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HEALTH AND MEDICINE Medicine for Aging and Stress

In every person’s life comes the time when the body’s functional abilities start to noticeably deteriorate. The change occurs on all levels, from the body’s cells to organ systems and the body as a whole. This is aging.

aging doesn’t have a definitive start, but its onset tends to include a decrease in the defensive and adaptive abilities of the body, which often leads to cardio- vascular, oncological, and other illness- es. Physiologically, immunodeficiency (a weakened immune system) at an older age is caused by the deterioration of the connections between the brain and the endocrine system and a decrease in the production of hormones, including by the thymus, the central organ of the im- mune system. all of these changes make older people easy prey for illnesses.

Stress increases the development of various diseases in older people. it in- duces changes in many organs and sys- tems and disrupts metabolic processes. The negative impact of stress on the heart and blood vessels is well-known. People with chronic stress are struck by ischemic heart disease twice as often, and two and a half times more often

have myocardial infarction. Stress hits the immune system hardest of all. any- one from a harsh climate who has gone on vacation in hot countries or to the sea will probably remember that quite often, those first days in the sun and warmth were darkened by the development of cold sores on the lips (herpes), feeling unwell, symptoms of a cold or intesti- nal infection, and even toothaches and gum inflammation. These are the results of the effects of stress on the immune system.

Substances that strengthen the im- mune system and decrease its sensitiv- ity to various ill effects are called adap- togens. adaptogens can help you “take the hit,” keeping your immune system strong and warding off the development of illnesses. it’s worth bringing them with you on vacation and starting to take them a little before leaving. Taking adap- togens makes the impact of stress less

International Life Magazine

apparent and deep, while the body’s re- covery occurs noticeably faster.

adaptogens coordinate the activities of various systems under stress condi- tions. Thus, in the central nervous sys- tem, adaptogens decrease sensitivity to the stress hormones adrenaline and no- radrenaline. The nature of energy pro- cesses change at metabolic levels: fat ex- change intensifies, energy expenditures in the muscles decrease, the formation of amino acids and the synthesis of pro- teins within cells is optimized – in oth- er words, the body starts to economize its resources. adaptogens particularly help support the health of older peo- ple, as well as of people under stress. all adaptogens share similar characteristics, whether from plant, animal or synthetic sources, which is why they are catego- rized in a special group of substances.

adaptogens are categorized as stimu- lating, relaxing, or neutral, depending on their method of action. adaptogens give an energy shock, releasing a biochemical mechanism which leads to a nonspecif- ic increased resistance and stimulates immune system activity (for example, an increase in the number of lympho- cytes). The key is that stimulation of the immune system is moderate, not exces- sive. Most surprisingly, use of adapto-

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