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Adaptogens or adaptogenic substances are used in herbal medicine for the claimed stabilization of physiological processes and promotion of homeostasis. 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.
The concept of adaptogens was originally created in 1947 to describe a substance that may increase resistance to stress. Adaptogenesis was later applied in the former Soviet Union to describe remedies thought to increase the resistance of organisms to biological stress. Another definition for an herb to be considered an adaptogen requires that it must be nontoxic, nonspecific, and thought to affect physiology of the organism.
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. The term is not accepted in pharmacological, physiological, or mainstream clinical practices in the European Union. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning in 2013 to a Washington-based company for illegal advertising and false health claims concerning use of the word "adaptogen" for one of its products.
- "Adaptogen". Dictionary.com. 2012.
- 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/annurev.pa.09.040169.002223. PMID 4892434.
- "Reflection Paper on the Adaptogenic Concept" (PDF). European Medicines Agency, Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products. 8 May 2008.
- Breen, Charles M (16 May 2013). "Warning letter: Matrix Health Products". Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations, US Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved 9 April 2018.