The strict requirements of the adaptogen definition are met only by a few plants which happen to combine presence of active substances with certain special qualities and absence of harmful effects. There are a few traditional, I would say archetypical plants, which originally served as an example and inspiration for the entire category of adaptogens.
- True Ginseng (Panax ginseng CA Mey.)
- Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus (Rupr. & Maxim.) Maxim.)
- American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.)
- Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea L.)
- Schizandra (Schizandra chinensis (Turcz.) Bailly.)
- Bieberstein's carline thistle (Carlina biebersteinii Bernh. Ex Horne.)
- Rhaponticum (Rhaponticum carthamoides (Willd.) Iljin)
(Somewhat artificial formal criterion for including the plants on this list was that the plant was significantly mentioned in a published work authored or co-authored by I. I. Brekhmann, without any claims of completeness).
Medicinal mushrooms are special and relatively little-known group of drugs. I do not want to say adaptogens, because not all medicinal mushrooms can be marked as adaptogens. The definition of adaptogen but certainly meets Ganoderma mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum), also known as sponge "reishi" or "lingzhi " which is the most famous medicinal mushrooms. Like ginseng, which was the inspiration for the entire category of adaptogens, shiny Reishi mushroom has provided inspiration for the introduction of medicinal mushrooms in lege artis medicine.
Of course, the fact that some fungi contain secondary metabolites having an influence on the human organism was not unknown to our science. This new, what we TCM in the use of medicinal mushrooms brought is that the medicinal mushrooms ceased to look only to obscure the source of chemicals that maybe sometimes a laboratory for something used, but that Reishi mushroom and other medicinal mushrooms began to be a practical drug that we can find in nature, grow, or buy directly and without any major modifications used to treat serious diseases such as cancer. In other words, at a time when drug prices are rising and practical innovation activity in the field of pharmaceuticals due to bureaucratic obstacles is lagging behind, it is a backup source of drugs (and everything else) again nature. I would like to emphasize that almost all so-called. Chinese medicinal mushrooms grow in our country, though not abundant. Knowledge of medicinal mushrooms "on loan" from TCM represents for us a source of medicinal effects practically available to the end user:
- Ganoderma (Ganoderma lucidum (Curtis) P. Karst) – anticancer action
- Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) bags.) – Encouraging anticancer
- Chaga (Inonotus obliquus L.) – anticancer action
- Phellinus (Phellinus linteus (Berkeley et MA Curtis) Teng) - another fungus containing the anticancer active polysaccharide
- Trametes (Coriolus) versicolor (Trametes versicolor (L.: Fr.) Pilate)
- Versicolor camphor (camphor Antrodia (M. Zhang et CH Su) Sheng H. Wu, Chang TT et Ryvarden)
Other interesting plants with positive effects:
In addition to traditional adaptogens, there are many other plants that are harmless, while having significant positive health effects. For such plants, there is an increased probability that they would meet the definition of adaptogen. But I do not want to focus on which plants would or would not formally belong among adaptogens (that's why the title of this paragraph is not "Other adaptogens"). In the list below, I prefer those plants, which are, from my point of view, "interesting" – that is, exotic, little known or underestimated. The list is offered as is, it is far from being complete.
Mentioned, but not very common:
- Goji (Lycium barbarum L.)
- Jujube (Ziziphus zizyphus (L.) H. Karst.)
- Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba L.)
- Aswagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal)
- Sea-buckthorn (Hippophaë rhamnoides L.)
- True aloe (Aloe vera (L.) Burm.f.)
- Gynostema five-leaf (Gynostemma pentaphyllum (Thunb.) Makino)
- Saussurea costus (Falc.) Lipsch. - critically endangered
- Peruvian cress, or maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp) - recently promoted crop from South America
- Bitter gourd (also bitter cucumber) (Momordica charantia Descourt.) - another star among vegetables with healing properties
Available, but not respected enough:
Nowadays, there is a lot of advertisement going on about exotic plants, but it is quite possible to establis a healthy lifestyle with the commonly available plants:
- Blueberries – can compete with the best exotic crops and I would not hesitate at all to label them as adaptogen, not only fruit, but also leaves
- Ginger – one of the best medicinal plants, which we do not use enough
- Garlic – although not overlooked or very much underrated, it deserves a position of honor on this lit
- Potatoes – like reinforced concrete, potatoes seem so ordinary to us, that we are forgetting their true value
- Tomatoes – food and medicine
- Truffles – appreciated in the kitchen, but underestimated by science
For example, I would say that blueberries compare well to the best foreign adaptogens. But that reminds of another question – how one should compare the "power" of adaptogens. At present, there is no clear answer to this question – we first would have to define metrics over the stress factors, to which humans in their current environment are exposed. That would be a lot of work.
Herbs whose inclusion among adaptogeny needs further verification:
- Devil’s club (Oplopanax horridus (Sm.) Miq.) - somewhat effective, strongly promoted relative of ginseng
- Dong quai (Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels) - good for the women's problems
- Mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus (Lf) Ker Gawl.) - the traditional heart problems
- (Epimedium grandiflorum Morr.)
- Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.)
- Turner diffusa Willd.
- Sarsaparilla (Smilax aristolochiifolia Mill.) - medicinal plant often used in drinks
- Puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris L.) - herb of questionable effects, promoted as aphrodisiac
- Oyster mushroom (Pleurotu ostreatus (Jacq. ex Fr.) Kumm.) - on one hand, beneficial, on the other, suspected from several unexplained poisonings
- Milk thistle (Silybum marianum (L.) Gaertn.)
- (Wolfiporia extensa (Peck) Ginns = Poria Cocos Wolf)
- Canadian vodulka (Hydrastis canadensis)
- osier (Lysimachia vulgaris), "jin qian cao"
- Desmodium styracifolium, "Guang Jing Qian Cao"
- plantain (Plantago), in addition to our well P. asiatica, "Chequanzi"
- Gardenia (jasminoides etc.., Fructus gardeniae gasminoidis)
- Bupleurum scorzoneraefollium (radix bupleuri)
- Atractylodes macrocephala
- Prunus mume
- Paeonia suffruticosa ("cortex moutan" = radix herba + P. suffruticosa)
- Synsepalum dulcificum
- milkvetch (Astragalus), Asian and Czech, "anti-aging"
- chickweed (Stellaria) - vegetables and medicine with the potential impact of obesity
- knotweed (Polygonum multiflorum) - polygons multiflora radix - "anti-aging"
- Solomon (Polygonatum) - polygonati rhizomes
Among adaptogens apparently not ...
... those medicinal plants that are more or less toxic
- barberry (Berberis vulgari s)
- Azadirachta indica, nimbový oil
- soap holder (Sapindus)