Sally James, N.D (B. Comp Medicine)
Lets cut straight to the chase shall we and explore 5 research backed claims in favour of using Rhodiola rosea.
1. Enhanced Mood and Stress Resilience
You can’t deny that we all require support in this area as most of us continue to burn the candle at both ends. Rhodiola has long been known as an adaptogen, a natural substance that increases your body’s resistance to stress in non-specific ways. Consuming adaptogens during stressful times is thought to help you handle stressful situations better, to be more responsive and less reactive.
The adaptogenic, cardiopulmonary protective, and central nervous system activities of Rhodiola rosea have been attributed primarily to its ability to influence levels and activity of monoamines and opioid peptides such as beta-endorphins, noradrenaline, dopamine and serotonin in the Hypothalamus (master computer system in the brain that regulates hormones and stress responses). It also aids to provide the brain with a higher level of blood transportation of the precursors for neurotransmitters which are the family of feel good hormones that boost our mood and make us feel like we can meet our day head on with positivity and a strong mind set.
The combined effect of these on the regulation of stress hormones and reduction of stress results in feelings of general health and wellbeing for individuals regardless of how deep the stress is running in your life. In summary, it is undoubtedly the herb of choice if you want to nail those personal achievements, tick of some to do lists and finish the day on a high without emotional meltdowns and physical breakdowns.
2. Potent Adaptogen
Adaptogen is an interesting word being circulated in not only the health industry but also the life coaching and fitness industry and with good reason. So what does it mean? The definition of an adaptogen is that it enhances resilience to stressors. In other words, an adaptogen provides a stress protective effect on the nervous system to maintain homeostasis (balance, health) which is a constant moving target.
Rhodiola has the ability to do this is via its action action associated with the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis (commonly called the HPA axis) and the regulation of key mediators of the stress response. These reactions assist us in adapting to change due to stress or weather and increase our resistance to disease. An adaptogen exhibits an organ specific effect by targeting the nervous system and glandular system to maintain a homeostatic balance via feedback systems. Without this delicate hormone dance between the brain and these organs/ glands good health is diminished and we see the effects of stress and ageing faster on the body.
3. Brain Health
Rhodiola protects the brain by inhibiting the enzymatic decline of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, due to excessive stress hormone release. Studies indicate that the herb can enhance the transport of serotonin’s precursors into the brain increasing overall brain serotonin levels by up to 30%.
Rhodiola is a powerful and potentially protective herb to address the declining mental ability as we age combined with increased stress and the appearance of symptoms such as brain fog, confusion, reduced alertness, memory issues and declining concentration levels and poor cognitive function. We have learnt that the brain is a muscle and it requires constant activity to maintain its optimal functioning and we can obtain better brain health through problem solving activities. How about the super combo of a juggling combined with the atom bomb of brain explosion in the form of Rhodiola to regain your competitive edge.
4. Exercise Recovery and Fights Fatigue
Studies have found that Rhodiola may help strengthen the body’s response to physical stressors like exercise and psychological stressors such as fatigue and depression. A number of studies have shown that the herb increased physical work capacity and dramatically shortened the recovery time between bouts of high-intensity exercise in performance athletes.
Both stamina and endurance are vastly improved by increasing your red blood cell count (RBC), this means that if you want to run faster, absorb more information when studying or maintain cardiovascular health you need a healthy pool of RBC to draw from. Red blood cells are the transportation mechanism that carries oxygen to your muscles and surrounding cells, more RBC equals more oxygen to the cells. Rhodiola fits the bill here as a natural remedy to reduce recovery time from extensive exercise or extreme physical activity. With its capability of reducing the stress of high altitude sporting performances, it is no wonder that certain nations such as Russia have thoroughly researched the effects of Rhodiola, in order to improve Olympic performances, mountain climbing ability and even the mental health of Astronauts.
Research also indicates great utility in asthenic conditions (decline in work performance, sleep difficulties, poor appetite, irritability, hypertension, headaches, and fatigue) developing subsequent to intense physical or intellectual strain. Who needs performance enhancing drugs when a healthy dose of pranayama combined with Rhodiola will have you bouncing off the walls and at your optimal fitness peak when training.
5. Reduction of Oxidative Stress
As an antioxidant, Rhodiola may help protect the nervous system from oxidative damage by the damaging action of free radicals which are found in abundance in our immediate environment. Stress interferes with memory functions and, over time, causes deterioration in our memory systems. In addition to enhancing cognitive functions, learning, and memory by stimulating neuronal systems, Rhodiola may exert positive effects on memory and cognition by improving resistance to physical and emotional stress. Thus, the dual action of cognitive stimulation and emotional calming creates benefits for both immediate cognitive and memory performance and for the long-term preservation of brain functions and a reduction in the production of oxidative stress.
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