This Year I’m Thankful For Adaptogens!

This week, and for the rest of 2017, life may get a little more hectic. You know, it’s the whole hustle and bustle of the season thing.

And, as it is a tradition on Thanksgiving Day for many  to list the things that they are thankful for, I am going to begin my list with adaptogens.  This is probably not a big surprise coming from AdaptGenie, but I am sincere in my gratitude for plant sourced nutrition that can have a profound affect on overall health, stamina and mood.  The many benefits received from the simplest of herbs is amazing and, too often, taken for granted.  Check out this statement found in a recent online article by Naturals Grocers about the power of adaptogens to help manage the stress of the holiday season.

“Stressed Out?

Adaptogenic herbs like ginseng, ashwaghanda, and rhodiola improve the body’s ability to cope with stress and help to maintain a state of balance in the body. They also have the unique ability to calm while also boosting energy, helping you make it through those long hours of gift shopping or baking marathons. Bonus: many adaptogens also provide immune support. Look for individual adaptogens or try a combination.

Planning large meals for a crowd, navigating the airport at the height of holiday travel, or spending hours upon hours with family—any of these could send your stress meter off the charts, and did you know that high levels of stress can shrink your brain?! If you think you’re going to experience higher levels of stress this season, start taking phosphatidylserine (PS), a phospholipid that protects the brain from the negative effects of stress.

Is just the thought of holiday crowds anxiety-inducing? Or do you feel like you might implode if you hear one more of Uncle Al’s bad jokes? If you’re looking for immediate calm, something to take the edge off, try GABA, an amino acid that increases relaxing alpha waves in the brain. It also improves concentration and focus. Keep chewables on hand for quick relief.”


Make sure and take your adaptogens this holiday season and Happy Thanksgiving from AdaptoGenie!


Licorice Root Health Benefits Are Sweet!

One of AdaptoGenie’s favorite adaptogens is licorice root, and not just because I have a sweet tooth.  Having been around for centuries, I have seen the amazing benefits of this gentle, but effective herb.  Licorice root had a long history of use in a number of ancient civilizations.  The early Egyptians loved licorice root. They used it in tea as a cure-all concoction. It was later imported to China where it became an important herb in Chinese medicinal tradition.


The word “licorice” refers to the root of a plant called Glycyrrhiza glabra. It’s native to Europe and Asia.


Today, licorice root, also known as sweet root, is used mostly as a sweetener in candies and beverages, but even the medical community is starting to be more accepting of its overall holistic benefits.

Here is a list of some of the traditional health benefits of licorice root:


Stomach/Digestive Issues

Licorice root has been used to soothe gastrointestinal problems. In cases of food poisoning, stomach ulcers and acid reflux, licorice root can speed the repair of stomach lining and restore balance. This is due to the anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties of glycyrrhizic acid.

One study found that glycyrrhizic acid can suppress the toxic bacteria H pylori, and can prevent it from growing in the gut. There is also research that’s shown people who have peptic ulcer disease, heartburn, or gastritis had improved symptoms when taking licorice root extract.

Respiratory Issues

Licorice is often suggested as a treatment for  respiratory problems. Licorice can help the body produce healthy mucus. While increasing phlegm production may seem counterintuitive to a healthy bronchial system, the opposite is true. The production of clean, healthy phlegm keeps the respiratory system functioning without old, sticky mucus clogging it.


Relieve Stress

Over time, stress can leave the adrenal gland exhausted by constantly producing adrenaline and cortisol.  Licorice has historically been used to strengthen the adrenal gland. Licorice root can help the body maintain healthy cortisol levels which in turn will help one better handle stress.

So, take it from AdaptoGenie, licorice is not just for candy.  Make it a daily part of your health regimen and start enjoying the sweet benefits.

Lower Cortisol With Adaptogens

More and more adaptogens are becoming  known for their ability to help manage stress.  One of the negative effects of stress is an increase in the production of cortisol which can lead to weight gain, chronic fatigue, thyroid issues and premature aging.  In fact, cortisol is know as the “aging hormone.”  (Could it be that the secret to AdaptoGenie’s longevity is the consistent use of adaptogens?  Hmmm…)

Holy Basil1

Dr. Axe recently published an excellent online article listing 7 adaptogens that can lower cortisol.  It’s worth a look, so click the link below and make sure you’re getting at least some of these adaptogens in your daily diet..


