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A preliminary review of studies on adaptogens: comparison of their bioactivity in TCM with that of ginseng-like herbs used worldwide



Abstract Modern studies have shown that adaptogens can non-specifically enhance the resistance of human body under a wide range of external stress conditions with a multi-targeted and multi-channel network-like manner, especially by affect the immune-neuro-endocrine system and the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis. This review article draws the attention to the relationships of adaptogens, tonics from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and ginseng-like herbs worldwide, which all have similar plant sources and clinical applications. To clarify the sources and pharmacological mechanisms of these plant-originated adaptogens, which will provide useful information for the utilization of adaptogens to improve the human health. Meanwhile, the TCMs and the world-wide ginseng-like herbs from each region’s ethnopharmacology will be beneficial modernization and globalization.
Liaoetal. Chin Med (2018) 13:57
A preliminary review ofstudies
onadaptogens: comparison oftheir bioactivity
inTCM withthatof ginseng-like herbs used
Lian‑ying Liao1,2, Yi‑fan He1,2, Li Li1,2, Hong Meng1,2, Yin‑mao Dong1,2, Fan Yi1,2* and Pei‑gen Xiao3
Modern studies have shown that adaptogens can non‑specifically enhance the resistance of human body under a
wide range of external stress conditions with a multi‑targeted and multi‑channel network‑like manner, especially by
affect the immune‑neuro‑endocrine system and the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis. This review article draws
the attention to the relationships of adaptogens, tonics from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and ginseng‑like
herbs worldwide, which all have similar plant sources and clinical applications. To clarify the sources and pharmaco‑
logical mechanisms of these plant‑originated adaptogens, which will provide useful information for the utilization of
adaptogens to improve the human health. Meanwhile, the TCMs and the world‑wide ginseng‑like herbs from each
region’s ethnopharmacology will be beneficial modernization and globalization.
Keywords: Adaptogen, Immune‑neuro‑endocrine system, HPA axis, Tonics, Ginseng‑like herbs worldwide
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e term of adaptogen was first proposed in 1940 by a
scientist from the USSR, namely, N. Lazarev, when he
described Schisandra chinensis (Turcz.) Bail. and other
herbs with the following definition: plant-originated
adaptogens that can non-specifically the enhance human
body. According to the primary definition of adapto-
gens, these substances must meet three criteria: first,
adaptogens must to be non-specific and must assist the
human body in resisting a wide range of adverse condi-
tions, such as physical, chemical or biological stress.
ese may include environmental pollution, climate
change, radiation, infectious diseases, and interpersonal
disharmony. Second, adaptogens must maintain homeo-
stasis in humans, that is, these substances can offset or
resist physical disorders caused by external stress. ird,
adaptogens must not harm the normal functions of the
human body.
en I.Brekhman, a Soviet scientist, studied ginseng in
approximately 1950, he extended the concept of adapto-
gens as follows: medicines that have similar functions as
adaptogens can help the body maintain ideal homeostasis
under adverse or stressful conditions.
Again, Brekhman and Dardymov further defined plant-
originated adaptogens in 1969 [1]. According to this defi-
nition, plant-originated adaptogens meet four criteria:
first, plant-originated adaptogens must reduce the harm
caused by stressed states, such as fatigue, infection, and
depression; second, plant-originated adaptogens must
have positive excitatory effects on the human body; third,
in contrast to traditional stimulants, the excitatory effects
produced by plant-originated adaptogens must not cause
side effects such as insomnia, low protein synthesis, or
excessive energy consumption; fourth, plant-originated
adaptogens must not harm the human body.
In the 1990s, a group of scientists, comprised of Hilde-
bert Wagner, George Wikman and Alexander Panossian,
performed many studies on adaptogens and proposed the
Open Access
Chinese Medicine
2 Beijing Key Laboratory of Plant Resources Research and Development,
Beijing Technology and Business University, No. 11/33, Fucheng Road,
Haidian District, Beijing 100048, People’s Republic of China
Full list of author information is available at the end of the article
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Liaoetal. Chin Med (2018) 13:57
following definition: adaptogens are natural bioregulators
that increase the ability to adapt environmental factors
and avoid the damage caused by those factors. In fact, the
advantage of adaptogens are they minimized the bodily
response to stress, reducing the negative reactions during
the alarm phase and eliminating, or at least decreasing,
the onset of the exhaustion phase that is part of the so-
called general adaptation syndrome [2].
With continuous research for more than half a cen-
tury, the concept of adaptogens has been continuously
modified and perfected. In 1998, the American Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) [3] defined an adaptogen as
a new kind of metabolic regulator that has been proved
to help in environmental adaptation and to prevent exter-
nal harms. Adaptogen has been generally used as a func-
tional term.
Yance, an American herbal doctor, held a view that
adaptogens can improve our ability to recognize,
respond, recover, and restore or regenerate. He divided
adaptogens into three categories, including primary
adaptogens, secondary adaptogens, and adaptogen com-
panions, based on his clinical experience [4]. Primary
adaptogens are consistent with the traditional definition
of adaptogens and satisfy specific criterias. e criterias
contains: abundant scientific research confirmed their
adaptogenic characters, guarantee of general resistance
and non-specific action in the human body, maintenance
or restoration for homeostasis, and adverse- or toxic-
effects after prolonged use [5].
Furthermore, some precise scientific experiments
demonstrated that adaptogens can enhance the resist-
ance of human body against various external stimuli as
non-specific regulators. Adaptogen function mainly by
affecting the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA axis)
in response to stimulation by external stress. Primary
adaptogens can not only maintain or recover homeosta-
sis and allostasis but can also promote anabolic recovery.
Primary adaptogens can produce positive stress response
and the associated hormone expression. Primary adap-
togens strengthen the functioning of each systems, pro-
mote optimal response, promote recovery of function,
and help regulate energy use by improving the function
of neuroendocrine system and enhancing cellular energy
transfer, which can make body utilize oxygen, glucose,
lipids and proteins very effectively, thus providing us with
a steady supply of energy [4].
Another category of adaptogens is secondary adapto-
gens, which are consistent with most traditional defini-
tions of adaptogens but not all of the criteria of primary
adaptogens. Secondary adaptogens cannot influence
the HPA axis directly; however, these adaptogens can
affect the immune, nervous and endocrine systems.
Secondary adaptogens share several common features:
first, these adaptogens typically exert influence on the
immune, nervous and endocrine systems; second, these
adaptogens do not influence the HPA axis, directly;
third, these plant-originated adaptogens include fatty
acids, sterols and phenols; fourth, these substances can
enhance anabolism. While the secondary adaptogens
may meet most of the qualifications of primary adap-
togens, but they have yet to be studied extensively [5].
Another category is adaptogen companions, which
may not satisfy all the traditional standards but can
have beneficial effects on the HPA axis and on anabo-
lism to support the functions of adaptogens. Although
these kinds of medicinal plants have similar functions
as the other two kinds of adaptogens mentioned above,
these plants can not formally be called adaptogen.
us, these plants are classified as adaptogens compan-
ions because they can act synergistically with the other
two kinds of adaptogens mentioned above, thereby
improving the effects of the adaptogens [5].
Currently, studies have confirmed that the following
plants are true adaptogens: Panax ginseng C.A.Mey,
Schisandra chinensis (Turcz.) Baill., Acanthopanax
senticosus (Rupr. et Maxim.) Harms, Rhodiola crenu-
lata (Hook. f. et oms) S.H.Fu, and Lepidium meyenii
According to web of science database, we searched the
key word, adaptogen. Based on the analysis of results, we
got a conclusion that more and more researches focus on
this field over past 10years and it showed an increasing
tendency from 1999 to 2018, which profiles that it is still
a worthwhile direction to explore. Furthermore, we also
found out that the many published articles concentrated
on the direction of pharmacology pharmacy, biochem-
istry molecular biology, plant sciences and agriculture.
It is still worthy to show its historical development and
find out the relationships among adaptogen and ton-
ics and ginseng-like herbs worldwide, which can give a
hint to further research in plant-originated adaptogen.
Summarized the results of previous studies and our own
researches focused on tonics from TCM, we launched
out our understanding of adaptogen: Herbs which can
non-specific and non-toxicity help human body resist
the environmental stress to maintain a homeostasis.
e mechanism may multi-targets and multi-channel
network to the neuroendocrine system. e adaptogens
with tonics from TCM and the world-wide ginseng-like
herbs have similar phytochemical and pharmacological
The functions ofadaptogens
Adaptogens can affect different tissues and organs, and
adjust each of these parts to attain homeostasis.
