The word adaptogen describes an agent that: 1. Has a normalizing effect on a wide range of body functions 2. Has a non-specific action that helps the body overcome stress regardless of the direction of stress 3. Is non-toxic when used in normal dosage.
What are the premier herbs used by Western and European herbalists? The premier herbs used by Western and European herbalists generally fall into a category known as adaptogens, herbs that bring balance back to the body no matter what the direction of imbalance. Some adaptogens will bring your blood pressure down if it is high, or bring it up if it is low. Others will regulate your thyroid whether its function is high or low (Rege et al. 1999). Soy products are good examples of these substances because they can be used beneficially whether estrogen levels are high or low. If the body’s estrogen levels are low, the mild concentration of plant estrogens in soy will stimulate cell receptor sites (the on/off switches for cellular function). Conversely, if the body’s estrogen levels are high, the same mild plant estrogens will block the more powerful human estrogens from reaching the same sites. Thus, soybeans are hormonal adaptogens.