A short intro to Rhodiola Rosea
The importance of herbs in health and fitness cannot be overemphasized. Rhodiola Rosea, for instance, has been used over the millennia by a variety of ancestral civilizations to enhance energy vitality. The herb is indigenous to Europe and Asia and mostly grows at high altitudes, and on sea cliffs as well.
Rhodiola, also referred to as arctic root or golden root, is classified as an adaptogen; a substance that helps the body adapt and thrive in stressful conditions.
History has it that this herb was used in the 8th century to help Vikings to combat fatigue and improve their stamina. It was also used by the aboriginal Sherpa’s in the Himalayas to help them adapt to living at high altitudes. Moreover, it is said to be one of the secret components that contributed to ramping up the resiliency of the soviet era military during extended periods on the battlefield.
Over the past decade, the golden root has become a staple for use before or after workout sessions to enhance one’s performance. However, one question remains unanswered. Does Rhodiola offer the benefits submitted in the folk tales, or are its impacts exaggerated?
The following is a comprehensive review of Rhodiola, encompassing everything you would want to know regarding its role in fitness and health.
More than 140 compounds have been isolated in Rhodiola roots. They include phenols, rosavin, rosin, terpenoids, rosarin, flavonoids, and anthraquinones, among others. The chemical composition of the herb can change substantially, depending on where the Rhodiola is grown.
Scientists hold that the family of rosavins, which includes rosarin, salidroside, and rosin exert the most crucial benefits in humans for boosting health and performance.
Research on isolated enzymes, organs, and tissues has demonstrated that Rhodiola exhibits adaptogenic effects. They include anti-fatigue, neuroprotective, cardioprotective, nootropic, anxiolytic, anti-depressant, and central nervous system (CNS) stimulating effects.
While these results seem extremely promising from a performance viewpoint, the positive effects on both mental and physical performance have only been realized in half of the randomized controlled trials (RCTs) conducted on the subject.
What are the Benefits of Rhodiola Rosea?
This herb has been shown to provide a wide range of scientifically proven benefits. They include the following.
- Boosting Endurance
Early studies conducted on Rhodiola indicated that acute doses of Rhodiola (200 mg) taken an hour before exercise could boost endurance exercise performance. This is possibly due to increases in pulmonary ventilation.
More recently, 15 active collegiate-aged women participated in a study investigating the effects of a 3mg/kg dose of Rhodiola on a 6-mile ergometer time-trial bike ride to observe whether it could boost their endurance. The results indicated that the Rhodiola group demonstrated a decreased heart rate and better endurance during maximal exercise. This means that Rhodiola can help enhance aerobic capacity in sportspersons.
On the flip side, some research does not support the benefits of this herb on endurance. Trials on elite endurance athletes showed that chronic supplementation failed to avail any benefits on maximum aerobic capacity, perceived exertion, and maximum heart rate.
However, the athletes demonstrated positive results in reducing muscle damage as well as decreasing lactate levels after strenuous workouts.
- Reducing Perceived Exertion
Perceived exertion can be described as how hard the training session feels for the athlete. Most fitness gurus will concede that reducing how hard a particular workout feels, is likely to produce a meaningful improvement in performance.
In 2014, a study of 10 male participants undertaking two thirty-minute cycling time trials and supplementing with 3 mg/kg of Rhodiola was conducted. Consequently, a significant reduction in perceived exertion was noted. Moreover, an elevation in mood state was also realized.
- Enhancing Weight Management
Yes, you read that right. And it is not a myth. Findings from various clinical studies have submitted that Rhodiola can contribute to a reduction in both visceral and adipose fat.
The rosavin contained in this herb can trigger the production of lipase, a crucial enzyme with the potential to burn fat, especially the one stored around the belly region.
Moreover, given its ability to inhibit cortisol production, Rhodiola Rosea can support weight loss. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone can lead to an increase in body fat, appetite, sugar and carbohydrate cravings, overall food cravings, and poor sleep quality, which can all facilitate weight gain.
