It is a difficult thing to write about this class of medicines without resorting to an array of hackneyed cliches. Properties of adaptogens, in fact pretty much all of them, are found in each of them, and include;


  • * Improvement in cognitive function
  • * Anti-cancer activity
  • * Aphrodisiacal and hormonal activity
  • * Anti-ageing activity
  • * Antioxidant activity
  • * Cardioprotective activity,
  • * Hepatoprotective activity (liver)
  • * Immunologic (immune) modultation. 
  • * Anti-inflammatory activity.  


Such is the research on adaptogens, that when you look at any text book on scientific monographs of them, any monograph is usually supported by about fifty to a hundred clinical trials which inevitably differ from the other fifty or hundred clinical trials in another monograph. Collectively, they have been subjected to thousands of clinical trials. They are without doubt the most researched medicines in the history of planet Earth since western medicine has nothing at all which does anything like what herbal adaptogens will do - in fact, the term 'adaptogen' isn't even included in the nomenclature of western medicine. It can only be found in scientific publications on botanical medicines.


It is just so amusing to see television interviews with western practitioners and researchers who talk at length about trying to find a cure for cancer, a preventative medicine for dementia and so forth. Repeatedly, the clinical trials on these medicines suggest that that is indeed what they are capable of and much more; in fact traditionally, in areas where they have been used for millennia, the people taking them are arguably more proof of their efficacy than any clinical trial. Quite at random, I have just reached for a monograph and picked up one on Panax qinquefolium and read from the middle of the references:  The anti-cancer effect of Panax sapponins on the human prostate cancer cell. In vivo antimetastatic action of Panax protopanaxadiol sapponins based on their intestinal bacterial metabolites... Effect of Panax roots on anti-proliferation of...human renal cell carcinoma. Anti-proliferating effects of ginsenoside Rh2 on MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. Protective effect of Panax on radiation induced DNA double strand breaks and repair on murine lymphocytes. Potentiated effects of total saponins of Panax on inhibition of leukemic cells by cytotoxic drugs. Sensitisation of a tumour, but not normal tissue, to the cytotoxic effect of ionising radiation using Panax notoginseng. These are but a few of the oncology trials alone before we even get to the myriad of other adaptogenic ones! 


It is utterly staggering just what these medicines will do!


It is commonplace these days for herbalists to get cancer patients into remission using adaptogens. Cancer patients come to us for a variety of reasons, but usually because they have been through the western system before and the cancer has simply returned - of course it has; the original cause has never been removed! Most commonly, we see cervical, breast and colon cancers, but occasionally we really get some curly ones as well. Back in about 2000, a woman who had just turned forty came to me with a spinal tumour that was so rare there had only been one other case ever diagnosed, and that patient had died form the experimental effects of chemotherapy, not the cancer. Within three months of treatment, her tumour had shrunk down to one third of its original size. (Some of you will have read of this case - I had it published and a copy of the journal is in the waiting room.) Now, the reason I mention this is that it sounds as if I did something really clever in treating this tumour - far from it! I published the case because all I did was to return to first principles - clean up the intestitial space (between cells) and get the immune system moving. It was a demonstration to students that they could have done what no other oncologist on the planet could do!


However, the question arises - how could this tumour have been prevented? 


Well, it's easy. When I did her blood tests, there was evidence that she had chronic biological stress. She should have been on an adaptogen for a long time beforehand, but the problem is that if you just go to a GP, western medicine has no such medicine. 


What are YOU doing to prevent this from happening? 


As I've mentioned previously, you need regular check-ups. As I've also mentioned, there isn't a week that passes where I don't see a patient I had fixed up years before and they develop another chronic illness because they never came back for regular check-ups. Recently, I saw a patient I hadn't seen for six years who had developed a serious disease because she hadn't been back for a check-up - it was easily preventable. Everybody agrees that preventative medicine is a good idea, but they always seem to be talking about somebody other than themselves. Ask not for whom the bell tolls...


Quite aside from all of this is the need for anti-ageing medicines of which an adaptogen is usually included at a low dose. As I mentioned last week, you should bounce out of bed in the morning, however, libido is also very important. It is not uncommon for women to say that their libido is low because they aren't in a relationship, however, this is a falsehood. Libido and energy should be good throughout life.