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Adaptogens are naturally occurring substances found in rare plants and herbs. Adaptogens were discovered by Israel I. Brekhman, M.D., a renowned Russian research pharmacologist and physiologist. Brekhman coined the term "adaptogen" as a plant type with certain characteristics: (1) it is absolutely safe and non-toxic, (2) it increases the body's nonspecific resistance to internal and external stimuli, and (3) it brings any disfunctioning body system back into balance (http://www.best.com/-mcintyre/primequest/product/adapt.shtml). Adaptogens began being used by Russian cosmonauts and elite Russian athletes in the early 1970s when the Soviet Union stepped out into the international arena as a dominant force. The breakthrough by Brekhman was kept secret from the rest of the world until a former Soviet Olympic coach, Dr. Ben Tabachnik, began introducing the Russian adaptogen formula when he emigrated to the United States in 1990. The unique formula of adaptogens discovered by Brekhman is now marketed under the PrimeQuest High Performance Program. Scientific evidence has shown that this unique combination of adaptogens can successfully combat the negative effects of stress, improve health and well-being, and enhance athletic performance (Avery, 1995).
The PrimeQuest High Performance Program is comprised of two products that work in synergy: Prime 1 and Prime Plus. Prime 1 is a liquid herbal food supplement that contains a number of adaptogenic ingredients: Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), Maral root (Rhaponticum carthamoides), Ural licorice root (Glycyrrhiza uralensis), Golden root (Rhodiola rosea), Chinese magnolia vine (Schizandra chinensis), Cinnamon rose (Rosa majalis), and Manchurian thorn tree (Aralia mandshurica). These adaptogens provide the body with elements necessary to protect, balance and normalize its systems. Prime Plus is a food supplement in capsule form that contains Maral root (Rhaponticum carthamoides), Tribulus terrestis, and adaptogenic golden molasses. It is designed to aid the body in developing strength and tone through the enhancement of exercise. It stimulates the biosynthesis of proteins and nucleic acids and enhances metabolism. It helps to protect the body against muscle breakdown, promoting faster recovery (http://www.best.com/-mcintyre/primequest/pqform.shtml). These compounds, working together, are touted by Dr. Brekhman for accomplishing a number of physiological changes in humans and animals: increase protein biosynthesis, raise antibody titre at immunization, elevate the body's enzyme synthesis by means of endocrine stimulation, enhance mental work capacity, uplift physical work capacity along with endurance and performance, alleviate free radicals to prevent oxidizing pathology, improve eyesight, color perception, hearing, and vestibular functions, benefit cardiovascular and respiratory functions, promote longevity, and increase the body's nonspecific resistance to various stressors (http://www.best.com/-mcintyre/primequest/research/walker.sht ml).
The discovery by Brekhman paved the way for a large number of clinical trials and experimental studies on the health and performance benefits of adaptogens. Some of the latest scientific evidence shows that adaptogenic substances can increase the ability of cells to manufacture and use cell fuel more efficiently in periods of stress and strain (Avery, 1995). In particular, these substances appear to increase the capacity of cells to use energy by activating MRNA (messengers) and TRNA (transporters). Adaptogens also act as anti-oxidants, protecting cellular membranes from the adverse effects of free radical build up (Avery, 1995).
"When under stress, the body reacts by producing adrenaline which puts the whole body under alert ... The metabolism, blood pressure and circulation are disrupted; immunity and resistance are drastically reduced; performance suffers. In short, stress undermines health and destroys well-being"
(http://www.best.com/-mcintyre/primequest/research/walker.shtml). Adaptogens work at the cellular level to help the body cope with stress-related situations. When the body is placed under stress, molecules known as beta-lipo-proteins increase in number and block the passage of energy through cell walls. These stress-induced beta-lipo-proteins block the key enzyme, hexokinase, that is responsible for transforming glucose to be used by the cells for energy. When cells do not receive an adequate supply of energy, they are unable to function properly. Adaptogens are able to thwart this effect by preventing the formation and accumulation of beta-lipoproteins and allowing the hexokinase enzymes to freely convert glucose into energy for the cells (Wahlstrom, 1987).
