Have you ever wondered why some people can quickly recover from illness and live disease-free lives well into their 80’s and 90’s…
While others often fall sick and are plagued by chronic health problems?
A team of Russian scientists during World War II may have found the answer.
In times of war, countries are always looking to get any advantage they can over their enemy.
This is why during World War II, the Russians built a team of 3,000 of the country’s best scientists, including a world-renowned toxicologist and pharmacologist, with the aim of increasing the stamina, endurance, and performance of Russian soldiers. (2)
This was the start of what would become groundbreaking research which not only helped Russian soldiers during times of war… it later helped members of the Soviet space exploration program, Arctic expeditions, nuclear programs, Olympic athletes, and chess players achieve success of the highest pedigree. (2)
Their findings, which were further developed by other Russian scientists throughout the 20th century, enabled Russia to lead the world's competitive landscape, something which was deeply important to the country’s leaders during the Cold War.
It allowed Russia to win an unprecedented 80 Gold medals in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, an unbelievable 10 world chess championships back-to-back and champion the space race, among countless other global-dominating achievements. (3,4)
Despite their recent performance-enhancing scandals, what gave the Russians this advantage was not an illegal substance.
It’s something Mother Nature has given us, which, over thousands of years of evolution, has enabled plants, animals, and humans to adapt and thrive in the harshest conditions on earth.
Let me explain…
After studying more than 4,000 different plants, the Russian scientists discovered 12 plants possessing unique protective properties which combated the effects of stress in the body by enhancing what’s called the "state of nonspecific resistance". (1)
The scientists found that this ‘small family of plants’ had the ability to combat every type of stressor the body is hit with. Eventually, this led the Russian scientists to give these plants the name “adaptogen” because they help humans, animals, and plants to adapt.
You see, by lowering the effects of stress -- exactly what adaptogens do -- scientists realized the body can function in optimal conditions, which is what helped Russian athletes, scientists and astronauts become the most successful in the world.
However, the beneficial effects of low levels of stress aren’t confined to high performers.
It’s also what makes the difference between someone who can have a disease-free life and someone who develops a chronic illness.
Most health practitioners believe stress is the main cause of disease.
In modern life, our bodies are exposed to a variety of chemicals in our food and water, we’re under constant pressure to meet tight deadlines and are overloaded by information coming at us from every direction, at both work and home.
These stressors never let our bodies get back to a normal, balanced situation for optimal health, a.k.a, homeostasis.
Now combine our out-of-balance state with excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, drugs, medications, acid reflux, cholesterol, hormone therapy, bad sleep habits, and poor sexual performance…
It’s no wonder people these days suffer from headaches, high blood pressure, chronic fatigue, mood swings, sickness, degenerative diseases and much, much worse.
These ailments can all be traced back to our bodies being placed under too much and constant stress.
What Exactly Are Adaptogens and How Do They Combat Stress?
Adaptogens are a category of herbs which Indian, Chinese, and eastern Russian civilizations have used for thousands of years for their medicinal purposes.
To be a traditional adaptogenic herb, they must meet three criteria:
- Safe for human consumption, with no significant side effects
- Possess a general, nonspecific action to improve resistance to stress
- Have a balancing, normalizing effect on the body’s functions (7)
The 12 plants which make up adaptogens are unique because they have a wide range of multifaceted botanical compounds which make them nutritionally superior to vitamins, minerals, and supplements.
These include powerful compounds like:
All of these compounds provide a wide range of benefits including anabolic, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, antineoplastic, antioxidant and immune-modulating effects. (7)
However, it’s important to know, while all adaptogens are herbs with powerful antioxidant actions, not all herbs are adaptogens and not all antioxidants are adaptogens.
For example, extracts of green tea and turmeric have been found to be more effective at building the immune system when combined than when used individually.
Protects You from the Harmful Effects of Stress
Studies show consuming certain adaptogens not only increases your ability to withstand even the highest level of stress
Dr. Brenda Powell, co-medical director of the Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute has stated just like when you exercise you make your muscles stronger, when you take adaptogens, “you’re training your body to handle the effects of stress.”
This means adaptogens boost your health in the following ways:
- Activate the protective mechanism of cells
- Enhance the stress response, i.e., instead of reaching exhaustion: your body creates a higher level of equilibrium,
- Stimulate an anti-fatigue effect,
- Increase mental attention and physical endurance during fatigue,
- And boost your immune system (2)
Studies show, because of their non-specific normalizing effect on the body’s functions, adaptogens make more efficient use of ATP, oxygen, glucose, and proteins, providing a steady supply of energy, which ultimately defines our ability to handle stress.
This is why adaptogens also help us to:
- Manage the flow of energy throughout our day
- Decrease feelings of stress
- Increase endurance
- Support mental alertness
- Promote deep, restful sleep (7)
It’s characteristics like these that truly make adaptogens something powerful and worthy of more of your research.
This may also explain why when under stressful conditions, adaptogens can help your body enter homeostasis, a.k.a. a balanced state conducive for optimal health.
In fact, adaptogens should be the backbone of any wellness program because, as studies show, they may support your body’s healing mechanisms to not only prevent illness… to help your body thrive in a world where
- Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress—Protective Activity: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3991026/
- Adaptogens. A Review of their History, Biological Activity, and Clinical Benefits.: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/236462312_Adaptogens_A_Review_of_their_History_Biological_Activity_and_Clinical_Benefits
- List of World Chess Championships: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_Chess_Championships
SovietUnion at the Olympics: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_Union_at_the_Olympics
- Before Steroids, Russians Secretly Studied Herbs: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/people-and-culture/food/the-plate/2016/08/long-before-doping-scandals--russians-were-studying-performance-/
- Life Event, Stress and Illness: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3341916/
- Adaptogens in Medicinal Herbalism, Donald Yance, CN, MH, RH(AHG)
- What Are Adaptogens and Why Are People Taking Them?: http://time.com/5025278/adaptogens-herbs-stress-anxiety/