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71

Journal of Cell and Molecular Biology 4: 71-75, 2005.
Haliç University, Printed in Turkey.

Adaptogenic, geriatric, stimulant and antidepressant plants of Russian
Far East
Nazim Mamedov
Laboratory for Natural Products, Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, University of Massachusetts in
Amherst, USA
Received 14 March 2005; Accepted 20 June 2005

Abstract
The flora of Russian Far East contains approximately 500 medicinal plants that have been used in traditional and
conventional medicines. This paper is focused on plants used in traditional and conventional medicines as
adaptogenic, stimulating, geriatric and antidepressant plants.
Key words: Medicinal plants, adaptogenic plants, geriatric medicine, Russian Far East

Uzakdo¤u Rusya’n›n adaptojenik, geriatrik, uyar›c› ve antidepresif bitkileri
Özet
Uzakdo¤u Rusya floras›, geleneksel ve göreneksel ilaçlar›n yap›m›nda kullan›lan yaklafl›k 500 t›bbi bitki kapsar. Bu
makalede, geleneksel ve göreneksel ilaç yap›m›nda kullan›lan adaptojenik, uyar›c›, ihtiyarl›k hastal›klar›n› tedavi
edici ve antidepresif bitkiler üzerinde durulmufltur.
Anahtar sözcükler: T›bbi bitkiler, adaptojen bitkiler, ihtiyarl›k hastal›klar›n› tedavi t›bb›, Uzakdo¤u Rusyas›

Russian Far East is very important region of Russia
regarding to distribution of medicinal and aromatic
plants. As a matter of fact, about one third of Russian
medicinal and aromatic plants are growing in the
Russian Far East. There are about 3000 species
vascular plants in the Flora of Russian Far East and
some 500 of them have been used in traditional and
conventional medicine (Phruentov, 1972; Shreter,
1975; Sokolov, 1984-1996).
Traditional Chinese medicine has had a great
influence on traditional medicine of the Russian Far
East, in fact these two traditional healing systems have
many plant remedies in common (Mamedov et al.,
2005). However, Olopanax elatus (Nakai) is endemic
and relic plant from Russian Far East (Komarov, 19341960; Gubanov et al., 1976; Sokolov and Zamotayev,

1985; Lovkova et al.,1989).
Flora of Russian Far East is rich in stimulant, In
adaptogenic, geriatric plants and plants has been used
as anti-depressant (Brekhman, 1976).
Stimulants and adaptogenic plants have a different
kind of pharmacodynamic action.
The term adaptogen was originally coined by
pharmacologist N.V.Lazarev (Capasso et al., 2003).
Adaptogenic plants increase the ability of the
organism to adapt to environmental factors and resist
damage from stress-factors. As a contrary, stimulants
give a temporary increase of work capacity.
Adaptogens are performance enhancers. They work
longer and do not drop off sharply as stimulants do,
but rather “taper off”.
In contrast to stimulants, neither International

72

Nazim Mamedov

Table 1: Adaptogenic plants of Russian Far East.
Plant Names

Part Used

Preparation

Aralia mandshurica Rupr. et Maxim.
Eleutherococcus senticosus Maxim.
Eleutherococcus sessiliflours S.Y.Hu
Olopanax elatus (Nakai) Nakai
Planax ginseng C.A.Mey
Araliacea
Rhodiola rosea L.
Crassulaceae
Shizandra chinensis (Turez.) Baill.
Shizndraceae

Root
Root, rhizome
Root, rhizome
Root, rhizome
Root

Tincture
Tincture
Tincture
Tincture
Tincture

Root, rhizome

Tincture

Fruit

Tincture

Olympic Committee nor US Olympic Committee
include adaptogenic plants on their lists of banned
substances yet. Adaptogenic plants from Russian Far
East were widely used by Soviet athletes during
Olympic games and other international competitions.
Most widely used in Russian Far East adaptogenic
plants are Eleuthero senticoccus, Olopanax elatus,
Panax ginseng, Rhodiola rosea and Schizandra
chinensis. In the ex-USSR those adaptogenic plants
were used also as anti-depression and anti-stress
agents. Main adaptogenic plants from Russian Far
East are presented in Table 1.
Forty plants from Flora of Russian Far East are
promoted and considered as stimulants. Those plants
are presented in Table 2.
Geriatric is the branch of medicine which treat all
problem peculiar to old age and the aging.
It has been estimated that for people over 65 years
of age side effects are double those of young people.
Herbs for geriatric medicine include not simply
antioxidants, but mainly plants with more “gentle” and
prolonged action.
According to traditional belief of Russian Far East
and Mongolia plants as Polygonum aviculare,
Rhodiola rosea and Sanguinaria officinalis may
restore energy and prolong life. At least 11 medicinal
plants from Russian Far East were widely used in
geriatric medicine of former Soviet Union. Plants
from Russian Far East used in geriatric medicine are
presented in Table 3.
The term depression indicates a dampened mood
and pervasive unhappiness. However, medical
science generally reserves this term for the
catastrophic state of major depression. Most popular
form of depression calls dysthymia.