- Boosting Energy Production
Rhodiola can stimulate the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and Creatine phosphate (CP). These two are the muscles’ primary source of energy for explosive contractions. Consequently, using this herb may lead to superior energy levels and sustained tolerance for exercise. Overall, supplementing with this substance could help you lift a little heavier, or push out of that additional rep, eventually accelerating your gains.
- Enhancing Focus
When exercising, it is crucial to forming a secure connection between the mind and the muscles, to make the best of the workout experience.
Rhodiola Rosea boosts your focus by enhancing the sensitivity of your neurons, particularly dopamine and serotonin (two neurotransmitters). Ultimately, the two have been proven to increase one’s cognition, which includes focus, memory, and alertness.
- Reducing Fatigue
This supplement can help you to train at peak levels during your entire workout session. Moreover, it will help you feel less sore for your next gym session. But how does this modest herb do this?
Rhodiola reduces your fatigue by increasing the number of red blood cells in your system. As you may know, the primary function of the red blood cells is to transport oxygen throughout the body. This translates to additional oxygen in the muscles.
Subsequently, the herb reduces mu8scular damage during exercise, by enhancing aerobic respiration, hence inhibiting Creatine kinase and lactate, which lead to fatigue. Moreover, the additional oxygen also helps muscles to recover faster between workouts.
Are There Side Effects of Rhodiola Rosea?
Well, the undesirable effects of this natural supplement are usually mild to moderate. Although uncommon and distinctive to each, they include the following.
- High Blood Pressure
- Chest pain
- Stomach upset
At the moment, evidence regarding the appropriateness and safety of this substance for pregnant and lactating females is unavailable. As such, it is not recommended for them. Likewise, safety and dosages for children are yet to be established. As a result, treatment for children between (8-12) must be small and titrated carefully to avoid overstimulation.
In higher doses, this herb supplement has been found to affect platelet aggregation.
What About Drug Interactions?
Rhodiola Rosea is notorious for interacting with various medications, including:
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)
Generally, you should consider consulting with your prescribing physician before using Rhodiola if you are under any psychotropic medication.
This herb supplement may add to the stimulant effects of caffeine, and may also augment antianxiety, antidepressant, and antibiotic medications.
Finally, Rhodiola may affect the mechanisms of birth control pills, thyroid medication, as well as diabetes drugs.
What Is the Ideal Rhodiola Dosage?
If this herbal supplement feels like it may be a good fit for you, the recommended dosage is generally around three milligrams per one kilogram of body weight (3 Mg/Kg). However, on a more general scale, as an athlete, you may start with 100 Mg to 200 Mg per day, immediately after waking up, on an empty stomach.
After a week, you can increase the servings to two servings of 100-200 Mg at mid-day or one hour before beginning your workouts.
It is advisable to cycle your Rhodiola supplementation. A general rule of thumb for taking herbal supplements is that you should alternate your supplementation every month (one month on, one month off and so on).
Which Is the Best Rhodiola Supplement?
Rhodiola supplements are readily available at your local health-food store, co-op and numerous mainstream pharmacies and supermarkets. As a rule of thumb, it is crucial to choose a brand that does independent third-party testing to be ensured of quality and safety.
Various companies may make false claims regarding their ingredients or the number of elements contained in their product. However, third-party testing provides an unbiased assessment of the contents and quality of any product.
Before settling for any brand, you must ensure that they abide by the industry standards, which are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
To give you a head start, here are some popular Rhodiola Rosea supplements you may want to consider.
- Rhodiola root powder by Sun Potion
- Herb Pharm Rhodiola Root Liquid Extract
- KOS Organic Rhodiola Root Powder
- New Chapter Rhodiola Force
- Gaia Herbs Rhodiola Rosea
- VITANICA Rhodiola
So, for the final word regarding Rhodiola Rosea. What did you think about the herbal supplement? Does it present the range of benefits you are looking for? And how appealing is it that this supplement is only associated with mild side effects, and only during uncommon occurrences?
Furthermore, Rhodiola is a natural supplement that helps to boost endurance, promote weight loss, reduce fatigue, increase energy, and enhance focus during workouts. Undoubtedly, any athlete will consider Rhodiola a valuable addition to their workout regimen.
Overall, no supplement can replace the value of the work ethic. As a result, with or without a supplement, always strive to go hard.