Run Away From the Pack, With Eleuthero!

Elite level athletes everywhere are discovering the benefits of using adaptogens in their training regimens.  An article in talks specifically about the benefits of Eleuthero for runners.  To check it out, click the link!




Who Is Israel Brekhman and Why Does He Matter?

The ability of certain plants to produce amazing, mind and body health effects has been known to herbalist’s for thousands of years.  And, even among these healing plants certain varieties were valued even more highly.  In Asia, they called these extraordinary herbs “kingly” or “elite” as they were the most effective in increasing both physical and mental capacity.  These plants were known to reduce fatigue, improve resistance to diseases, and extend lifespan. People learned that consuming these plants was helpful during times of challenges. In China, they were used by warriors right before battle. In Siberia, these same plants were used by hunters before long, dangerous journeys. The Tibetan monks were able to survive without food and warm clothes, living high in the mountains for many days just by consuming these plants.


As their legend grew the use of these plants spread to Korea, Japan, Russia and eventually Europe, and even those these plants were safely consumed and provided consistent results for centuries, from a scientific point of view, their effectiveness was not confirmed until the 1970’s.

It was at that time that a Russian physician and scientist Dr. Israel Brekhman and his mentor Prof. Nicolai Lazarv, were charged by Soviet leaders to find substances that could improve workers productivity and provide a competitive advantage to Soviet athletes in international competitions.

Their research led them to these amazing herbs that they named “Adaptogens.”

The reason for naming these herbs “Adaptogens” resulted from their effectiveness in helping the human body to “adapt” or to “adjust” to strains and changes of daily living. 


Brekhman and Lazarev were aware that some of the adaptogens they were studying had actually survived Ice Ages. They surmised that if these miraculous plants could survive an Ice Age, that they must “possess qualities that could help our bodies adapt to the stresses of modern life.”

What they learned as they studied these herbs was that they had managed to survive harsh environments for centuries due to their unique composition of biologically active substances.

Stress response

One of the first herbs that Brakeman studied was eleuthero or siberian ginseng. What Brekhman  discovered was very influential.  Just two years after publishing the results of his study, eleuthero extract was approved by the Pharmacological Committee of the USSR Ministry of Health for clinical use.

Funded by the Soviet Union, Brekhman and Lazarev were able to employ an army of researchers and conduct more than 3,000 clinical trial and experiments on adaptogens.


In order to qualify as an adaptogen, Dr. Brekhman and his followers used the following parameters:

(1) plants which are entirely safe;

(2) plants which increase the body’s nonspecific resistance; that is, they provide valuable support to the human body in coping with the pressures placed on a wide range of its functions by both the internal and external environments; and,

(3) plants which normalize the functions of the bodily systems.

Of the 4,000 plants that the research team studied, only 12 were identified as adaptogens! The four main adaptogens that the Brekhman and Lazarev research team studied were, in addition to eleuthero: rhodiola, rhaponticum, and schisandra.


Eventually with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the financing for Brekhman’s research on adaptogens went away, and most likely delayed the Western world’s understanding and acceptance of these powerful plants.

In the United States the use of adaptogens, while growing, is still surprisingly low compared to other parts of the world.



The World Health Organization estimates that 80% of people worldwide rely on herbal medicines for some aspect of their primary healthcare and research validating herbal medicine has been done in Germany, Japan, China, Taiwan, and Russia. However, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for licensing all new drugs (or any substances for which medicinal properties are claimed) for use in the United States, does not recognize or accept findings from other countries.

Even though substantial research is being done abroad, U.S, drug companies and laboratories have not found a way to financially benefit by investing money or resources into botanical research. The result is that herbal medicine does not have the same place of importance or level of acceptance as it does in other countries. For example, in Germany, roughly 600 to 700 plant-based medicines are available and are prescribed by approximately 70% of German physicians.

