The son of a tailor, I. I. Brekhman won a coveted place at the Naval Medical Academy of the U.S.S.R. in Leningrad, specializing in Pharmacology. Upon his graduation as a medical doctor in 1945, he was sent by the Navy to the Far East of Russia, where he spent the rest of his life. During his remarkable 45 years of research, Dr. Brekhman became the world authority on adaptogens. He is best known in the West for this pioneering work, in fact, he helped to popularize the term. His particular focus was Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) and especially "Siberian" ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus).
One cannot review the scientific literature on Eleutherococus without coming across many of Brekhman's articles on this tonic herb. His first article on Eleutherococcus in a scientific journal, "A New Medicinal Plant of the Family of Araliaceae -- The Spiny Eleutherococcus" (1960), had a tremendous impact not only on the scientific community, but also on the general public. Only two years after Brekhman's first published work, the Eleutherococcus extract was approved by the Pharmacological Committee of the U.S.S.R. Ministry of Health for clinical use as a "stimulant."
For his discoveries and work developing natural plant substances, Dr. Brekhman held nearly 40 patents, including 21 international patents. He published 22 monographs and hundreds of scientific articles and books all over the world. Several books and journals on adaptogens, published in the United States, Japan, and Sweden, were dedicated to Dr. Brekhman and his landmark work.
In honor of his scientific achievements and outstanding contributions, Dr. Brekhman received the Order of Lenin, the highest award possible in the former Soviet Union. His other awards include the Lenin Medal for Valiant Work, and the Certificate of Honor from the Russian parliament.
As the founder and permanent director of the Committee for the Study of Far East Medicinal Plants, Dr. Brekhman also headed the Department for Regulation of Biological Processes at the Pacific Oceanographic Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He served on the board of the Russian Academy of Technological Sciences and the International Organization of Adaptive Medicine in Frankfurt, Germany, and was an advisor to the Annual Dead Sea Conferences on Well-being.
Dr. Brekhman organized and led three international symposiums on adaptogens in Hamburg, Moscow, and Khabarovsk. He also participated in many international congresses and conferences (London, Tokyo, Prague, St. Petersburg). He served on various international committees and was invited to lecture at the Universities of London, Stockholm, Oslo, and Copenhagen. (Rob McCaleb's interview with Dr. Brekhman appears in HerbalGram #16, pp. 11-12.)
Article copyright American Botanical Council.
By B. Johnston