Benefits of Rhodiola and Why You Might Want to Try It
When you have an herb called the “golden root” by several cultures known to use it, you can’t help but have high hopes for a plant like rhodiola. And the more we look into it, the more we see how right the people who gave it this nickname were.
People all over the northern parts of Asia and Europe have been using this native plant for centuries. Vikings would bring it with them on long ocean voyages or use it to work during the winter since it helped enhance physical strength and reduce fatigue. Some Sherpas in the Himalayas have used it to make carrying easier and maintain their strength as the air gets thinner near the top of the mountains.
Russians discovered the use of rhodiola about 70 years ago and have been using it as a folk remedy in many areas to help improve their ability to work, fight insomnia, and enhance endurance.
There are many potential benefits to supplementing with rhodiola.
Rhodiola contains rosavin, which is an active compound that seems to help burn fat more efficiently by stimulating an enzyme called hormone-sensitive lipase. This enzyme is particularly good at breaking down fat in adipose tissue.
What’s even better is that by combining rhodiola with moderate exercise, you may be able to increase the effects of both. According to one study done at Georgian State Hospital with 130 overweight patients, daily does of rhodiola rosea extract combined with a low calorie diet resulted in a 19 pound weight reduction over the course of the study. The placebo group only lost about 8 pounds on the same diet and had nowhere near the 11% reduction in body fat experienced by the group on rhodiola rosea.
A careful balance of rhodiola and interval exercise may be helpful toward rapid, sustained weight loss.
One of the things that keeps people sedentary is a lack of energy. Chronic fatigue is a major problem across the world and a very real issue for millions. While there are a number of factors that contribute to this sort of fatigue, studies are coming out showing that rhodiola might be able to address at least some of them.
For example, a contributing factor to low energy and athletic performance is a low red blood cell count. Red blood cells transport oxygen from your lungs to your cells, providing them with the fuel that they need to perform at their best and prevent fatigue. Rhodiola might help boost erythropoetin (EPO) which stimulates red blood cell production.
More than that, though, a study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism has found a possible anti-inflammatory quality to rhodiola, which helps muscles not only work better, but repair themselves more easily. Further, yet another animal study found that rats given rhodiola were able to swim 25% longer on average than ones who didn’t have the supplement. Scientists believe this might be related to increased synthesis of Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a nucleoside which is often called the “molecular unit of currency” since it transports chemical energy inside of cells to aid in metabolism.
Rhodiola might not only help with intense physical activity, but also provide the kind of support necessary for everyday living. The golden root is often used to combat lack of sleep, providing more restful rest and extra energy during the day.
Not Living in Fight or Flight
The human body is highly tuned to danger and stress, producing a number of natural chemicals to address those situations which can make us more alert and better able to react quickly in dangerous situations. However, we’re also not built to live like that all the time and consistently being in “fight or flight” mode can have drastic negative effects.
One of the mechanics that causes this is an increase in the hormone cortisol. This hormone is produced by the adrenal gland and does several things including increasing blood sugar, suppressing the immune system, and boosting metabolism. While these are all good when you need energy immediately, long periods of these can have devastating effects on your body.
For example, heightened cortisol can result in a lowered blood glucose response, weight gain, thyroid problems, increased risk of disease, and sustained hormone imbalance. Rhodiola can help to keep your hormone levels balanced, reducing cortisol in your system so that your body only produces it when you genuinely need that extra boost.
Dealing with Depression
Some studies have looked into whether rhodiola can provide support for depression.
By increasing the sensitivity of neurons, particularly the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, rhodiola may help to make the chemicals in your brain that contribute to focus, memory, and pleasure more accessible. This could potentially help with regulating moods, making the extreme highs and lows of depression less pronounced and allowing for a healthier daily routine.
Taking This Supplement
Rhodiola's properties have a wide range of potential benefits that may be instrumental in helping your body function at its peak without pushing it beyond its natural limits. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or increase athleticism or just want to be able to get through a day taking care of the kids without feeling exhausted half way through, rhodiola may be worth looking into.