Monday, 12 January 2015

The Science Behind Adaptogens

 Stress has real physical consequences that can weigh on your health. That's where Adaptogens come in. These are plants that produce special substances originally intended to help them to adapt to and overcome stressors in their own environments. In humans, Adaptogens work by normalizing the body’s functions and taking them daily improves mental and physical performance while reducing fatigue.
 When coping with stress and temporary bouts of fatigue, most Americans reach for that extra cup of coffee or energy shot to get through the day.  Others resort to alcohol, high-calorie snacks, cigarettes, or TV and the couch for an escape. But these habits are counter-productive; they can bring on disrupted sleep, withdrawal symptoms, or weight gain that eventually worsens mental and physical performance.
There may be a better way: adaptogens.
Swedish Herbal Institute researchers Alexander Panossian and Georg Wikman examined randomized, clinical trials on extensively studied adaptogens including rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), schizandra berry (Schisandra chinensis), and eleuthero root (Eleutherococcus senticosus). They found that these and other adaptogens not only reduce stress and fatigue, but also improve attention and focus.
According to their recently published scientific review on adaptogens published in Current Clinical Pharmacology (1), the reason these herbs are effective may be because they stimulate biochemical pathways that help mediate the harmful effects of stress on the body. Among the findings from studies the authors included in their review were the following:
  • Rhodiola improved levels of emotional stability, self-esteem, and attention while also reducing fatigue and insomnia.
  • Eleuthero root reduced feelings of fatigue and increased resistance to low-oxygen settings, such as in deep-sea diving or high altitudes.
  • Schizandra increased work accuracy and feelings of general well-being, and decreased feelings of sleepiness and exhaustion.
From the Greek word “adapto” meaning “to adjust,” the term adaptogen is applied to any botanical that enhances resistance to stress without the side effects of conventional stimulants. Caffeine, according to the researchers, works by “tricking” the brain to make it more alert, but depletes its energy and resources. On the other hand, adaptogens increase the work capacity of the body or brain by being “stress-protective” or “restorative”.
Stress Vaccines
One of the main questions Panossian and Wilkman sought to answer was how adaptogens work. In their paper, they propose that adaptogens may help the body adapt to stress by inducing a mild stress response in the body. Acting like a “stress vaccine” adaptogens then inoculate against future sources of  stress.
In a sense, adaptogens mimic stress, creating an adaptive response in the nervous, cardiovascular, endocrine, immune and gastrointestinal systems. The authors suggest that through the regulation of stress with adaptogenic herbs, consumers may enjoy “enhanced mental and physical performance, and, possibly, increased longevity.”
Writing in a second review published in Pharmaceuticals in 2010 (2), the same authors wrote that these herbs normalize homeostasis (balance in the body) through several mechanisms akin to mild stress hormones. For example, active components of rhodiola, schisandra and eleuthero are structurally similar to catecholamines—primary regulators of stress—and other components resembling corticosteroids that help to inactivate a stress response.  Fortunately, what adaptogens won’t do is impair mental function or cause addiction.
Ionix® Supreme: Adaptogen-rich Stress Tonic
Ionix Supreme

Ionix Supreme, deemed “nature’s answer to stress”, is an adaptogen-rich drink designed with potent amounts of rhodiola, shisandra and eleuthero—as discussed by Panossian and Wilkman above—along with other beneficial herbs including:
  • Wolfberry (Lycium barbarum) acts as an adaptogen and an antioxidant for the maintenance of good health and increased mental and physical performance (3-5).
  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) operates as an antioxidant for maintaining good health as well as stimulates liver detoxification (6). It may also support the brain (7) and immune function (8) while increasing the body’s resistance to stress (9).
  • Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri) acts as an antioxidant in the maintenance of brain health (10) and has been found to help maintain normal memory and cognitive function (11, 12).
With these herbal ingredients acting synergistically, drinking a shot or two of Ionix Supreme daily offers consumers an advantageous way of obtaining the protection adaptogens provide against stress. The drink can also help improve focus, attention or athletic performance.
Several recent studies also suggest that better management of psychological stress and minimizing its effects may also support more graceful aging. For example, a recent study published in August’s issue of Nature discovered that mice chronically infused with adrenaline, a hormone released by the body in reaction to stress, resulted in injured DNA (13). This study may help to explain why those individuals subjected to chronic psychological stress have shorter telomeres (14), the  protective caps on chromosomes whose length is considered a biomarker of aging.
Researchers are already studying several ways of combating the ill effects of stress on cells and their telomeres, including the role of exercise. What role will adaptogens have? Adaptogens in a supplement such as Ionix Supreme could be the key to beating stress, supporting healthier aging, and increasing longevity.

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