Adaptogens also have an anabolic effect. They aid in rebuilding damaged muscle tissue following strenuous activity. This is accomplished by facilitating the synthesis of protein within the body. Through the use of adaptogens, the time needed for the body to recover from high-intensity training or extended periods of stress is greatly reduced. This anabolic effect is similar to the effect obtained when using synthetic anabolic steroids, but the harmful side effects linked to steroid use are not present (Avery, 1995).
Extensive research has been conducted on the health benefits of the specific adaptogens present in the PrimeOne formula. The active ingredients of Eleutherococcus senticosus (ES), also known as the "King of Adaptogens," supposedly (1) facilitate healthy neuro-transmissions, (2) provoke key enzymatic reactions, (3) stimulate protein synthesis, and (4) activate metabolism (Brunner & Tabachnik, 1990). A phytoadaptogenic preparation consisting of bioginseng, ES and Rhaponticum carthamoideb proved to have an inhibiting effect on the development of nervous system tumors in rats induced by N-nitrosoethylurea. Rats that were given the phyto drugs had a longer survival rate and lower occurrence of tumors (Bespalov, Aleksandrov, Iaremenko, Davydov, Lazareva, Limarenko, Slepian & Petrov, 1992). The effectiveness of eleutherococcus extract in the therapy of patients with malignant lung tumors was studied as well. ES appeared to suppress malignant tumor growth as well as reduce SYMPTOMS related to radiation treatment such as headaches, weakness, dizziness, loss of appetite, insomnia, and depression. Among many other things, ES has been shown to reduce the level of tooth decay in young adults, improve major eye diseases (glaucoma, eye burns and myopia), and minimize changes in blood circulation following surgery (Avery, 1995).
Several studies have researched the athletic benefits of Eleutherococcus senticosus. One study tested 34 track and field athletes ages 18-20 yrB. The athletes who received a preparation of eleutherococcus for a period of ten days experienced an increase in physical and mental work capacity, endurance, decreased fatigue, and normalized sleeping patterns. These athletes performed at high levels in competition as well (Avery, 1995). In an experiment conducted on healthy male athletes, a combination of ES, Rhaponticum and Rhodiola induced an increase in work performance of 64%. Blood lactate was reduced as well as blood pressure (Avery, 1995).
While ES is the most famous adaptogen, Schizandra chinensis (SC) is very powerful and carries its own variety of health and athletic benefits. Experimental results have shown that Gomisi, a dried ripe fruit of schizandra chinensis, can inhibit the reductive metabolism of halothane in vitro. These results predict a possible protective mechanism of SC against halothane-induced hepatitis (iiaziang, Fujii, Sato & Yuge, 1993). Another study involved a 28-day observation of 95 men (ages 25-35 yrs) in a sanatorium. These men were complaining of exhaustion and weakness. Following the administration of schizandra, the vital capacity of the subjects increased by 19%, their muscular strength by 27%, and the level of hemoglobin in the blood by 6%. It was concluded that shizandra rapidly removes exhaustion and fatigue, and increases mental and physical work ability (Avery, 1995).
There is a large amount of research reporting an increase in physical work capacity due to administration of schizandra preparations from (1) a decrease in fatigue, (2) an acceleration of the recovery process following fatigue, (3) an increases in work quantity that can by performed, (4) an increase in strength, and (5) an increase in the exactness of movement during fatigue. It has been shown that the increase in muscular work capacity is connected to an increase in carbohydrate metabolism (Avery, 1995). The effect of schizandra on physical work capacity was studied on 140 male distance runners. All of the runners were living under the same conditions and eating similar foods. The runners were divided into three groups: a control group given glucose, a second group given the illegal stimulant phenamine, and a third group given schizandrin. As expected, most of the runners given phenamine (59%) ran their fastest times for 3,000-meters. However, an amazing 74% of the runners given the natural adaptogen schizandrin ran their best times for 3,000-meters. This was a 25% increase in improvement from the control group that was given a banned substance (Lebedev, 1971).
