Thursday, October 9th 2003
Between 1725 and 1960, various medicinal applications of Rhodiola rosea or Arctic Root appeared in the scientific literature of Sweden, Norway, France, Germany, the Soviet Union and Iceland. Since 1960, more than 180 studies have been published.
Traditionally Rhodiola rosea was used to increase physical endurance, work productivity, longevity, resistance to high altitude sickness and to treat fatigue, depression, anaemia, impotence, gastrointestinal ailments, infections and nervous system disorders. In mountain villages of Siberia, a bouquet of roots is still given to couples prior to marriage to enhance fertility and assure the birth of healthy children.
Rhodiola rosea or Arctic root, a highly prized herb from the polar arctic region is ready to make its mark.
Weight Control Without Stress
If there is a perfect weight loss/stress relieving herb Rhodiola could be it. Not only does it have the ability to help lift the stress that causes your body to crave foods of comfort and store more fat. It also has the power to assist you to control your weight.
Why is Rhodiola Called an Adaptogen?
Rhodiola rosea has been categorized as an "adaptogen" by Russian researchers due to its observed ability to increase resistance (adaptation) to a variety of chemical, biological, and physical stressors. Origination of the term adaptogen has been dated to 1947 and credited to a Russian scientist, Lazarev.
To successfully combat stress and stressful situations, adaptation is required. As an example, a well-trained athlete can participate in an event that would induce a large stress response in a sedentary person, and yet the athlete will be relatively unaffected. This is a result of adaptation that has occurred during the athlete's training process. If athletes are exposed to stressors they were not trained for, hormonal reactions characteristic of a stress response would be expected.
Who Should Use Rhodiola?
Anyone who is subject to the "blues", depression or anxiety. Anyone who must increase mental alertness. All athletes or those involved with sports activities. All who wish to increase their sexual stamina. Those seeking a safe, effective herbal supplement for weight management.
Clinically Proven to Fight Obesity & Depression.
In a placebo controlled study involving 130 overweight patients over 90 days at the Georgian State Hospital, of those who consumed Rhodiola rosea, 92% lost a remarkable average of 9 kg while a placebo group on the same diet lost just 3 kg. This difference is presumably due to Rhodiola's ability to activate adipose lipase, a key enzyme required to burn the body's fat stores.
Combat Depression and Anxiety.
In a study of 128 patients aged 17-55 years, Rhodiola alleviated fatigue, irritability, distractibility, headache, weakness and other vegetative symptoms in 64% of cases. Improvement was assessed by psychological testing and work productivity. (Proceedings Modern problems in psycho-pharmacology. Russia: Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences: 1970) It has been used with a variety of prescription antidepressants with no apparent problems.
What Else Does Rhodiola Do?
Reverse Emotional Stress
Characterized by sluggishness, low motivation, muscle weakness, chronic fatigue, laboured breathing, giddiness, chest pain, palpitations, excessive sleeping and brain cloud. It can help increase attention span, memory and mental performance.
Increase the Body's Ability to Handle Stress of all Kinds
This is partly by calming the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system and relaxing the parasympathetic system. Subjects given Rhodiola showed increased levels of beta-endorphin (the stress relieving, feel-good, analgesic peptide) in the brain.
Enhance Sexual Potency
In a test of 35 men with weak erections and/or premature ejaculations, substantial improvement occurred in 26 of the 35. Seminal fluid also showed an increase in the production of sex hormones.
Protect Against Heart Attacks
Stress causes adrenalin release which over time can cause heart muscle damage found in 86% of heart attack victims. Rhodiola decreases the amount of cortisol and adrenalin released during stress which protects the heart.
Rhodiola also lowers serum fats and cholesterol while increasing the resistance of blood vessels to cholesterol plaques. It also protects against arrhythmias (abnormal heart beats) by potentiating endorphins (natural opiates that regulate heart beat.)
Improve Endurance Levels
Rhodiola is excellent for athletes and body builders. A study of 52 individuals of all ages showed a 12% increase in the duration of physical performance. When initially fatigued and asked to perform the test, it increased to 28%! Rhodiola increases muscular ATP and creatine levels. It can shorten the recovery period after prolonged muscular workouts. It activates lipase in long distance runners and swimmers.
Increase Protein Metabolism
It is valuable for body builders. Researchers considered the main ingredient in Rhodiola the equivalent of anabolic steroids without the side-effects. Muscle protein and glutamic acid (from L-Glutamine) are enhanced by Rhodiola. It also increases haemoglobin and red blood cell levels while favourably changing the muscle to fat ratio of the body. It helps maintain energy levels and can increase strength and mobility.
Rhodiola is not recommended in excited states. It should not be used in individuals with bipolar disorder who are vulnerable to becoming manic when given antidepressants.
Reproduced unabridged from the October - December 2003 issue of Health and Herbal News, with the kind permission of Health and Herbs International Ltd.
Footnote from Ideal Health:
The following products are all useful for Mood and Weight Control:
Cell Food Weight Management
IsoWhey Complete Double Choc
Ultra Serotonin Support 5HTP 120mg
Super African Mango
Related health information can be found here:
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If you need help or advice, you are welcome to email our naturopathic team with your health question.
Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.
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