Disthymia (mild to moderate depression)
characterized by chronic depressed mood, low selfesteem, poor concentration, difficulty making
decisions, feeling hopelessness, poor appetite(or
overeating), insomnia(or excessive sleep) (Diagnosis
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 1994).
The Food and Drug Administration in United States
started issuing warnings about conventional drugs to
doctors in 2003, and in October 2004 it ordered “black
box” labels, the strongest warning on all conventional
antidepressants.
The main side effect of conventional antidepressant
drugs is suicidal behavior by children and teenagers.
Using medicinal plants for treatment of depression is
safe alternative to conventional drugs. Medicinal
plants most widely used for depression treatment in
traditional and conventional medicines around world
are Centella asiatica (Apiaceae), Hypericum
perforatum
(Hypericaeae),
Rhodiola
rosea
(Crassulaceae), Pfaffia paniculata(Amaranthaceae),
Rauwolfia serpentina (Apocynaceae), Rhododendron
molle (Ericaceae), Schizandra chin (Schizandraceae),
Thea sinensis (Theaceae), Uncaria tome (Rubiaceae),
Valeriana officinalis (Valerianaceae) and Withania
somnifera (Solanaceae) (Mamedov, 1999a, 1999b;
Bradwein et al., 2000; Brown et al., 2002; Capasso et
al., 2003; Dragland, 2003; Miri et al., 2003; Brown
et al., 2004). Most popular medicinal plants of the
world for depression treatment are presented in Table 4.
Four medicinal plants: Centella asiatica,
Rhododendron molle, Shizandra chinesis and Thea
sinensis are belong to Chinese Traditional Medicine.
Indian Ayurvedic Medicine are presented with three
plants: Centela asiatica, Rauwolfia serpentina and
Withania somnifera. Two medicinal plants are belong

Plants of Russian Far East

73

Table 2: Medicinal plants from Russian Far East promoted as stimulants.
Plant Names

Part Used

Preparation

Acanthopanax sessiflours Seem.
Aralia mandshurica Rupr. et Maxim.
Atractylodes ovata (Thumb.) DC.
Phellodendron amurense Rupr.
Cirsium cetosum (Willd.)Bess.
Vaccinium vitis-idaea L.
Empetrum nigrum L.
Aruncus americanus auct.
Vaccinium uliginosum L.
Polygonum alpinum All.
P.amphibium L.
P.aviculare L.
Geum allepicum Jacq.
Descurainia sophia Webb.ex Prantl.
Lonicera edulis Turcz. ex Freyn.
Olopanax elatus (Nakai) Nakai
Salix caprea L.
S.pseudopentandra B.Floder
Cimicifuga dahurica (Turcz.)Maxim.
Corilus manschurica Maxim.
Tilia amurensis Rupr
Allium victoralis L.
Taraxacum mongolicum Hand.-Mazz.
Juglans mandschurica Maxim
Carex macrocephala Willd.ex Spreng.
Patrinia scabiosifolia Fish. ex Link
Paeonia lactiflora Pall.
Galium verum L.
Artemisia argyi Levl.et Vaniot
A.sieversiana Willd.
Agropyron repens (L.)Beauv.
Matricaria inodora L.
Eleutherococcus senticosus Maxim.
Syringa amurensis Rupr.
Pinus koraiensis Siebold et Zucc.
Sagittaria trifolia L.
Equisetum arvense L.
Alisma orientale (Sam.)Juz.
Osmunda cinnamomea auct.
Rosa davurica Pall.
R.acicularis Lindl.
Dictamnus dasycarpus Turcz.

