by Prashanti de Jager
You have likely heard this word ‘Adaptogen’ being tossed around in the context of describing the qualities of certain herbs.
What is an Adaptogen?
By definition, an adaptogen is an herb that :
1) Supports a systemic resilience to any kind of stress and stressor
2) Has a homeostasis-invoking normalizing influence, irrespective of the direction of change from physiological norms caused by the stressor. This is the principle of a medicinal substance that is ‘two-directional,’ for instance, if your estrogen is too high then Shatavri tends to lower it, if it is too low, then Shatavri tends to raise it.
3) Be innocuous and not influence normal body functions more than required.
What are Adaptogens good for?
By my reckoning, the reasons adaptogens are the most important plant allies to know, use, grow and share include:
- Adaptogens systemically support the body to be more resilient to stress
- Adaptogens systemically support the body’s ability to stay in homeostasis
- Adaptogens tend to be innocuous, doing no harm, and are borderline ‘foods’
- Adaptogens tend to support positive epigenetic events (relating to, being, or involving changes in gene function that do not involve changes in DNA sequence)
- Because adaptogens tend to support homeostasis, they tend to be the herbs that can be consumed long term in the context of deep restorative protocols
- Adaptogens tend to be the main herbs that support healthy endocrine function (collection of hormone-producing glands)
- Adaptogens represent a global paradigm shift in Health Care from being Disease-centric to Wellness-Centric
A lot of this science was generated by the Russian scientists Lazarev, Brekhman, and Dardymov who studied mainly Siberian Ginseng and Rhodiola, and also by the famous Indian Scientist, Dr Narendra Singh. Dr. Singh as my dear friend, trusted ally, and excellent plant medicine mentor from 1995 to when he left his body in 2013. He did the research that established Tulsi and Ashwagandha as two of the world’s great adaptogens. Besides these herbs, Amla and Brahmi are also two well-known Adaptogens.
The Paradigm Shift in Thinking About Health
The concept of immunity and antibiotics supports seeing the world as something dangerous to be feared and ‘out to get you.’
The concepts of rasayana (herbs of the path of juicy enduring essence!), homeostasis, and adaptation, are all about maintaining balance and enduring empowerment. Adaptogens support seeing the world as an externalization of your self and your self as an internalization of the outer world.
Immunity creates separation and adaptation creates unity. Immunity is often generated by will and adaptation is often generated by love. Immunity is about polarized individuals and adaptation is about unifying our community, our Biota.
By using herbal anti-stress adaptogens (the most important herbs to consume) we are increasing our core vitality and integrity beyond immunity, increasing our systemic resilience to stress and stressors, and amplifying our ability to accept, allow and adapt to other. This is key to returning, as vehicles of consciousness, to the inner/individual and outer/collective health that we all want for ourselves and our loved ones, including this good Earth.
Turmeric as an Adaptogen
The concept of adaptogen is new to the Western Mind, but is basic to Ayurveda.
Though there is not an exact 1-1 relation, in general, it is the Ayurvedic rasayanas, the herbs of longevity and positive epigenetic events, that are the ancient adaptogens. In this category Turmeric, called Haridra in Sanskrit, has long been considered a rasayana, especially to support healthy skin, support the maintenance of optimal blood robustness, and to support healthy liver function.
A few years ago this was confirmed by Western Bioscience when researchers in the Punjab showed, in the context of an animal study, that Turmeric indeed has bona fide adaptogenic actions . They tested a variety of metrics of stress responses including:
- Body weight
- Blood glucose
- Reduced Glutathione
They found that Turmeric helped the body to maintain healthy levels of all of these metrics during the acute and chronic experience of stressors. They concluded that they felt that Turmeric’s adaptogenic actions is based on the ability of Turmeric to support the body’s innate antioxidant function as well as helping the body to maintain healthy levels of Corticosterone.
People, when it comes to your health, focus on Wellness, not disease. Focus on wholeness, focus on fullness, focus on love!
Surely, Haridra (turmeric) is a fantastic ally in supporting your enduring, vibrant, gorgeous wholeness!
 Lazarev, N.V., 1958. Pharmacology Toxicology 21, 81–86. Quoted from Brekhman, I.I., Dardymov, I.V., 1969. New Substances of plant origin which increase non specific resistance. Annual Review of Pharmacology 9, 419–430.
 Bhatia N, Jaggi AS, Singh N, Anand P, Dhawan R.; Adaptogenic potential of curcumin in experimental chronic stress and chronic unpredictable stress-induced memory deficits and alterations in functional homeostasis; J Nat Med. 2011 Jul;65(3-4):532-43.