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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Adaptogens

Stress is the response of the body to any demand. An adaptogen is a substance that acts to enhance the body's performance under various internal and external stressors. Adaptogens are a Soviet concept probably from their research of the Russian herbs eleuthero and rhodiola (both of which were included in the official USSR pharmacopoeia).

Eleuthero aids recovering from illness and coping with overwork. Its long-term use minimizes the incidence of acute infections. It is a fu zheng herb - it mitigates the side effects of chemotherapy.

Cat's claw vine is an immune tonic (often used for viral and bacterial infections). It also fights free radicals but has diuretic and hypotensive side effects (it stimulates urinogenesis and lower blood pressure). Still the side effects are mild enough to consider it an adaptogen.

Free radicals are chemicals, often oxygen-based molecules, that react with cellular components so as to damage them (they are chemical stressors). Infections are biological stressors - cat's claw vine is often used to improve the performance of the immune system in combating infections such as Lyme (a bacteria) and HIV (a virus); for more on HIV see: http://www.rain-tree.com/jergon.htm http://www.rain-tree.com/carqueja.htm http://www.rain-tree.com/chanca.htm)

Anti-oxidants are chemicals that harmlessly react with free radicals.

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