If you are living in the U.S., there is good news, however.  There are more than 22,000 adaptogen related studies listed on PubMed that anyone can access via the internet and more and more nutritional supplement companies are including adaptogens in their formulas.  And the future looks even brighter.  There are more than 750,000 plants on earth, and relatively speaking, just a handful of these healing herbs have been studied scientifically.  New studies are being conducted every year as a new generation of researchers follow in the footsteps of there Russian predecessors.

So, perhaps a little recognition for Israel Brekham and his team is long overdue.  AdaptoGenie says “thanks” and in time, maybe you will too.

Get Fat and Happy With Sea Buckthorn!

We all need fat in our diet.  Fat is critical to both physical and mental functions.  For example, both your brain and your heart require fat to maintain good health. But, not all fats are the same.  Dietitians and other health experts typically divide fats into two categories, good fats and bad fats.  But, AdaptoGenie is here to educate you about a third category, GREAT fats!  What constitutes a great fat?  I define a great fat as a plant sourced fat that not only has a broad array of physical benefits, but one that also helps with mood and mental clarity.

Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae Rhamnoides), is an adaptogen that is a great source of Omegas 3, 6, 9 and 7, and according to my definition, is a provider of great fat.  The online newsletter Natural Society had the following to say about Sea Buckthorn.

Sea Buckthorn

“Sea buckthorn has been used in China for more than 12 centuries to heal various disorders and is used in modern times by allopathic and Ayurvedic practitioners alike. Legend has it that even Genghis Khan, the Mongol conqueror, used Sea Buckthorn to propel the fight against his enemies.

Sea Buckthorn2

The fruit grows primarily high in the Himalayan Mountains (Spiti Valley), which makes it particularly hearty. It is even called “Holy Fruit’ among the locals there. It is here, under the conditions of high altitude, exposure to extremely strong ultra violet radiation due to its proximity to the sun, and reflected light from heavy snows, severe cold, scorching heat, and dry, ‘barren’ soil, that this plant becomes a ‘super’ food. It is extremely life-giving and enhances both health and beauty.

healthy skin

Sea buckthorn has multiple uses due to its protein building amino acids, vitamins B1, B2, K, C, A, E, and folic acid, over 60 antioxidants, at least 20 minerals, and healthy fatty acids. The fruit is full of carotenoids, xanthophylls, phenolics, and flavanoids, too. Its an absolute power house of nutrients!


The leaves, berries and roots can all be used in different forms. It is a complete food that can support the body in all the following ways:

  • Treats gastrointestinal disorders including ulcers
  • Reverses gout
  • Eliminates skin rashes
  • Cures infections
  • Improves sight, lessens eye soreness
  • Promotes colon health
  • Contributes to proper brain and nervous system functioning
  • Reduces inflammatory response in the body
  • Improves mental clarity
  • Treats asthmatic symptoms
  • Reduces skin markings associated with measles or mumps
  • Reduces illness associated with cancer
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Boosts lymphatic circulation and immunity
  • Reduces hunger (due to Omega 7s)
  • Improves the look of skin and hair (also due to Omega 7, 3, 6, and 9s)
  • Neutralizes free radicals in the body
  • Slows the aging process
  • Supports internal organs
  • Boost health of the mucous membranes lining the digestive and respiratory tracts”
  • Supports urogential system
  • Reduces the condition of a fatty liver
  • Helps to increase cellular vitality”

That is quite an impressive list of benefits from just one plant.  It’s easy to see why Sea Buckthorn has been labeled as both an adaptogen and a super food.  With Sea Buckthorn you get your healthy fats to improve a host of physical conditions and simultaneously boost your mental and emotional state.  In short, you get fat and you get happy, all from one legendary plant.

Holy Basil, Batman! This Stuff is Amazing!


In the recently released Lego Batman movie, the film starts with Batman’s voice describing the opening credits.  When he gets to one particular production company logo he says something like, “I don’t know what these guys do, but they have a really cool logo.”  I wonder if something similar doesn’t happen when people see Holy Basil listed an an ingredient in an herbal combination.  “I don’t know what it does, but it has a cool sounding name.”   Well, if that is the case, it is time that I, AdaptoGenie, educate you about this powerful and versatile adaptogen.

