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Panax quinquefolius or ginseng is often claimed to have adaptogenic effects.

Adaptogens or adaptogenic substances, compounds, herbs[1] or practices refer to the pharmacological concept whereby administration results in stabilization of physiological processes and promotion of homeostasis, for example, decreased cellular sensitivity to stress.[2]

The concept of adaptogens was originally created in 1947 to describe a substance that may increase resistance to stress.[3] Adaptogenesis was later applied in the former Soviet Union to describe remedies thought to increase the resistance of organisms to biological stress.[2] Another definition requires that, for an herb to be considered an adaptogen, it must be nontoxic, nonspecific and have a normalizing effect on physiology.[4]

The European Medicines Agency stated in a 2008 reflection paper that the concept requires additional clinical and preclinical research, and is therefore not accepted into current terminology.[3]

Most of the studies conducted on adaptogens were performed in the Soviet Union, Korea, and China before the 1980s and have been dismissed for various methodological flaws, leading to a conclusion that the term is not accepted in pharmacological and clinical practice as used in the European Union.[3]


  1. ^ "Adaptogen". 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Brekhman, I. I.; Dardymov, I. V. (1969). "New Substances of Plant Origin which Increase Nonspecific Resistance". Annual Review of Pharmacology. 9: 419–430. doi:10.1146/ PMID 4892434. 
  3. ^ a b c "Reflection Paper on the Adaptogenic Concept" (PDF). European Medicines Agency, Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products. 8 May 2008. 
  4. ^ David Winston; Steven Maimes (2007). Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief. Inner Traditions / Bear & Co. p. 18. ISBN 1594771588.