What the Latest Research Suggests Regarding Covid-19 Vaccines, and How Adaptogens Come to the Rescue

Before I summarize several recent peer-reviewed scientific papers, I want to highlight a published paper that supports a theory I’ve had from the beginning of the pandemic. My theory, which is increasingly supported by research and observation, is that “frailty” is a much better prognostic factor than age for predicting COVID-19 survival.

For example, recent research from Karolinska Institute in Sweden shows that the degree of frailty, which is a measure of a person’s functional level before contracting the disease, can better predict COVID-19 survival than the patient’s age.[1] The analysis of 250 older adults with multiple morbidities who received care for COVID-19 at Karolinska University Hospital also shows that three out of four of these patients survived.

More than age, frailty was linked to an increased risk of death during the period of care. Frailty is a relatively new concept that is used as a tool to describe a patient’s functional level prior to an acute illness. A frailty score higher than five on the nine-point Clinical Frailty Scale was found to be a greater risk factor for increased mortality in COVID-19 patients than the patient’s age. For reference, a frailty score of six means that a patient needs help with all outside activities, housekeeping, and bathing.

The current model for medicine needs a total overhaul. Guideline-based medical approaches continue to be the standard rule in clinical practice, although only less than 15% of them are based on high-quality research. For each person who benefits from the 10 best-selling drugs in the USA, a number between 4 and 25 has no one beneficial effect.

The reductionist linear medicine method does not offer solutions in the non-manifest preclinical stage of the disease when it would still be possible to reverse the pathological progression and the axiom “a drug, a target, a symptom” are still inconclusive. We need additional tools to address these challenges.[2]

The Importance of “Nourishing the Roots”

As we age, we all need help with anabolic restoration. This means we need to strengthen and build the body (masculine energy), while at the same time nourishing fluidity and pliability (feminine energy). The next most important consideration is to assess nutritional biomarkers, including vitamin D, zinc, selenium, magnesium, iron, and other minerals and nutrients that tend to diminish with age. These nutrients are essential for optimal health, including immune system response.  

If a peepal tree grows out a wall outside my house, is it better to remove  it or leave it as it is? Also, if it were to be removed, how should

I call this “Nourishing the Roots,” and it is the basis of Mederi Care. We accomplish this nourishment through botanical, nutritional, dietary, and life-style medicine designed to enhance energy transfer efficiency, adaptation, and protection.  We believe in gentle, nourishing support before strong heroic topical medicine. We believe in first treating the whole person as ONE, and then addressing the specific parts as necessary.

Risks of Myocarditis, Pericarditis, and Cardiac Arrhythmias Associated with COVID-19 Vaccination or SARS-CoV-2 Infection

In my continuing research on the Covid-19 vaccines, I came across a study published in the December 2021 issue of Nature. The study was carried out by professors from multiple colleges, including the University of Oxford, which helped develop the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

Researchers utilized data from the English National Immunization database, which includes information on all people vaccinated in England. The database featured information on 38.6 million people through Aug. 24, 2021.

The risk of myocarditis, a form of heart inflammation, was much higher following the second dose of the Moderna vaccine, but there were also eight excess cases per 1 million people following the first dose.

“Time to abandon the belief that COVID-19 myocarditis risk is always higher than mRNA vaccine myocarditis risk. For some individuals, myocarditis risks of the vaccine(s) are higher than those of the disease,” stated Euzebiusz Jamrozik, an infectious disease expert who works at the University of Oxford.

“The preliminary data showed that among those under 30, the myocarditis and pericarditis incidence was higher than expected,” said Dr. Hanna Nohynek, chief physician of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare’s Unit Infectious Diseases Control and Vaccines.[3]

COVID-19 Vaccines Increase Risk of Cardiac Arrest in Young People by 25 Percent According to New Published Study from Israel

You would think that the scientific community, public officials, and every media outlet in the world would be discussing a new peer-reviewed article entitled, “Increased emergency cardiovascular events among under 40 population in Israel during vaccine rollout and third COVID-19 wave.”[4] Why? Because the results of this study are alarming.