Holy Basil or Tulsi is one of the most potent herbs alive.  The name “Tulsi” means “The Incomparable One” because of its unique health benefits.  The herb was a staple of Hindu mythology and considered sacred by the Indian royalty.

Also known as Ocimum sanctum L. Holy Basil is a member of the mint family and is native to Southeast Asia. It has a history within Ayurvedic medicine and thus has been used for a myriad of conditions.  It’s versatility affirms it’s nickname as the “Queen of Herbs.”  Here are just a few of the health benefits of Holy Basil.

Holy Basil1

Stress Relief

As an adaptogen, Holy Basil helps your body adapt to stress and promotes mental balance, but scientific research also shows that holy basil has certain pharmacological properties that help your mind cope with many types of stress.

Holy basil has been shown to increase endurance and lower stress levels in both human and animal studies.  Animals who had holy basil leaf extracts and went through environment induced-stress scenarios demonstrated

  • enhanced metabolism
  • improved swimming time
  • less tissue damage
  • lower stress levels in loud environments

Humans experienced reduced:

  • stress
  • sexual problems
  • sleep problems
  • forgetfulness
  • fatigue

According to the Journal of Ayurvedic Medicine, holy basil has antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties.



Holy basil is also high in anti-oxidants and helps your body detox.  Studies show that holy basil can protect your body against toxic chemicals. It may also reduce the growth of cancerous cells.

Holy basil helps to strengthen the body’s immune system, allowing it to fight off opportunistic parasites such as candida, viruses and staph infections.


Anti-inflammatory/Wound Healing

Holy Basil extracts have been used to boost wound healing because the plant has the following properties:

  • antibacterial
  • antiviral
  • antifungal
  • anti-inflammatory
  • analgesic (a painkiller)

Holy basil increases your wound’s breaking strength, healing time, and contraction. Breaking strength refers to how much pressure or weight a wound can take before it breaks.

Lower blood sugar

This could be good news if you or someone you know suffers with type 2 diabetes. Holy basil can help reduce your blood sugar levels.  Animal and human trials have shown that holy basil can help prevent symptoms of diabetes such as:

  • weight gain
  • excess insulin in the blood
  • high cholesterol
  • insulin resistance
  • hypertension

According to the research, rats who received holy basil extract saw a 24 percent decrease in blood sugar after 30 days.


Control Cortisol Levels:

One of the key benefits that many adaptogenic herbs offer is their ability to lower and stabilize cortisol levels.  High cortisol drains the precursers to major hormones such as testosterone, progesterone and estrogen.

As a result, the body becomes sex hormone deficient.  This process rapidly accelerates the aging process and makes life much less enjoyable.

Healthy individuals have stable cortisol levels that naturally spike in the morning and then level off and stay consistently low during the day before tapering at night.  This allows us to wake up with energy in the morning and maintain that energy until nightfall when we should naturally be gearing down and getting ready for sleep.

Stable cortisol levels result in improved mental clarity and memory.  The individual feels as though they are less agitated and anxious and therefore able to perform better.

With all this going for it, it’s easy to see why Holy Basil is so highly regarded by ayurvedic practitioners and why it is a key component of many herbal formulas.  Like Batman, Holy Basil may disguise itself as a mild mannered garden plant, but don’t be deceived, this little herb has superpowers!

