Isagenix Science: Dr. Israel Brekhman: “Father of Adaptogens” and His Energizing Adaptogen Blend in e+
It was 1960 when Russian scientist, Dr. Israel Brekhman, first had his work published in scientific literature. This first publication was a culmination of 15 years of previous research on adaptogens—a topic Brekhman dedicated the rest of his life to. His continued research on adatogens led to hundreds more publications and discovery of the many health benefits from these protective agents. Brekhman was not only a world-renowned scientist and researcher, but also a medical doctor, teacher, and philosopher. Known as the “Father of Adaptogens,” he’s credited with introducing to the world formulas of adaptogens that promote health by helping people cope with everyday stress, maintain high levels of energy, and free the body from fatigue.
In a society plagued by chronic stress, a targeted solution to prime and protect the body from its harmful effects is necessary. Deemed “nature’s answer to stress,” Isagenix Ionix Supreme contains adaptogen compounds that work in the body by increasing its ability to adapt to stress while also improving physical and mental functioning under stressful conditions (1-2).
More specifically, and in one of his many research papers, Brekhman and his colleagues defined adaptogens as natural plant substances that:
- Increase the body’s ability to cope with internal and external stresses.
- Exhibit stimulating effects after both single-time use and prolonged use, leading to increased working capacity and mental performance under stressful and fatigue-inducing conditions.
- Normalize the functions of the body.
- Are entirely safe and have no negative side effects.
While all adaptogens are restorative to the body’s stress response and capacity to perform, certain combinations were studied by Brekhman for the exclusive purpose of boosting performance and fighting fatigue. With that purpose in mind, Isagenix has formulated the new e+ Natural Energy Shotwith Brekhman’s own adaptogen formula coupled with naturally sourced caffeine—talk about the perfect pairing for energy and performance!
The first energy-boosting adaptogen in Brekhman’s formula, and now in e+ is Eleuthero (full name: Eleutherococcus senticosus). Eleuthero, also known as Siberian ginseng, is a thin, thorny shrub native to forests in southeastern Russia, northern China, Japan, and Korea.
The research behind Eleuthero has shown it to improve endurance exercise, oxygen uptake, and overall performance in athletes. One study published in 2010 echoed just that–college-aged male tennis players who supplemented with eleuthero for eight weeks had significantly enhanced endurance time and elevated cardiovascular functions (3).
Another adaptogen in e+, Rhodiola (full name: Rhodiola rosea)—native to the arctic and mountainous regions throughout Europe, Asia, and America—also has scientific research behind it alluding to athletic improvement. A 2012 study conducted on cyclists found an improved heart rate response to exercise and a decreased perception of effort in subjects who took rhodiola one hour before exercise (4).
The adaptogens in e+ not only can help power a workout, but can also help you resist stress to stay mentally sharp after a hard day’s (or night’s) work. Rhodiola, for instance, has been found to reduce general and mental fatigue in doctors working night shifts (4).
One of the most recent reviews of adaptogens, published in October 2012, gives cause to always have e+ on hand when a pick-me-up is needed. According to the review, adaptogens “induce increased attention and endurance in situations of decreased performance caused by fatigue and/or sensation of weakness” (5).
The bottom line is that adaptogens are plant substances that help the body to better handle external and internal stressors, they enhance the body’s ability to perform physically, and they increase energy and mental alertness. Israel Brekhman spent his lifetime and career studying adaptogens and how we can use them to prime and protect the body. With e+, Isagenix is taking some of Brekhman’s best work and giving people the tool to take themselves and their health to the next level.
- Panossian A, Wikman G. Effects of adaptogens on the central nervous system and the molecular mechanisms associated with their stree-protective activity. Pharmaceuticals 2010; 3: 188-224.
- Panossian A, Wikman G. Evidence-based efficacy of adaptogens in fatigue, and molecular mechanisms related to their stress-protective activity. Curr Clin Pharmacol 2009;4:198-219.
- Kuo J, Chen KW, Cheng IS, Tsai PH, Lu YJ, Lee NY. The effect of eight weeks of supplementation with Eleutherococcus senticosus on endurance capacity and metabolism in human. Chin J Physiol 2010;53:105-11.