The medical researchers analyzed data collected by Israel’s National Emergency Medical Services between 2019 and 2021. They found that there was a greater than 25 percent increase in emergency calls for cardiac arrest and acute coronary syndrome—an umbrella term used for coronary problems associated with sudden-onset reduced blood flow to the heart, according to the Mayo Clinic—for young adults, ages 16 to 39 years old, compared to the same time period in both 2019 and 2020.

The researchers discovered that this increase in emergency heart issues was associated with the COVID-19 vaccination but not with COVID-19 infections.[5]

Qatar Omicron-Wave Study Shows Slow Decline of Natural Immunity, Rapid Decline of Vaccine Immunity

A recent Pfizer or Moderna mRNA-vaccine booster provided good but temporary protection against infection by the SARS-CoV-2 omicron variant, according to a study from researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine—Qatar.

In the study, published June 15, 2022 in the New England Journal of Medicine,[6] the researchers analyzed the omicron wave in Qatar last winter, comparing prior infections, vaccine immunity, and combinations thereof among more than 100,000 omicron-infected and non-infected individuals.

The analysis showed, as expected, that a full mRNA vaccination plus a booster dose, atop natural immunity due to infection by an earlier variant, was associated with the strongest protection from the omicron infection. However, vaccine immunity against new infection appeared to wane rapidly, whereas people with a prior-variant infection were moderately protected from omicron with little decline in protection even a year after their prior infection.

A key finding was that a history of vaccination with the standard two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccine, but no history of prior infection, brought no significant protection against symptomatic omicron infection. Having a booster dose appeared to be about 60 percent protective, though most boosters were received just weeks before the omicron wave. Overall, the analysis suggested—consistently with prior studies—that mRNA vaccines and boosters work fairly well in protecting against symptomatic omicron infection, though their protective effect wanes rapidly and disappears within six months or so.

For those with no history of vaccination, SARS-CoV-2 infection during a prior-variant wave appeared to provide about 50 percent protection against symptomatic infection during the omicron wave, and this “natural immunity” was associated with almost the same degree of protection even a year after infection.

The analysis distinguished between infections with two different sub-lineages of the omicron variant, BA.1 and BA.2, but found very similar results for both, as well as similar results for both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines.[7]

Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Temporarily Impairs Semen Concentration and Total Motile Count Among Semen Donors

Researchers analyzed 220 samples of semen from three sperm banks in Israel, drawn from men who had received two doses of the vaccine. The semen collection was scheduled seven days after receipt of the second dose.

The researchers, led by Dr. Itai Gat with the Sperm Bank and Andrology Unit at the Shamir Medical Center and Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Medical School, found that there was a decrease in sperm concentration between 75 and 120 days post-vaccination.

The decrease led to a reduction in the motile count, or the number of sperm. Follow up testing completed over 150 days after vaccination revealed “overall recovery,” with semen volume and sperm motility returning to normal levels, the researchers said.[8]

Mixed Results for Paxlovid in Standard Risk Patients with COVID-19

Findings were announced from a phase 2/3 study evaluating the efficacy and safety of Paxlovid™ (nirmatrelvir tablets co-packaged with ritonavir tablets) in patients with COVID-19 who are at standard risk of progressing to severe disease.[9] In an updated analysis of 1153 patients enrolled through December 2021, treatment with Paxlovid showed a nonsignificant 51% relative risk reduction in hospitalization or death. Among 721 vaccinated adults with at least 1 risk factor, treatment with Paxlovid showed a nonsignificant 57% relative risk reduction.

Relative risks are often reported in newspaper headlines, but without the context of absolute (or baseline) risk, this information is meaningless. Absolute risk numbers are needed to understand the implications of relative risks and how specific factors, or behaviors affect your likelihood of developing a disease or health condition.[10]

Warning of Paxlovid Rebound

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is issuing this Health Alert Network (HAN) Health Advisory to update healthcare providers, public health departments, and the public on the potential for recurrence of COVID-19 or “COVID-19 rebound. COVID-19 rebound is characterized by a recurrence of symptoms or a new positive viral test after having tested negative.[11] 

“Anecdotally, it seems like it’s happening more frequently than what was reported to clinical trials.” Boston Medical Center’s Dr. Sabrina Assoumou

Recent Increases in Other Viral Diseases

As the Covid-19 pandemic and resultant social restrictions have abated in much of the world, other viruses are rearing their heads in new and unusual ways.

