Marketing Hype Or Nature’s Wonder Drugs?

Posted on: 21 October 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Are ‘adaptogens’ all they’re cracked up to be?

Whilst terms like ‘pro’ and ‘pre-biotic’ have led to sales of yoghurts shooting through the roof, these days you can barely pick up anything in the supermarket without reading the word “Anti-oxidants’ on the label.

However, a new term coined a few years ago is also set to start appearing on our shelves.

The term ‘adaptogen’ has already caught on in the US with products such as Adaptomax, Adaptogen Plus and Adaptogen Stress adorning the health store shelves.

It’s now starting to appear more and more in the UK to describe certain health products that are being touted as the next step in natural therapy. But what is an adaptogen and how can you tell what’s real and what’s just marketing hype?

Dr Meg Jordan helps explain these amazing and intriguing substances.

What Is An Adaptogen?

In a nut shell adaptogens help all the body’s systems to regain a natural equilibrium.

An ‘adaptogen’ is a herb or compound that has an uncanny ability to provide the body with what it needs to perform at its best and help regain balance in the body’s systems.

Adaptogenic herbs are nature's stress "erasers," modulating the body's physiological responses to unchecked, continuous stress, which is the major culprit behind many chronic disorders.

The definition of these molecules is given as:

  • an adaptogen is non-toxic to the recipient;
  • an adaptogen tends to be non-specific in its pharmacological properties and acts by increasing the resistance of the organism to a broad spectrum of adverse biological, chemical, and physical factors;
  • an adaptogen tends to be a regulator having a normalising effect on the various organ systems of the recipient organism.

Whilst companies are now trying to manufacture adaptogens there are in fact many ’pure’ adaptogens that those in the know have been benefitting from for years, and these have now had their benefits backed up by scientific studies.

"Scientists have never been able to manufacture in a laboratory, what natural adaptogens are able to achieve within human physiology, but remain extremely excited about the prospect of natural adaptogens. Out of thousands of botanical remedies, only a few qualify as adaptogens" says Dr Meg Jordan.

These natural adaptogens appear to have an uncanny ability to help the body with a large range of problems. For example, if you have low blood pressure, adaptogens help to raise it slightly. If you have high cholesterol, adaptogens help reduce it.

Some of these most powerful adaptogens you may well have heard of already, such as Ginseng, Maca, Liquorice, Red Reishi and Rhodiola, and just not realised how good they could be.

So avoid the marketing hype and stick to the tried and tested natural adaptogens:


GinsengGinseng grows in the Northern Hemisphere in eastern Asia and has been taken for centuries as an adaptogen, aphrodisiac and nourishing stimulant.  Taken orally; either the dried root or the leaf.

For high quality Ginseng supplements visit


MacaHarvested and used by humans in the Andean Mountains for centuries, it was eaten by Inca warriors before battles.

Grown in soil containing high levels of nutrients this is passed onto the Maca and then to you!

For the UK’s best Maca visit


LiqouriceThe root of Glycyrrhiza glabra it has a sweet flavour and has been used since ancient times, especially in Ayurvedic medicine, and often for mouth and tooth problems.

For high quality Liquorice visit

Red Reishi

Red ReishiRed Reishi is the Japanese Red Reishi mushroom.

This rare, woody mushroom from the remote Asian highlands is considered the most superior energy adaptogen on the planet and is Dr Jordan’s favourite! Used for over 2,000 years by traditional Chinese and Japanese healers’ reishi’s rarity meant it was once reserved solely for use by Emperors.

For the highest quality red reishi in Europe visit


RhodiolaA plant that grows in the colder regions of the globe it has often been used in these regions to help to cope with the climate and stressful life – can help to improve physical and mental performance, reduce fatigue, and minimise high-altitude sickness.

For high quality Rhodiola visit

About The Author

Dr Meg Jordan (PhD, RN) ‘The Global Medicine Hunter’ is one of the world’s leading authorities on adaptogens. She has motivated millions to live healthier, more fulfilling lives as an author, speaker, international health journalist, registered nurse and a clinical medical anthropologist.

She is Department Chair and Professor of Integrative Health Studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies and has a daily radio programme alongside being president of Global Health Media, a health research and communications firm and a board member of the National Wellness Institute.

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