As originally defined, an adaptogen was a substance that had to:
- show some non-specific effect, such as increasing bodily resistance to physically, chemically, or biologically harmful agents or factors;
- have a normalising influence on a ‘disturbed / diseased’ (pathological) state, independent of the nature of that state; and
- be harmless in itself and does not disturb the body function at a normal level.
Adaptogens are part of a new class of metabolic regulators that increase the ability to adapt to and avoid damage by external/environmental -stress- factors. Since 1997, the term ‘adaptogen’ has been used as a functional term by Russian health-regulatory authorities, and in 1998 this term was allowed as a functional claim for certain products by the United States’s FDA.
The primary site of action of adaptogens appears to be the HPA (the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) which is responsible for the release of cortisol as a reaction to stress; and their secondary sites of action are the liver and specific components of the immune and cardiovascular systems.
Medicinal mushrooms as a class are without exception adaptogens. They meet in general all requirements; they are all:
- non-toxic and non-habit forming;
- aiding in normalisation of your body chemistries
- increasing your body's ability to cope with physical stress, emotional stress, stress-related imbalance and environmental stressors and their sustained after-effects
- working in a synergistic manner; they are increasing your body's ability to fight off illness before it sets in
The unbalancing effects of stress on the physical body can be minimised and compensated by using a premium mushroom extract or a functional blend of several of such extracts.
The main goal is here to normalise/rebalance the immune-function as it is easily unbalanced/suppressed by chronic stress of whatever nature. And since the immune function is the core of our health and well-being, this is no doubt the most important target on the physical level of stress-management
.In all medicinal mushrooms, the main immune-modulating compounds are a specific group of bioactive polysaccharides known as beta-glucans. Research has shown repeatedly that these beta-glucans can bind to specific receptors of our immune system and by doing that they evoke important immunological effects. These effects include both boosting (in case of underperformance) and reducing (in case of over-performance - think allergies, and many auto-immune diseases) effects. Which is why beta-glucans are also called natural Biological Response Modifiers (BRM’s).
Research proved that mushroom beta-glucans are the most powerful type of beta-glucan from a therapeutic point-of-view. This is most likely due to the much more complex structure and the higher molecular weight of these glucans as compared against beta-glucans from oats, barley and yeast. The general bioavailability is also significantly better, because a higher percentage is water-soluble. (Also see our dedicated article on this page about beta-glucans from different sources, complete with all the science)
For more info about the CCCE here.