Adaptogens list

Adaptogen Plants list and Main Properties

Currently, we can list 24 adaptogenic herbs. Many of these plants were used since ancient time in Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine and nowadays adaptogens benefits continue to be proved by scientific researchers.

ADAPTOGEN BOTANICAL NAME PLANT PART USED
American ginseng Panax quinquefolius Root and less frequently leaf
Amla Emblica officinals Fruit
Ashwagandha Withania somnifera Root
Asian Ginseng Panax ginseng Root
Astragalus Astragalus membranaceus Root
Brahmi Bacopa Monnieri Whole plant
Cordyceps Cordyceps sinensis Mushroom, mycelium
Dang shen Codonopsis pilosula, C. tangshen Root
Eleuthero Eleutherococcus senticosus Root, stem bark
Guduchi Tinospora cordifolia Root, stem
He shou wu Polygonum multiforum Root
Holy Basil Ocimum sanctum, O. gratissimum Herb
Jiaogulan Gynostemma pentaphyllum Herb
Licorice Glycyrrhiza glabra, G. uralensis Root
Lycium Lycium chinesis, L. barbarum Berry
Maca Lepidium meyenii Root
Prince seng Pseudostellaria heterophylla Root
Reishi Ganoderma lucidum Mushroom, mycelum
Rhaponticum Rhaponticum carthamoides Root
Rhodiola Rhodiola rosea Root
Schisandra Schisandra chinensis Fruit, seed
Sea Buckthorn Hippophae Rhamnoides Berry
Shatavari Asparagus racemosus Root
Shilajit Asphaltum bitumen Pitch

American Ginseng

American ginseng, Panax quinquefolius, adaptogen plant

Anti-stress effect:

Location: Native to the eastern United States and Canada.

Constituents: The active components include triterpene saponins, known as ginsenosides or panaxosides. The bitter taste comes from it’s sesquiterpene content.

Properties: Adaptogen, antioxidant, bitter tonic, mild central nervous system stimulant, mild demulcent (soothes mucous membranes), hypoglycemic agent, immune amphoteric.

American ginseng is a powerful root which is able to influence energy metabolism by helping muscles work longer before becoming fatigued. The effect is enhanced by the plant’s calming action. Many people have described it as feeling more energetic while simultaneously feeling more at ease; almost like a ready focus. The benefits of ginseng go well beyond boosting energy. It promotes normal blood sugar, boosts the immune system, soothes intestinal irritation and supports normal brain function, memory, and thought. It is thought to function also as a “male sexual tonic” but it is not proven. Roots are used as a simple digestive bitter. Chewing on a small bit of the root can help stimulate the production of stomach acid so may help the digestive process.

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Amla

Amla, Emblica officinalis, adaptogen plant

Anti-stress effect:

Location: native to India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, southern China and Malaysia. It is commonly cultivated throughout India, below elevations of three thousand feet.

Constituents: Amla is rich in antioxidant polyphenols, including ellagic acid, phyllemblin, quercetin and emblicol. It also contains significant amount of vitamin C as well as condensed tannins and flavonols.

Properties: Adaptogen (mild), anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, aperient (mild laxative), diuretic and lowers cholesterol.

Indian Gooseberry, also known as Amla fruit ripens in the autumn in wet, forested, hilly areas on the Indian subcontinent. In India it is considered a sacred tree. The fruit is very nourishing, but it tastes sour. Both dried and fresh fruits can be consumed for their health benefits. The health benefits of Amla can be partially attributed to its high vitamin-C content. Amla enhances food absorption, balances stomach acid, fortifies the liver, nourishes the brain and mental functioning, supports the heart, strengthens the lungs, regulates elimination of free radicals, enhances fertility, helps the urinary system, increases skin health, acts as a body coolant, flushes out toxins, increases vitality, strengthens eyes, improves muscle tone and, acts as an antioxidant. Amla is used in many hair tonics because it enriches hair growth and hair pigmentation. It strengthens the roots of hair, maintains color, and improves luster.
Amla oil is very popular in India because it has been shown to reduce the chances of hair loss and baldness. This quality is due to the carotene content of Amla, as well as its iron content and general antioxidant capacity, which reduces hair loss by not allowing free radicals to damage hair follicles or impact the hormones that can cause premature hair loss. Moreover many of the minerals and vitamins in Alma combine to make it very useful in the treatment of menstrual cramps. Since it takes a while for the necessary elements to accrue in the body, it is better to consume Alma on a regular basis so it is always in the system and menstrual cramps can be prevented every month for women.

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Ashwagandha (also known as “Winter Cerry “ or “Indian Ginseng”)

Ashwagandha, Withania somnifera, adaptogen plant

Anti-stress effect:

Location: Native to the drier subtropic regions of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and parts of Africa.