Health experts say Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions could have reduced exposure and lowered immunity to infectious diseases, making society more vulnerable to new outbreaks. Influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus, tuberculosis and monkeypox are among a number of illnesses that have spiked and exhibited strange behaviors in recent months.[12]

How Secondary Compounds in Botanicals and Food Support our Health

The human immune system possesses a variety of innate receptors that recognize, distinguish, and respond to viral infections and to vaccination.[13] The immune system, like any other system of the body, needs to be exercised (stressed), in order to strengthen or maintain its efficacy. Without challenges, the immune system gets lazy, and is less able to effectively respond and recover from viral or other infections.  This is fundamental to the important health promoting concept called hormesis. 

There are complex feedback mechanisms within the body that preserve balance, and these are often misunderstood. For example, the popular belief that scavenging free radicals by antioxidants is beneficial is wishful thinking. Instead, there is continuous cross-talk and response mechanisms that act in a yin-yang fashion to preserve balance and tone that are supported by redox active nutritional phytonutrients in botanicals and healthy food.[14] These nonessential secondary nutritional compounds help to insure hormesis, which is globally protective, and contribute to health by favoring maintenance of optimal homeostasis/allostasis. This includes immune health status.

A major mechanism of action for secondary nutritional redox compounds is the paradoxical oxidative activation of the Nrf2 (NF-E2-related factor 2) signaling pathway, which maintains protective oxidoreductases and their nucleophilic substrates. This maintenance of “nucleophilic tone,” by a mechanism that can be called “para-hormesis,” provides a means for regulating physiological nontoxic concentrations of the nonradical oxidant electrophiles that boost antioxidant enzymes. This same mechanism is responsible for maintaining damage removal and repair systems (for proteins, lipids, and DNA), at the optimal levels consistent with good health.[15]

Adaptogenic Plants to the Rescue

The primary reason that I love working with adaptogenic botanicals is that they are aligned with the principal of Nourishing the Roots, which is fundamental to Mederi Medicine. Living organisms are, and need to be, continuously exposed to harmful chemical, pathogenic (viral), physical and biological stimuli that challenge cellular, tissue, organ, and organismal homeostasis. This is what creates strength and resiliency of the organism.

According to the concept of milieu intérieur proposed by Claude Bernard, ‘disease’ is a permanent alteration of homeostasis.[16]  One important way of understanding the health benefits of adaptogenic herbs is that they expand the dynamic range of equilibrium in which the organism operates.  When a system operates in a state of ‘dynamic equilibrium,’ there is a level of tension between opposing forces that is healthy, intentional, and designed to achieve maximum results.[17] It is most often when an organism is pushed outside of this range that disease can do harm.

Although more than 100 medicinal plants have been reported to have adaptogenic activity, only a few are considered to be primary adaptogens, which is the highest category of botanicals. These plants are those that nourish the organism and provide support for adapting to the stressors of life. The following are a few well-researched primary adaptogens, and are among my favorites:

  • Eleutherococcus senticosus
  • Panax ginseng spp.
  • Rhodiola rosea
  • Schisandra chinensis
  • Withania somnifera
  • Glycyrrhiza spp. (in small amounts within a formula, acts to harmonize)

Adopting a phased immunophysiological approach to viral infection, adaptogens exert multitarget effects on the neuroendocrine-immune system by triggering adaptive stress responses, and have a place in prevention, infection, escalating inflammation and recovery.[18]

Schematic diagram of various phases of immune and inflammatory responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection and stages of COVID-19 progression with and without considering potential effects of adaptogenic plants on prevention, infection, inflammation, and recovery phases of viral infection.[19]

Instead of relying only on vaccinations and pharmaceutical medicines, I believe that to be healthy in our world today, we should consider adaptogens as a primary tool for nourishing the roots of the ‘Life-Force’  and strengthening our innate immunity and adaptability.

Adaptogens have the potential to mitigate stress and can assist in healthy aging by enhancing the ‘whole.’ This means working in a non-specific way through supporting the complex relationships of interconnected networks.[20]  Specific combinations of natural compounds (or herbal extracts) synergistically enhance multiple elements of molecular networks.[21] This is beneficial for everyone, but is especially important for elderly people to support health maintenance, improve quality of life, and even increase longevity—all with the goal of thriving.


