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L’Accademia del Fitness Possible Definitions of “Adaptogenic”: The word “Adaptogenic” can be referred to a substance which makes our body adapt more efficiently to the many conditions and circumstances which give rise to Stress in our body. The reaction to Stress is a vital one and one of the 9 functions of the Hypothalamus is the well known “attack or flight reaction”, which is strongly involved in the reaction to Stressors. Selye conceived the general idea of Adaptation as referred to psychophysiologic mechanisms which a subject under Stress puts into action in order to react against Stressors, the various Stressing agents, subdivided in turn into Eustress and Distress (both harmful stressors, yet they can be interpreted by the subject as pleasant or, on the contrary, unpleasant). The body has its own personal way to react and adapt itself. In fact, its interpretation of stressing events and its intensity reaction is subjective and should be well calibrated in order to manage Stress efficiently. However, doing so is not easy for many subjects, as “basic” chronic Stress can be amplified by a specific event (acute event). In such situation, which is very common today, the subject’s psycho-neuro-endocrine network reaction can be more or less acute depending on his state of basic tiredness and exhaustion. The adaptation reaction limit also lies in the specific “energy Adaptation” reserves which are not unlimited and vary a great deal according to the subject. Any event or substance which helps the body empower vital mechanisms of Adaptation, fundamental for survival can be potentially considered as Adaptogenic. More recently, Brekhman has defined the concept of Adaptogenic in these terms: “An active principle or drug (part of a plant which is used in medicine) which can increase the body’s defences against Stress factors can be considered Adaptogenic”. Moreover, such substances must be toxin-free. Both natural substances and specific Anti-Stress strategies and methodologies can, if well personalized, improve psycho-physiologic adaptation capacity, fundamental for real Anti-Aging, against daily stress. Natural Adaptogenic substances could be defined as metabolic regulators-adaptors which can help the body adapt against any type of Stressors and Stress (environmental, situational, physical, biological etc). There are not many natural substances which

can be included in this restricted category, since they must be neither directly and clearly stimulating nor soothing, but supply a suitable reaction of S.N.A and of all the psycho-neuro-endocrine network depending on the specific stressing situation. Many of the most common plants - tea, Ginseng, Damian, Guarana etc., which are all stimulating and have their related side effects, do not belong to this category of adaptogenic plants; on the contrary Passionflower, Hawthorn, Valerian etc, have decidedly soothing effects. Dried Extracts: dried extracts are the most common and easiest way to take concentrated amounts of certified A.P. The drug (correct scientific definition which indicates the part of the plant utilized in medicine) is composed of part of the plant, even if - according to Indian Ayurvedic medicine - the whole plant is used. However, specific parts of the plant (leaves, roots or cortex) are clearly present in suitable A.P for specific health and/or therapeutic purposes. A.P. titration is necessary to provide information on the quantity of A.P. present, for instance, in 100g of extract. Titration must be reported on all the “standardized” lot and must be specifically referred only to that lot and production. In fact, the percentage of various A.P. significantly varies according to the period in which the plant is harvested, its geographical site, method of conservation and of extraction. The intake of powder - compared with the plant, or better, the utilized part of plant - has more concentrated percentages of active principles, declared for example at 1-2-3 or 5% etc. This makes it possible to take a sufficient quantity of active principles in a reduced space, thus limiting the possible gastric effects determined by cellulose, resins, inert plant supports which might give rise to intestinal irritation. In this way, the doctor has a more “scientific” possibility, by quantifying the A.P. prescribed to the patient, whereas this would not be possible using a non-titrated extract. Pharmaceutical botany, Pharmacognosy and phytotherapy in general are subjects which study plants, various preparations, contents and pharmacological effects, although recently plants and relative preparations made up of one or more compounds are not simply applied in traditional therapeutic fields but also

Any event or substance which helps the body empower vital mechanisms of Adaptation, fundamental for survival can be potentially considered as Adaptogenic.

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N. 10 - July 2013  

Wellness & Antiaging magazine