The history of herbal substances known as adaptogens appears to begin with Order # 4654-p from the People's Commissar's Council of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, dated March 4, 1943. That date should be a famous one in the herbal products industry, because the moment eventually led to the discovery and development of adaptogenic herbal dietary supplements which have improved the lives of millions of people.
Originally, Soviet scientists set out to discover "tonic substances for both soldiers and persons working in the Russian defense industry" during the second World War. It was determined at the time that there were certain plants that would increase the "state of non-specific resistance" in humans. In other words, herbs that would help normalize bodily processes and provide much better resistance to any form of stress. As these scientists originally defined the term "adaptogen," it referred to substances that would 1) show some nonspecific effect, such as increasing bodily resistance to physical, chemical or biological noxious agents or toxins, and 2) have a normalizing influence on the pathology, and 3) be innocuous and not disturb normal body functions.
And what an impact this Order 4654-p would eventually have. As you look around in the health food store, the vitamin shop, or the Internet, you find literally hundreds of products marketed as adaptogens. So many, in fact, that the term is in danger of losing focus. It has become marketing lingo, as opposed to a genuine indicator of something with a health benefit.
Adaptogens are a gift from the creator, and with thousands of years of human use and the research of Russian and Swedish scientists behind them, they deserve to have your attention as one of the most powerful supplement types on the market today. Look for products that contain Rhodiola rosea, Eleutherococcus senticosus, or Schizandra chinensis -- the three original adaptogens.