[1] Sara Hägg et al. Age, frailty and comorbidity as prognostic factors for short-term outcomes in patients with COVID-19 in geriatric care, Journal of the American Medical Directors Association (2020). DOI: 10.1016/j.jamda.2020.08.014

[2] Fioranelli M, Sepehri A, Roccia MG, Linda C, Rossi C, Dawodo A, Vojvodic P, Lotti J, Barygina V, Vojvodic A, Wollina U, Tirant M, Van TN, Lotti T. Clinical Applications of System Regulation Medicine. Open Access Maced J Med Sci. 2019 Sep 14;7(18):3053-3060. doi: 10.3889/oamjms.2019.775. PMID: 31850122; PMCID: PMC6910802.

[3] Patone, M., Mei, X.W., Handunnetthi, L. et al. Risks of myocarditis, pericarditis, and cardiac arrhythmias associated with COVID-19 vaccination or SARS-CoV-2 infection. Nat Med 28, 410–422 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-021-01630-0

[4] Sun, C.L.F., Jaffe, E. & Levi, R. Increased emergency cardiovascular events among under-40 population in Israel during vaccine rollout and third COVID-19 wave. Sci Rep 12, 6978 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-10928-z;

[5] JENNIFER MARGULIS AND JOE WANG, MAY 4, 2022, EPOCH TIMES, https://www.theepochtimes.com/new-peer-reviewed-study-covid-19-vaccines-increase-risk-of-cardiac-arrest-in-young-people_4445569.html

[6] Heba N. Altarawneh, M.D., Hiam Chemaitelly, Ph.D., Houssein H. Ayoub, Ph.D.,  Patrick Tang, M.D., Ph.D., Mohammad R. Hasan, Ph.D., Hadi M. Yassine, Ph.D., Hebah A. Al-Khatib, Ph.D.,  Maria K. Smatti, M.Sc., Peter Coyle, M.D., Zaina Al-Kanaani, Ph.D., Einas Al-Kuwari, M.D., Andrew Jeremijenko, M.D., et al. Effects of Previous Infection and Vaccination on Symptomatic Omicron Infections, New England Journal of Medicine, June 15, 2022, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2203965

[7] Heba N. Altarawneh, M.D., Hiam Chemaitelly, Ph.D., Houssein H. Ayoub, Ph.D.,  Patrick Tang, M.D., Ph.D., Mohammad R. Hasan, Ph.D., Hadi M. Yassine, Ph.D., Hebah A. Al-Khatib, Ph.D.,  Maria K. Smatti, M.Sc., Peter Coyle, M.D., Zaina Al-Kanaani, Ph.D., Einas Al-Kuwari, M.D., Andrew Jeremijenko, M.D., et al. Effects of Previous Infection and Vaccination on Symptomatic Omicron Infections, New England Journal of Medicine, June 15, 2022
DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2203965

[8] Gat I, Kedem A, Dviri M, Umanski A, Levi M, Hourvitz A, Baum M. Covid-19 vaccination BNT162b2 temporarily impairs semen concentration and total motile count among semen donors. Andrology. 2022 Jun 17. doi: 10.1111/andr.13209; Epoch Times, June 22, 2022, https://www.theepochtimes.com/pfizer-covid-19-vaccine-impacts-semen-study_4548331.html?utm_source=Goodevening&utm_campaign=gv-2022-06-21&utm_medium=email&est=hdyyi4ATadjQ4n1L%2FiONubF5SMjN52R4n%2FIsXI%2FnH2Ov02lKbCSSRQhn3c2YEqouDasd5Bzz1w%3D%3D

[9] Pfizer reports additional data on Paxlovid™ supporting upcoming New Drug Application submission to US FDA. News release. Pfizer Inc. June 14, 2022. Accessed June 15, 2022. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20220613005755/en/Pfizer-Reports-Additional-Data-on-PAXLOVID%E2%84%A2-Supporting-Upcoming-New-Drug-Application-Submission-to-U.S.-FDA

