How Adaptogens Work

To give you a clear idea about how adaptogens really work in the body, let’s take a look at what happens when stress occurs.

First, something alarming happens. This can be an unexpected deadline, a speech you have to make, someone almost hits your car while barreling down the road. Whatever the stimulus is, they body has critical metabolic responses that happen. As a reaction to this alarm, your body releases cortisol and adrenalin.

These hormones are extremely valuable in the short term, but these hormones become disruptive to cellular function over a long period of time. Cortisol for instance, has a wide range of effects in the body. One of the more well known effects is that cortisol suppresses the immune system and has a negative impact on energy regulation. Cortisol decreases the movement of glucose from the bloodstream into muscle cells (and several other types of cells). This is meant to be a protective response, conserving blood glucose for essential functions, such as brain activity. However, during any prolonged stress, complex molecules called beta-lipo-proteins build up and inhibit the passage of energy through the cell walls. The key enzymes (hexokinase) which transform glucose to be used by the cells for energy are blocked by these stress-induced beta-lipo-proteins. As a result of this physiological response to stress, cells do not receive enough energy and their ability to perform many of their critical functions is greatly hindered.

In the next stage, your body reacts to the physical stress. When the adaptation occurs, the individual returns to “homeostasis” or normal equilibrium. However, each individual’s capacity to adapt is limited and completely unique. Overwhelm the individual’s adaptive capacity, and you risk illness or injury. That’s when you enter the final stage: exhaustion. This leads to fatigue, injury or illness.

When adaptogens are added to the equation, these stages of stress response are handled very differently. The biologically active substances that are found within adaptogenic plants modify the alarm phase and increase the resistance phase. This is done by preventing the formation and accumulation of the harmful beta-lipo-proteins caused by stress, allowing the hexokinase enzymes to more readily convert glucose into usable energy for the cells. Adaptogenic substances also increase the capacity of the cells to build mRNA (messengers) and tRNA (transporters). This is critical, as these benefits provide protection to a stressed person by helping to maintain optimal cellular function as long as possible before the onset of exhaustion. With adaptogens, the person still mounts an appropriate response to a stressful event, but the changes in cell function that result are more moderate and have less of an adverse effect on the entire body.

The general action of adaptogens is well demonstrated by looking at the effect of stress on blood glucose levels. Shortly after a person becomes stressed, the stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) cause a rapid increase in blood glucose. Once it peaks, the blood glucose rapidly falls to lower than normal levels. Adaptogens moderate this response, conserving valuable energy in the alarm phase for use in the resistance phase. In other words, adaptogens do not block the stress response; rather, they smooth the stress response to help prevent adrenal exhaustion by increasing the function of healthy immune systems.

Why Adaptogens are Superior to Stimulants

Adaptogens like Schizandra work completely different than stimulants. To explain this, we need to first look at what is happening with a stimulant like coffee, tea or energy drinks.

As you drink your energy drink, the stimulant molecules travel through your body and their way to the brain where they bind to receptors of the particular neurotransmitter, adenosine. Stimulants act as a competitive inhibitor of adenosine, which is actually a calming neurotransmitter. This binding produces a cascade of events to occur which culminate in the activation of the fight or flight response. This is the response that is activated inside your body that responds to DANGER. This fires up the production of adrenaline which cause your eyes to dilate, your blood vessels in your brain to constrict and to open up your breathing tubes. To accommodate all of this, more energy needs to be produced to compensate for the “increased danger.” Therefore your metabolism is sped up via your organs working harder to produce and release more sugar that can then be converted into energy to meet the “danger” that is present….in your home or office.

This is why we feel that jolt when we take stimulant based products. They force our bodies to quickly produce energy in the event of an imminent danger. It is almost as if the stimulant molecules are tricking ourselves into thinking we need to be careful or on the lookout for something.

Adaptogens, on the other hand, work in a completely different way. They regulate and optimize cellular functioning and allow us to better deal with naturally occurring stress.

There are three main qualities that a substance must have to be called an adaptogen:

1. They must be non-toxic to the body and exhibit no negative side effects, no matter what the dosage.

2. They must come from nature and must catalyze responses in the body that increase performance, both mental and physical, in addition to resisting stress responses.

3. They must balance and normalize the functioning of the body’s organ systems leading to general homeostasis and good health.

Why We Need Adaptogens

We all deal with some degree of mental, emotional, and physical stress on a regular basis. Having adaptogens like Schizandra in our diet is essential to living a long and happy life. They are the quintessential substance that is our best herbal ally in living longer and thriving under stressful circumstances. In my experience and opinion, they are a must for everyone who wants to optimize their body and mind and feel great all the time.

Schizandra is in our opinion, the king of adaptagens because it exudes a non-specific response in multiple systems of the body, not just the immune system, or endocrine. Since schizandra benifits our bodies in numerous ways besides the adaptogenic qualities, it truly stands out as a superior, super tonic herbal berry capable of radically enhancing our total body health.

