Are There Adaptogens Amongst the Eclectic Tonics?

A careful review of Adaptation, Adaptogen, and Eclectic tonic literature reveals common underlying themes. The conceptual similarities between these medical systems suggestions there is an increased likelihood that some of the Eclectic tonics are adaptogens. Similar to Hans Seyle?s conclusion that the GAS, powered by adaptation energy, was the means by which organisms survived threats to well being (4, 5), Eclectic physician Dr. Williams put forward the theory that the body had an in built capacity to resist harmful influences powered by a force he called the Vis conservatrix. (6) Like Selye, Williams noted that this innate power of conservation was limited. Both asserted that disease resulted from insufficient adaptation energy or Vis conservatrix. Not surprisingly, subscribers to Selye’s and Williams’ theories began looking for substances that increased the adaptation energy or Vis conservatrix. Brekhman coined the term “adaptogen” to describe substances that increased the body’s ability to resist harmful influences. (1–3, 7–9) He created a three part criterion for the isolation of an adaptogen from traditionally used tonics. Similarly, the Eclectic physician John Milton Scudder isolated remedies that augmented the Vis conservatrix and drugs that increased resistance to harmful influences. Scudder, like Brekhman, looked amongst traditionally used botanical drugs for substances with this capacity. Indeed, comparing Brekhman’s criterion for an adaptogen with Scudder?s criterion for a tonic, striking similarities are seen. Both assert as a cardinal principle that the substance should be innocuous and safe to the body. (2,10,11) Both assert that the action of the substance should be non?specific, supporting the overall systems of the body and increasing resistance to any and all threats to well being. (2, 12) Finally, both assert that the substance should normalize abnormal function regardless of the direction of the abnormality. (2, 11)

Conclusion Selye, Brekhman, and the Eclectic physicians observed that the body’s innate capacity to resist threats to well being could not hold off a deleterious influence forever. At a point, resistance wore out and disease set in. Selye postulated there might be drugs that augmented the resistance capacity. Brekhman and the Eclectic physicians sought and found botanical drugs that augmented resistance. Given the similarities between the foundations on which Brekhman’s work is based and the observational philosophy of the Eclectic Medical movement there is grounds to believe further investigation will be revealing. Moreover, given the parallel characteristics of Brekhman’s’ adaptogen criterion and the Eclectic’s tonic screening criteria, there is a good chance that some of the Eclectic tonics are adaptogens.

References for Are there drugs with adaptogenic properties amongst the Eclectic tonics? 1. Brekhman, II. Man and Biologically Active Substances. Acad.Sci.USSR. Leningrad.(1966 Man and Biologically Active Substances. The Effect of Drugs, Diet and Pollution on Health. Pergamon Press. New York. 1980) P. 58. 2. Brekhman, II and Dardymov, IV. New substances of plant origin which increase nonspecific resistance. Annual Review of Pharmacology. Volume 9. 1969. P. 410–426. 3. Brekhman, II and Dardymov, IV. Pharmacological Investigation of Glycosides from
Ginseng and Eleutherococcus. Lloydia. Volume 32, Number 1. 1969. P. 46–51. 4. Selye, H. Endocrinology 21(2): 169 1937. 5. Selye, H. American J.Physiol.123: 758 1938. 6. Williams, Charles JB. Principles of Medicine. Lea and Blanchard. Philadelphia. 1844. P. 38. 7. Lazarev, NV. VII Vsesojuzniy s’ezd fiziologox,biokhimikov I farmakologov(7th all union congress of physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology). P. 579. Medgiz, Moscow. 1947. 8. Lazarev, NV. Farmacol.Toxicol. 1958. 21,3, 81–86. 9. Lazarev NV, Ljublina E, Rozin M. Patol.Fiziol.Eksperim.Terapia. 1959. 3, 4, 16–21.
10. Scudder, John Milton. The Eclectic Physician. Twenty First Edition, Fifth Revision. Cincinnati. John K.Scudder. 1887. P. 33–35. 11. Scudder, J. M. The American Eclectic Materia Medica and Therapeutics.. Tenth Edition, revised and rewritten. 1883. P. 433. 12. Jones, LE. and Scudder, John.M. The American Eclectic Materia Medica and Therapeutics. In Two Volumes. Moore, Wilstach, and Keys. Cincinnati. 1858.P. 203.