[10] Absolute Risk vs. Relative Risk: What’s the difference?, Food Facts for Healthy Choices, March 1st, 2017, https://www.eufic.org/en/understanding-science/article/absolute-vs.-relative-risk-infographic downloaded 8-2-2022

[11] https://emergency.cdc.gov/han/2022/han00467.asp

[12] PUBLISHED FRI, JUN 10 20221:16 AM EDTUPDATED MON, JUN 13 20224:39 AM EDT, https://www.cnbc.com/2022/06/10/flu-hepatitis-monkeypox-diseases-suppressed-during-covid-are-back.html

[13] Aoshi T, Koyama S, Kobiyama K, Akira S, Ishii KJ. Innate and adaptive immune responses to viral infection and vaccination. Curr Opin Virol. 2011 Oct;1(4):226-32. doi: 10.1016/j.coviro.2011.07.002. Epub 2011 Jul 30.

[14] Ursini F, Maiorino M, Forman HJ. Redox homeostasis: The Golden Mean of healthy living. Redox Biol. 2016 Aug;8:205-15. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2016.01.010. Epub 2016 Jan 19.

[15] Forman HJ, Davies KJ, Ursini F. How do nutritional antioxidants really work: nucleophilic tone and para-hormesis versus free radical scavenging in vivo. Free Radic Biol Med. 2014 Jan;66:24-35. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2013.05.045. Epub 2013 Jun 6. Erratum in: Free Radic Biol Med. 2014 Sep;74:307. 

[16] Bernard C. Introduction à l’étude de la médecine expérimentale (Paris 1865); English translation. Macmillan & Co., Ltd; 1927. reprinted in 1949.

[17] James McKinlay, Vicki Williamson, Systems thinking simplified – four primary concepts, in The Art of People Management in Libraries, 2010, https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/computer-science/dynamic-equilibrium

[18] Yanuck,S.F.P.;Messier,H.J.;Fitzgerald,K.N.EvidenceSupportingaPhasedImmuno-physiologicalApproach to COVID-19 from Prevention through Recovery. Integr. Med. 2020, 19, 8–35.

[19] Panossian, Alexander, and Thomas Brendler. “The Role of Adaptogens in Prophylaxis and Treatment of Viral Respiratory Infections.” Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 13,9 236. 8 Sep. 2020, doi:10.3390/ph13090236

[20] Panossian, Alexander, and Georg Wikman. “Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress-Protective Activity.” Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 3,1 188-224. 19 Jan. 2010, doi:10.3390/ph3010188

[21] Efferth, T.; Koch, E. Complex Interactions between Phytochemicals. The Multi-Target Therapeutic Concept  of Phytotherapy. Curr. Drug Targets 2011, 12, 122–132.

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Adaptogens, Bioregulatory Systems Medicine and Network Pharmacology

Have you ever wondered how life on Earth has managed to survive in the midst of volcanos, ice ages and asteroids? The answer is adaptation. Humans are remarkably adaptable. We’ve been able to adjust to almost any condition on the planet, while continuing to thrive as a civilization.

Think about this:

  • No other species lives in such a variety of places, including the Arctic, in deserts, in jungles, at sea, or in barren wastelands.
  • No other species has the ability to eat and digest such a wide variety of foods.
  • No other species is able to reconstruct their living environment to the degree that humans do.

Charles Darwin said it well: “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent of the species that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.

Hormesis: The Key to Adaptation

The biological phenomenon of this adaptogenic quality of life is called “hormesis.” The principal pillars of my approach to health are to enhance adaptation, energy transfer efficiency, protection, and reproduction (hormonal health). Perhaps the most important of these is adaptation, but really, they are all interconnected. Everything is networked. Thus, the best approach to health is to support the networks of the body as a whole, to enhance robustness and our ability to auto-regulate and auto-organize at the molecular, cellular, and organ system levels. 

This is why adaptogenic formulas are the first step in building and enhancing robust health, and the most important supplemental support you can provide to your body. Every other supplement you take should be secondary to adaptogenic formulations.

Our approach to health and healing is not a fixed line, but a circle that is alive and in constant motion. It is not functional, but rather responsive, so although everything in our body has a function, ultimately what makes us alive and human is how our bodies respond.  Response implies a life-force that activates and regulates all components of energy transfer. This life-force is capable of listening to the “orchestra” (ie; network) and providing direction while constantly adapting. To function is robotic and programmed, while response is connected to wisdom and is alive. 

