Rhodiola rosea - herb Powerful herb used by Russian astronauts, soldiers, athletes, and politicians for fighting fatigue also provides phenomenal increase in mental and physical ability?

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... that the powerful herb used by Russian astronauts, soldiers, athletes, and politicians for fighting fatigue also provides phenomenal increase in mental and physical ability?


     Rhodiola rosea has a long and illustrious history.  The Greek physician Dioscorides was one of the first to document the medical applications of what he called rodia riza in his classic volume De Materia Medica in 77 AD.  Both the Viking adventurers and the Chinese emperors prized "the golden root" for its medicinal properties, especially the significant effect it had on strength.

    A tea brewed from rhodiola has been used for centuries to treat a variety of conditions ranging from colds and flu to tuberculosis and cancer in arctic areas of Europe and Asia.  But it has only recently become available for commercial purchase in the United States.

    Studies of the curative properties of rhodiola have been conducted throughout Europe.  Researchers have found that rhodiola is effective in treating:


  • Fatigue
  • Poor attention span
  • Decreased memory
  • Low productivity
  • Concentration problems -- or "brain fog"
  • Generalized weakness
  • Stress
  • Depression

     Rhodiola contains flavonoids and organic acids, which have antioxidant properties and are thought to be the source of its restorative and rejuvenating qualities.


    What makes rhodiola such a powerful treatment option is that it belongs to a class of herbs called adaptogens.  Adaptogens are incredibly unique in their ability to boost your body's resistance without disrupting normal body functions.  This means adaptogens have the broadest spectrum of healing abilities of any herbal medicines.

    Rhodiola's popularity with soldiers, athletes and astronauts is due to its phenomenal increase in mental and physical ability.  Some of the scientific factors that make rhodiola so powerful include the following:


  • It's cardioprotective, which means it settles your heart rate promptly after intense exercise
  • It improves the circulation of blood in the brain and muscles and increases protein synthesis, which augments your nervous system function and mental functions, including memory
  • It's an anti-mutagen, which means it effectively counters gene mutations

     Furthermore, a review done by The Journal of the American Botanical Council in 2002 found that rhodiola could aid your body in correcting the negative effects of oxygen deprivation, boosting immunity, and acting as an antioxidant.


    Perhaps rhodiola's most important benefit is that it specifically targets and treats stress.  Current research indicates that stress may be the root of many serious health conditions from chronic diseases like autoimmune disorders to premature aging.

    Rhodiola ameliorates stress by improving the body's ability to cope with internal and external stress factors.  Reducing physical stress will do wonders for your immune system.  Chronic stress robs you of your energy and renders you more susceptible to all forms of bacterial and viral infections.  Rhodiola works within the immune system in 3 important ways:


  • By stimulating "natural killer cells" (NK-cells) which seek out and
  •    destroy the infected cells in your body
  • By improving your T-cell immunity
  • By maximizing your body's resistance to the toxins that accumulate
  •    during an infection

     Rhodiola gives you more available energy during the day, while simultaneously facilitating deep, REM-level sleep.  It also instigates greater mental alertness and increased physical ability.  Even if you're in perfect health (and is anyone?), rhodiola can help your body function that much more efficiently.  In addition to the conditions discussed above, rhodiola has documented benefits in the following areas:

 

  • Improvement of hearing
  • Regulation of blood sugar levels for diabetics
  • Protection of the liver from environmental toxins
  • Activation of the lypolytic processes and mobilization of lipids
  •    (aka turning on your body's natural fat-burning system to aid in
  •    weight reduction)
  • Enhancement of thyroid function without causing hyperthyroidism
  • Enhancement of thymus gland function
  • Improvement of your adrenal glands' reserves without causing
  •    hypertrophy
  • Normalization of men's prostatic fluid

     The dosage of rhodiola most commonly recommended is 200-600 mg/daily.   Rhodiola that originates from Russia is regarded as superior because it contains the key active components: rosavin, rosarin and rosin.  Ideally, the rhodiola rosea extract should be standardized to contain 2-3% rosavins and 0.8-1% salidroside.



Dr Darius H Umrigar MD(AM) 

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