Try Lucidera’s 100% organic, American grown Schizandra today!

Can One Herb Do It All?

Schizandra is a completely dynamic, complex, full-bodied fruit that embodies one of the most unique and magical qualities in Chinese herbalism- all five flavors. In Chinese Medicine each flavor corresponds to an element, which corresponds to an organ system. Five flavors, five elements, and five major organ systems, five minor organ systems.

This also means that Schizandra directly affects all twelve meridians and represents the three treasures, Jing, Chi, and Shen.

For these reasons, it is safe to say that schizandra is capable of “doing it all.”

Now that we understand what makes this herb so unique and special, let’s take a look at each of the five elements and see how Schizandra influences that element and that organ system individually.

Flavor: Sweet (found in skin of fruit)

Organ: Spleen

Element: Earth

Connection: The spleen is responsible for the intake, processing and shipping out of food and fluids of the body. It is the organ that takes food qi, which is the highest revered qi by Traditional Chinese Medicine, and makes it useful to our bodies. The spleen is also responsible for the manufacturing of blood and its retention its vessels. Similarly, the Earth element is associated with nourishment, as well as staying grounded and connected. Schizandra and its sweet element tucked away in its skin provides to “astringe jing.” This means that it is used to dry up any excess fluids, aiding issues dealing with diarrhea, frequent urination, excess vaginal fluid, premature ejaculation, water weight or excess sweating. As the spleen also governs gastro-intestinal fluids, and it is the epicenter of generating qi, blood and other bodily fluids, schizandra is often used in many blood building and moving formulas. With the help of schizandra, the spleen can more easily send nutrients through your heart, and outwards to the four limbs and the rest of your body.

Flavor: Pungent (found in seed)

Organ: Lung

Element: Metal

Connection: The lungs, otherwise known as the canopy of the organs, are the control tower of qi. The ability to effectively translate air qi helps to disperse it throughout your whole body. The lungs are directly connected to the skin and hair, as they are outward indicators of the flow of oxygen throughout your system. Nourishing one affects the other and vice versa. Metal is the element of retreat and withdrawal, inducing the reputation of refinement and self-esteem. Schizandra has been used for centuries as a skin and beauty tonic, helping oxygen and moisture circulate through your cells. Schizandra is also utilized for its anti-asthmatic effects, helping to ail wet coughs, wheezing and protecting against inflammation of the bronchial tree. This lung astringent quality of this herb can not only be witnessed through deeper, more effective breathing, but also through the movement of oxygen throughout your cells, making its way outwards to more radiant hair and skin overtime.

Flavor: Salty (throughout whole fruit)

Organ: Kidney

Element: Water

Connection: The kidneys are the root and reservoir of all the body’s energy and qi. Strong and healthy kidney function lead to a healthy and long life. All fluids pass through the kidneys, and as schizandra is both an astringent and a demulcent, it helps to balance these fluids, taking stress off of the kidneys. The kidneys are the treasure chests of jing, and are responsible for dispersion of it. Water is the element of collective intelligence and DNA, as it is associated with the will to sustain our bodies, sexual vigor and tenacity of the mind, easily connecting with both the kidneys and jing. Schizandra helps to build water qi in the kidneys, enacting to sustain sexual endurance in men, build fluids and sensitivity in women and create abundantly more sexual energy for both parties. This is also supplemental to schizandra being a powerful herbal aphrodisiac.

Flavor: Sour (found in skin)

Organ: Liver

Element: Wood

Connection: The liver is responsible for preventing the stagnation of qi throughout your internal organs and meridians. Wood is the element of growth, change and expansion, initiating movement with the will to create and procreate. The liver governs creative energy, as harboring anger and stress will counteract and desecrate the liver. Schizandra helps to protect you from stress on both the internal systems and emotional forefront. Schizandra is also known for its liver cleansing properties, containing various lignans that help to prevent liver damage, stimulate liver repair and enact normal liver function. Liver energy is stored in the genital organs, and schizandra is not only a powerful liver antioxidant, but also used avidly as a sexual tonic. As previously stated, schizandra helps to optimize the male erection and female arousal, as your liver energy will also be vitalized.

Flavor: Bitter (found in seed)

Organ: Heart

Element: Fire

Connection: The heart is the residence of Shen, which is one of the three treasures, also known as the spiritual residence or consciousness- the “heart-mind.”. Finding fluid and full control of your heart creates compassion and patience. The heart is viewed as the organizing principle of your being, as Shen helps to direct qi throughout our physical, mental and emotional states of being. Shen can be seen through the quality of our thoughts and the function of our minds. Schizandra has been used to have a normalizing effect on the cardiovascular system and blood pressure, as well as having similar effects on mental function. Schizandra has been taken for mental clarity and agility, utilized to improve concentration and induce a wakeful focus without the stimulant effects. As the element of fire helps to bring your being into full-expansion through love and compassion, schizandra has the same effects on Shen.