  1. Cohen, M. M. (2014, October-December). Tulsi – Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine 5(4), 251-259.
  2. Yates, Beverly. Holy basil: An overview of the research and clinical indications. (n.d.).
  3. Wagner H, Nörr H, Winterhoff H. Plant adaptogens. Phytomedicine. 1994 Jun;1(1):63-76. PMID: 23195818
  4. Garabadu D, Shah A, Ahmad A, Joshi VB, Saxena B, Palit G, Krishnamurthy S. Eugenol as an anti-stress agent: modulation of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and brain monoaminergic systems in a rat model of stress. Stress. 2011 Mar;14(2):145-55. PMID: 21034296
  5. Hussain EHMA, Jamil K, Rao M. Hypoglycaemic, hypolipidemic and antioxidant properties of tulsi (Ocimum sanctum linn) on streptozotocin induced diabetes in rats. Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry. 2001;16(2):190-194.
  6. Pattanayak P, Behera P, Das D, Panda SK. Ocimum sanctum Linn. A reservoir plant for therapeutic applications: An overview. Pharmacognosy Reviews. 2010;4(7):95-105.
  7. Prakash P, Gupta N. Therapeutic uses of Ocimum sanctum Linn (Tulsi) with a note on eugenol and its pharmacological actions: a short review. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2005 Apr;49(2):125-31. PMID: 16170979
  8. Baliga MS, Jimmy R, Thilakchand KR, Sunitha V, Bhat NR, Saldanha E, Rao S, Rao P, Arora R, Palatty PL. Ocimum sanctum L (Holy Basil or Tulsi) and its phytochemicals in the prevention and treatment of cancer. Nutr Cancer. 2013;65 Suppl 1:26-35. PMID: 23682780
  9. Agarwal, C., Sharma, N. L., & Gaurav, S. S. (2015, January). Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum Linn.) leaf extract enhances specific cognitive parameters in healthy adult volunteers: A placebo controlled study. Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology1(4), 180-183.
  10. Bhattacharyya, D., Sur, T. K., Jana, U., & Debnath, P. K. (2008). Controlled programmed trial of Ocimum sanctum leaf on generalized anxiety disorders. Nepal Medical College Journal, 10, 176-179. 10(4) 668-671.pdf
  11. Ocimum tenuiflorum (holy basil). (n.d.).

Adaptogens Are Becoming Mainstream!

While it may be true that I, AdaptoGenie, am the world’s foremost expert on adaptogens, I am not the only source of information about these amazing plants.  The truth is, more and more health experts are becoming aware of the power of adaptogens.  Even mainstream publications are now touting the benefits of adaptogens.  Check out this terrific online article published recently by Shape Magazine.  The author is Sara Angle.


I couldn’t agree more, Sara.  Adaptogens are definitely worth the hype and should be a part of everyone’s daily regimen.

For Better Sleep, Count Adaptogens Not Sheep!

If the three primary pillars of mind body health are diet, exercise and sleep, we cannot afford to neglect any one of them.  For many, getting a good night’s rest can be the most difficult of the three to manage.  In today’s non-stop, ever more complex world, stress can often be a deterrent to a good night’s sleep.  And of course pain, discomfort and even overeating can disrupt your slumber.

Fortunately, there are a number of adaptogens that can help remove these sleep barriers and relax your mind and body for an even deeper, more rejuvenating sleep.  Researchers have determined that adaptogens help you to manage stress by modulating the release of stress hormones from the adrenal glands. They do this by affecting the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (or HPA axis for short).

Here is how the HPA axis works according to the School of Modern Herbal Medicine:

“First, the brain perceives danger (stress) it signals the hypothalamus to release the hormone CRH. CRH travels to the pituitary where it stimulates the release of ACTH. ACTH travels through the blood stream to the adrenal cortex where it stimulates the release of cortisol and other glucocorticode hormones. At the same time, the sympathetic nervous system triggers the adrenal medulla to release epinephrine (adrenaline). When cortisol levels rise in the blood, they inhibit the release of CRH and ACTH from the hypothalamus and pituitary, thus shutting down the stress response.

Unfortunately, this cascade can be retriggered by another stressful event. So, when we have a series of stressful situations during the day, the feelings of stress tend to ramp up, increasing feelings of anxiousness and distress.

So, let’s say you have a bad day, one where you face one challenge after the other. You wake up late and skip breakfast. You get caught in a traffic jam that makes late for work. Your boss chews you out. You get an unexpected bill. You find out that a member of your family has a serious illness. As each one of these situations occur, the stress response is turned on and the levels of stress hormones in your body get higher and higher until you feel so wound up you can’t think straight and start making a lot of mistakes. Worse yet, you’re so stressed you can’t get a good night’s sleep.”

This is where adaptogens can help. They inhibit the production of CRH and ACTH from the hypothalamus and pituitary, reducing the overall output of stress hormones. This means that the stress hormones don’t ramp up with each stressful event, allowing you to meet life’s challenges with less tension and anxiety, more energy and greater mental clarity.

