health volunteers participated in this study for 30 days. The result demonstrated that the treatment with Eleutherococcus senticosus helps to reduce cardiovascular responses to stress, which indicates its beneficial effect on stress adaption.

The berries of Schisandra (Figure 12) are called omija “five-flavor fruit,” because this fruit has all five of the basic flavors-salty, sweet, sour, pungent, and bitter. Schisandra is grown in Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, and Hebei provinces in China.[7]

Lignans such as schisandrin B, gomisans, and schisandrol A are considered to be active constituents of schisandra. The berries also contain essential oils and Vitamin C.[7]

Selected research studies: Biochemical basis of the" Qi-invigorating" action of Schisandra berry (wu-wei-zi) in Chinese medicine.(Ko et.al. 2006)[17]
The study demonstrated that Schisandra enhances mitochondrial antioxidant status, further, suggesting the effect offers generalized protection against environmental, emotional, and chemical stressors. 
Effects of heavy physical exercise and adaptogens on nitric oxide content in human saliva.(Panossian et.al. 1999)[18]
In the placebo-controlled double-blind human study, the stress-protective effect of an adaptogen is shown in athletes taking Schisandra.

The first mention of Cordyceps is in Chinese medical literature which is Ben Cao Cong Xin(New compilation of Materia Medica) in 1757. Cordyceps fungus is gathered from the wild in the alpine grasslands in the foothills of Himalaya Mountains in Tibet and Bhutan. Due to high cost of natural wild fungus, cultivated C. militaris are mainly commercially available in the market. [7]

Cordyceps mushrooms contain immunostimulating polysaccharides(galactomannans, cordycepic acid), amino acids, fatty acids, polyamines, and ecdysterones.[7]

Selected research studies: Supplemental anti-fatigue effects of Cordyceps sinensis (Tochu-Kaso) extract powder during three stepwise exercise of human.(Nagata et.al. 2006)[20]
36 male sedentary subjects receiving powdered cordycep supplement over a period of 2 weeks. The result shows that they had better regulated cortisol levels after exercise-induced stress, thus, the supplement exhibits anti-fatigue qualities.

Experimental Study on the Promoting Motion Fatigue Recover of the Cordyceps Militaris Extract on the Chemical Indicators in Blood of Human.(XING et.al. 2010)[21]
The human trial with participation of 48 men and 35 women found that cortisol levels of both men and women were lower over time compared to placebo in subjects of recovering from motion fatigue(a form of stress).

Holy basil has been considered one of India’s most powerful herbs and is believed to nourish a person’s growth to perfect health and promote long life. Holy basil is found throughout the lowlands of India, as well as in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, southern China, Thailand and Malaysia.[7]

Holy basil contains essential oils such as eugenol, carvacrol, linalool, caryophyllene, and methyl eugenol as well as triterpenes such as ursolic acids and flavonoids.[7]

Selected research studies: Anti-stress Activity of Ocimum sanctum: Possible Effects on Hypothalamic–Pituitary–Adrenal Axis.(Jothie Richard et.al. 2016)[22]
Rats were administered O. sanctum for a period of 16  days and they fared much better under chronic variable stress compared to the control group. This animal study shows that Holy basil inhibits significant cortisol release and may work via the HPA axis.

Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum Linn.) leaf extract enhances specific cognitive parameters in healthy adult volunteers: a placebo controlled study. (Sampath et.al. 2015)[23]
44 apparently healthy male subjects were evaluated with administration of 300 mg of extracted Ocimum sanctum over 30 days. Intergroup comparison revealed a significant improvement in cognitive function, cortisol levels, reaction time, and error rates in tests and reduced anxiety.

Bacopa monnieri has a very long history of use in Ayuvedic and Siddha medicines as a medhya rasayana(brain tonic). It is a water-loving plant, usually found in tropical and semitropical wetlands. It’s native to India and Sri Lanka.[7]

Bacopa monnieri contains alkaloid brahmine, nicotinine, herpestine, bacosides A and B, saponins A, B and C, triterpenoid saponins, stigmastanol,etc.[24]

Selected research studies: An acute, double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over study of 320 mg and 640 mg doses of Bacopa monnieri (CDRI 08) on multitasking stress reactivity and mood.(Benson et.al. 2014) [25]
17 healthy volunteers were divided into groups that took a placebo, 320 mg and 640 mg of Bacopa monnieri. The acute Bacopa monniericonsumption demonstrated a positive mood effect and reduction in cortisol levels, indicating its adaptogenic and nootropic effect.

Effects of a standardized Bacopa monnieri extract on cognitive performance, anxiety, and depression in the elderly: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.(Calabrese et.al. 2008) [26]
54 elderly participated in the clinical trial with a placebo run-in of 6 weeks and a treatment period of 12 weeks. The group receiving Bacopa monnieri showed reduction in depression scores, combined state plus trait anxiety scores, and heart rate, which supports Bacopa monnieri’sindication of enhancing cognitive performance.