Medicine today continues to view the body in a fragmented way, including body systems, parts, genes, and microbiomes. Very few people, particularly in the medical profession, see the whole, but we have complex diseases that are characterized as polygenic and multifactorial. We are therefore best served with medicines—specifically plant medicines—that are pleotrophic, gentle, nourishing, strengthening, and assist in normalizing, or auto-regulating.

Thinking Outside the Current Medical Model

Herbal formulations contain multiple components that dock to multiple target sites and synergistically exert beneficial effects throughout a wide range of pathways. Through many years of clinical practice, I’ve realized that it is neither possible or appropriate to try and fit herbal medicine into or alongside the current conventional model. That is why I developed the Mederi Care model as a new way of thinking and combining various approaches that is inclusive of both holistic and allopathic medicine. The soul of this approach, however, is rooted in botanical medicine, combined with nutritional supplementation, food as medicine, life-style modifications, and spiritual care. Once this foundation is in place, then it is appropriate to evaluate if more specific, “heroic” (ie; pharmaceutical) medicine is needed, and if so, where it fits within the whole systems, unitive approach.

The molecular pathways that govern human disease consist of molecular circuits that coalesce into complex, overlapping networks. These network pathways are presumably regulated in a coordinated fashion, but such regulation has been difficult to decipher using only reductionistic principles. The emerging paradigm of “network medicine” proposes to utilize insights garnered from network topology (ie; the static position of molecules in relation to their neighbors) as well as network dynamics (ie; the unique flux of information through the network) to understand better the pathogenic behavior of complex molecular interconnections that traditional methods fail to recognize.[1]

Bioregulatory Systems Medicine

Bioregulatory Systems Medicine (BrSM) is a comprehensive, innovative approach in medicine. It embraces the complexity of diseases by supporting the general idea of autoregulation and addressing underlying dysregulating biological networks.

The objective of Bioregulatory Systems within the Mederi Care approach is to improve patient outcomes by supporting a patient’s autoregulatory capacity. This is accomplished through the Mederi Care toolboxes, specifically botanical and nutritional medicine, which is applied in a gentle, synergistic way. Botanical and nutritional medicine practiced within Mederi Care is primarily directed at enhancement of ‘Self-regulating Internal Community Networks,’ supporting and even directing, while allowing the freedom to improvise.

The poet and philosopher Mark Nepo says: “To be the best we can be, we have to meet the outer world with our inner world. I’ve always believed in the amazing resilience of the human spirit.” Nepo believed that life has been made just hard enough that we need one another. Through experiences of great suffering and great love, we are reduced to what is essential.

The most effective way to reduce the possibility of poor health and disease is to keep the root system healthy and robust. Adaptogenic herbs in combination have a synergistic and pleotropic effect.

Synergism Enhances the Actions of Plant Medicines

Synergistic plant medicines contain bioregulatory properties. Their actions are determined by both chemistry and synergy, as their biological activity often results from the additive or synergistic effects of their components.

Synergy means behavior of whole systems unpredicted by the behavior of their parts.”

― Buckminster Fuller

These synergistic strategies can be much more comprehensive and broader in their scope of effects than single-component drugs[2]. This concept is not new to science. Synergy is an ubiquitous phenomenon in nature, and is widely used in numerous scientific disciplines, including thermodynamics, biophysics, biochemistry, molecular biology, and neurobiology.[3]

Herbal medicines are often combinations of botanical extracts that have additive or synergistic effects.  For example, combining the four herbal (S. baicalensis, D. morifolium, G. uralensis and R. rubescens) extracts significantly enhanced their activity compared with extracts alone in a prostate cancer model.[4]

It is important not to confuse synergistic effect with additive effect. Synergy occurs when two or more drugs/compounds are combined to produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual agents while an additive effect is an add up of individual effects where each individual agent is not affecting the other (no interactions).[5]

The synergy of biological effects of plants in medicine is well documented, and encompasses synergistic multitarget effects, physicochemical effects based on improved solubility, antagonization of resistance mechanisms, and elimination or neutralization of toxic substances.[6] As such, multi-combination and/or multi-system low dose medications, preferably of natural origin, are well suited for the bioregulatory medical approach and offer the potential for a graded response to treatment.[7]