Scientific studies performed on the adaptogen Rhaponticum carthamoide (RC) have shown this herb to improve physical performance and shorten recovery time after an intense work load. Observations of the influence of RC on the cardiovascular system have shown that its ability to increase physical work capacity is partially due to its ability to improve food supply to the muscles and brain. One study documented an improvement in appetite, sleep, and general physical and mental state in a group of 60 military cadets following administration of RC (Avery, 1995).
Extensive studies on athletes have supplied evidence for improved performance in sports such as track, swimming, speed skating and ski racing. A group of athletes given RC compared to a group of athletes receiving a placebo. RC proved effective on the physical rehabilitation process in the athletes. A more rapid normalization of lactic and uric acid occurred in the test subjects. Sixty-nine percent of the subjects taking RC exhibited an accelerated adaptation to climatic and social conditions; 86% reported an increased appetite, and 78% showed a significant increase in adaptation to physical workload (Avery, 1995). The anabolic effects of RC have been studied and these include: increase of musclefat ratio, increase of the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, increase in the total level of protein content in the blood, and a decrease in the harmful build-up of uric acid. The ability of RC to change protein balance in athletes leads to an increase in the mass of contractive muscle fibers and prevents a decrease in muscle mass caused by decreases in training. This has been shown to have a positive impact on performance during periods of tapering before peak races (Kovrizhnykh, 1987).
The adaptogen Rhodiola rosea is also known as the "golden root." Like the other adaptogens, it is believed to shorten the recovery period after prolonged muscular workloads. It improves pulse and arterial pressure during states of fatigue by normalizing the function of the cardiovascular system (Avery, 1995). Rhodiola rosea extract was studied to determine its effects on stress-induced cardiac damage. This extract was found to prevent stressinduced catecholamine release and higher myocardium levels of CAMP. During periods of stress, lower levels of adrenal catecholamines were measured. These experimental results suggest that the cardioprotective effects of this adaptogen are due to its ability to limit adrenergic effect on the heart (Maslova, Kondratlev, Maslov, Lishmanov, 1994).
The protective abililty of Rhodiola rosea was studied on white Wistar rats after acute 4-hour freezing at -10 degrees C. The acute cooling led to a decrease in myocardial contractile activity of the heart that recovered in 18 hours.Wistar rats treated with Rhodiola rosea extract experienced preliminary adaptation that prevented a decrease in contractility force immediately after cooling and contributed to stable contractility during 60 minutes of heart expansion. It appears from this study that Rhodiola rosea has an effect on the myocardium similar to that of myocardial recovery after acute cooling (Afanaslev, Alekseeva, Bardamova, Maslova & Lishmanov, 1993).
Rhodiola rosea has been shown to increase basic bendorphin levels in the blood plasma, helping to prevent the hormonal changes characteristic of stress. During intense muscle work, Rhodiola increases the activity of important enzymes as well as the level of protein and RNA in the skeletal muscles (Avery, 1995). Finally, Rhodiola rosea was shown to inhibit tumor dissemination in rats (Udintsev, Krylova, Fomina, 1992). The anti-toxic action of this adaptogen is believed to prevent the development of experimental hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, leukocytosis and hypoxia (Avery, 1995).