- Darbinyan V, Kteyan A, Panossian A, Gabrielian E, Wikman G, Wagner H. Rhodiola rosea in stress induced fatigue–a double blind cross-over study of a standardized extract SHR-5 with a repeated low-dose regimen on the mental performance of healthy physicians during night duty. Phytomedicine 2000;7:365-71.
- Vinod PS, Shivakumar H. A current status of adaptogens: natural remedy to stress. Asian Pac J Trop Dis 2012;S480-S490.
e+: Modulated Caffeine and Adaptogens for Athletic Performance
by Michael Colgan, Ph.D.
With athletes over the last 30 years at the Colgan Institute, we have tested synthetic caffeine, the form used in most sodas and energy drinks today. We have compared its effects with natural caffeines from arabica coffee (Coffea arabica), black and green teas (Camelia sinensis), guarana (Paullinia cupana), and yerba maté (Ilex paraguariensis).
We have seen better effects and have not found undesirable side effects with judicious amounts of natural caffeines. In agreement with controlled studies, we have found that moderate doses of plant extracts of caffeine from Coffea arabica, and Camelia sinensis, calculated for lean body weight, and used under specific conditions, yield a significant improvement in running time in a 10K race of 1.0 percent to 3.3 percent. For a runner whose best 10K is approaching 40 minutes, a goal for many recreational runners, we have found an average improvement of 1 minute 17 seconds. That is a huge gain in performance.
e+ Adds Adaptogens
Since the research of Russian and Chinese scientists showed the power of adaptogenic herbs in the 1980s, we have used them with all athletes trained through the Colgan Institute (3). Of the 40,000 plus herbals in current use only 11 are proven adaptogens in controlled trials, that is they maintain physiological functions within a normal range so as to improve energy during the day, yet promote sleep and bodily recovery from stress during the sleep cycle. Specifically, we have tested rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) from Northeastern China, and eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) from Northwestern China. Both yield improvements in athletic performance, with and without modulated caffeine in our tests, and also when used singly in controlled trials (4,5).
Consequently, I was very pleased to see the development of the e+ by Dr. Suk Cho and his team of scientists at Isagenix. Combined by a proprietary process that cannot be duplicated, e+ contains a judicious amount of modulated caffeine from green tea and yerba mate, plus eluthero, rhodiola, and other adaptogenic herbals in a 2-oz sealed shot, exactly right for athletes.
Specifically, the e+ also contains leuzea (Rhaponticum carthamoides) an adaptogen from Siberia that has only recently become available in any quantity in the US. Famed in Russia as the herbal tonic Maralu, it was named after the Maral deer who fed on it and gained legendary strength and endurance. These effects have now been confirmed in controlled animal trials (6).
Overall, the e+ is now the leading energy formulation for athletes to use before workouts, yielding an extended energising effect that should last about four hours. When taking it, hold the shot in your mouth for about 10 seconds. For those aiming for maximum results, limit your intake of coffee and tea and other common sources of natural caffeine, and avoid sodas and other energy drinks entirely. Share the e+ before a workout, share the IsaLean Shake after workout, and share spectacular results with everyone.
1. Rogers PJ, Smith JE, Heatherley SV, Pleydell-Pearce CW. Time for tea: mood, blood pressure and cognitive performance effects of caffeine and theanine administered alone and together. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2008;195:569–77.
2. Haskell CF, Kennedy DO, Milne AL, Wesnes KA, Scholey AB. The effects of L-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood. Biol Psychol 2008;77:113–22.
3. Colgan M. Optimum Sports Nutrition. New York: Advanced Research Press 1993.
4. Kuo J et al. The effect of eight weeks of supplementation with Eleutherococcus senticosus on endurance capacity and metabolism in humans. Chin J Physiol 2010;53(2):105-11.
5. Hung SK et al. The effectiveness and efficacy of Rhodiola rosea: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Phytomedicine 2011;18(4):235-44.
6. Selepcova L, Sommer A, Vargova M. Effect of feeding on a diet containing varying amounts of Rhaponticum carthamoides hay meal on selected morphological parameters in rats. Eur J Entomol1995;92: 391-397.
