Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.
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Are Adaptogens Worth The Investment?

Monday, 19 Jul 2010 01:28 PM

Question: Please discuss adaptogens as dietary supplements. They are promoted to reduce stress and benefit many health related problems that are due to direct and indirect stress.

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:

Adaptogens is the term used by herbalists to refer to natural herbal formulations that are supposed to increase the body’s resistance to stress and to help our bodies adapt to the environment. While the theory sounds honorable, the components can vary and their effectiveness is questionable. In some cases they have been found to contain contaminants that may be toxic.

Because these products are often not submitted to testing since they are marketed as dietary supplements, safety and effectiveness data is often missing or incomplete. Occasionally, contamination with heavy metals, lead, mercury, pesticides, and other chemicals has been reported.

Much of the time these substances are utilized by practitioners who are not doctors and who do not have a license to dispense prescription grade medications. There are few effective "adaptogen" non-prescription medications that are proven both safe and effective. They are rarely recommended by conventional medical doctors who could possibly place themselves at risk for an incompetence claim as well state license revocation, professional discipline, and censure.

Conventional medicine is the accepted standard of care for disease management, modification, or remission/cure. Looking for herbal cures is very difficult since there is little incentive for research because of restricted patenting rights, but new drugs are often derived or extracted from existing medications, both herbal and non-herbal, with the added advantage of assured purity and lack of contamination. So, caveat emptor!

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