Full Circle

When taking Chinese philosophy into consideration, connecting it with the many uses of taking schizandra for your health, it is easily the only herb of its kind. Lucidera also provides the only schizandra with this integrity from the time it is planted, throughout the growing process, as well as extraction, making its way into your hands with the full five flavors, beautiful color, and fully organic essence.

Schizandra berry is a powerful ally in longevity and promoting proper cell function. Its ability to activate the body’s production of glutathione is one of schizandra’s key attributes.

Glutathione is the major antioxidant found in almost every cell that protects it from free radicals. Antioxidants give up an electron to stop oxidation. They play a key role in neutralizing the estimated 10,000 “oxidative hits” each cell suffers a day.

In other words, antioxidants are able to destroy free radicals in body cells before they can attack DNA or cause lipids to oxidize, resulting in cellular death and/or mutation. If glutathione is in short supply, free radicals can overwhelm the cell, allowing disease and illness to set in. Free radicals are generated in the mitochondria—the powerhouse of each cell. They are unstable molecules that are missing an electron, and frantically bump into and damage other molecules in an effort to replace their own lost electron. It is impossible to be alive and not have some oxidative damage, because free radicals are produced by normal processes in the body like the release of adrenaline, and from environmental sources such as ultraviolet radiation, tobacco smoke, food additives, foods that have been fried in reused oil, as well as other pollutants. Once free radicals are released, they multiply geometrically in chain reactions, unless they are stopped by antioxidants. Antioxidants not only protect living tissue, but they repair the damage of oxidation. Glutathione also has the ability to recycle other antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E, keeping them in their active state.

Lignans are another element that Schizandra contains that activates intracellular Gluathione. Lignans are anti-inflammatory, and appear to protect the liver by activating the enzymes in liver cells that produce glutathione. One in particular that is receiving great attention in the cutting edge medical community is Gominsin A and Gominsin O. You will be hearing a lot more about this in the coming years regarding its effects on cancer cells

It is interesting to note that older people, who enjoy good health, usually have high levels of glutathione. Fortunately, schizandra helps increase glutathione on the cellular level. While glutathione levels are important, the most critical place for glutathione protection is within the mitochondria. This is because mitochondria not only produce most of a cell’s energy, but also produces the largest amounts of damaging free radicals.

Impressively, schizandra has been shown to significantly enhance glutathione protection within mitochondria. Since most other strategies to enhance glutathione only effect glutathione levels outside the cells, but not in the critical mitochondrial glutathione levels, the potential for Schizandra to enhance antioxidant protection, and protect from age-related free radical damage, is very unique and beneficial.

Other benefits that Schizandra provides include:

• protection against brain damage

• enhanced immunity

• protection against the formation of cellular peroxides

• protection against cardiovascular disorders

• protection against toxins in the liver

While most initial research into the beneficial effects of Schizandra centered on its ability to enhance antioxidant protection, recent studies have shown that Schizandra may have a more profound mechanism of action.

Specifically, researchers have found that Schizandra enhances the cellular levels of “heat shock proteins.” Heat shock proteins (HSPs) are an essential component of all living cells. HSPs function to protect proteins from the deleterious effects of stressors by stabilizing, and properly refolding proteins. They also assist in protein folding, assembly, transport and degradation. As their name suggests, they were first discovered to be made by cells in response to heat stress. Because all living things utilize proteins to control metabolism and cellular functions, keeping proteins properly folded and functioning is absolutely essential to life. Heat, as you can imagine, wreaks havoc on this system. Heat causes proteins, which must be properly folded to function, to unfold. This ruins the protein’s functions and causes extreme cellular stress.

Ultimately, many different HSPs have been found inside living cells. They are now known to be produced in response to not only heat, but also many different toxins and free radical stress. As you can imagine, the proper functioning of HSPs is absolutely vital to our health. The exciting thing about schizandra is that scientists have found that some of our most important HSPs are actually induced by schizandra, and that this HSP enhancement is responsible for part of schizandra’s potent, protective effect against stressors, damaging chemicals, and free radicals.

Schizandra, is perhaps the greatest single herb for anti-aging, healthy stress levels, optimized cellular functioning, and helping us with the effects of an ever increasing toxic world. We can easily take schizanrda extract daily to support a long and happy life.

Lucidera Schizandra Powder has a high concentration of bio-compatible, absorbable lignans. Our Extraction process is able to crack the seed well as to release all the seed’s beneficial compounds. It is a full spectrum product that delivers all the results and effects that Schizandra has to offer.

One taste and you will start to feel its effects go to work for you.

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