Stress and Adaptogens: A Historical Perspective
Scientists and health practitioners have long sought to better understand, manage, and prevent the damaging effects of stress on human health. Specifically, by targeting causes of stress whether they are personal, work, or financially related, all humans are subject to the psychological, mental, and physical effects of stress. Excessive or long-term stress can lead to physiological changes that are unhealthy. In fact, data from a variety of sources suggest that 60 to 90 percent of all doctor visits are stress-related.
Despite these damaging effects of stress on our health, we all can employ a variety of coping mechanisms to manage stress, such as relaxation techniques, yoga, hobbies, or talking with friends. Finally, we also must realize that not all stress is detrimental and that stress is indeed a normal feature of life. Mild or acute stress can even be positive; for example, exercise, starting a new job, or even the arrival of a new baby can all promote stress and yet be good for our overall well-being.
What exactly is stress? In accordance with April designated as Stress Awareness Month, the following is a review of the history of how “stress” was defined, the initial research into the effects of stress on the body, and how it led to the research and discovery of herbs called “Adaptogens” that are useful for modulating the effects of stress. Eventually, these discoveries led to the formulation of Isagenix products including Ionix® Supreme, Cleanse for Life®, e+™, and t+ Chai.
One definition of stress, put forth in 1936 by the eminent physician-scientist Dr. Hans Selye, considers stress as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.” He emphasized “non-specificity” as the main characteristic of the “stressor” and because he was confounded by the universal mischaracterization that all stress was negative, he later proposed the term “eustress” as a way to distinguish positive stress. With those definitions began an extraordinary 40-year career focusing on stress and how stress influenced (or was influenced by) steroids, endocrine organs, and hormones.
Among other historic discoveries, Selye was the first to demonstrate the crucial role of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in the stress response. He published more than 1,000 articles and was such a giant of 20th century research that he was nominated numerous times for the Nobel Prize. And yet after all his research on stress he once told a reporter, “Everyone knows what stress is, but nobody really knows.”
Selye was so monumental a scientist that he even caught the attention of Soviet scientists at a time when the Cold War prevented much free exchange of scientific knowledge. One of the first Soviet scientists to embrace Selye’s ideas was Dr. Nikolai Lazarev, a pioneer in the then-emerging fields of toxicology and preventive medicine. Selye’s work was so influential, in fact, that Lazarev changed the direction of his work. He began looking for substances that could improve humans’ general resistance to toxins and was especially intrigued by a group of herbs that could be effective for increasing physical and mental capacity, reducing fatigue, and improving resistance to stress—a class of herbs he named Adaptogens.
Beginning in the early 1960s, Lazarev’s protégé, Dr. Israel Brekhman, took over the USSR research program on Adaptogens and directed his focus to two specific areas: stress research and identifying (and eventually documenting) that specific Adaptogens could improve physical and mental performance. Brekhman and his colleagues were particularly interested in Eleutherococcus senticosus, frequently referred to as “Siberian ginseng” or “eleuthero.”
He instituted a large clinical investigation into this Adaptogen using long-distance truck drivers, sailors on long voyages, and military personnel under severe stress as subjects. They found improved stamina and recovery, better performance, and improved productivity. With these studies the Soviet government fully realized that Adaptogens could boost performance and modulate stress in a variety of endeavors where optimal performance would be desirable: athletics, military personnel under extreme stress, and potentially, as medicine.
Dr. Brekhman’s research culminated in the first review to be published in the West describing 15 years of research into these wondrous plants. Subsequently, he went on to write numerous scientific studies and books on Adaptogens. Dr. Brekhman’s decades-long work cemented his moniker as the “Father of Adaptogens.”
Unfortunately, because the Soviet Union was a closed society, most of Dr. Brekhman’s breakthrough research on the potential for Adaptogens to improve human health remained unknown. But with the collapse of the Soviet empire in 1991, the dam holding back all of his research (and that of Russian Olympic coach Dr. Ben Tabachnik who used Adaptogens to optimize Russian athletic performance) was gone.
Who was one of the early enthusiastic receivers of this information? Jim Coover, Isagenix President and CEO, and John Anderson, Isagenix Founder and Master Formulator. They worked with Dr. Brekhman to spearhead the development of Adaptogen-rich botanicals, specifically targeting performance and stress support.
