A Short History of Adaptogenic Herbs

Last post we talked about the benefits of adaptogens. I learned a lot of secrets for preparing medicinal herbs from my Mom and she learned a lot from her Mom, my Grandmother. I told that story in an earlier post. They showed me ways to make sure the formulations were potent and effective. I spent many years learning their methods.  The more I studied, the more I began to realize how far back in time the use of adaptogenic herbs really went. They are found in Ayurvedic medicine in India and in ancient Chinese medicine.

As best we can tell (sources vary on this) medicinal herbs were being used 5,000 years ago, as early as 3000 BC. So, it’s possible healing herbs were being used since the beginning of life here on this planet.

Traditional Indian Adaptogenic Healer

Charaka-Samhita is a comprehensive text on ancient Indian medicine. Scholars believe it was recorded by a healer named Charaka. He was a known practitioner of the traditional Indian healing system of Ayurveda. Charaka-Samhita identifies 350 different plants for medicinal use. It’s a pretty interesting story, so I included some links. Where I picked up the chase was in identifying the most adaptogenic-rich plants that I could find all over the globe. I kept asking, “Why are the same plants used over and over throughout thousands of years in different cultures all over the world?” Well, Modern Science gave me a helping hand in finding the answer.

Adaptogenic Studies Back in the USSR

In the 1940s some Soviet scientists began to investigate ways to boost performance without the negative effects of traditional stimulants. Dr. Nikolai Lazarev gets credit for the first actual use of the word, adaptogen. He’d been commissioned by the Soviet army to find ways to enhance the productivity and performance of soldiers, athletes, and workers without using dangerous stimulants.

A lot of the first modern research into adaptogens was done by Lazarev’s colleague Dr. Israel I. Brekhman. In the late 1950s, he studied Panax ginseng. Later, he focused on a native Russian shrub, Eleutherococcus senticosis. In 1960 he published his first monograph on Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng). Eleuthero has become one of the rock stars of the adaptogenic herb universe known wide for relieving stress, enhancing the immune system, improving concentration and memory, and helping muscles burn oxygen more efficiently. Dr. Brekhman’s first published study of eleuthero (the first named adaptogen) was very influential. Within two years eleuthero was approved by the USSR Ministry of Health for clinical use as a “stimulant.”

Lazarev and Brekhman were given a small army to explore other avenues of study. They conducted over 3,000 experiments and clinical trials with “medicinal” herbs. They studied an amazing 4,000 plants. Out of all those plants they isolated only twelve as containing significant amounts of the essential adaptogenic substances. The main plants they identified beside eleuthero were Rhodiola, Rhaponiticum, and Schisandra. Lazarev and Brekhman were aware some of the adaptogenic plants had survived the Ice Age. They theorized that if these plants could survive an Ice Age they may possess properties that could help our bodies adapt to the stresses of modern life.

My own research confirmed their theory. Plants that grow in extreme conditions have adapted to their harsh environments by evolving to produce substances (adaptogens) that help them not just survive but ‘Adapt and Thrive’™ in those environments. When we ingest properly formulated elixirs made from these adaptogenic plants, they can help our bodies the same way they help plants thrive under stressful conditions.  So that brings us up to date. We have worked to make Sun Horse adaptogenic supplements the safest, most effective and purely natural way to help you get increased energy and power through highly stressful, chaotic days. To find out more visit the Sun Horse Energy Store.

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