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Liaoetal. Chin Med (2018) 13:57
Adaptogens andadrenal fatigue
Adrenals, the glands of stress, mobilize various stress
responses to each stress, including physical, biochemi-
cal, hormonal, thermal, internal, external, emotional and
mental. Stress rather than pathological damage is the
primary cause of adrenal fatigue. Excessive stress may
be caused by a single strong stimulatory event or by the
accumulation of chronic or repeated stress. When the
capacity of the adrenals to secrete enough hormones
that can make the necessary physiological, and bio-
chemical compensations for that level of stress cannot
meet the requirements of continually excessive pressure,
adrenal fatigue occurs. e adrenal gland continues to
work under adrenal fatigue but cannot maintain normal
homeostasis. On the one hand, if the adrenals can deal
well with this circumstance and cortisol levels remain
adequately elevated to handle the various stresses, over
time, the signs and symptoms of metabolic syndrome,
such as muscle wastage, hyperglycemia, and suppresses
immune or inflammatory responses [6], begin to appear.
On the other hand, if the adrenals are not able to meet
the demands, adrenal fatigue appears, usually developing
more quickly than metabolic syndrome, and which can
become so severe as to disable them [7].
e amount of stress hormone produced by the human
body increases under external pressure. Adaptogens can
increase the effectiveness of adrenal gland secretion,
thereby abolishing excess hormone production [8]. Other
studies can prove this statement: In 2001, B.T.Gaffney
found that the suggested that Panax ginseng inhibits
11-beta hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase one and Eleuthe-
rococcus senticosus inhibits catechol-O-methyl trans-
ferase, both of which reside in close proximity to stress
hormone receptors and catalyze the degradation of stress
hormones into inactive compounds [9]. In the absence of
stress, adaptogens can accelerate the closure of the adre-
nal gland. Furthermore, adaptogens can increase cellular
energy levels and prevent oxidative damages, leading to
the maintenance of normal adrenal function. e follow-
ing plant-originated adaptogens support adrenal func-
tion: Panax quinquefolius L. [10], Withania somnifera
[11], Panax ginseng C.A.Mey. [9], Codonopsis pilosula
(Franch.)Nannf. [12], Eleutherococcus senticosus (Rupr.
& Maxim.) Maxim. [13], Gynostemma pentaphyllum
(unb.) Makino, Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch.ex DC.
[14], Ganoderma Lucidum Karst [15], and Sedum rosea
(L.) Scop [16].
Adaptogens andarthritis
Arthritis is caused by tissue damages and joint diseases,
which is typically accompanied by pain and swelling. e
most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and
rheumatoid arthritis. Fibromyalgia maybe an accompa-
nying condition of arthritis; however, it is not considered
a form of arthritis because it does not cause inflamma-
tion or joint damage.
Adaptogens can reduce arthritis-associated inflamma-
tion and pain effectively [17, 18]. e anti-inflammatory
effects of the following plant-originated adaptogens can
be used to provide relief rheumatoid arthritis: Witha-
nia somnifera [8, 19], Panax ginseng C.A.Mey [20],
Gynostemma pentaphyllum (unb.) Makino [21], Gano-
derma Lucidum Karst [22], Sedum rosea (L.) Scop. [23],
and Glycyrhiza uralensis Fisch. ex DC. [24].
Adaptogens andsleep
Many people suffer from insomnia and other sleep-
related problems. External stress perturbs the normal
secretion of circadian cortisol, which is the main cause
of sleep-related problems. e secretion of cortisol fol-
lows the biological clock and external circadian rhythms.
e secretion of cortisol peaks in the morning and then
decreases, reaching a minimum value at night. Proper
exercise, diet and sleep can help maintain stable cortisol
levels in the human body.
Adaptogens help produce cortisol and relieve stress [7,
25]. Studies by Steven Maimes and N. V. Provalova sug-
gest that the following plant-originated adaptogens can
act as sleep aids: Panax quniquefolius L. [26], Withania
somnifera (L.) Dunal. [27], Schisandra chinensis (Turcz.)
Baill. [28], Gynostemma pentaphyllum (unb.) Makino
[29], and Sedum rosea (L.) Scop [30].
e following plant-originated adaptogens can allevi-
ate the effects of the time difference syndrome, caused
by disruption of physiological rhythm of the human
body: Panax quniquefolius L., Panax ginseng C.A.Mey,
Gynostemma pentaphyllum (unb.) Makino, Schisandra
chinensis (Turcz.) Baill., and Sedum rosea (L.) [31, 32].
Adaptogens andtheneuroendocrine system
One of the most important functions of adaptogens is
their ability to help stabilize the internal environment of
the human body by affecting the neuroendocrine system.
e chemicals in plant-originated adaptogens enhance
the ability to adapt to external environments and avoid
damage [3335]. A unique feature of adaptogens is that
these substances affect the neuroendocrine system and
the cellular energy system. Aaptogens can increase the
rates of oxygen, protein, fat and sugar utilization. In addi-
tion to plant-originated adaptogens, other plants may
have some of the functions mentioned above, but plant-
originated adaptogens have a broad range of functions
and systematically strengthen the stability of the internal
environment of the human body [34, 36].
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Liaoetal. Chin Med (2018) 13:57
Anti‑tumor application ofplant‑originated adaptogens
Researchers have found that plant-originated adaptogens
have a positive influence on all aspects of the health of
animals and humans [37]. Cancers studies have shown
that plant-originated adaptogen can reduce the risks of
cancers [38].
Plant-originated adaptogens play key roles in anti-
tumor and multifaceted anticancer mechanisms, such as
inhibition of cancer cells production, stabilization of the
functions of human body, and promotion of cell repair
[39, 40]. e anti-tumor effect of adaptogens is often
closely linked to immune mechanisms. In other words,
adaptogens can activate macrophages, T-lymphocytes,
NK cells and so on to inhibit the growth of tumors and
enhance cell-selective apoptosis and intercellular connec-
tion [16, 4143].
e most common chemical anti-tumor medicines
currently on the market have side effects such as cyto-
toxicity and immune suppression. Plant-based immune
regulators, for example, plant-originated adaptogens, are
generally used as auxiliary treatments to reduce the side
effects of these chemical medicines and regain health
[44, 45]. Notably, the application of adaptogens improves
the tolerance of humans to drug cytotoxicity [46]. Adap-
togens can improve the physical conditions of cancer
patients in the following ways: first, as modulators of bio-
logical responses, adaptogens can the remodel immune
mechanism and non-specifically enhance the resistance
of the human body [46]; second, adaptogens can pro-
mote the production of marrow, increase the amount
of blood cells and reduce infection [47]; third, adapto-
gens affect the entire body, from cells to organs includ-
ing the liver, kidney, heart and gastrointestinal tract [7];
fourth, adaptogens can strengthen the lethal effects of
chemotherapy and radiotherapy on cancer cells [48];
fifth, adaptogens can inhibit the development of multid-
rug resistance [49]; sixth, adaptogens can inhibit tumor
metastasis and cancer cell aggregation [50]; seven, adap-
togens can reduce stress hormone levels during immune
dysfunction, which is associated with tumor growth [51].
When cancer cells adapt to chemotherapy, the main
consequence is the development of multidrug resistance.
e most simple mechanism of the development of mul-
tidrug resistance is as follows: anti-tumor drug molecules
flow out from cancer cells through membrane chan-
nel proteins driven by ATP, especially by adjustment of
P-glycoprotein pump (Pgp-pump) and due to the effects
of breast cancer resistance protein-1 (BCRP/ABCG-2)
and multidrug-resistance-associated protein-1 (MRP-1)
from thymic cancer cells [52]. Among plant-originated
adaptogens, Panax ginseng C.A.Mey can substantially
reduce multidrug resistance by inhibiting Pgp, and it has
been shown that Panax ginseng C.A.Mey can prolong the
life of the cancer-bearing mice in animal experiments
[24, 53]. In addition, epigallocatechin-gallate (EGCG) in
Eurycoma longifolia can inhibit the expression of Bcl-2 to
prevent the development multidrug resistance [54].
Exploration ofthemechanism ofaction
In the case of various stress modes, adaptogens can acti-
vate the adjustment of different responses to cope with
different forms of stress. Adaptogens are the material
basis of the bodily response to the external environ-
ment and can act on the immune system and the stress
response system, showing in Fig. 1. e non-specific
External stress
and allostasis
Adrenal Fague
Neuroendocrine System
Ginseng-like Herbs
Tonics from TCM
Fig. 1 The mechanism of action of plant‑originated adaptogens on human body
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Liaoetal. Chin Med (2018) 13:57
response mode, especially the hormone response mode,
occurs when homeostasis is not the driving force. When
hormone levels exceed the critical level, the complex
neurosecretory reactions may have harmful effects [55,
56]. e human stress response system consists of the
central nervous system (CNS), which includes neurons of
the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus, and is associ-
ated with to corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH), and
arginine vasopressin (AVP), and the adrenalin nucleus as
well as its distal ends of the brainstem, the HPA axis and
the peripheral nervous system [57]. e central coordi-
nation system to respond to external pressure consists
of CRH neurons, AVP neurons, catecholamine neurons
and other cell tissues, and the HPA axis and sympathetic
nervous system (SNS) represent the limbs [58]. CRH and
catecholamine neurons interact with each other. e SNS
and HPA system interact in terms of functions and sys-
tematic anatomy. When responding to the external envi-
ronment, these systems can interact on different levels,
for example, catecholamine can stimulate the HPA axis
by releasing of CRH, and the hormone produced by the
HPA axis can act on the SNS system [33].
