Stress Adaptation

How to increase the body’s capacity to respond to external stressors

stress, anxiety, stress adaptation

stress, anxiety, stress adaptation

The response of the body’s stress system—what we might call “reactivity”— depends on adaptation—the capacity of the organism (or a cell) to protect itself from stressors. In other words, adaptogens increase the capacity of the body’s stress systems to respond to external stressors without incurring long-term damage. The reactivity of host defense systems is maintained and damaging effects of various stressors decreased.

Herbs with such qualities are important to protecting the body from stress and delivering us from the vagaries of stress-related exhaustion. Because much of our lack of energy today is stress-related, we also see that adaptogens promote a more energetic, clearer thinking you.


One such up and coming adaptogen found hardly anyone has heard of yet is called Rhodiola rosea. Though well known in Russia, its recognition in America is limited.

Rhodiola rosea is a popular plant in traditional medical systems in Eastern Europe and Asia with a reputation for stimulating the nervous system, decreasing depression, enhancing work performance, eliminating fatigue, and preventing high altitude sickness.

Rhodiola rosea has been categorized as an adaptogen by Russian researchers due to its observed ability to increase resistance to a variety of chemical, biological, and physical stressors. Its claimed benefits include antidepressant, anticancer, cardioprotective and central nervous system enhancement.

Research also indicates a utility in asthenic conditions (decline in work performance, sleep difficulties, poor appetite, irritability, hypertension, headaches and fatigue) developing subsequent to intense physical or intellectual strain. The adaptogenic, cardiopulmonary protective and central nervous system activities of Rhodiola rosea have been attributed primarily to its ability to influence levels and activity of monoamines and opioid peptides such as beta-endorphins.

Here’s what Rhodiola rosea can do for you—this from a double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in Phytomedicine.

The objective of the researchers from the Volgograd Medical Academy, Russia, was to investigate the stimulating and normalizing effect of the adaptogen on students during a stressful examination period. The active herbal extract and placebo were taken for 20 days by the students during such an examination period. The physical and mental performance were assessed before and after the period, based on objective as well as on subjective evaluation. The most significant improvement in the active group was seen in physical fitness, mental fatigue and neuromotor tests. The self-assessment of the general well-being was also significantly better in the active group.

Rhodiola rosea may be combined with other anti-stress adaptogens such as Siberian ginseng, American ginseng, Aswaghanda, green tea and spirulina.

Kelly, G.S. “Rhodiola rosea: a possible plant adaptogen.” Altern Med Rev, 2001;6(3):293-302. Spasov, A.A., et al. “A double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of the stimulating and adaptogenic effect of Rhodiola rosea SHR-5 extract on the fatigue of students caused by stress during an examination period with a repeated low-dose regimen.” Phytomedicine, 2000;7(2):85-89.
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