Because of their vision, Isagenix developed Ionix Supreme and Cleanse For Life that each contain rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), and, of course, Dr. Brekhman’s most studied Adaptogen, eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus). Whereas Cleanse for Life was formulated to support detoxification, Ionix Supreme was designed to have a more pronounced stress-modulating effect on the body and included other well-studied adaptogenic herbs such as wolfberry (Lycium barbarum), bacopa (Bacopa monnieri), and schizandra berry (Schisandra chinensis).
More recently, Isagenix developed e+, containing the novel and unique combination of naturally sourced caffeine along with an Adaptogen blend rich in eleuthero. Another non-caffeinated alternative to e+ Natural Energy Shot containing the same Adaptogen blend is t+ Chai.
The primary goal of product development for Isagenix is to incorporate scientifically supported natural substances into foods and supplements that customers can use to improve health and wellness. By following the research findings from Hans Selye and Israel Brekhman, Isagenix has done just that in the case of stress, Adaptogens, and providing health-centric solutions.
Brekhman II. Man and Biologically Active Substances: The Effect of Drugs, Diet and Pollution on Health. Pergamon Press LTD. 1980.
Panossian A, Wikman G, Wagner H. Plant Adaptogens. III. Earlier and more recent aspects and concepts on their mode of action. Phytomedicine. 1999;6:287-300.
Szabo S, Tache Y, & Somogyi A. The legacy of Hans Selye and the origins of stress research: a retrospective 75 years after his landmark brief “letter” to the editor# of nature. Stress 2012;15:472-8.
Yerba Mate and Adaptogens: What’s Inside e+
Whether you use it for a morning jolt, an afternoon pick-me-up, or an exercise elixir, Isagenix e+ Natural Energy Shot has become an essential tool for many to stay energized throughout the day. But do you really know what’s inside e+ and how it works to give you that healthy boost of energy?
When you break the seal of the two-ounce bottle, the first thing you notice is the aroma of crisp apple and pomegranate. That’s right—natural juices and no artificial flavors, sweeteners, or colors are used in e+, or any Isagenix product for that matter.
Although the delicious taste can be reason enough to enjoy the beverage, the real magic happens after you slug down the shot. With about as much caffeine as a cup of regular coffee, e+ gives you a healthy energy boost—all for only 35 calories. What’s more, the source of caffeine in e+ is from yerba mate and green tea extracts.
Yerba mate is an herbal beverage popular in South America made from dried leaves of the Ilex paraguariensis plant and is a natural source of caffeine. Research has linked yerba mate consumption to many health benefits—including heart health and antioxidant protection—that are largely attributed to its high concentration of bioactive compounds including polyphenols and flavonoids.
Polyphenols are the most abundant antioxidant in the human diet, topping all other phytochemicals (compounds that occur in plants) and even known dietary antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotenoids (1). Flavonoids, also known as bioflavonoids, are a type of polyphenol and were even once referred to as “Vitamin P” due to their key role in health.
Green tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant and is also a natural source of caffeine. In addition to giving you a boost, the catechins—another type of polyphenol with antioxidant properties—present in green tea extract have been shown to stimulate thermogenesis (i.e. support calorie- and fat-burning potential), increase antioxidant status, and reduce oxidative stress from free radicals (2, 3).
Just Enough Natural Caffeine
Research shows it takes 15 to 45 minutes after ingestion for caffeine levels to elevate in the body with peak concentrations evident within one hour (4). As caffeine levels start to rise in the body, the caffeine molecule crosses the blood-brain barrier and blocks the neurotransmitter, adenosine, from binding to receptors on the brain. Think of adenosine as the “lazy” neurotransmitter—it signals the brain to slow down nerve cell activity causing you to feel drowsy and tired. In the brain, this also causes blood vessels to dilate, possibly to allow more oxygen to get to the brain during sleep.
Conversely, when caffeine binds to the receptors on the brain, nerve cells speed up. As a result, brain cells start firing off signals that make the body feel like it is in an alert state. This leads to the release of hormones causing a cascade of physiological responses, all of which are aimed at making you more focused and in control. This explains why after your e+ shot, you feel energized, primed, and ready to take on whatever comes your way.
There’s no need to consume dangerously excessive doses of synthetic caffeine to gain energizing benefits, as supplied in some other energy drinks. In e+ shot, natural caffeine from yerba mate and green tea is only supplied in moderate amounts that are healthy. The drink is fast acting and its supply of energy is long lasting. A half bottle is recommended for moderate energy and a whole bottle for maximum energy. Recommendations are to not exceed two bottles daily and to avoid mixing with alcoholic beverages. In addition, those who are under age 18, pregnant, or with any medical conditions should check with a physician before using e+.
While the naturally sourced caffeine from green tea and yerba mate are key components of e+, the real superstar is the adaptogenic blend. Adaptogens are herbs and botanicals that have been shown to help normalize the body’s response to stress and improving the body’s capacity to perform and function under stressful circumstances. They do this by stimulating biochemical pathways that decrease the body’s sensitivity to harmful stressors, resulting in stress “protection” (5, 6).
Take this scenario: You are standing at the top a ten-foot tall diving board. There are butterflies in your stomach, your pulse rate quickens, you get nervous, feel flushed, perhaps your legs feel a little weak as you inch towards the edge. Your imagination and anticipation have activated the nervous and endocrine systems, sending hormones surging though your body. Finally, you jump. The second time around, you don’t have such a severe hormonal flux, the butterflies aren’t as active, and your limbs are more compliant. What was the difference? Your body had experienced the stress before, and it had built up a resistance. This conditioning is the principle behind adaptogens and how they work to strengthen the body’s response to stress.
The specific blend found in e+ was inspired by the research of the late Dr. Israel Brekhman, a pioneer in the study of adaptogens. Some of the stress-modulating, fatigue-fighting adaptogens in e+ include:
- Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus): Also known as Siberian ginseng, this thin, thorny shrub has been shown to improve endurance performance by supporting optimal cardiovascular functions and oxygen uptake (7).
- Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea): This adaptogenic plant is native to the arctic and mountainous regions of Europe, Asia, and America. It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine and has been shown to increase energy, reduce fatigue, and help maintain cognitive function during stressful circumstances (8).
- Hawthorn Berry (Crataegus oxyacantha): Evidence supports hawthorn berry’s ability to mediate both the physiological and psychological stress response in the body (9).
The novel combination of energy-boosting caffeine and stress-modulating adaptogens in e+ Natural Energy shot set it apart from any other energy beverage on the market. The blend of natural ingredients makes it a healthy and safe alternative to high-calorie, excessively caffeinated, artificially sweetened energy drinks and shots. You only get the best with Isagenix, and e+ is no exception.
- Scalbert et al. Polyphenols: antioxidants and beyond. J Clin Nutr 2005;18:2155-2175.
- Nago et al. Ingestion of a tea rich in catechins leads to a reduction in body fat and malondialdehyde-nodified LDL in men. Am J Clin Ntr 2005;81(1):122-9.
- Higdon et al. Tea catechins and polyphenols: health effects, metabolism, and antioxidant functions. Crit Rev Food Nutr 2003;43(1):89-143.
- Goldstein ER, et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2010;7:5.
- Panossian A, Wikman G. Evidence-based efficacy of adaptogens in fatigue, and molecular mechanisms related to their stress-protective activity. Curr Clin Pharmacol 2009;4:198-219
- Panossian A, Wikman G. Effects of adaptogens on the central nervous system and the molecular mechanisms associated with their stress—protective activity. Pharmaceuticals 2010;3:188-224. doi: 10.3390/ph3010188
- Kuo et al. The effect of eight weeks of supplementation with Eleutherococcus senticosus on endurance capacity and metabolism in human. Chin J Physiol 2010;53:105-11.
- Darbinyan V, et al. Rhodiola rosea in stress induced fatigue–a double blind cross-over study of a standardized extract SHR-5 with a repeated low-dose regimen on the mental performance of healthy physicians during night duty. Phytomedicine 2000;7:365-71.
- Can O, et al. Effects of hawthorn seed and pulp extracts on the central nervous system. Pharm Biol 2010;48(8):924-31.