Recent studies have shown that the inhibitory effects
and long-term overexpression of endogenous glucocorti-
coids cause stimulatory effects that are adjusted by SNS
under stress. e secretion of CRH and AVP increases,
which is stimulated by external pressure, thereby pro-
moting the secretion of cortisol and adrenocortico-
tropic hormone. Furthermore, angiotensin, cytokines
and arachidonic acid metabolites participate in the
stress response. SNS provides the human body with a
fast response mechanism to external stress. In addition
to catecholamine, the sympathetic and parasympathetic
nervous systems can also secrete a variety of neuropep-
tides, ATP and nitric oxide (NO) [59]. e following
effects are observed upon adjustment the HPA axis: an
increase in and regulation of energy circulation; reduc-
tion in the feeling of external pressure; enhancement of
resistance; improvement of mental concentration; facili-
tation of deep sleep period after sleep. ese functions
are all considered the primary function of adaptogens
[55, 56, 60].
Adaptogens do not increase the levels of cortisol and
NO in the human body under acute physiological loads
[6, 31, 61]. Plant-originated adaptogens, for example,
Schisandra chinensis (Turcz.) Baill, can prevent and resist
stress because these substances can activate the secretion
of cortisol and NO in the plasms and saliva, allowing the
body to adapt to heavier loads. After the consumption of
plant-originated adaptogens, physical exercises do not
increase the level of cortisol and NO in the human body;
in fact, the levels decrease, comparing to those present
prior to physical exercise. us, adaptogens can increase
the level of messenger substances that activate stress
(NO) and suppress stress (cortisol).
Adaptogens can improve the stress response system to
respond to high levels of external signals in the normal
or abnormal states. We should determine the similarities
or differences between adaptogens and known classical
metabolic regulators. According to the above description,
the main difference may be that adaptogen can stimulate
the CNS. It is now possible to obtain additional informa-
tion at the biochemical level and identify analogues adre-
nal cortex hormone analogue, catecholamine analogue
and so indicating that the active ingredients have similar
Adaptogens andChinese tonics
ere is much overlap between these medicines and
many tonics are internationally recognized as plant-origi-
nated adaptogens [2].
In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that har-
mony and balance are indispensable for health and the
concepts of yin and yang are used to diagnose and cure
disease [62]. Medicines that can supplement deficiency
and weakness, correct the pathological bias caused by
deficiency in both qi and blood, and treat the syndrome
of qi deficiency are called tonics in traditional Chinese
medicine (Qì, in the context of Chinese medicine, can
be defined as the physiological processes of the body.).
According to the differences in the properties, functions
and indications of tonics, these medicines can be divided
into qi-supplementing medicines, yang-supplementing
medicines, blood-supplementing medicines, and yin-
supplementing medicines. e common species of tonics
and their functions are listed in Table1.
Tonics have wide range of applications in traditional
Chinese medicine and can be used under the conditions
of low body resistance and weak constitution or when the
human body is finding it difficult to fight severe diseases,
this function of tonics is similar to that of plant-origi-
nated adaptogens [78]. Tonics typically are adaptogens,
but not always. ey are similar in the following aspects:
First, the clinical application and mechanisms of action
of these substances are similar. Based on their current
applications, tonics and plant-originated adaptogens can
be described as substances that regulate human bodily
functions in order to attain homeostasis. e primary
effects exhibited by these substances are regulation of the
immune system, improving the disorders of the nervous
system, anti-fatigue effects and overall nourishment. In
terms of specific mechanisms, both medicines can affect
the HPA axis in the immune-neuro-endocrine system,
thereby achieving the above pharmacological effects [79].
Second, the plants of origin of these substances are simi-
lar [2]. Chinese herbs considered to be both adaptogens
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Liaoetal. Chin Med (2018) 13:57
Table 1 Various tonics andtheir features
Classication Scientic name Immunity Neuroendocrine Anti‑stress Anti‑
inammatory Anti‑age Hypolipidemic Hypoglycemic Anti‑tumor References
Qi‑supplementing medicines Panax ginseng C.A.Mey √ √ [42]
Codonopsis pilosula (Franch.)
√ √ [63]
Pannax quinquefolius L. √ √ [42]
Rhodiola crenulata (Hook.f. et
Thoms) S.H.Fu
√ √ [48]
Astragalus membranaceus
(Fisch.) Bunge.
√ √ [64]
Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch. √ √ [65]
Acanthopanax senticosus
(Rupr. et Maxim.) Harms
√ √ [13]
Atractylodes macrocephala
√ √ [64]
Blood‑supplementing medi‑
cines Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels √ √ [64]
Fallopia multiflora (Thunb.)
√ √ [66]
Cynanchum otophyllum
√ √ [67]
Yang‑supplementing medi‑
cines Cuscuta chinensis Lam. √ √ [68]
Epimedium brevicornu Maxim. √ √ [69]
Psoralea corylifolia Linn. √ √ [70]
Stachys geobombycis C.Y.Wu √ √ [68]
Cynomorium songaricum
√ √ [71]
Yin‑supplementing medicines Asparagus cochinchinensis
(Lour.) Merr.
√ √ [72]
Ophiopogon japonicus (Linn. f.)
√ √ [73]
Polygonatum odoratum √ √ [74]
Fructus Ligustri Lucidi. √ √ [75]
Cornus officinalis Zucc. [76]
Lycium chinense Mill. √ √ [77]
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Liaoetal. Chin Med (2018) 13:57
and tonics include the following: Panax ginseng C.A.Mey,
Panax quniquefolius L., Panax notoginseng (Burkill)
F.H.Chen, Eleutherococcus senticosus (Rupr. & Maxim.)
Maxim, Sedum rosea (L.) Scop., and Schisandra chinensis
(Turcz.) Baill. According to the terminology used in tra-
ditional Chinese medicine, the mechanism of action of
plant-originated adaptogens is to achieve equilibrium in
both yin and yang, showing great vitality [80].
Based on the chemical composition, common ton-
ics can be divided into following several categories in
According to Panossian’s conclusion, the main active
chemical components can be divided into the follow-
ing two categories. e first category includes terpe-
noids with four-ring skeletons that are similar to cortisol:
sitoindosides (Withania somnifera), cucurbitacin-R-sap-
onin (Bryonia dioica). e second category includes
aromatic compounds with structures similar to that of
catecholamine: (a) lignans: eleuteroside E (Acantho-
panax senticosus (Rupr. et Maxim) Harms), schisandrin
b (Schisandra chinensis (Turcz.)); (b) phenylpropane
derivatives: syringin (Acanthopanax senticosus (Rupr. et
Maxim) Harms), cinnamyl glycoside (Rhodiola crenulata
(Hook.f. et oms) S.H.Fu); (c) phenylethane derivatives:
Tonics have the following functions: enriching and
activating blood (promoting the secretion of erythropoi-
etin and inducing the production of stimulatory factors,
for example, macrophage colonies, to activate blood),
regulating cellular and humoral immunity, and affecting
cytokine activity. ese functions are similar with those
of the plant-originated adaptogens mentioned above.
Plant-originated adaptogens are generally considered to
be the “elite of herbs” [5], and in Chinese medicine, ton-
ics are considered the highest grade of medicine [81]. In
traditional Chinese medicine theory, tonics are also con-
sidered to be top grades in traditional Chinese medicine.
It is helpful to expand the range of plant-originated adap-
togen species and to have an in-depth analysis about the
mechanism of tonic traditional Chinese medicine.
Adaptogens andginseng species worldwide
Many regions, ethnic groups and countries, they have
their own medical histories and habits. Continuous
development and transfer of knowledge through gen-
erations leads to the formation of unique medicinal sys-
tems such as traditional Chinese medicine and Indian
ayurvedic medicine. Coincidentally, in different regions
and medical systems, there are several medicinal plants
that are considered to be national treasures or that are
called ginseng locally. ere is much overlap between
plant-originated adaptogens and ginseng species world-
wide. Furthermore, most ginseng species worldwide are
internationally recognized as plant-originated adapto-
gens. Both ginseng-like herbs worldwide and plant-orig-
inated adaptogens have very similar clinical applications.
Ginseng species are widely used by local communities
world-wide because these plants can enhance the resist-
ance of the human body and can have various beneficial
effects, such as anti-fatigue, anti-ageing, anti-stress, anti-
anxiety, anti-inflammatory, and anti-depression. Fur-
thermore, ginseng species may improve the circulatory
system and immune system [34], which correlates pre-
cisely to the function of adaptogens.