Constituents: Steroidal lactones, including withanolides A to Y; sitoindosides and alkaloids, including somniferiene, withanine and anaferine.

Properties: Adaptogen, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immune amphoteric, antitumor, nervine, antispasmodic, mild astringent and diuretic.

Most adaptogens are stimulating: Ashwaganda is a bit unusual in that it is a calming adaptogen that helps to re-regulate the thyroid, testes and the adrenal glands. Because of its nervine and adaptogenic functions, Ashwaganda is very effective for anxiety, fatigue, cloudy thinking, stress-induced insomnia and nervous exhaustion. Ashwagandha may enhance energy, support aging, and stimulate sex drive. Ashwagandha acts on the endocrine system by encouraging hormone balance thus significantly reduces symptoms such as hot flashes, anxiety, and mood swings. The Kama Sutra, one of the oldest surviving texts on human sexuality, mentions ashwagandha in its literature as a potent sexual stimulant. Research indicates that the herb supports sexual health and vitality by increasing blood flow and reducing bodily tension. Women taking ashwagandha typically experience an increase in sexual desire and satisfaction. Recent research has shown that ashwagandha may also protect the brain from the oxidative stress that leads to neurodegeneration. Relaxation, a benefit derived from the herb’s stress-fighting effects, also improves long-term visual memory. Also, by decreasing stress, ashwagandha may encourage a situation that is optimal for fertility. More research is needed to clarify whether or not ashwagandha is effective for helping infertile females struggling to conceive.

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Asian Ginseng

american Ginseng, Panax ginseng, adaptogen plant

Anti-stress effect:

Location: Originally grew in the mountainous forests of eastern Manchuria, northern China and Korea. It is cultivated on a large scale in China and South Korea.

Constituents: A range of triterpenoid saponins known as ginsenosides or panaxosides, panaxanes.

Properties: Adaptogen, antioxidant, central nervous system stimulant, immune amphoteric and anti-inflammatory.

Asian ginseng has a history of herbal use going back over 5,000 years. It is one of the most highly regarded of herbal medicines in the Orient, where it has gained an almost magical reputation for being able to promote health, general body vigour and also to prolong life. The genus name Panax is derived from the Greek word meaning "panacea" or "all-healing". Both terms refer to the medicinal virtues of the plant. Ginseng has been listed by some as useful in the treatment of anemia, cancer, depression, diabetes, fatigue, hypertension, insomnia, shock, effects of radiation, effects of morphine and cocaine use, environmental, physical and mental stress, and chronic illness. It has been said to act as a stimulant, promote endurance, increase life expectancy, relax the nervous system, improve mental awareness, encourage proper hormonal functions, improve lipid levels, lower cholesterol, improve nerve growth, and increase resistance to disease. It has been used to increase the appetite and bodily energy, regulate menses, ease childbirth, increase fertility of women, and treat periodontal disease.

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Astragalus aka “the yellow leader”

Astragalus, Astragalus membranaceus, adaptogen plant

Anti-stress effect:

Location: China. It is grown in Shaanxi, Gansu, Heilong and Jiang provinces.

Constituents: Astragalus contains immune-stimulating polysaccharides-astragalans I, II and III and glucuronic acid as well as astragalosides I to VII ì, flavones and isoflavones.

Properties: Adaptogen (mild), antibacterial, antioxidant, antiperspirant, hearth tonic, hepatoprotective and immune tonic.

Called the "yellow leader" because of its position between tonic herbs in Chinese medicine, Astragalus is a herbaceous perennial plant of the pea family and is most commonly used for immune enhancement. Most research on astragalus has focused on its immunostimulatory activity and its seemingly remarkable ability to restore the activity of a suppressed immune system. Clinical trials as well as pharmacological data provide evidence for its usefulness in the prevention of the common cold and as an adjunct to cancer therapies. It may be useful as a complementary treatment during chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immune deficiency syndromes. Astragalus is used to strengthen the immune system over time, building resistance to illness and disease. A number of clinical studies have been reported regarding the use of astragalus for colds and upper respiratory infections. Studies indicate astragalus can increase metabolism and energy, boost stamina and promote healing. Other uses of astragalus; atherosclerosis, hypertension, hyperthyroidism, insomnia, diabetes, chronic hepatitis, genital herpes, AIDS and chemotherapy side effects.

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Brahmi

Brami, Bacopa Monnieri, adaptogen plant

Anti-stress effect:

Location: Brahmi is an annual creeping plant found throughout India including the North Eastern region.

Constituents: bacosides A and B.

Properties: Adaptogen, antioxidant, anti depressant, anticonvulsant, antimicrobial activity against skin pathogens, anti-inflammatory activity, sedative effect.

