Effects of heavy physical exercise and adaptogens on nitric oxide content in human saliva

Phytomedicine. 1999 Mar;6(1):17-26. doi: 10.1016/S0944-7113(99)80030-0.


Since heavy physical exercise increases the content of nitric oxide and cortisol in blood and saliva, standardized extracts of the adaptogen herbal drugs Schizandra chinensis and Bryonia alba roots were applied to several groups of athletes in a placebo controlled double blind study. In the beginning of a test with athletes Schizandra chinensis and Bryonia alba extracts increased the concentration of NO and cortisol in blood plasma and saliva similar to athletes with heavy physical exercise. These results correlate with an increased physical performance in athletes taking adaptogens versus athletes taking placebo. In contrast after treatment with the adaptogen heavy physical exercise does not increase salivary NO and cortisol in athletes, whereas athletes treated with placebo heavy physical exercise increased salivary NO. These results show that the salivary NO test can be used both for evaluation of physical loading and stress protective effect of an adaptogen.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Boxing / physiology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism
  • Male
  • Nitric Oxide / chemistry
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Roots / chemistry
  • Plants, Medicinal / chemistry*
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Saliva / metabolism*
  • Weight Lifting / physiology
  • Wrestling / physiology


  • Plant Extracts
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Hydrocortisone