Most medicinal plants called ginseng belong to Arali-
aceous, but there are also other medicinal plants that
belong to other families. For example, Withania somnif-
era, which belongs to Slanaceae, is called Indian ginseng;
this plant has nourishing and strengthening effects and
can delay ageing [47]. Panax japonicus, which belongs
to Solanaceae is called Japanese ginseng; this plants have
tonifying, strengthening and anti-fatigue effects [82].
Eurycoma longifolia, which belongs to Simaroubaceae
is called Malaysian ginseng; this plant can be used as a
postpartum tonic or aphrodisiac [83]. Lepidium meyerii,
which belongs to Brassicaceae, is called Peruvian ginseng;
this plant can be used for natural nutrient, can enhance
fertility effectively, and has anti-fatigue effects. e com-
mon ginsengs species from different countries and their
functions are listed in e results of modern pharmaco-
logical studies show that these medicinal plants called
ginseng have effects on the neuroendocrine and immune
systems, which is similar to the mechanism of action of
plant-originated adaptogens, the elite of herbs. However,
there have been few studies on the chemical composi-
tions, mechanisms of action, traditional curative effects
and similarities of these types of medicinal plants. Com-
parisons with ginseng species from around the world are
helpful for widening the spectrum of plant-originated
adaptogen species and for in-depth analysis of the mech-
anism of action of ginseng species worldwide. e func-
tions and the main functional ingredients of common
ginseng-like herbs worldwide were showed inTable3.
Current diculties andprospects ofadaptogens
Plant-originated adaptogens have been demonstrated to
regulate stress-related changes, at least in animal experi-
ments. However, even after more than 40-years of herbal
research, there are very few drugs that have been suc-
cessfully introduced as adaptogens in modern medicine.
Most of these kinds of plant-based medicines are consid-
ered to be plant-originated adaptogens and the remaining
few are immune enhancers, anabolic agents and anti-
oxidants, which are the same as plant-originated adap-
togens. erefore, there are many difficulties associated
Page 8 of 12
Liaoetal. Chin Med (2018) 13:57
with judging whether a plant is a plant-originated adap-
togen or not [94].
Adaptogens are stress response modifiers that non-spe-
cifically increase resistance to various stressors, thereby
promoting adaptation and survival. Adapting to environ-
mental challenges are multistep processes that involve
diverse mechanisms and interactions. Multiple molecular
networks are involved that coordinate both intracellular
and extracellular stress signaling. e metabolic regula-
tion of homeostasis by adaptogens at the cellular and
systems levels is associated with multiple targets [95]. To
date, the main problem in the research of mechanism of
adaptogens, is the lack of suitable stress-response ani-
mal models. e stress responses system can be divided
into three parts: stressor, stress response and stress per-
formance [96]. e stressor is the object that induces
physical strain; therefore, a stressor may be biological
(infection), physical (external force, extreme environ-
ment), chemical (medicine, ethanol), or psychological
(sadness, argument). When an organism is exposed to a
stressor, the neuroendocrine system of the body changes.
It is easy to study stress performances because these
effects are visible [97].
erefore, stress is known to lead to high blood pres-
sure, myocardial ischemia, depression and even cancer.
Briefly, stress performance is the manifestation of the
final effect of the stress response on the target organ.
Table 2 Based on the chemical composition, common
tonics can be divided intofollowingseveral categories
Category Specic tonics
Saponin Panax ginseng C.A.Mey.
Panax japonicus C.A.Mey.
Codonopsis pilosula (Franch.) Nannf.
Codonopsis lanceolata (Siebold & Zucc.) Benth. &
Hook.f. ex Trautv.
Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch. ex DC.
Eleutherococcus senticosus (Rupr. & Maxim.) Maxim.
Ophiopogon japonicus (Thunb.) Ker Gawl.
Asparagus cochinchinensis (Lour.) Merr.
Cornus officinalis Siebold & Zucc.
Trigonella foenumgraecum L.
Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.
Ziziphus jujuba Mill.
Broussonetia papyrifera (L.) L’Hér. ex Vent.
Cynomorium songaricum Rupr.
Ligustrum lucidum W.T.Aiton
Coumarin Psoralea corylifolia L.
Clinopodium megalanthum (Diels) C.Y.Wu & S.J.Hsuan
ex H.W.Li
Lycium chinense Mill.
Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch. ex DC.
Eleutherococcus senticosus (Rupr. & Maxim.) Maxim.
Panax ginseng C.A.Mey.
Astragalus membranaceus Fisch. ex Bunge
Flavonoids Epimedium brevicornu Maxim.
Astragalus membranaceus Fisch. ex Bunge
Panax ginseng C.A.Mey.
Eucommia ulmoides Oliver
Psoralea corylifolia L.
Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch. ex DC.
Cuscuta chinensis Lam.
Trigonella foenumgraecum L.
Taxillus sutchuenensis (Lecomte) Danser
Dendrobium nobile Lindl.
Alkaloids Trigonella foenumgraecum L.
Epimedium brevicornu Maxim.
Cistanche deserticola Ma
Polygonatum odoratum (Mill.) Druce
Phlomis umbrosa Turczaninow
Ilex cornuta Lindl. & Paxton
Allium tuberosum Rottler ex Spreng.
Cuscuta chinensis Lam.
Dendrobium nobile Lindl.
Aconitum carmichaeli Debeaux
Lilium brownii var.viridulum Baker
Volatile oils Atractylodes macrocephala Koidz.
Alpinia oxyphylla Miq.
Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels
Table 2 (continued)
Category Specic tonics
Clinopodium megalanthum (Diels) C.Y. Wu & Hsuan
ex H.W.
Psoralea corylifolia L.
Epimedium brevicornu Maxim.
Trigonella foenumgraecum L.
Amino acids Rehmannia glutinosa (Gaertn.) DC.
Stachys geobombycis C.Y.Wu
Asparagus cochinchinensis (Lour.) Merr.
Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch. ex DC.
Panax ginseng C.A.Mey
Trigonella foenumgraecum L.
Lycium chinense Mill.
Polysaccharides Astragalus membranaceus Fisch. ex Bunge
Eleutherococcus senticosus (Rupr. & Maxim.) Maxim.
Polygonatum sibiricum Redouté
Panax ginseng C.A.Mey.
Other Fallopia multiflora (Thunb.) Haraldson
Cynanchum otophyllum C.K.Schneid.
Rehmannia glutinosa (Gaertn.) DC.
Epimedium brevicornu Maxim.
Eucommia ulmoides Oliver
Page 9 of 12
Liaoetal. Chin Med (2018) 13:57
Table 3 Ginseng-like herbs worldwide withsimilar functions asthose ofplant-originated adaptogens
Scientic name Common name Family Common function Main functional ingredient
Panax ginseng C.A.Mey Asian ginseng Araliaceae Used for strengthening, nourishing, adjusting blood pres‑
sure and restoring heart function, neurasthenia and physi‑
cal weakness [42]
Ginsenoside [84]
Pannax quinquefolius L. American ginseng Araliaceae Used to treat qi and yin deficiency, endogenous heat,
kechuan, sputum, asthenic fever, dysphoria, thirst, and dry
mouth and throat [42]
Ginsenoside, etc. [84]
Panax notoginseng (Burk.) F.H.Chen Notoginseng Araliaceae Used for dispersing blood stasis and haemostasis and reliev‑
ing swelling and pain [85]Notoginseng saponins, Dencichine, etc. [84]
Panax japonicus Japanese ginseng Araliaceae Used for dispersing blood stasis and haemostasis, relieving
swelling and pain, eliminating phlegm and arresting
coughing and for tonifying deficiency and strengthening
Chikusetsusaponin, pseudo ginsenoside F11, Panax japonicus
polysaccharide, etc. [86]
Panax pseudoginseng Wall.
var. major (Burkill) H. L. Li Himalayan ginseng Araliaceae Used to treat qi and yin deficiency, dysphoria, thirst, asthenia
coughing, injuries from falling down, joint pain, haemop‑
tysis, haematemesis and bleeding wounds [86]
Majoroside, etc. [86]
Eleutherococcus senticosus Siberian ginseng Araliaceae Used for regulating body disorders, improving the circula‑
tory system, to treat fatigue, for promoting blood circula‑
tion for removing blood stasis, invigorating the stomach
and for diuresis and so on [13, 87]
Eleutheroside, acanthopanax senticosus polysaccharide, etc.
