Adaptogens in Summary
Looking at the adaptogen theory, the work that has been done to substantiate the theory, and the identified adaptogens, it becomes evident that adaptogens are an intriguing class of drugs. If one is looking for drugs that can prevent disease, there is potential here. The ideas put forward by Selye are hardly earth shattering. On the contrary, it is our common experience. We have all experienced our body’s ability to resist the cold (through shivering), the heat (through sweating), and an infection (through raised temperature). We also know our body can resist an onslaught for only so long. We have all experienced stress wearing down our “resistance” and an illness turning up shortly thereafter. What makes Selye’s work compelling is that he gave the phenomena of resistance capacity a name and established the physiological underpinnings of this commonly observed and experienced phenomenon. Indeed, 150 years earlier and on a different continent, the Eclectic physicians named and described this same phenomena. What these two groups of scientists and physicians suggested next, though, was significant. They proposed using medicine to increase the bodies’ resistance capacity, medicines that prolonged the body?s ability to withstand stress. When they found these remedies, they put them to trial. Contemporary researchers have studied tonics and adaptogens and they have been, to an extent, scrutinised by the scientific community. Research shows these drugs increase immune activity, improve adrenal response to stressors, decrease cellular damage resulting from stress, increase toxin excretion by the liver and kidneys, and more. In other words, contemporary researchers have demonstrated that both adaptogens and tonics raise resistance to stressors. Research has shown this type of remedy can prevent disease. It might be said that looking at the work of Selye, Brekhman, and the Eclectics, and the tonics identified by the Eclectics, the adaptogens identified by Brekhman, and the new adaptogens identified by this project, is like looking at a series of shadows. Something is casting these shadows, but, as of yet the form casting these shadows is unknown.
Simply put, the en massed evidence suggests there is something to the concept described by the ancient Greco?Romans, the Russian researchers, and the reformist American physicians. Indeed, the first half of this research project demonstrates that there are substances that increase the body’s in built resistance. However, there is still much to learn. The chapter that follow explore how we might move the subject of substances that support the body?s innate capacity forward. By summarising what we now know, we can begin to delineate where research should head regarding this class of botanical drugs. That is to say, enough work has been done to draw a road map for future researchers. Specifically, the observations regarding adaptogens can be broken down into three categories. Namely, observations regarding adaptogen research, observations regarding adaptogens, and observations regarding clinical application of adaptogens.