Brahmi has been found to be very beneficial in the treatment of anxiety neurosis and mental fatigue. It has been found to significant improve IQ levels, general ability, behavioural patterns and mental concentration in children. Brahmi is useful for improving mental clarity, confidence and memory recall. For these uses of Brahmi, it has been widely used by students. Brahmi is also used for the treatment of epilepsy, insomnia, asthma and rheumatism. Studies have also shown Brahmi to possess anticancer activity. Brahmi is effective against diseases like bronchitis, asthma, hoarseness, arthritis, rheumatism, backache, constipation, hair loss, fevers, digestive problems etc. Research has shown that Brahmi has antioxidant, cardio tonic and anticancer properties. The plant is also used for all sorts of skin problems- eczema, psoriasis, and abscess, ulcerations- it is said to stimulate the growth of skin, hair and nails. Read more on the original article.

Cordyceps

Cordyceps, Cordyceps sinensis, adaptogen plant

Anti-stress effect:

Location: Cordyceps fungus is gathered from the wild in the alpine grassland in the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains in Tibet and Bhutan.

Constituents: It contains immunostimulating polysaccharides (galactomannins, cordycepic acid), amino acids, fatty acids, polyamines and acdysterones.

Properties: Adaptogen, antiasthmatic, antileukemic, antioxidant, hepatoprotective, hypocolesteremic (lowers elevated cortisol level), immune system amphoteric, nephroprotective and sedative.

The name cordyceps actually describes a genus of fungi that includes more than 400 unique species of parasitic types. Fungi are essential parts of many ecosystems, but this particular genus also has a great deal of importance for people, as it has been traditionally used in herbal medicine for centuries. These “club head” mushrooms have a wide range of chemical components and compounds that make them particularly valuable in traditional medicine, as they are globally available and relatively inexpensive. Some of the most interesting health benefits of cordyceps include its ability to improve respiratory health, increase oxygen uptake, boost heart health, detoxify the body, prevent certain types of cancer, slow the aging process, increases energy and improve the immune system. With regard to the latter, it stimulates the production of NK cells (Natural Killer cells), which are one of the body’s first lines of defense against infection and illness.

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Dang shen

Dang shen, Codonopsis pilosula, C. tangshen, adaptogen plant

Anti-stress effect:

Location: it is native to China, and as a vine it grows on trellises, preferring partial shade and well-drained but moist soil.

Constituents: contains triterpenoid saponins known as tangshenosides, sequiterpenes and water-soluble polysaccharides.

Properties: Adaptogen, antiulcerogenic, gastroprotective, hypoglycemic agent and immune tonic.

Dang shen is an herb commonly used for its tonic nature by traditional Chinese medicine. In fact, nowadays more and more Dang shen health benefits are being discovered along with scientific progress. Modern research found that it contains a variety of sugars, phenols, volatile oil, baicalein glucosinolates, saponins and trace alkaloids, which can enhance immunity, dilate blood vessels, lower blood pressure, improve microcirculation, enhance hematopoietic function, and so on. In addition, it also improves the leukopenia (the decrease in the number of white blood cells - leukocytes - found in the blood) induced by chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

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Eleuthero (also known as “Siberian Ginseng”)

Eleuthero, Eleutherococcus senticosus,adaptogen plant

Anti-stress effect:

Location: It grows throughout Siberia, northern China, Korea and northern Japan.

Constituents: the active ones are a group of compounds known as eleutherosides A to G.

Properties: Adaptogen, anticholesterolemic, antioxidant, immune tonic.

Siberian Ginseng or Eleuthero has been used in China for 2000 years as a folk remedy for bronchitis, heart ailments, rheumatism, and as a tonic to restore vigour, improve general health, restore memory, promote healthy appetite, and increase stamina. The ability of Siberian Ginseng to increase stamina and endurance led Soviet Olympic athletes to use it to enhance their training. Explorers, divers, sailors, and miners used eleuthero to prevent stress-related illness. After the Chernobyl accident, many Siberian citizens were given eleuthero to counteract the effects of radiation. In Chinese medicine it was used to prevent respiratory tract infections as well as colds and flu. In Russia, Eleuthero was originally used by people in the Taiga region of Siberia to increase performance and quality of life and to decrease infections. Modern research has proven that it stimulates resistance to stress and so it is now widely used as a tonic in times of stress and pressure. Siberian Ginseng produces a comprehensive strengthening and toning impact; it has been recommended in treating various neural diseases, impotence, lung ailments, medium forms of diabetes mellitus, malignant tumours and in the treatment of menopausal problems and geriatric debility.

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Guduchi (also known as "heartleaf moonseed" or "amrit")

Guduchi, Tinospora cordifolia, adaptogen plant

Anti-stress effect:

Location: This herb is a vine that commonly grows throughout the tropical part of India, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

Constituents: diterpene compounds including tinosporone, tinosporic acid, cordifolisides A to E and syringe.