[13, 87]
Withania somnifera Indian ginseng Solanaceae Used for strengthening; nourishing;its anti‑ageing, anti‑
stress, antioxidation, anti‑tumor, anti‑anxiety, anti‑inflam‑
matory, anti‑depression properties; immune regulation;
improving cognitive function and so on [19]
Withanolides and other steroid esters and withanine and
other alkaloids [88]
Pfaffia paniculata Brazilian ginseng Amaranthaceae Often used as a tonic, to relieve fatigue effectively, improve
sexual function, and lower blood pressure, blood sugar
and blood lipid levels [89]
Pfaffic acid and its glycoside, for example, pfaffosides A–F, and
nortiperpene and its glycoside, etc. [86]
Eurycoma longifolia Malaysian ginseng Simaroubaceae Used for its anticancer, anti‑malaria properties, improving
male sexual dysfunction, sterilizing, lowering blood pres‑
sure and treating diabetes [54]
Diterpenes with quassinoid skeletons and alkaloids such as
canthin‑6‑one, mainly, biphenyl lignin and squalene deriva‑
tives [54]
Lepidium meyerii Peruvian ginseng Brassicaceae Used as s natural nutrient, for enhancing fertility effectively
and for its anti‑fatigue properties [90]Marca amide, marca alkaloids, etc. [91]
Talinum paniculatum Folk ginseng Talinaceae Used as a medicinal tonic and for strengthening, nourish‑
ing, improving qi, replenishing blood, aiding digestion,
promoting fluid production, quenching thirst and treating
cough and phlegm containing blood [92]
Terpenoids, coumarins, volatile oils, and polysaccharides, etc.
Page 10 of 12
Liaoetal. Chin Med (2018) 13:57
However, it remains challenging to study various steps
of this stress response [98]. First, this difficulty is associ-
ated with the stressor because it is difficult to quantify
external stressors, especially psychological stressors, for
example, sadness. In addition, we know little about the
interactions between stressors and the body. e spe-
cific response of mechanisms induced by stressors affect
broad-spectrum stress response. Second, this difficulty is
associated with the stress response. In the terms of devel-
opment, hormones, neurotransmitters, neuro-regulators
and cytokines, which are involved in the response have
been identified, but the specific functions of these pro-
teins divisions remain unknown. e identity of the first
substance to regulate the stress response remains unclear,
and it has not been determined whether there are dif-
ferent mechanisms for different stressors. ere are no
definitive results regarding the specific mechanisms and
pathway changes of that lead to conversion of the status
from unsuitable to suitable. As a result, it is impossible to
differentiate and characterize the different stages of stress
response (including adaptation), making the response
difficult to quantify [97]. erefore, scientists use “pre-
vention of stress manifestation” as a guideline to evaluate
the anti-stress properties of a drug [99]. ird, the diffi-
culty is associated with stress expression. According to
the strength and severity of the stressor, different changes
are observed. Genetic or other external factors (species,
day–night cycles, gender, age and physiological state of
tissues or organs) also affect the extent of overall stress
expression. e difficulties mentioned above will appear
in the process of the mechanism of action of adaptogens;
therefore, it is necessary to further discuss the mecha-
nisms, targets, similarities and differences associated
with the pharmacological functions.
To date, various studies and practical applications
have shown that plant-originated adaptogens are a kind
of elite herbal medicine, playing an important role in
human health and helping the human body resist vari-
ous stress factors. However, the clinical application of
plant-originated adaptogens and their use in health care
products remains in the preliminary stage. Categoriza-
tion of plant-originated adaptogens, clarification of their
pharmacological functions, and the determination of the
similarities and differences between adaptogens, tonics
and ginseng species worldwide, will help in effective utili-
zation of plant-originated adaptogens, and provide a new
way to guarantee human health.
Authors’ contributions
Conceptualization, P‑GX and FY; Methodology, LL, HM, and Y‑MD; Writing—
original draft preparation, L‑YY; Writing—review and editing, Y‑FH. All authors
read and approved the final manuscript.
Author details
1 Key Laboratory of Cosmetics, China National Light Industry, Beijing Tech‑
nology and Business University, No. 11/33, Fucheng Road, Haidian District,
Beijing 100048, People’s Republic of China. 2 Beijing Key Laboratory of Plant
Resources Research and Development, Beijing Technology and Business
University, No. 11/33, Fucheng Road, Haidian District, Beijing 100048, People’s
Republic of China. 3 Institute of Medicinal Plant Development, Chinese Acad‑
emy of Medical Sciences, Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, 151 Malianwa
North Road, Haidian District, Beijing 100193, People’s Republic of China.
We are very grateful to Pr. Yong PENG (Institute of Medicinal Plant Develop‑
ment, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Peking Union Medical College,
Beijing) for his valuable suggestions.
Competing interests
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Availability of data and materials
The datasets used or analyzed during the current study are available from the
corresponding author on reasonable request.
Consent for publication
I, the corresponding author give my consent for my article to be publish in
Chinese Medicine.
Ethics approval and consent to participate
Not applicable.
This study was supported by the Beijing Technology and Business University
Youth Scholars Fund (PXM2018_014213_000033) and the Key Laboratory of
Cosmetics, China National Light Industry, Beijing Technology and Business
University Innovation Fund (KLC‑2017‑YB2).
Publisher’s Note
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in pub‑
lished maps and institutional affiliations.
Received: 23 August 2018 Accepted: 12 November 2018
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... The similarity of chemical structures of ginsenosides with the stress hormone cortisol (Figure 2), suggests that their mechanism of action is associated with glucocorticoid receptors and the mode of action with the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axisa functional part of the neuroendocrine-immune complex, collectively known as a "stress system" [114,115], which regulates adaptability, survival, and resilience of organisms in stress and progression of aging-related disorders [96,116], including neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, senile dementia, etc.), atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, metabolic diseases (type 2 diabetes, obesity, and hypertension) [117], muscle degeneration (sarcopenia), degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis), cancer, etc. Indeed, in the earlier studies dated 1970-1980, it was demonstrated that ginsenosides a as functional ligands of glucocorticoid receptors [119][120][121]. ...
... Further findings revealed the mechanisms and action of ginsenosides are associated with many other molecular targets except glucocorticoid receptors and multiple modes of action related to the neuroendocrine-immune complex and other regulatory systems involved in maintaining homeostasis and survival. Figure 3 shows the modes of the pharmacological action of red ginseng, describing functional changes of cells, physiological and regulatory systems involved in defense response at various levels of regulation of homeostasis, and the phases of progression of diseases [113][114][115][116]118]. The third major stress-activated p38 signaling pathway contributes to control of inflammation, the release of cytokines by macrophages and neutrophils, apoptosis, cell differentiation, and cell cycle regulation. ...
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The reductionist concept, based on the ligand–receptor interaction, is not a suitable model for adaptogens, and herbal preparations affect multiple physiological functions, revealing polyvalent pharmacological activities, and are traditionally used in many conditions. This review, for the first time, provides a rationale for the pleiotropic therapeutic efficacy of adaptogens based on evidence from recent gene expression studies in target cells and where the network pharmacology and systems biology approaches were applied. The specific molecular targets and adaptive stress response signaling mechanisms involved in nonspecific modes of action of adaptogens are identified.
... Modern pharmacological studies have shown that plant adaptogens can act in multiple pathways and targets in the human body, affecting the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis) and the neuro-endocrine-immune system to nonspecifically enhance the resistance of the body under various external stress conditions. 9 It indicates that the common mechanism of the endogenous action of plant adaptogens has been intensively studied. However, there is a wide variety of plant adaptogens and no studies have yet pointed out the characteristics of their family frequency distribution. ...
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Background: Adaptogens are a class of medicinal plants that can nonspecifically enhance human resistance. Most of the plant adaptogens have relevant applications in dermatology, but there are still few studies related to their particular action and co-operative mechanisms in topical skin application. Methods: Plant adaptogens related articles and reviews that published between 1999 and 2022 were obtained from the Web of Science Core Collection database. Various bibliographic elements were collected, including the annual number of publications, countries/regions, and keywords. CiteSpace, a scientometric software, was used to conduct bibliometric analyses. Also, the patsnap global patent database was used to analyze the patent situation of plant adaptogens in the field of cosmetics up to 2021. Results: We found that the effects of plant adaptogens on skin diseases mainly involve atopic dermatitis, acne, allergic contact dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, and androgenetic alopecia, etc. And the effects on skin health mainly involve anti-aging and anti-photoaging, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, whitening, and anti-hair loss, etc. Also, based on the results of patent analysis, it is found that the effects of plant adaptogens on skin mainly focus on aging retardation. The dermatological effects of plant adaptogens are mainly from Fabaceae Lindl., Araliaceae Juss. and Lamiaceae Martinov., and their mainly efficacy phytochemical components are terpenoids, phenolic compounds and flavonoids. Conclusion: The plant adaptogens can repair the skin barrier and maintain skin homeostasis by regulating the skin HPA-like axis, influencing the oxidative stress pathway to inhibit inflammation, and regulating the extracellular matrix (ECM) components to maintain a dynamic equilibrium, ultimately achieving the treatment of skin diseases and the maintenance of a healthy state.