So, how can we counteract the effects of stress?  Well, here are 8, count them 8, adaptogens that help you better deal with stress and get the rest you need to maintain a healthy mind and body.


1) Eleuthero Root

Eleuthero was the first herb identified as an adaptogen and has been researched extensively. In Russia, they conducted hundreds of clinical trials measuring its adaptogenic effects in a wide variety of stressful situations. They documented improvement in mental alertness, energy, work output and the performance of both physical and mental tasks. For example, studies showed that athletes had better stamina, increased oxygen uptake, improved performance and faster recovery when taking eleuthero. Factory workers and truck drivers got sick less often. There were also reports of reduced fatigue and better sleep. Anxiety also decreased in workers and performance improved. Patients receiving drugs for gastric cancer had less damage to the immune system and needed lower doses of those drugs.

It is also useful for athletes, people who work night shifts, and aiding mental alertness and memory when a person is under a lot of stress. It can also be helpful for adrenal fatigue and jet lag. Eleuthero root is well tolerated by men, women, teenagers, the elderly and everyone in between.


2) Cordyceps

Cordyceps entered Western medicine after the Chinese government demonstrated its efficacy at the Olympic games in Beijing, where the Chinese athletes set new world records in nearly every competition they entered. The spectacular performance of the athletes stimulated a burst of pharmacological and clinical research into its health benefits. Research suggests that cordyceps has a balancing effect on the immune system. It can stimulate the immune system for people who suffer from frequent infections (especially respiratory infections) or who have cancer. It also calms down hyperimmune reactions in people with allergic asthma, hayfever and autoimmune diseases of the kidney.

3) Ashwaganda

An important herb from Ayurvedic medicine, ashwaganda is a nervine and adrenal tonic that helps anxiety, depression, exhaustion and poor muscle tone. It reduces the effects of stress, while promoting energy and vitality. It is used as a supporting herb for recovery from debilitating diseases, and is effective for treating sexual dysfunction caused by stress. In addition to helping the adrenal glands, Ashwaganda is also helpful for the thyroid. It boosts the conversion of T4 (the thyroid storage hormone) to T3 (the active thyroid hormone). Generally speaking Ashwaganda is a good adaptogen for women.


4) Schizandra

This adaptogen is a general tonic that helps to balance the entire body. It improves circulation, strengthens the heart, aids digestion and increases bile secretion. In traditional Chinese Medicine it is thought to harmonize the body and help one retain energy. It helps to keep the nervous system balanced, increasing both excitatory and inhibitory action. It also has hepatoprotective effects like milk thistle. Schizandra is a good adaptogen for people who tend to run on the dry side, since it helps the body retain moisture.

5) Astragalus

Astragalus is an adaptogenic and tonic herb used in Chinese medicine to boost energy and strengthen immunity. Research suggests that the polysaccharides and saponins in astragalus may be helpful to those with heart disease, improving heart function and providing relief from symptoms. It appears to restore immune and adrenal function in people whose immune systems have been weakened by chemotherapy or chronic illness and has antibacterial and antiviral properties. Astragalus may also have benefits in treating allergic asthma.


6) Holy Basil

Used in Ayurvedic medicine, Holy Basil is a general tonic that protects the heart from stress, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and stabilizes blood sugar levels. It reduces feelings of stress and down regulates excessive immune responses in conditions like hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and asthma. At the same time it enhances cerebral circulation, memory, concentration and mental acuity.

7) Rhodiola

Another adaptogen from Russia, rhodiola aids mental clarity, memory, energy, production and stress reduction. It is astringent and drying, so it is not a good adaptogen for people whose constitutions run on the dry side.


8) Reishi (Ganoderma)

This medicinal mushroom has been shown to have immune enhancing effects as well as acting as a general health tonic. Research suggests that reishi relaxes muscles, improves sleep, eases chronic pain, aids heart function, reduces cholesterol and has antioxidant effects.

So, if you are not getting the sleep you need or if you are just looking to relieve stress so you can relax and go to sleep, don’t turn to dangerous and addictive sleep medications, take it from AdaptoGenie, try these safe but effective adaptogens and get the rest you need.

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