Properties: Adaptogen, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, choleretic (increasing the volume of secretion of bile from the liver as well as the amount of solids secreted), diuretic, febrifuge, hepatoprotective and immune amphoteric.

Guduchi also known as "amrit" or “heartleaf moonseed” is one of the most valued herbs in the Ayurvedic pharmacy. Guduchi has been used for thousands of years in India but it is only just beginning to be available in the West. It is commonly used for allergies and symptoms of hay fever, arthritis and inflammation, chronic skin disorders such as psoriasis or eczema, gout and rheumatic disorders, hepatitis and jaundice (helps protect the liver from exposure to toxins), immune system enhancement, for prevention of colds and flu and to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy drugs. Although modern science hasn’t been able to confirm its immortalizing properties, a growing number of studies support guduchi’s role in increasing the body’s resistance to stress, anxiety, and illness.

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He Shou Wu (also known as “Fleeceflower root”)

He shou wu, Polygonum multiforum, adaptogen plant

Anti-stress effect:

Location: It is native to China, northern Vietnam, Japan and Taiwan.

Constituents: it contains anthraquinones, lecithin and antioxidant polyphenols.

Properties: Antioxidant, astringent, cholagogue (which promotes the discharge of bile from the system, purging it downward), cholesterol lowering, hepatoprotective, laxative and neuroprotective.

He Shou Wu is one of the most popular and highly revered tonic herbs in Asian herbalism. The name of the plant He Shou Wu – translated “back haired (Mr.) He” – comes from the legendary man who discovered the use of this herb. After consuming the roots for several years, the old man’s hair had turned black again, his health was restored and he was able to father children. He Shou Wu is not a stimulant. However, it is one of the greatest energy tonics known to mankind. Its action is cumulative, as any truly healthy tonic dietary supplement would be. Because it is a very mild sedative, it will calm the nervous system. So it can be said that He Shou Wu is both energizing and calming. Classically, He Shou Wu is considered a liver tonic. He Shou Wu acts as a powerful antioxidant in the liver. Its strength partially comes from its remarkable ability to support and maintain the healthful cleaning functions of the kidney and liver, which in turn clean the blood. Many studies now support He Shou Wu’s protective and function-regulating actions on the liver. Researchers have found that this herb can stabilize liver cells by supporting membrane mechanism.

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Holy basil (also known as “Tulsi”)

Holy Basil, Ocimum sanctum, O. gratissimum, adaptogen plant

Anti-stress effect:

Location: Lowlands of India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, southern China, Thailand and Malaysia.

Constituents: Essential oil such as eugenol, carvacol, linalool, caryophylline, and methyleugenol as weel as triterpenes such as ursolic acid and flavonoids.

Properties: Adaptogen, antibacterial, antidepressant, antioxidant, antiviral, carminative (that help to expel gas from the stomach), diuretic, expectorant, galactagogue (promotes the flow of mother’s milk) and immunomodulator

Holy Basil, also known as Tulsi, is undoubtedly one of the best medicinal herb that has been discovered. It has endless miraculous and medicinal values and has been worshiped and highly valued in India for thousands of years. The health benefits of holy basil include oral care, relief from respiratory disorders, as well as treatment of fever, asthma, lung disorders, heart diseases and stress. Even going close to a Tulsi plant alone can protect you from many infections. A few leaves dropped in drinking water or foods can purify it and can kill germs within it as well. Even smelling it or keeping it planted in a pot indoors can protect the whole family from infections, coughs, colds and other viral infections.

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Jiaogulan also known as “Southern Ginseng”

Jiaogulan, Gynostemma pentaphyllum, adaptogen plant

Anti-stress effect:

Location: Jiaogulan is native to the mountain of Southern China and Korea, and it also grows in Japan.

Constituents: Jiaogulan contains triterpenoid saponins known as gypenosides.

Properties: Adaptogens, antioxidant, expectorant, hepatoprotective, cholesterol-lowering, hypotensive, immune system tonic and nervine.

In 1976 a Japanese researcher, looking for a sugar alternative, studied a perennial weed - named Jiaogulan or “Southern Ginseng”- known for its sweetness. He discovered an herb with many qualities similar to ginseng, even though unrelated as a plant. This event sparked years of scientific research on jiaogulan - praised in China as “xiancao”, the herb of immortality - revealing it to be a powerful adaptogenic and antioxidant herb with many health-giving properties. Scientific studies have confirmed jiaogulan's ability to assist the regulation of serum cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL (bad cholesterol), and HDL (good cholesterol, which helps to metabolize cholesterol from the arteries). It also has been widely reported to be effective in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels and to help an underweight person by assisting the absorption of nutrients. Jiaogulan can also enhance the contractility of the heart muscle and heart pumping function, support the immune system when under the siege of various destructive agents. Jiaogulan has also shown its effectiveness, in clinical research studies, as a potent immunomodulator. It increases the production of Lymphocytes, Phagocytes, and Serum IGG. Jiaogulan has a biphasic effect on brain functions, energizing or calming the system depending upon need, as well as on the regulation of hormonal functions in both men and women. The healthy maintenance of these physiological actions plays a major role in the body's ability to cope with stress.