Root
Root
Root
Phloem
Leaves
Leaves, fruit
Fruit, branches
Root, leaves, flowers
Fruit, shoots
Rhizome
Root, rhizome
Herb
Rhizome
Herb
Fruit
Root
Leaves
Root
Rhizome
Nut, branches
Flowers
Leaves, bulb, seed
Root, herb
Nut
Seed
Rhizome
Rhizome
Herb, root
Leaves
Herb
Herb
Herb
Root
Blossoms
Cone
Leaves, tuber
Herb
Rhizome
Rhizome
Flowers, fruit
Flowers
Root, flowers

Extract
Tincture
Decoction
Decoction
Decoction
Tincture
Tincture
Tincture
Decoction
Tincture
Decoction
Tincture
Decoction
Decoction
Flesh, juice
Tincture
Paste from crashed leaves
Tincture
Tincture
Decoction
Tincture, tea
Tincture
Tincture
Nut
Tincture
Tincture
Decoction
Tincture
Tincture
Tincture
Tincture
Tincture
Tincture, extract
Decoction
Cone
Juice
Tincture
Powder
Tincture
Tincture
Tincture
Tincture

to traditional medicine of American rainforest: Pfaffia
paniculata and Uncaria tomentosa. Russian and
Central Asian traditional herbal medicine are
presented in Table 4 with three medicinal plants:
Hypericum perforatum, Rhodiola rosea and Valeriana
officinalis.

Medicinal plants from Russian Far East have been
proven to be helpful for treatment of depression in the
former Soviet Union(Phruentov, 1972; Shreter, 1975;
Lovkova et al., 1976; Sokolov, 1984-1996). Most
popular medicinal plants from Russian Far East have
been used for treatment of disthymia are presented in
Table 5.

74

Nazim Mamedov
Table 3: Medicinal plants of Russian Far East used in geriatric medicine.
Plant Names

Part Used

Atracatyloides ovata(Thunb.)DC.
Polygonum dumetorum L.
P.aviculare L.
Panax ginseng C.A.Mey
Polygala tenuifolia Willd.
Gymnadenia conopsea (L.) R.Br.
Sanguisorba officinalis L.
Selaginella tamariscina (Beauv.) Spring.
Artemisia lagocephala (Bess.)DC.
Agropyron pseudoagropyrum (Trin. Ex Griseb.) Franch.
Rhodiola rosea L.

Root
Herb
Herb
Root
Root
Tuber
Root
Herb
Herb
Herb
Rhizome

Table 4: Most popular medicinal plants of the world used for depression treatment.
Plant

Common name

Part used

Centella asiatica L.
Apiaceae
Hypericum perforatum L.
Hypericaceae
Rhodiola rosea L.
Crassulaceae
Pfaffia paniculata (Martius)Kuntze
Amaranthaceae
Rauwolfia serpentina (L.)Benth. ex Kurz.
Apocynaceae
Rhododendron molle (Blume)G.Don f.
Ericaceae
Shizandra chinesis (Turcz.) Baill.
Shizandraceae
Thea sinensis L
Theaceae
Uncaria tomentosa(Willd.)DC
Rubiaceae
Valeriana officinalis L.
Valerianaceae
Withania somnifera (L.)Dunal.
Solanaceae

Gotu cola

Leaves, stems

St. John’s Wort

Herb

Golden root

Rhizome

Suma

Root

Snakeroot

Root

Chinese azalea

Leaves, flowers

Schizandra

Fruit, seed

Tea

Leaves

Cat’s claw

Bark, root, leaves

Valerian

Root

Ashwagandha

Root

Conclusions
Using medicinal plants in geriatric medicine or as
antidepressant, stimulant and adaptogenic plants
recently gain popularity in industrialized world.

Understanding of mechanism of their effects on
central nervous system and other systems of human
body merit further research and screening.

Plants of Russian Far East

75

Table 5: Medicinal Plants of Russian Far East used for treatment of disthymia.
Plant

Plant used

Aralia continentalis Kitag.
A. cordata Thunb.
A. mandschurica Rupr. et Maxim.
A. schmidtii Pojark.
Firmania platanifolia 1 (L.f.) A.Schott. et Endl.
Olopanax elatus (Nakai) Nakai
Rhodiola rosea L.
Rhaponticum carthamoides (Willd.) Iljin
Securinega suffructicosa (Pall.) Rehd.
Schizandra chinesis(Turcz.) Baill.
Valeriana officinalis L.

Root
Root
Root
Root
Leaves
Root, rhizome
Root, rhizome
Root, rhizome
Twigs
Fruit, seed
Root, rhizome

1

Firmania platanifolia is native to China but cultivated in Russia since 1814 (Lovkova et al., 1989).

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