What is it about?

Adaptogens are natural compounds of a plant origin that promote adaptability, resilience, and survival of living organisms under stress. Adaptogens exert multi-target effects on the neuro-endocrine-immune system by triggering adaptive signalling pathways that promote cell survival in response to stress. They also regulate metabolism and homeostasis by controlling the expression of stress hormones and their receptors, thereby strengthening the body’s resistance toward physical, chemical, biological, and psychological stressors. Therefore, adaptogens are very effective for the prevention and treatment of stress‐induced disorders like chronic fatigue, memory impairment, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, cold, and flu. In addition, they may have potential roles in the prevention and treatment of age- related chronic diseases, cancer, chronic inflammation, atherosclerosis, neurodegenerative diseases, and metabolic disorders such as diabetes. The authors also suggest possible molecular mechanisms behind adaptogen-induced decrease of oxidative stress. Essentially, adaptogens act as mild stress vaccines by reversing the negative effects of stress and restoring balance and health to the body.

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Why is it important?

In this review, for the first time, the authors have compared and analysed the basic principles, concepts and uses of adaptogenic plants across various cultures, and provide a scientific rationale supporting their traditional use in treating stress-induced and aging-related diseases. Some combinations of adaptogenic plants provide unique effects due to their synergistic interactions.


Further progress in this field should be directed towards discovering new combinations of adaptogens based on traditional medical concepts. Moreover, their potential and possible synergistic effects in treating specific conditions need to be explored.

Alexander Panossian
Phytomed AB

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Evolution of the adaptogenic concept from traditional use to medical systems: Pharmacology of stress‐ and aging‐related diseases, Medicinal Research Reviews, October 2020, Wiley, DOI: 10.1002/med.21743.
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