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Overview of natural adaptogenes

Plants that allow the body to tolerate increased stress have long been known in traditional treatment systems. TCM is known as the herbs enhancing qi , Ayurveda as rasajan , we were known simply as tonic. Their definition was more precise in the mid-20th century when the concept of adaptogen was created. This concept was missing because Paracelsus' view of the drug is not suitable for most herbs. Adaptogen is not a term in the field of herbal medicine , but theoretical medicine . The origin of this word is related to the mammalian stress response , which can be said to be "generalized adaptation syndrome".

Classical adaptogens

The emergence of the concept of adaptogen (as I have already said) is related to the mammalian stress response, whose key hormone is corticosteroid cortisol. It acts on the nuclear steroid receptors and prepares the organism for periods of increased stress. Steroid glycosides, which resemble human hormone structure and also prepare the body for stress, are contained not only in ginseng, but also in vitamin, stag, gynostem, and many other plants that have achieved the renown of pancakes. As long as there was no term adapogen, they were urgently marked with the word "ginseng" . We have Siberian ginseng (eleuterokok), Indian ginseng (ašvaganda), Peruvian ginseng (Maka), Malaysian ginseng, Desert ginseng, Domestic ginseng, none of these botanically belonging to the Panax genus. You will find them on the following list of so-called classic adaptogens , for which I do not say complete:

Examples of the Mushroom Empire:

An example from the realm of chemistry:

  • 2-Benzyl-benzimidazole (dibazol) - a synthetic neuroprotective adaptogen from the 1950s

Other potential adaptogens

As a list of drugs, the list of adaptogens is open. On the one hand, it can not be extended only without scientific consensus. On the other hand, however, there seem to be much more plants and chemicals than the few known since the middle of the last century. Towards the end of the 20th century, the interest in adaptogens ceased and reappeared in the 21st century with the advancing renaissance of herbalism in medical practice. The definition of adaptogen itself is scientifically inadequate today. It is necessary to have objective criteria according to which it is possible to compare the herbal and chemical adaptogenes. Current theoretical pharmacology, however, does not provide these criteria for adaptogens. That's why I mention a small number of promising plants from the many candidates here:

Examples of the Mushroom Empire:

Examples from the Realm of Chemistry:

  • nitric oxide - a popular therapeutic gas, an adaptogen?
  • sildenafil (Viagra) - according to the pattern of nitric oxide
  • chlorogenic acid - the miraculous ubiquitous component of phytoplexes
  • ergosterol - the miraculous ubiquitous component of mycocomplexes

Medicinal plants in the category of classical adapogenes are sometimes confused with panacea and doubt about them. How can they have so many effects when the right medications only have one?

This list is deliberately short. Thus, the genus basil has much more than just the tulips - the miraculous herbs include our basil , the ripe basil , and many other species. The same applies to the other mentioned genera ( Allium , Taraxacum , Zingiber , Lepidium , Echinacea , Vaccinium , Cordyceps , Pleurotus ...) and, in the end, all the drugs except the most unique. We do not have a better classification of potential adaptogenes yet, but it is positive that pharmacologists are paying attention again.

For the time being, we can make it clear that adaptogens can not be classified as ineffective (placebo, today's homeopathic) or nutritional (starch, glucose, sucrose ...). This is not so obvious - sugar was once sold as a drug. It is also pointless to mention miraculous natural substances such as honey, chitosan, agar, vitamins, yoghurt, cinnamon, kumys, propolis, combuch, mumijo, etc., or sunbathing methods, radiotherapy, cryotherapy, spa procedures. These potentially adaptive ( Karpan1999lie , Yonezawa2006irb ) substances and modalities can only be discussed in a specific context. In the general context, the term adapogen should be reserved for pharmacists to significantly increase the adaptation range .


In the overview of the medicinal plants , algae and fungi you find here, classical adaptogens are marked by a letter , potential adaptogens by a questioner , obvious nonadaptogens (if I know of them) a letter and eventually highly poisonous plants and fungi with a letter .

Each therapist can be looked at theoretically as an adaptogen and ask about how the perfect adaptogen is. Only a few medicinal plants (or other natural herbs) do indeed meet the strict criteria of the original definition formulated in the 20th century. Most medicinal plants can only be labeled as imperfect adaptogens , but are less adaptable . Perhaps the perfect adaptogen must not be even poisonous . Sometimes it is necessary to mark an otherwise excellent medicinal plant as a nonadaptogen because of the only problematic substance - caffeine, nicotine, capsaicin, THC, oxalic acid ... By means of cultivation or pharmaceutical treatment problematic substances can be removed, but not when they are the substances which we use when using them. Plants that are highly toxic among adaptogens do not belong, and their limited listing is for contrast. In Paracelsus pharmacotherapy, poisoning is welcome: its effectiveness, unlike adaptogens, confirms dramatic effects and according to Paracels' maxima sola dosis facit venenum between poisons and medication is no different. Paracelsov's way of thinking reflects also Decree No. 245/1997 Coll. , which acts as a "strong" and "very strong" effect, while adapting to adaptogens as "other used".

Non-medicated non-adapted drugs

Absence of toxicity is not a sufficient condition for the drug to be labeled as an adaptogen . The categories of non-medicated drugs and adapogenic categories are not interchangeable. To illustrate, I present several non-toxic drugs which, in the absence of toxicity, need to be ranked among imperfect adaptogens, ie non-adaptive:

  • Glycyrrhiza uralensis and licorice glaze - its steroid glycoside glycyrrhizin works similarly to cortisol and also generates a generalized adaptation syndrome so it can be called an almost adapogenic. However, due to the unilateral effect of glycyrrhizin, the original definition of adaptogen does not meet, whereas chemically related ginseng compounds having a double, opposite, stabilizing effect on hormonal stress are model adapters.
  • cannabis sativa ( Cannabis sativa ) - a substantially non-toxic panacea, which, however, due to the unilateral intoxication effects of THC can not be classified as adaptogens.
  • Piper methysticum , kava-kava - a substantially non-toxic, almost alcoholic-like plant (acting on the same receptors). It does not indicate the harmfulness of higher doses of alcohol, but because of the intoxication itself is not an adaptogen.
  • St John's wort ( Hypericum perforatum ) - again almost adapogenic. Due to side effects, though mild, this soothing drug can not be described as a perfect adaptogen.

Example of a Mushroom Empire:

  • Monascus purpureus - a substantially non-toxic source of statins blocking cholesterol synthesis in the human body. However, statins are generally characterized by a one-sided, only decreasing effect on cholesterol synthesis, for which they can not be described as perfect adaptogens.

Examples of relatively non-toxic nonadaptogens from the realm of chemistry:

  • aspirin - this essentially non-toxic panacea can not be classified as a perfect adaptogen due to the side effects and the possibility of overdose that practically does not exist in perfect adaptogens.
  • alcohol (ethanol) - this in small doses beneficial vasodilatation pancreatitis due to the intoxication itself is not a perfect adaptogen, not to mention the possibility of poisoning during notorious overdose.

| 2009 - 4.11.2018