Regulation:

Novel food status: 
- Cordyceps militaris is not clear. The other above mentioned adaptogens are non-novel food. [27] EFSA authorized health claims:
- Rhodiola rosea L. extract: Helps to reduce tiredness in case of stress(Q-2012-00336)[28] 
- A few health claims of adaptogens were summited and recorded at the file of Consolidated list of Article 13 health claims List of references received by EFSA.[29]

 

Other probable & possible adaptogens:

Product

Specification

Product

Specification

Shatavari

4:1

Jiaogulan

Gypenosides 80%, UV

Reishi

Polysaccharides 30% , UV; Pure powder

Maca

Maceaene+Macamide 0.6%, HPLC

 

 
 
 
Commercial examples:

Adaptogen Blend ($30/Bottle)

Brand: Four sigmatic

Serving size 1 scoop (2g) | Servings per container 30

Nutritional Information

Per serve

% NRV

Organic Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) Extract (Fruiting body)

200 mg

-

Organic Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) Extract (Fruiting body)

200 mg

-

Organic Moringa (Moringa oleifera) Extract (Leaf)

200 mg

-

Organic Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) Extract (Leaf)

200 mg

-

Organic Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Extract (Root)

175 mg

-

Organic Eleuthero (Eleutherococcussenticosus) Extract (Root)

175 mg

-

Organic Amla(Emblica officinalis) Extract (Fruit)

175 mg

-

Organic Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis) Extract (Fruit)

175 mg

-

- NRV not established

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stress Response ($17.99/Bottle)

Brand: Gaia

Serving size 2 capsules | Serving per container 15

Nutritional Information

Per serve

% NRV

Siberian Rhodiola(Rhodiola rosea) root extract

120 mg

-

- of which Rosavins

6 mg

-

Holi basil(Ocimum sanctum) leaf supercritical CO2 extract

32 mg

-

- of which Eugenols

3.86 mg

-

Proprietry Extract Blend

520 mg

-

Organic Oats(Avena sativa) milky seed extract, organic Holy basil(Ocimum sanctum) leaf,

Schisandra(Schisandra chinensis) berry, Ashwagandha(Withania samnifea) root extract

- NRV not established

 

