Adaptogenic Herbs

In Western herbalism, TCM herbal formulas are called adaptogens. Adaptogenic herbs help support our vital forces and increase resistance to stress and other factors leading to adrenal disorders.

Adaptogenic” is a term coined by researchers to describe this class of herbs that help the body to adapt to stress. These herbs are finding an increasingly important role in pharmaceutical choices today.

Studies have shown that adaptogenic herbs:

  • support adrenal gland function
  • are effective in the treatment of hypo- or hyperfunction of the adrenal glands
  • are an ideal choice for people with symptoms of chronic stress (i.e. fatigue, low immunity, insomnia, dizziness upon standing, lack of motivation, irritability, and other mood disturbances

A balanced adrenal gland, in turn:

  • supports the rest of the glandular systems in the body (the endocrine system)
  • promotes a healthy and balanced immune system
  • helps relieve the effects of stress on mood, such as anxiety and depression

Definition of Adaptogens

In 1968 a Soviet research scientist and medical doctor, Dr. Brekham, initiated many large scale studies of adaptogens involving schools, factories, even an entire town. He suggested the following definition of adaptogens:

1) The action of the adaptogen should be harmless and innocuous and cause minimal disturbance to the organism.

2) An adaptogenic agent should not be active only in a specific content or against a specific background. It must have a broad therapeutic spectrum of action.

3) The action of an adaptogen has to be nonspecific; that is to say, resistance to a wide variety of actions from harmful factors, whether of a physical, chemical, or a biological nature, has to increase. In other words, the action of an adaptogen has to be more intense as unfavorable changes occur in the organism.

4) An adaptogen has to have a normalizing or stabilizing action independent of the direction of the previous changes.


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