The “Adaptogen” Concept

Brekhman created an animal model for testing adaptogens that involved opposing forms of
stress: work and immobility. These two tests, conducted on a given “adaptogen,” became
fundamental in Brekhman’s process.
On the work side, animals were first treated with an “adaptogen.” Rats or mice were then put
onto an endless rope in a cage with an electrified floor. The time it took for the animals to reach
complete exhaustion, i.e. drop to the electrified floor and remain on it despite the electrical
current, was timed. An untreated group of animals acted as the control.
On the immobility side, animals were first treated with an “adaptogen.” The animals were then
immobilised either by fixation on their backs or by hanging them up for twenty?four hours. Blood
and urine were examined for stress markers including blood sugar levels and urinary 7?
ketosteroid excretion. In addition, ascorbic acid and cholesterol levels of the adrenal glands and
liver glycogen stores were monitored. The animals were then sacrificed and examined for gross
physiological signs of stress including changes in the adrenals, thymus, spleen, and thyroid. An
untreated control was subject to the same hardship and post?mortem examination.

Further study of identified adaptogens
Brekhman observed that Acanthopanax sessiliflorum, Aralia cordata, Aralia manshurica, Aralia
schmidtii, Carlina biebersteinii, Echinopanax elatus, Eleutherococcus senticosus, Kalopanax
septumlobum, Raponticum carthamoides, Rhodiola rosea, and Schizandra chinensis caused a
State of Non?specifically Increased Resistance. He suggested that the research community
investigate these drugs to confirm his findings that they displayed the adaptogenic effect.

Elucidation of the mode of action
Brekhman studied the mode of action of drugs displaying the adaptogenic effect and suggested
other researchers do the same.

Identification of other botanical drugs
Brekhman identified a handful of botanical drugs displaying the adaptogenic effect. He also
created a criterion with which additional drugs displaying this effect could be identified and
suggested other researchers undertake this work.

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Health. Pergamon Press. New York. 1980. P. 58.
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resistance. Annual Review of Pharmacology. 1969.Volume 9. P. 410–426.
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concepts of the General Adaptation Syndrome and the Disease of Adaptation. Acta Inc.
Medical Publishers. 1950. P. 55–60.
7. Brekhman, II and Dardymov, IV. Pharmacological Investigation of Glycosides from
Ginseng and Eleutherococcus. II Lloydia, March 1969. Volume 32, Number 1. P. 46–51.