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Licorice

Licorice, Glycyrrhiza glabra, Glycyrrhiza uralensis, adaptogen plant

Anti-stress effect:

Location: Licorice is native to southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia. It also grows in northern China and Russia. Today most of the commercial licorice crop is cultivated in Spain and Italy.

Constituents: Licorice contains sweet-tasting triterpenoid saponins, collectively known as glycyrrhizin. It also contains isoflavones such as genistein, demulcent, polysaccharides and anti-inflammatory flavonoids.

Properties: Adaptogen, antiviral, antidiuretic, antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumor, demulcent, demulcent, expectorant, hepatoprotective and immunomodulator.

Licorice root contains many anti-depressant compounds and is an excellent alternative to St. John's Wort (also known as Hypericum Perforatum). As an herbal medicine it has an impressive list of well-documented uses and is probably one of the most over-looked of all herbal wonders. It can lower stomach acid levels, relieve heartburn and indigestion and acts as a mild laxative. It can also be used for irritation, inflammation and spasm in the digestive tract. Through its beneficial action on the liver, it increases bile flow and lowers cholesterol levels. Licorice also appears to enhance immunity by boosting levels of interferon, a key immune system chemical that fights off attacking viruses. It also contains powerful antioxidants as well as certain phytoestrogens that can perform some of the functions of the body's natural estrogens; very helpful during the menopause. Glycyrrhizin acid also seems to stop the growth of many bacteria and of viruses such as influenza A. It has an aspirin-like action and is helpful in relieving fevers and soothing pain such as headaches. Its anti-allergenic effect is very useful for hay fever, allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis and bronchial asthma. Possibly by its action on the adrenal glands, licorice has the ability to improve resistance to stress. It should be thought of during times of both physical and emotional stress, after surgery or during convalescence, or when feeling tired and run down. By enhancing cortisol activity, glycyrrhizin helps to increase energy, ease stress and reduce the symptoms of ailments sensitive to cortisol levels, such as chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.

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Lycium

Lycium, Lycium chinesis, L. barbarum, adaptogen plant

Anti-stress effect:

Location: Lycium is native to China and mostly cultivated in Ningxia. It is naturalized in Hawaii and a related species grows wild in the southwestern United States.

Constituents: Lycium contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory carotenoids (zeaxanthin, cryptoxantine) and flavonoids.

Properties: Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, chemoprotective, hepatoprotective, immune tonic, lowers blood sugar levels and nutritive.

Lycium Fruit, more commonly known as Goji berries, has traditionally been used to increase life span, enhancing the appearance of the skin and treat many specific health concerns, such as boosting the immune system, protecting the liver and many others. Nowadays Lycium fruit is considered a “superfruit” and a health food. They are thought to be one of the most nutritional foods in existence. Research has proven that Lycium has an extremely high concentration of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, polysaccharides, sterols, micronutrients, phytochemicals and antioxidants. The antioxidant content in Lycium fruit is very important as a free radical fighter. Antioxidants protect the cells from damage that could cause health problems. Antioxidants are believed to slow the aging process and combat all types of disease and ailments, like cancer, heart disease, stroke and even Alzheimer’s disease. If made into juice, the berries must be processed within 48 hours to retain their nutritional value.

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Maca (also known as “Peruvian Ginseng”)

Maca, Lepidium meyenii, adaptogen plant

Anti-stress effect:

Location: Peru

Constituents: Maca is rich in vitamin B vitamins, C, and E. It provides plenty of calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and amino acids.

Properties: Adaptogen, aphrodisiac, antidepressant, antioxidant, anti-atherogenic, energizing, and fertility-enhancing, it acts on sexual dysfunctions, osteoporosis, benign prostatic hyperplasia, memory and learning, lipid and glucose metabolism and protects skin against ultraviolet radiation.

Maca helps your overall health in a number of ways. It supplies iron and helps restore red blood cells, which aids in avoiding anemia and cardiovascular diseases. The nutrients in maca may help to keep bones and teeth healthy and help heal wounds more quickly. When used in conjunction with a good workout regime, supplementing with maca may help to increase muscle mass. Maca has long been used to promote sexual function of both men and women. It’s thought to boost libido and increase endurance. It has also been used to balance the hormones and increase fertility. Maca has been used to relieve menstrual issues and the side effects of going through menopause. Some women have used it to alleviate cramps, body pain, hot flashes, anxiety, mood swings, and depression. Some have experienced an increase in energy level within days of beginning to use maca. It is also known for increasing stamina. Many athletes take maca for peak performance.
Be very cautious if you have a cancer related to hormones, like testicular and ovarian, among others. If you have liver issues or high blood pressure you should ask your doctor or practitioner before taking maca. Many people take maca for skin issues and especially withstand extreme temperatures.

