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How Jim Coover Brought Adaptogens to Isagenix

One of the pillars behind many great Isagenix nutritional products are adaptogens. Originating from the Greek word “adapto,” the term adaptogen is applied to plants that produce special substances, allowing them to evolve under significant conditions of environmental stress. Some adaptogens are found to have properties that also benefit humans when used daily.

Former Soviet Union research scientists Nicolai Lazarev and Israel Brekhman were the first to study adaptogens. Their research found that adaptogens work by normalizing the body’s functions under stress, and daily consumption improves mental and physical performance while reducing fatigue (1, 2).

It’s because of this evidence that Isagenix includes adaptogens in many of the company’s products. Ashwagandha, eleuthero root, rhodiola, wolfberry, and schisandra are just several adaptogens found in products like Ionix® Supreme, e+™, Cleanse for Life®, and IsaGenesis®.

Isagenix Owner and Chairman of the Board Jim Coover is personally responsible for bringing adaptogens to Isagenix.

Here he tells his personal story and education of these plant compounds through his meetings with Brekhman:

“Back in 1990, I was working with some of the pioneers of the health and fitness industry. We were very interested in learning about the training techniques used to boost the performance of elite Soviet athletes. Our quest led us to discussions with former Soviets. We learned that the Soviets were quite advanced in restoration and were using substances called adaptogens to help the body recover from intense exercise. As we continued to learn about adaptogens, we learned there was one man known as the ‘Father of Adaptogens,’ Dr. Israel Brekhman.

“Brekhman was a pharmacologist during World War II, and his role was to help keep soldiers awake while they were in the trenches. They were using drugs to keep the soldiers awake, but Brekhman noticed the substances were taking a significant toll on the health of the soldiers. He vowed that when the war was over, he would dedicate his life to finding natural substances that could enhance performance without harming the human body.

“We were able to contact Brekhman, but he had to be very careful when revealing his body of work. He was still employed by the Soviet government and they had a clamp on this technology. Interestingly, Brekhman said it was his dream to bring adaptogens to the mass public instead of just elite athletes and the space program. But, of course, the government was trying to keep these as their own state secret.

“It was during these initial conversations in December 1990 when the former Soviet Union collapsed. I don’t know if it was fate or destiny, but discussions that previously felt impossible suddenly felt attainable. We were going to bring adaptogens to the Western world. I was one of the first people to travel to Vladivostok, a closed-off city where military and submarine bases forbad Westerners to visit. But, with this opportunity, I went with the intent of learning from Brekhman, meeting some of his scientists, and bringing this technology to the rest of the world. Thankfully, I was able to accomplish that.”

In 2002, when Jim and Kathy Coover founded Isagenix with John W. Anderson, Jim Coover knew he wanted adaptogens to play a part in the products.

“John was very familiar with adaptogens. In fact, he was already very involved with adaptogenic substances,” Jim Coover recalled. “Soon thereafter, we talked about developing an adaptogenic tonic that could be used daily. We felt what was missing in most peoples’ regimens and strategies was the presence of adaptogenic substances and their unique ability to change the way the body responds to stress.”

The rest is history. By traveling to Russia, meeting with Brekhman, and learning about the potential of adaptogens, Jim went on to help turn Brekhman’s dream of adaptogens for the masses into reality.

Almost 30 years after learning about adaptogens, Jim continues to use them daily. When asked which adaptogen-rich Isagenix product is his favorite, his answer is a sentiment shared by many, “I can’t get along without all of them!”


  1. Panossian A, Wikman G. Evidence-based efficacy of adaptogens in fatigue, and molecular mechanisms related to their stress-protective activity. Curr Clin Pharmacol. 2009;4(3):198-219.
  2. Panossian A, Wikman G. Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress-Protective Activity. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2010;3(1):188-224.

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