... Panax ginseng C.A.Mey. is likely one of the most widely used botanicals in the world [1,2]. This adaptogenic plant [2][3][4][5][6][7][8] is approved in Europe and other countries as an herbal medicinal product to enhance cognitive functions and physical capacities in weakness, exhaustion, tiredness, loss of concentration, and during convalescence [9][10]. ...
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This study aimed to assess the efficacy of new Panax ginseng C.A.Mey preparation of increased bioavailability in fatigue assessed as relief of muscle soreness and improving the neuromuscular performance of healthy subjects following a bout of intense resistance exercise. The effects of the hydroponically cultivated red ginseng root powder HRG80 TM (RG) γ-Cyclodextrin-based chewable tablets and cyclodextrin-free RG capsules were compared in an open-label, randomized, crossover trial on 20 elite weightlifters. The RG treatments for 10 days have a statistically significant effect on the relief of the muscle's soreness compared to the control. No statistically significant difference was observed in the effects of two capsules vs. one tablet suggesting that γ-Cyclodextrin based chewable tablets of red ginseng preparation HRG80 are almost 4-fold active of cyclodextrin-free HRG80 capsules. Furthermore, the effect of tablets vs. control was significant on the 5th day of the treatment, while the effect of capsules vs. control was observed three days later-on the 8th day. However, in push-ups on the uneven bars (PUB) test of neuromuscular performance, the capsule intake results in increased physical performance compared to tablets or control with maximal effect on the 7th day of treatment. The results of this study provide evidence for the efficacy of γ-cyclodextrin-based chewable tablets containing 100 mg of red ginseng HRG80 TM for the relief of muscle soreness and supporting the neuromuscular performance of healthy subjects in intense resistance exercise.
... adaptogenów, tj. substancji pochodzenia naturalnego (roślinnego), które w sposób nieswoisty zwiększają zdolność organizmu do przystosowania się do niekorzystnych czynników środowiskowych (stresorów) [46]. Stosowanie adaptogenów jest silnie ugruntowane w medycynie tradycyjnej, jednak ten rodzaj fitoterapii zyskuje coraz większe uznanie i zastosowanie we współczes nej medycynie wraz ze zwiększającą się liczbą badań biochemicznych wyjaśniających strukturę chemiczną substancji czynnych oraz ich mechanizm działania (plejotropowy wpływ na układ neuroendokrynny oraz immunologiczny) [47]. ...
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[PL] Magnez jest jednym ze składników mineralnych niezbędnych do prawidłowego rozwoju i funkcjonowania organizmu człowieka. Bierze udział w pracy nerwów i mięśni, pobudliwości serca, utrzymaniu prawidłowego ciśnienia tętniczego krwi, integralności kości oraz w metabolizmie glukozy i insuliny. Niedobór magnezu wiąże się z większą podatnością na negatywne skutki stresu oraz z wieloma przewlekłymi chorobami, w tym migrenowymi bólami głowy, incydentami sercowo-naczyniowymi (zawał serca, udar mózgu), nadciśnieniem tętniczym, cukrzycą typu 2. Niniejsza praca przedstawia najnowsze badania w dziedzinie magnezu i chorób przewlekłych, źródła występowania magnezu w pożywieniu oraz możliwości jego suplementacji. Słowa kluczowe: magnez, suplementacja, niedobór magnezu [ENG] Magnesium is one of the minerals necessary for the proper functioning of the human body, which is essential for the regulation of muscular contraction, nerve transmission, cardiac excitability, blood pressure, bone integrity, and glucose insulin metabolism. Therefore, magnesium deficiency is associated with stressful conditions and many chronic diseases, including migraine headaches, cardiovascular incidents (heart attack, stroke), hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. This review presents recent research in the areas of magnesium and chronic disease, miscellaneous sources of magnesium in food, and the possibilities of its supplementation.
... Two well-known adaptogenic plants [4][5][6][7][8][9], Red Ginseng (Panax ginseng CA Mey) [10] and Red Sage/Danshen (Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge) [11], are used in Traditional Chinese cells, followed by network pharmacology using Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) of significantly upregulated or downregulated genes, to disclose effects on cellular functions and diseases. That is important for understanding and predicting the potential risks and benefits of the therapeutic action of RG-RS. ...
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Background: This study aimed to assess the effect of a fixed combination of Red Ginseng and Red Sage (RG-RS) on the gene expression of neuronal cells to evaluate the potential impacts on cellular functions and predict its relevance in the treatment of stress and aging-related diseases and disorders. Methods: Gene expression profiling was conducted by transcriptome-wide mRNA microarray analyses of murine HT22 hippocampal cell culture after treatment with RG-RS preparation. Ingenuity pathway analysis (IPA) was performed with datasets of significantly upregulated or downregulated genes and the expected effects on the physiological and cellular function and the diseases were identified. Results: RG-RS deregulates 1028 genes associated with cancer and 139 with metastasis, suggesting a predicted decrease in tumorigenesis, the proliferation of tumor cells, tumor growth, metastasis, and an increase in apoptosis and autophagy by their effects on the various signaling and metabolic pathways, including the inhibition of Warburg's aerobic glycolysis, estrogen-mediated S-phase entry signaling, osteoarthritis signaling, and the super-pathway of cholesterol biosynthesis. Conclusion: The results of this study provide evidence of the potential efficacy of the fixed combination of Red Ginseng (Panax ginseng C.A. Mey.) and Red Sage/Danshen (Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge) in cancer. Further clinical and experimental studies are required to assess the efficacy and safety of RG-RS in preventing the progression of cancer, osteoarthritis, and other aging-related diseases.
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Carapa guianensis (Andiroba, Meliaceae) is considered a multipurpose tree. In Brazil, Indigenous people have used it as insect repellent and in the treatment of various diseases. Most biological activities and popular uses are attributed to limonoids, which are highly oxygenated tetranortriterpenoids. More than 300 limonoids have been described in Meliaceae family. Limonoids from Andiroba oil have shown high anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic activities in vivo, by inhibiting platelet activating factors and many inflammatory mediators such as IL-5, IL-1β and TNF-α. It also reduced T lymphocytes, eosinophils and mast cells. In corroboration with the wide popular use of Andiroba oil, no significant cytotoxicity or genotoxicity in vivo was reported. This oil promotes apoptosis in a gastric cancer cell line (ACP02) at high concentrations, without showing mutagenic effects, and is suggested to increase the body's nonspecific resistance and adaptive capacity to stressors, exhibit some antioxidant activity, and protect against oxidative DNA damages. Recently, new methodologies of toxicological assays have been applied. They include in chemico, in vitro, in silico and ex vivo procedures, and take place to substitute the use of laboratory animals. Andiroba by-products have been used in sustainable oil production processes and as fertilizers and soil conditioners, raw material for soap production, biodegradable surfactants and an alternative natural source of biodegradable polymer in order to reduce environmental impacts. This review reinforces the relevance of Andiroba and highlights its ability to add value to its by-products and to minimize possible risks to the health of the Amazonian population.
Еhe anabolic properties of a new composition of leuzea and cranberry meal extracts in a ratio of 7:50, containing ecdisten and ursolic acid, respectively, have been investigates on a model of isolated overload of the skeletal muscle of the rats leg by the method of excision. Material and methods. The experiment was conducted on Wistar stock rats of both sexes weighing 220–250 g. At the beginning of the experiment, all animals underwent musculus gastrocnemius tenotomy (m.gastrocnemius), and then the composition has been intragastrically administered for 14 days. At the end of the experiment, the rats were decapitated, blood was taken to determine biochemical parameters (creatine phosphokinase activity, glucose and lactate level) and muscles from both legs were separated to determine the difference between the mass of the musculus soleus (m. soleus) operated on and the mass m.soleus of a non-operated paw. Results and discussion. A dose-dependent anabolic effect was established for the composition of leuzea and cranberry meal extracts. A gender difference was found, which was confirmed by the obtained values of creatine phosphokinase activity and glucose/lactate ratio. Conclusions. The composition of leuzea and cranberry meal extracts exhibits a dose-dependent anabolic effect in males and increase physical endurance in female rats on the model of isolated overload of the skeletal muscle of the leg of rats with tenotomy operation.