While these adaptogens have individually proved successful in improving health and well-being, the PrimeQuest program, consisting of a mixture of adaptogens, has seen most of its success in the athletic arena. It has been considered "the best performance enhancer in the world today" by numerous world-class athletes. In 1993, the Russian Olympic Committee contracted with PrimeQuest International to use its High Performance Program for four of the ten Russian teams competing in the 1994 Winter Games at Lillehammer. The four teams on this program won all of Russials eleven gold medals, more than any other country. Athletes from the San Francisco 49'ers, Chicago Bulls and the Utah jazz, as well as the United States Women's Long-Course Triathlete champion, the National Women's Tae Kwon Do champion, and other elite athletes are believers in the PrimeQuest program. PrimeQuest received most of its publicity, however, when the American sprinter Andre Cason emerged as the world's fastest man.Three months after going on the program, Cason defeated Carl Lewis and ran the fastest time in the world that year. Cason went on to defeat Carl Lewis in their next two subsequent meetings
(http://www.best-com/-mcintyre/primequest/research/walker.sht ml). In a pamphlet distributed by PrimeQuest International, Cason's coach, Loren Seagrave, says that his success was largely due to the PrimeQuest Program: "We've made no other changes in Andre's diet except the PrimeQuest Program. It is completely responsible for this incredible difference in his performance. It gives him an edge and puts him up to a new level of athletic ability. Even as his coach I had no idea of the extent of his physical potential" (PrimeQuest, 1993).
From the scientific studies and testimonials documented
above, it appears that adaptogens in general and PrimeQuest in particular
have proven beneficial in many areas. The PrimeQuest program can be used
by individuals suffering from job-related stress as well as world-class
athletes looking for that extra edge. PrimeQuest could be the answer for
anyone wanting to increase energy, stamina and vitality by protecting the
body against the stresses of life and time (http://www.best.com/-mcintyre/primequest/research/walker.sht
Afanas'ev, SA., Alekseeva, E.D., Bardamova, I.B., Maslova,
L.V., & Lishmanov, lu.B. (1993). Cardiac contractile function following
acute cooling of the body and the adaptogenic correction of its disorder.
Biulleten EkspSrimentalnoi Biolo2ii i Meditsiny, 116(11),
Avery, Guy. (1995). The research on the health and athletic
benefits of adaptogens. Peak Running Performance, 5(6). 3-7.
Bespalov, V.G., Aleksandrov, V.A., laremenko, K., Davydov,
V.V., Lazareva, N., Limarenko, A., Slepian, L., Petrov, A., & Trojan,
D. (1992). The inhibiting effect of phytoadaptogenic preparations from
bioginseng, Eleutherococcus senticosus and Rhaponticum carthamoides on
the development of nervous system tumors in rats induced by N-nitrosoethylurea.
VoRrosy Onkologii, 38 (9), 1073-1080.
Brunner, R., & Tabachnik, B. (I 990). Soviet Training
and RecoveEy Methods. 216-224.
Jiaxiang, N., Fujii, K., Sato, N., & Yuge, 0. (1993).
Inhibitory effect of gomisi on reductive metabolism of halothane. Journal
of A1212lied Toxicology, 13(6)., 385388.
Kovrizhnykh, A.F. (1987). Instructions for the Use of
Rhaponticum Carthamoides Extract, All-Union Institute of Physical Culture,
USSR State Sports Committee, Moscow.
Lebedev, A.A. (1971). On the Pharmacology of Schizandra
Chinensis. Materials for Study of Ginseng and Schizandra,
Maslova, L.V., Kondrat'ev, B.1u., Maslov, L.N., &
Lishmanov, lu.B. (1994). The cardioprotective and antiadrenergic activity
of an extract of Rhodiola rosea in stress. Eksperimentainaia I Klinicheskaia,
Udintsev, S.N., Krylova, S.G., & Fomina T.I. (1992).
The enhancement of the efficacy of adriamycin by using hepatoprotectors
of plant origin in metastases of Ehrlich's adenocarcinoma to the liver
in mice. Volprosy Onkologii, 38(10), 1217-1222.
Wahlstrom, Mkael. (1987). Adaptogens: Nature's Key
to Well-Beiniz, Goteberg: Skandinavisk Bok.
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