Generally speaking, herbal and nutritional medicine within this model exhibits four fundamental advantages of a multicomponent, combinatorial strategy over a single-component strategy:

1. Synergistic effects target a wider range of information flow in disease-related biological networks;

2. Modest modulation allows for more efficient control of biological networks;

3. Low concentrations ensure higher safety of the whole combination;

4. Drug resistance is much less probable.[8]

According to Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), every living thing is sustained by the balance of two opposing forces of energy, Yin and Yang. Together they make up Qi (pronounced ‘chee’), which is the vital energy that flows in, through and around the body.

Network Pharmacology: A New Way of Understanding Herbal Formulations

Network pharmacology stems from several pioneering works. The holistic theory and practice of TCM, as well as other herbal medicine systems, play a key role in the origin and rapid development of network pharmacology. The original hypothesis referring to the biological associations between TCM syndromes, herbal formula, and molecular networks was proposed in 1999 and 2002.[9]

Network pharmacology has been used to study multiple protein/gene target diseases. It describes the relationship between biological systems, drugs, and diseases from the perspective of the network. This is consistent with the holistic pattern differentiation theory of TCM[10] as well as Mederi medicine.

Mitochondrial Network Medicine

The mitochondrial network is constantly in a dynamic and regulated balance of fusion and fission processes, which is known as mitochondrial dynamics. Mitochondria make physical contact with almost every other membrane in the cell, thus impacting all cellular functions.[11] 

“Qi,” as noted above, describes energy-dependent body functions. This can broadly be correlated with mitochondria-energy dynamics.


The term adaptogen was first proposed in 1940 by a scientist from the USSR. Lazarev described Schisandra chinensis and other herbs as plant-derived adaptogens that non-specifically enhance human physiology.[13]

Adaptogens are the material basis of the bodily response to the external environment and can act on the immune system and the stress response system, as shown below.

The non-specific response mode, especially the hormone response mode, occurs when homeostasis is not the driving force.[14]

Schisandra Fortifies Mitochondrial (Qi) Antioxidant Status


Schisandra berry or Wu-Wei-Zi, meaning the “the fruit of five tastes” in Chinese, is a commonly used herb in TCM. Ancient Chinese herbalists noted the berry’s beneficial effect on the “Qi” of the five visceral organs.  Schisandra is one of the main researched primary adaptogens that I use in adaptogenic formulations.  It is perhaps my favorite adaptogen, but I believe combination formulas have many advantages over single herbs.

Schisandra berry is well-known for it’s “Qi-invigorating” properties. The herb has been shown to fortify mitochondrial antioxidant status, thereby offering the body generalized protection against noxious challenges, both of internal and external origin. Given the indispensable role of the mitochondrion in generating cellular energy, the linking of Schisandra chinensis berry extract (SCBE) to the safeguarding of mitochondrial function provides a biochemical explanation for its “Qi-invigorating” action.[15]

SCBE is a potent adaptogen, and has been shown to improve disease and stress tolerance, while increasing energy, endurance, and physical performance.

SCBE is helpful in the treatment of neurological, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal disorders. It has been shown to decrease fatigue, relieve insomnia, reduce obesity, and provide protection from mitochondrial dysfunction. SCBE stimulates immunity, acts as a tonic, and exerts antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anticancer, anti-aging, anti- diabetic, and liver- and skin-protecting activities.

Effects of Schisandra chinensis fruit extracts and their bioactive compounds in mitochondria.


SCBE has been shown to restore impaired mitochondrial function, acting as a mitoprotective agent. Studies show that schisandrin, the identified active ingredient in SCBE, restored cytochrome c oxidase activity, and protected the opening of mitochondrial permeability transition. Furthermore, schisandrin improved ATP production, citrate synthase activity, and the process of mitochondrial fusion and fission.[17]

Recent studies investigating the various active compounds within schisandra identified a total of 78 compounds consisting of 13 prototype lignans and 65 metabolites (including isomers).[18]

Combining schisandra extract with other adaptogens and tonic herbs provides hundreds to thousands of active compounds swimming together, bathing the cells and molecules throughout the body. Complex formulas no longer act like the single herb, but in an entirely new way. Think of an orchestra, and perhaps what a single member playing an instrument might sound like. Then consider the entire orchestra, and all of the instruments working in harmony. As a jazz musician and an herbalist with an interest in network pharmacology, this is a perfect analogy for the way that herbs work together when combined in appropriate formulations.