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Prince seng aka “Ginseng of the lungs”

Prince seng, Pseudostellaria heterophylla, adaptogen plant

Anti-stress effect:

Location: Prince seng is native to central and southern China and is cultivated in Jiangsu, Anhui, Hubei and Shandong provinces.

Constituents: Prince seng contains immunostimulating polysaccharides (PH-1A,1B,1C) as well as saponins and peptides (pseudostellarin H and D).

Properties: Adaptogen (mild), demulcent, immune tonic and lung tonic.

Prince seng is known in Chinese medicine as the “ginseng of the lungs” because of its ability to strengthen and nourish weak, dry and damaged lung tissue. Prince Seng is a yin tonic, mild adaptogen, demulcent and nutritive. It is useful for dry, irritated lungs, dry coughs, emphysema, post-pneumonia debility, fatigue (with Schisandra) and deficient spleen patterns.

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Reishi (also known as “spirit plant”)

Reishi,	Ganoderma lucidum, adaptogen plant

Anti-stress effect:

Location: Various species of reishi grow in Asia, Europe, North America and even in the Amazon rain forest. In the southeastern and southwestern United States, it is found growing on oak trees. In the northeastern United States, it is usually is found growing on maple trees.

Constituents: Reishi contains immunostimulating polysaccharides known as B-Glucans, bitter triterpenes such as ganoderic acid and ganoderenic acid, and a protein known as ling zhi-9 protein.

Properties and uses: Adaptogen (mild), cholesterol-lowering, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, hearth tonic, hepatoprotective, immunomodulator and nervine.

Although some people don’t like the idea of eating fungi, mushrooms are one of the most popular and beneficial types of food on the planet. Reishi mushrooms, in particular, have been relied on for thousands of years in the Asian region, but have recently come to the attention of the wider world. Scientifically know as Ganoderma lucidum, “reishi” is the name by which these beneficial mushrooms are known in Japan, while in China, they are called lingzhi mushrooms. With popular names such as “king of herbs” and the “10,000-year mushroom”, reishi mushrooms have been highly praised in herbal medicine for thousands of years for its effects on longevity. In ancient times, those seeking immortality often used reishi mushrooms because of this belief. However, modern studies have positively linked reishi mushrooms to certain life-span expansion, namely due to the impressive polysaccharide content of these fungi. This is accomplished by boosting the health of the immune system and preventing certain abnormal blood vessel formations. Furthermore, certain antioxidant properties of other organic compounds in reishi mushrooms neutralize free radicals, which can cause chronic diseases and premature aging.

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Rhaponticum

Rhaponticum, Rhaponticum carthamoides, adaptogen plant

Anti-stress effect:

Location: This herb grows in the alpine and subalpine fields of southern and eastern Siberia (Buryatia, Tuva, Gorno-Alay regions), as well as Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Xingjiang province in China.

Constituents: Raphonticum contains compounds that are identical to insect hormones known as acdysterones. A group of acdysterones knows as leveseins are the most biologically active compounds in the herb. Some rhaponticum products are standardized to include only a specific compound, 20-hydroecdysone.

Properties: Adaptogen, antioxidant, antitumor, hearth tonic, hepatoprotective, immune stimulant, nervine.

Also known as Maral Root, Rhaponticum is regularly used in Russia and Eastern European countries in conjunction with Siberian ginseng and Rhodiola, to improve all parameters of sports performance. What makes Rhaponticum so special is that it appears to be a true anabolic agent, enabling the body to produce more lean muscle mass. Research conducted in Russia shows that extracts of Rhaponticum can significantly increase muscle mass, while decreasing body fat in athletes who use it while exercising. Specifically Rhaponticum contains a number of antioxidant flavonoids and natural sterols, including a substance called 20-Hydroxyecdysone, which has been shown to increase protein production at the cellular level, and in turn enhance the production of muscle tissue. Research also shows that Rhaponticum extract can help to increase work capacity (memory and learning) and endurance, while reducing mental and physical fatigue. This is good news for athletes who might otherwise be lured by steroids. As a traditional remedy, Rhaponticum has been used to allay fatigue, treat impotence, speed recovery from illness, and improve mood in cases of mild depression.