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Adverse environmental factors, stress, lack of sleep and rest, and heavy physical exertion, deplete the human body. In particular, the reserves of the main metabolites, water, and oxygen, are very limited. People, especially athletes, need to take special dietary supplements with adaptogenic properties to adapt to stressful extreme loads. In this study, the influence of using extracts of leuzea, ginseng, and Eleutherococcus on athletes' performance, endurance, strength, and emotional state is carried out. The studies were conducted on four groups of male athletes aged from 19 to 25 years. For three weeks, diagnostics of vital lung capacity, Stange, and Genchi tests are carried out, and data on the general impressions of athletes are collected. According to the research results, the use of adaptogens leads to an increase in physical performance. After the first week of the study, a positive effect on the human body are noticed: improve well-being and increased athletic performance. When using Eleutherococcus, there was a change in the work of the central nervous system (motor functions): tasks begin to be performed in an organized and accelerated manner without deterioration of well-being, but the volume of strength exercises remained the same. When using the drug leuzea, muscle strength was noted, which allowed to increase the load. There is a positive effect of phytopreparations on the body, namely on the functions of the cardiovascular, central nervous and endocrine systems. In 4 participants who took leuzea, the performance in power competitions improved by 18.5% compared to the control group. The intake of Eleutherococcus and ginseng is accompanied by an increase in the activity of neurotransmitter cells, i.e., the effect on the mesolimbic system. In addition, a study of hematological blood parameters and hormonal statuses at the beginning and end of the study was conducted with the subjects who took leuzea extract. So, the use of the drug leuzea leads to the following positive changes: a more significant increase in ESR, a more significant increase in hemoglobin, compared with the control group. The conclusion is made about the practicality of taking biologically active additives based on some plant adaptogens.
Despite invaluable advances in cervical cancer therapy, treatment regimens for recurrent or persistent cancers and low-toxicity alternative treatment options are scarce. In recent years, substances classified as adaptogens have been identified as promising drug sources for preventing and treating cancer-based diseases on their ability to attack multiple molecular targets. This paper establishes the effectiveness of inhibition of the neoplastic process by a withaferin A (WFA), an adaptogenic substance, based on an in vitro model of cervical cancer. This study explores for the first time the potential of high-definition vibrational spectroscopy methods, i.e. Fourier-transform infrared (FT-IR) and Raman spectroscopic (RS) imaging at the single-cell level to evaluate the efficacy of the adaptogenic drug. HeLa cervical cancer cells were incubated with various concentrations of WFA at different incubation times. The multimodal spectroscopic approach combined with partial least squares (PLS) regression allowed the identification of molecular changes (e.g., lipids, protein secondary structures, or nucleic acids) induced by WFA at the cellular level. The results clearly illustrate the enormous potential of WFA in inhibiting the proliferation of cervical cancer cells. WFA inhibited the growth of the studied cancer cell line in a dose-dependent manner. Such studies provide comprehensive information on the sensitivity of cells to adaptogenic drugs. This is a fundamental step towards determining the rate and nature of adaptogen-induced changes in cancer cells.
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Background; panax ginseng is one of the best ayurvedic plant used for treatment of several types of disease such as diabetes, improve the libido and hair-lose and as antioxidant also decrease the side effect and toxicity of several chemotherapy and toxic substances and several studies show that it may have an anticancer effect. Aim: to find out the effect of panax ginseng to decrease the cardiotoxicity the occur as a result of several chemotherapeutic medication such as doxorubicin and the effect of panax ginseng on cellular biomarker and cancer suppressor substance for evaluation of possible anticancer effect of panax ginseng. Methods: forty rate module has been enrolled in this study, divided into four groups ten rats for each groups, first group receive purified water, second groups receive Panax ginseng orally in 100mg/kg dose, third group receive panax ginseng with doxorubicin whereas the last groups receive high dose of panax ginseng only, blood sample also collected and organs such as heart is extracted, the serum level of several biomarker and cancer modulators has been evaluated. Results: Panax ginseng significantly reduce cardiotoxicity by its antioxidant mechanism, Panax ginseng reduced cardiac troponin (cTnI) However, its effect on reduction of BNP levels insignificantly compared to the doxorubicin group P=0.06. Panax ginseng reduced LPO and MDA and raised the antioxidant potential biomarker GSH significantly compared to the doxorubicin group P<0.05. Panax ginseng significantly reduced inflammatory (TNF-α) and apoptotic (caspase-3) biomarkers when compared to the doxorubicin group. Panax ginsing increase caspase level also and in addition, MDA, LPO, TNF-α, and caspase-3 levels were increased in doxorubicin group compared to the control group P<0.05. Conclusions: as a result of our research, Panax ginseng significantly show cardioprotective effect that it supresses the oxidative stress and other cardiotoxic parameters , However in high dose show to have anticancer by itself through caspase medullated apoptosis whereas the casepace 3 level significantly.
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Nonrestorative sleep (NRS) is one of the cardinal symptoms of insomnia and can occur independent of other components of insomnia. Among the sleep disturbances, NRS has been little studied in the general population, even though this symptom plays an important role in several medical conditions associated with chronic inflammation such as heart disease, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome, as well as various sleep disorders. There is paucity in the literature about effective treatments for NRS. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) has been demonstrated to reduce anxiety and stress, allowing the body to settle down and prepare for sleep. This study will be a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled interventional study in NRS population.The NRS participants are identified using Restorative Sleep Questionnaire-weekly version (RSQ-W) questionnaire. Actigraphy and polysomnography are used for the objective assessment of sleep. The other assessments used are Hamilton Anxiety Depression Scale (HADS), World Health Organization Quality of Life (WHOQOL) scales, and C-reactive protein. Routine blood and urine analyses will be conducted to assess the safety of treatment. Duration of study for each participant will be 50 days with "day one" for screening followed by randomization for the treatment. The duration for medicine/placebo intake shall be 42 days.Primary outcome will be to evaluate effect of daily supplement of ashwagandha extract compared with placebo in subjects with NRS at 6 weeks from baseline, as assessed by the total score of RSQ-W. Ctri registration number: CTRI/2017/02/007801.
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This review is devoted to adaptogens, plant products capable of producing nonspecific responses in the human body, resulting in increasing the resistance against multiple stressors (physical, chemical or biological) and capable of having a normalizing effect to the human body. Adaptogens must be non-toxic, harmless, capable of not influencing normal body functions more than required, and capable of treating depression, a common neuropsychiatric illness, the importance of which is increasing by number of new patients every year. Number of plants are able to produce natural compounds, which meet the criteria of becoming adaptogens. The most known of them are used in traditional medicine for centuries. This review summarizes data from several most important plant sources of adaptogens, however, it does not cover the field of adaptogens in all its variability. Based on the literature search covering the two past decades, it is focused at several most important plant species and their products, and at their proven or potential pharmacological effects in treating several important diseases.
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To manage male infertility caused by hormonal imbalance, infections and other predicaments, multifarious treatment strategies are emerging worldwide. Contemporary treatments, such as assisted reproductive techniques, are costly with low success rates of only 10-30%; however, herbal remedies are gaining more attention as an alternative or supplementary therapeutic modality for male infertility. The beneficial effects induced by oral intake of the roots of a small evergreen shrub, Withania sominifera (Ashwagandha) on semen quality of infertile men have previously been studied. Oral intake of Ashwagandha roots has been found to inhibit lipid peroxidation, improve sperm count and motility, and regulate reproductive hormone levels. The molecular mechanisms of these effects, however, are yet to be unveiled. In this review, we will discuss the role of herbal medicines in male infertility; provide a detailed analysis of various human and animal studies involving Withania somnifera; describe a proposed direct oxidative mechanism involving mitigation of oxidative stress as well as an indirect mechanism consisting of a gamma-aminobutyric acid-like-mimetic pathway ameliorating hormonal balance through crosstalk among different endocrine glands to improve male fertility; and how Withania somnifera supplementation mitigates risk factor-induced male infertility as well as ameliorates male fertility.
Maca, Lepidium meyenii Walpers (Brassicaceae), contains secondary metabolites, including macamides, which possess many bioactive properties. Two new macamides, namely, N-benzyl-9-oxo-10E,12E-octadecadienamide (3) and N-benzyl-9-oxo-10E,12Z-octadecadienamide (4), were isolated from maca root. In addition, two fatty acid derivatives, 9-oxo-10E,12E-octadecadienoic acid (1) and 9-oxo-10E,12Z-octadecadienoic acid (2), were found for the first time from maca. The structures of compounds (3) and (4) were elucidated by spectrometric and spectroscopic methods including UV, IR, ¹H NMR, ¹³C NMR, 2D NMR and HR ESI–MS experiments. The novel macamides exhibit inhibitory activity against the proliferation of the HT-29 cancer cell line with IC50 values of 12.8 μmol/L (3) and 5.7 μmol/L (4). The two compounds were inactive (IC50 >50 μmol/L) towards the proliferation of SGC7901, MCF7, NCI-H460 and HepG2 cancer cell lines.