Reference:
[1]Liao, L. Y., He, Y. F., Li, L., Meng, H., Dong, Y. M., Yi, F., & Xiao, P. G. (2018). A preliminary review of studies on adaptogens: comparison of their bioactivity in TCM with that of ginseng-like herbs used worldwide. Chinese medicine, 13(1), 1-12.
[2]Panossian, A., & Wikman, G. (2010). Effects of adaptogens on the central nervous system and the molecular mechanisms associated with their stress—protective activity. Pharmaceuticals, 3(1), 188-224.
[3] An Herbalist on the Healing Power of Adaptogens. (2021). Goop. https://goop.com/wellness/health/an-herbalist-on-the-healing-powerof-adaptogens/
[4] Ivanišová, E., & Kačániová, M. PLANT ADAPTOGENS: AN IMPORTANT SOURCE OF BIOACTIVE COMPOUNDS. BIOACTIVE COMPOUNDS, 91.
[5] Best adaptogens, medicinal mushrooms and herbs to support your immune system. (2020). Biohackersummit. 
https://new.biohackersummit.com/2020/03/19/best-adaptogens-medicinal-mushrooms-and-herbs-to-support-your-immune-system/
[6] Panossian, A. G., Efferth, T., Shikov, A. N., Pozharitskaya, O. N., Kuchta, K., Mukherjee, P. K., ... & Wagner, H. (2021). Evolution of the adaptogenic concept from traditional use to medical systems: Pharmacology of stress-and aging-related diseases. Medicinal Research Reviews, 41(1), 630-703.
[7] Winston, D. (2019). Adaptogens: herbs for strength, stamina, and stress relief. Simon and Schuster.
[8] Flanagan, S. D., DuPont, W. H., Caldwell, L. K., Hardesty, V. H., Barnhart, E. C., Beeler, M. K., ... & Kraemer, W. J. (2018). The effects of a Korean ginseng, GINST15, on hypo-pituitary-adrenal and oxidative activity induced by intense work stress. Journal of medicinal food, 21(1), 104-112.
[9] Braz, A. S., Morais, L. C. S., Paula, A. P., Diniz, M. F., & Almeida, R. N. (2013). Effects of Panax ginseng extract in patients with fibromyalgia: a 12-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Revista brasileira de psiquiatria, 35(1), 21-28.
[10]Brown, R. P., Gerbarg, P. L., & Ramazanov, Z. (2002). Rhodiola rosea. A phytomedicinal overview. HerbalGram, 56, 40-52.
[11]Olsson, E. M., von Schéele, B., & Panossian, A. G. (2009). A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the standardised extract shr-5 of the roots of Rhodiola rosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue. Planta medica, 75(02), 105-112.
[12] Edwards, D., Heufelder, A., & Zimmermann, A. (2012). Therapeutic effects and safety of Rhodiola rosea extract WS® 1375 in subjects with life-stress symptoms–Results of an open-label study. Phytotherapy Research, 26(8), 1220-1225.
[13]Choudhary, D., Bhattacharyya, S., & Joshi, K. (2017). Body weight management in adults under chronic stress through treatment with Ashwagandha root extract: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of evidence-based complementary & alternative medicine, 22(1), 96-106.
[14]Chandrasekhar, K., Kapoor, J., & Anishetty, S. (2012). A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian journal of psychological medicine, 34(3), 255-262.
[15[Cicero, A. F. G., Derosa, G., Brillante, R., Bernardi, R., Nascetti, S., & Gaddi, A. (2004). Effects of Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcussenticosus maxim.) on elderly quality of life: a randomized clinical trial. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 38, 69-73.
[16]Facchinetti, F., Neri, I., & Tarabusi, M. (2002). Eleutherococcus senticosus reduces cardiovascular stress response in healthy subjects: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Stress and health, 18(1), 11-17.
[17]Ko, K. M., & Chiu, P. Y. (2006). Biochemical basis of the" Qi-invigorating" action of Schisandra berry (wu-wei-zi) in Chinese medicine. The American journal of Chinese medicine, 34(02), 171-176.
[18]Panossian, A. G., Oganessian, A. S., Ambartsumian, M., Gabrielian, E. S., Wagner, H., & Wikman, G. (1999). Effects of heavy physical exercise and adaptogens on nitric oxide content in human saliva. Phytomedicine, 6(1), 17-26.
[20]Nagata, A., Tajima, T., & Uchida, M. (2006). Supplemental anti-fatigue effects of Cordyceps sinensis (Tochu-Kaso) extract powder during three stepwise exercise of human. Japanese Journal of Physical Fitness and Sports Medicine, 55(Supplement), S145-S152.
[21]XING, A. H., WANG, H. J., GU, F. W., YU, N., WANG, L. Q., ZHANG, R., & LI, C. Y. (2010). Experimental Study on the Promoting Motion Fatigue Recover of the Cordyceps Militaris Extract on the Chemical Indicators in Blood of Human [J]. Lishizhen Medicine and Materia Medica Research, 10.
[22]Jothie Richard, E., Illuri, R., Bethapudi, B., Anandhakumar, S., Bhaskar, A., Chinampudur Velusami, C., ... & Agarwal, A. (2016). Anti-stress Activity of Ocimum sanctum: Possible Effects on Hypothalamic–Pituitary–Adrenal Axis. Phytotherapy Research, 30(5), 805-814.
[23]Sampath, S., Mahapatra, S. C., Padhi, M. M., Sharma, R., & Talwar, A. (2015). Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum Linn.) leaf extract enhances specific cognitive parameters in healthy adult volunteers: a placebo controlled study. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol, 59(1), 69-77.
[24]Jeyasri, R., Muthuramalingam, P., Suba, V., Ramesh, M., & Chen, J. T. (2020). Bacopa monnieri and their bioactive compounds inferred multi-target treatment strategy for neurological diseases: a cheminformatics and system pharmacology approach. Biomolecules, 10(4), 536.
[25]Benson, S., Downey, L. A., Stough, C., Wetherell, M., Zangara, A., & Scholey, A. (2014). An acute, double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over study of 320 mg and 640 mg doses of Bacopa monnieri (CDRI 08) on multitasking stress reactivity and mood. Phytotherapy Research, 28(4), 551-559.
[26] Calabrese, C., Gregory, W. L., Leo, M., Kraemer, D., Bone, K., & Oken, B. (2008). Effects of a standardized Bacopa monnieri extract on cognitive performance, anxiety, and depression in the elderly: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. The journal of alternative and complementary medicine, 14(6), 707-713.
[27]Sante, D. G. (2021). EU Novel food catalogue (v.1.1). Novel Food Catalogue. https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/novel_food/catalogue/search/public/index.cfm
[28]Sante, D. G. (2021b). EU Register of nutrition and health claims made on foods (v.3.6). European Commission. 
https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/labelling_nutrition/claims/register/public/?event=search
[29] Consolidated list of Article 13 health claims List of references received by EFSA. (2011). 
https://www.efsa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/topic/ndaart13ref04.pdf

 

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