Friday, October 21, 2016

Adaptogenic Adaptation

Adaptogenic Adaptation 

What effect does all this ingestion of "natural" herbs and roots really have?


I sought help from what one might call "alternative health" because I wanted to avoid taking a chemotherapy drug with some rather well known, and rather substantial, side effects. 

However, the avoidance of Methotrexate has ironically led to the ingestion of many other less well studied substances. Ideally, if a substance is more or less a food, and perhaps even a food that has been consumed traditionally in another culture for hundreds or even thousands of years, it must be relatively safe...maybe?

Adaptogens are a particularly relevant. They are defined as "natural substances considered to help the body adapt to stress and to exert a normalizing effect upon bodily processes" They are supposedly able to perform the magic trick of supplying the body what it needs when it needs it to achieve homeostasis. Most of us have heard of Ginseng, but there are many others including Licorice, Eleuthero, Schisandra, Aswaganda, Holy Basil, Rhodiola, etc, etc.

While such adaptogenic herbs are not inexpensive, there is no serious pharmaceutical money in them, and therefore few well-funded, double-blind, peer-reviewed studies on their effectiveness and side effects.  No drug company can own Licorice root, so there is little incentive to fund a study. This is in marked contrast to the super-expensive "Biologic" medications for autoimmune disorders that can range from a few to a hundred thousand dollars for a year of treatment.  (At least Methotrexate, bless it's toxic and no longer patented soul, is extremely cheap.) 

I've taken quite a few adaptogens and other supplements over the last few months without any apparent negative consequences so far. My skin is mostly asymptomatic and at this point, I don't even test positive for autoimmunity. 

Was it the adaptogens?...or the getting more sleep?...or both?...or the lack of gluten and dairy? 

The mystery will have to remain unsolved.

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