Ethnopharmacological relevance: Species of the genus Codonopsis are perennial herbs mainly distributed throughout East, Southeast and Central Asia. As recorded, they have been used as traditional Chinese medicines since the Qing Dynasty, where they were claimed for strengthening the spleen and tonifying the lung, as well as nourishing blood and engendering liquid. Some species are also used as food materials in southern China and Southeast Asia, such as tea, wine, soup, plaster, and porridge. Aim of the review: The review aims to assess the ethnopharmacological uses, explicit the material basis and pharmacological action, promote the safety of medical use, and suggest the future research potentials of Codonopsis. Materials and methods: Information on the studies of Codonopsis was collected from scientific journals, books, and reports via library and electronic data search (PubMed, Elsevier, Scopus, Google Scholar, Springer, Science Direct, Wiley, Researchgate, ACS, EMBASE, Web of Science and CNKI). Meanwhile, it is also obtained from published works of material medica, folk records, ethnopharmacological literatures, PhD and Masters Dissertation. Plant taxonomy is confirmed to the database "The Plant List" ( Results: Codonopsis has been used for medicinal purposes all around the world. Some species are also used as food materials in southern China and Southeast Asia. The chemical constituents of Codonopsis mainly are polyacetylenes, polyenes, flavonoids, lignans, alkaloids, coumarins, terpenoids, steroids, organic acids, saccharides, and so on. Extract of Codonopsis exhibit extensive pharmacological activities, including immune function regulation, hematopoiesis improvement, cardiovascular protection, neuroprotection, gastrointestinal function regulation, endocrine function regulation, cytotoxic and antibacterial effects, anti-aging and anti-oxidation, etc.. Almost no obvious toxicity or side effect are observed and recorded for Codonopsis. Conclusions: The traditional uses, phytochemistry, pharmacology and toxicology of Codonopsis are reviewed in this paper. Species of the genus have long been used as traditional medicines and food materials, they were reported with a large number of chemical constituents with different structures, extensive pharmacological activities in immune system, blood system, digestive system, etc. and almost no toxicity. More profound studies on less popular species, pharmacodynamic material basis and pharmacological mechanism, and quality assurance are suggested to be carried out to fulfil the research on the long-term clinical use and new drug research of Codonopsis.
Ethnopharmacological relevance: The genus Polygonatum (Asparagaceae) comprises 71 species distributed throughout the temperate Northern Hemisphere. The medicinal plants of Polygonatum have been traditionally used as tonics in Chinese, India, Pakistan, Iran, Japan, etc., and have been demonstrated in clinical practice to be highly effective in the treatment of age-related diseases, diabetes, lung diseases, fatigue, feebleness, indigestion, etc. Aim of the review: This paper aims to provide systematical information on ethnopharmacology, chemical constituents, pharmacological effects and toxicity of Polygonatum plants in order to explore potential medicinal resources or candidate compounds for future research. Materials and methods: The relevant information on the genus Polygonatum was gathered from scientific databases (Google Scholar, Web of Science, SciFinder, ScienceDirect, ACS Publications, PubMed, Wiley Online Library, CNKI). Information was also obtained from some websites (The Plant List, etc.), books, PhD and MSc dissertations. The literature cited in this review dated from 1917 to Jane 2017. Results: At least 37 species and 1 variety of Polygonatum plants have been used as traditional medicine and functional food. The main active constituents of Polygonatum plants are polysaccharides, steroidal saponins, triterpenoid saponins, homoisoflavanones and lectins. A putative biosynthetic pathway of steroidal saponins and triterpenoid saponins has been analyzed based on the isolated compounds from Polygonatum plants. The extracts and some compounds from Polygonatum plants have shown the effects of antiaging, antidiabetic, antifatigue, anticancer, etc. The rhizomes of Polygonatum plants have quite low toxicity after processing. Conclusions: More than half of the medicinal Polygonatum species are lack of phytochemical or pharmacological researches. The comparison of chemical constitutions and pharmacological effects between different species needs to be performed to provide evidence for the reasonable usage of substitutes. In Polygonatum plants, polysaccharides are effective in the treatment of age-related diseases and fatigue; saponins may be the main active components to treat diabetes.
Ethnopharmacological relevance: Cornus officinalis (Cornaceae), known in Chinese as "Shanzhuyu," is a frequently used traditional Chinese medicine. It tastes sour and is astringent and slightly warm in nature. Its fruits have long been used to treat kidney deficiency, high blood pressure, waist and knee pain, dizziness, tinnitus, impotence, spermatorrhea, menorrhagia, and other diseases in China. The main distribution areas are Shanxi and Gansu. Aim of the study: This review focused on the ethnopharmacological uses of the herb. We also focus on the phytochemical, pharmacological, and toxicological studies on C. officinalis. The recent analytical methods developed for the quality control of the herb's constituents are also reviewed. Additionally, future trends and prospects in the study of this herb are proposed. Materials and methods: Information on C. officinalis was gathered by searching the internet (PubMed, ScienceDirect, Wiley, ACS, CNKI, Scifinder, Web of Science, Google Scholar, and Baidu Scholar) and libraries. Results: This review compiled the ethnopharmacological uses, including the classic prescriptions and historical applications. Approximately 300 chemical compounds have been isolated and identified from C. officinalis. The major active components of the plant are organic acids and iridoids, among which morroniside and loganin have been extensively investigated. The fruit of the plant has been used in treating many diseases in traditional medicine. Scientific studies indicated the herb's wide range of pharmacological activities, such as hepatic and renal protection, antidiabetes activity, cardioprotection, antioxidation, neuroprotection, antitumor activity, anti-inflammation, analgesic effects, antiaging activity, antiamnesia, antiosteoporosis, and immunoregulation. The analytical methods developed for the quantitative and qualitative determination of various compounds in the herb were further reviewed. Conclusions: In this paper, we reviewed various studies conducted on C. officinalis, especially in areas of its ethnopharmacological use, as well as on its phytochemistry, pharmacology, and modern analytical methods used. Some of the herb's ethnomedical indications have been confirmed by the herb's pharmacological effects, such as its hepatic and renal protection and the antidiabetic effects. In particular, the crude extract and its chemical composition have exerted good therapeutic effect in diabetic treatment. C. officinalis entails additional attention on its pharmacological effects and drug development to expand its effective use clinically. Many advanced technologies are used for quality testing, but the detection component is exceedingly scarce for synthetically evaluating the quality of C. officinalis herbs. Thus, further research is necessary to investigate the quality control and toxicology of the plant, to further elucidate its clinical use, and to control herbal quality.
Ethnopharmacological relevance: Pfaffia paniculata is endemic Brazilian plant traditionally used against fatigue, stress, inflammation and low immune system functioning and with proven intestinal anti-inflammatory activity. Aim of the study: To evaluate intestinal anti-inflammatory mechanism of P. paniculata by determination of mRNA abundance of Hsp70, Heparanase, Mapk1, Mapk3, Mapk6, Mapk9, Muc1, Muc2, Muc3, Muc4, and NF-κB, as well as the mucin content in colonic samples. Material and methods: Intestinal inflammation was induced by TNBS and rats were divided into groups that received vehicle or 25, 50, 100, or 200mg/kg of P. paniculata extract, p.o., started 2h after inflammation induction and continued daily for 7 days. At the end of the procedure, the animals were killed and their colon samples were obtained for RT-qPCR analysis and mucin histochemical study with PAS/Alcian blue stain. Results: P. paniculata significantly decreased Hsp70 (25mg/Kg); reduced Mapk3 and increased Muc4 (50mg/Kg); increased Mapk, Muc3, Muc4 with simultaneous decrease in Mapk3 (100mg/kg) and, reduced Mapk3at 200mg/kg. At 50-100mg/Kg, P. paniculata increased mucins secretions. Conclusion: Intestinal anti-inflammatory activity of P. paniculata was related to modulation of the Mapks and mucin gene expression and mucus secretion in intestinal inflammation.
Natural products are of great surge in the identification of chemopreventive agents and biologically active molecules for the development of new promising therapeutic agents. These agents influence the cascade of biochemical and molecular signalling pathways involved in numerous physiological and pathological processes. The natural agents combat the dogma associated with the most dreaded, unconquered health concern and a multigenic disease- cancer. A category of plants known as adaptogens maintain perturbed homoeostasis, augment adaptations to noxious stimuli (exposure to cold, heat, pain, general stress, infectious organisms) and offer endurance to attenuate several disorders in human beings. The well known adaptogens and immunomodulators such as Rhodiola rosea, Withania somnifera, Tinospora cordifolia, Bacopa monnieri, Emblica officinalis, Glycyrrhiza glabra, Asparagus racemosus, Ocimum sanctum and Panax notoginseng claimed to have significant antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties due to the presence of various biologically active chemical compounds. Their immunopotentiating activity is mediated through the modulation of T-cell immunity biochemical factors, transcription factors, some genes and factors associated with tumor development and progression. The combinatory formulation of active immunostimulating constituents from these plants may provide better homeostasis. These immunostimulant factors suggest their potential therapeutic significance in adjuvant or supportive therapy in cancer treatment. Full Text link: