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“Adaptogen” marketing debunked

Posted 19 June 2024

Yale University clinical neurologist Steven Novella, M.D., has noted the term “adaptogen” used in marketing some dietary supplements is vaguely defined and “just another marketing buzzword for snake oil products.” Claims made for adaptogens are akin to meaningless “structure-function” claims tolerated under the Dietary Supplement Health and Health Education Act (DSHEA) such as ”boosting the immune system,” “increasing energy,” and “supporting a positive outlook.” Novella calls adaptogens “the same con with a new label.”

Reference: Novella S. What are “adaptogens”? Science-Based Medicine, June 5, 2024

Source: Consumer Health Digest #24-24, June 16, 2024

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Adaptogen hype scrutinised

Posted 28 June 2022

“They are claimed to cure everything, even long COVID. But the science on adaptogens is very disappointing.”

Adaptogens are said to be substances, often plants (such as ginseng and golden root), that help the body adapt to stress with no side effects. A recent article makes these points:

  • Their long-term safety has not been demonstrated.
  • Regulation of this market is poor.
  • Some adaptogenic herbs are known to have potentially serious side effects.
  • Evidence for effectiveness usually comes from animal studies and a few published studies in humans that tend to be small and lacking in rigor.

Reference: Jarry J. The problem with adaptogens. McGill Office for Science and Society, June 9, 2022

Source: Consumer Health Digest #22-26, June 26, 2022

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