On Pubmed alone, there are now 30 articles illustrating the increasing interest in network pharmacology and traditional herbal medicine.[19] Understanding network pharmacology and Bioregulatory Systems Medicineis the foundation of Mederi Care. I am grateful that this comprehensive, harmonious system of healing is gaining the recognition it deserves.


[1] Chan SY, Loscalzo J. The emerging paradigm of network medicine in the study of human disease. Circ Res. 2012 Jul 20;111(3):359-74. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.111.258541. PMID: 22821909; PMCID: PMC3425394

[2] Lila MA. 2007. From beans to berries and beyond: Teamwork between plant chemicals for protection of optimal human health. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci.1114:372–80

[3] Corning PA. 1998. “The synergism hypothesis”: On the concept of synergy and its role in the evolution of complex systems. J. Soc. Evol. Syst.21(2):133–72

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Health Optimization and Adaptogens

Health Optimization and Adaptogens – An Effective Strategy Against Pathogens

In general, I am astonished by how little attention is placed on the value and importance of good health in our society. In the face of the current pandemic, with underlying co-morbidities present in an estimated 60% of the population, increasing the risk of death from complications, there is an even greater urgency to educate our communities and urge our citizens to adopt the key components to optimal health. For example, there is now a clear association between diabetes and increased mortality and severity in COVID-19 pneumonia, and ocular symptoms of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‐CoV‐2).[1] These and many other underlying conditions can be successfully managed by applying the fundamental building blocks to optimal health and wellness, which include nutrition, botanical medicine, lifestyle, and diet. The more robust our health at the molecular, cellular, and organ system levels, the better equipped we are to resist and recover from disease.

Continue reading “Health Optimization and Adaptogens”

Whose Dietary Supplements Can You Trust and Why?

For more than four decades I’ve been involved in the dietary supplement business, from my humble beginnings working in a natural foods store to creating my own line of the highest quality supplements available on the market.

It has been a long, challenging, and educational road. And I understand—from an insider’s viewpoint—just how difficult it is to know whom you can trust when it comes to choosing the most effective dietary supplements.

Continue reading “Whose Dietary Supplements Can You Trust and Why?”

Neuroplasticity, Brain Health, Mood and ‘Smarty Plants’

Our brains have the remarkable capacity to adapt and change throughout our lives. This ability to form and reorganize neural pathways in response to learning, experience, injury, disease, or aging is called neuroplasticity.

“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”

~ Dr. Martin Luther King

Neuroplasticity helps the brain process sensory input along with creating suitable adaptive responses to stimuli. Neurons must have purpose to survive, and those with weak or ineffective connections are pruned. Through a variety of structural and molecular mechanisms, neurons compensate for injury or disease.

Continue reading “Neuroplasticity, Brain Health, Mood and ‘Smarty Plants’”

Enhancing Cellular Defense Mechanisms with Adaptogens

Enhancing Cellular Defense Mechanisms with Adaptogens

Aging is associated with a decrease in adaptive abilities along with increased vulnerability to stress. At the same time, aging is a complex process involving a persistent activation of some stress response systems, often involving transcriptional reprogramming, and the activation of vitagenes, which can be consider a ‘geroprotective’ adaptation.13   Environmental stressors induce specific and predictable epigenetic changes that can eventually result in an adaptive response to the stimulus. It seems likely that mild stress-induced hormetic response involves mechanisms similar to those that underlie developmental epigenetic adaptations.

The illustration below shows the involvement of hormesis in the epigenetic processes that determine age-related disorders and longevity.14


Dose–response curve depicting the quantitative features of hormesis

Hormesis is a biological phenomenon whereby a beneficial effect (improved health, stress tolerance, growth or longevity) results from exposure to low doses of an agent that is otherwise toxic or lethal when given at higher doses. Continue reading “Enhancing Cellular Defense Mechanisms with Adaptogens”