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Rhodiola (also known as “Golden Root”)

Rhodiola, Rhodiola rosea, adaptogen plant

Anti-stress effect:

Location: Rhodiola is native to the northern circumpolar regions of Canada, Scandinavia and Siberia. It also is found at higher elevations in the Alps, Pyrenees and Carpathian Mountains in Europe. It now is being cultivated in Finland, Sweden and Russia.

Constituents: Rhodiola contains rosavins, salidrosides and flavonoids.

Properties: Adaptogen, antidepressant, antioxidant, antiviral, immune system stimulant, nervine, mild central nervous system stimulant, antiarrhythmic (protects against irregular heartbeats), cardio protective and neuroprotective.

Rhodiola rosea is a remarkable herb that has a wide and varied history of uses. It is thought to strengthen the nervous system, fight depression, enhance immunity, elevate the capacity for exercise, enhance memory, aid weight reduction, increase sexual function and improve energy levels. It has long been known as a potent adaptogen thus it helps increase the body's overall resistance and helps to normalize bodily functions. Research on Rhodiola rosea and other medicinal herbs was part of the Soviet Union's great push to compete with the West in military development, the arms race, space exploration, Olympic sports, science, medicine, and industry. 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.

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Schisandra

Schisandra, Schisandra chinensis, adaptogen plant

Anti-stress effect:

Location: China

Constituents: Lignans such as schisandrin B, gomisans and schisandrol A are considered to be active constituents of schisandra.

Properties: Adaptogen, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune tonic, astringent, hepatoprotective, nervine and expectorant.

In China, Schisandra is said to be the most protective of all herbs and plants. Because of its adaptogenic properties Schizandra berries are beneficial to the whole body: like any adaptogen Schizandra exerts a normalizing effect on the entire body. It will take you from any extreme back to a balanced state. It can increase capacity for physical and mental exercise and protect you from environmental stress. This herb can increase your energy by stimulating the central nervous system without making you nervous like caffeine would. But since it’s an adaptogen, it can also calm the nervous system when facing stress. Schizandra increases energy at the cellular level. Many people take this herb to increase energy. It is especially popular with athletes as it boosts nitric oxide levels in the body. It fights fatigue as well, making it even more beneficial. The Health Sciences Institute states that schizandra berry can raise the body’s enzyme, glutathione. This enzyme detoxifies the body in a way that improves mental clarity. It is widely taken by students in China for this reason. Probably its best known property is as a protector of the liver, due to the lignans it contains. It helps maintain its proper functioning and regeneration and is also used to prevent liver damage. Schizandra uses its fat soluble compounds found in the core of its seed to protect the liver from toxins. Schizandra is very popular among woman for its ability to make the skin soft, smooth and beautiful. It has been taken for many hundreds of years in China for this purpose. It is believed to work by balancing the fluids of the skin. This amazing herb also contains antioxidants, such as gomisin A and Wuweizisu C, to protect your cells from free radicals and prevent oxidation. This is why it’s often used in longevity formulas in Chinese medicine. This herb is popular with people who suffer from mental disorders such as anxiety, depression and mood swings. Though it’s unknown how it works for these symptoms, Schizandra has been used for these ailments for many hundreds of years with much success. Though not enough research has been done in this area, there is some preliminary evidence that Schizandra my inhibit cancer cell growth for some types of cancers, such as leukemia. Much more research needs to be done before this will be considered a truly effective treatment. For men, this herb may be beneficial for impotence and erectile dysfunction since it has the ability to dilate the blood vessels, helping men achieve erection. As far as heart health goes, this herb’s blood vessel dilating properties are also good for lowering blood pressure, improving circulation and improving heart function in general.

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Sea Buckthorn

Sea Buckthorn, Hippophae Rhamnoides, adaptogen plant

Anti-stress effect:

Location: Himalayan Mountains (Spiti Valley)

Constituents: Sea Buckthorn is full of all the Omegas – 3, 6, 9 and the rare 7, as well as a host of antioxidants and other healing nutrients.

Properties: Adaptogen, Anti-oxidant and immunomodulatory, antihypertensive, anti stress, anti-inflammatory, antiradiation, antibacterial, antiulcer, Antihypertensive Effect, anti cancer.

Sea Buckthorn is also known as Hippophae Rhamnoides. This special herb grows primarily in the Himalayan Mountains where local inhabitants also call it “Holy fruit”. It has been used in China for more than 12 centuries as a cure against many diseases. Sea Buckthorn, in fact, has been used to heal psoriasis and make skin glow, boost immunity, slow aging, and lower cholesterol. Sea buckthorn leaves and flowers are used for treating arthritis, gastrointestinal ulcers, gout, and skin rashes caused by infectious diseases such as measles. A tea containing sea buckthorn leaves is an increidble source of vitamins, antioxidants, protein building blocks (amino acids), fatty acids and minerals. It improves blood pressure and lowers cholesterol, prevents and controls blood vessel diseases and boosts immunity. This plant is an amazing remedy against anxiety and stress, in addition to enhancing both health and beauty. Legend has it that even Genghis Khan used Sea Buckthorn to propel the fight against his enemies.

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Shatavari (also known as “wild asparagus”)

Shatavari, Asparagus racemosus, adaptogen plant

Anti-stress effect:

Location: India, Southern Asia, Malaysia, Africa and northern Australia.

Constituents: Shatavary contains anti-inflammatory steroidal glycosides such as diosgenin, shatavaring I to IV and sarsapogenin. It also has immune-stimulating polysaccharides.

Properties: Adaptogen, antibacterial, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, demulcent, diuretic, immune tonic, lung tonic, galactagogue (promotes the flow of mother’s milk) and gastroprotective.

Shatavari is a versatile traditional plant used for a variety of serious diseases. Generally the finger shaped root and needle shaped leaves are used in Ayurveda. The root is highly mucilagenous, antidiarrhoeal, antiseptic, refrigerant, diuretic, antidysenteric, nutritive, tonic, demulcent, galactagogue, aphrodisiac and antispasmodic. Shatavari means one “who possesses a hundred husbands”: since ancient time it is primarily considered both a general tonic and a female reproductive tonic. In Ayurveda medicine Shatavari is considered the main rejuvenative tonic for females. Shatavari is, however, also used for sexual debility and infertility in both sexes. It is also used for menopausal symptoms and to increase lactation. In Himalayan medicine system this plant is used traditionally for treatment of many diseases: tuber, leaves and fruits are used in gonorrhea, piles, diabetes, rheumatism, cough, diarrhea, dysentery, gastric troubles and headache, also for increasing lactation. In Ayurveda and Siddha medicine system the plant is used for treating madhura rasam, madhura vipakam, seeta-veeryam, polyuria, chronic fevers, soma rogam, white discharge, internal heat and as tonic. Generally the root is employed in diarrhoea as well as in chronic colic and dysentery problems. Root boiled with some bland oil, is applied in various skin diseases. Root is boiled in milk and the milk is administered to relieve bilious dyspepsia and diarrhoea and to promote appetite; root is also used in rheumatism. Tubers are candied and taken as a sweetmeat. Fresh root juice is given with honey as a demulcent. Boiled leaves smeared with ghee are applied to boils, smallpox, etc., in order to prevent their confluence. Juice of this drug taken with milk is useful in gonorrhea.

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Shilajit

Shilajit, Asphaltum bitumen, adaptogen plant

Anti-stress effect:

Location: Shilajit is a blackish-brown substance that exudes from rocks in the high mountains of India, Tibet, Nepal, China, Russia, Afghanistan, Bhutan, China and Kashmir.

Constituents: Shilajit is composed of humus, various minerals, di-benzo-alpha-pyrones and organic acid such as fulvic, humic, benzoic and hippuric acids.

Properties: Adaptogen, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, hypoglycemic, immunomodulator, antiulcerogenic, inhibits allergic response.

The curing nature of Shilajit has been recognized by Ayurveda for more than 3000 years. In Ayurveda, it is regarded as the strongest age fighting and rejuvenating component of the earth. Although the existence of Shilajit was known since ancient times, it was rediscovered by the people living in the Himalayan Mountains. These people observed the white monkeys; who migrated to the area during the summer. The animals were strong, healthy, energetic and had a long life span. The monkeys were always seen chewing a black gummy substance. The villagers followed the monkeys to the side regions of the mountains, and saw them peel off the substance from the surface of the rocks. They brought it back with them, and started ingesting it. They instantly recognized its benefits. It is not a case that the Sanskrit term “Shilajit” means “invincible rock”. This is because it is believed that it has the ability to any problem or ailment. The humic composition gives it the healing and health properties for which is known as the “conqueror of mountains and destroyer of weakness”. According to Ayurvedic texts, this is effective for any problem, but the prominent advantages include the following: Shilajit is anti-aging because the high energy and bio-generative properties promote cell regeneration, and proper maintenance of old cells; it has rejuvenation properties effective for problems like tissue degeneration; it helps in energy synthesis and that help to promote metabolism of proteins and vitamins for energy release; it helps in blood purifications, it enhances the immune system and the circulation system and increase in sexual potency, it prevents and cures diabetes, it maintains the blood sugar level and solves bone related problems.

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*Part of the information on this section – specifically the mentions related to “constituents” and “properties” - are taken from David Winston’s and Steven Maimes experience in clinical herbal practice exposed in the following book: Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief by David Winston, RH(AHG) and Steven Maimes, published by Inner Traditions International and Bear & Company, ©2007.
All rights reserved. http://www.Innertraditions.com. Reprinted with permission of publisher.