Fight Stress with Rhodiola Rosea

If you're looking for a natural way to help your body cope with today's face-paced way of life, Rhodiola rosea may be your answer. This herb, which grows in the northeastern regions of Europe and Asia, has long been used in the folk medicine of these regions to support the body's recovery from exertion or long-term illness. Also known as golden root or rose root, Rhodiola rosea has been the subject of numerous studies throughout Russia and Scandinavia for more than 50 years and research findings back up the traditional folk uses.

Rhodiola rosea's primary benefit is its ability to help the body remain in homeostasis, the body's natural, balanced state. These benefits are what earned the herb classification as an adaptogen. The term adaptogen was first used by Russian scientist Nicolai Lazarev in 1947 to describe any natural substance that helps the body resist the adverse effects of physical or psychological stress. The better-known Korean ginseng also falls into this category, but while ginseng has been found to cause nervousness, Rhodiola rosea has no known side effects.

What can Rhodiola rosea do for your health?

Many of this herb's potential benefits are related to its adaptogenic qualities. A number of studies have shown that Rhodiola rosea improves both the physical and mental performance of those working in stressful conditions. Its protective effects on the cardio-pulmonary system and central nervous system are thought to come from the herb's influence on compounds in the brain called monoamines and opioid peptides. Stabilizing the levels of these compounds helps prevent the hormonal changes associated with stress. In academics, Rhodiola rosea has been used to enhance memory and mental capacity. Studies using proofreading tests have shown that the herb also improves the ability to concentrate. Because Rhodiola rosea can increase the levels of enzymes and proteins needed for muscle recovery, it's used in athletics to increase endurance and shorten recovery time after workouts. These qualities are also the reason Rhodiola rosea has been proposed as a supplementary treatment for depression and chronic fatigue syndrome. Those undergoing stressful medical treatments such as chemotherapy can also benefit from Rhodiola rosea's immune-supporting properties.

Choosing Quality Rhodiola rosea

Rosavin and salidroside, the active ingredients in Rhodiola rosea, are primarily responsible for the herb's adaptogenic properties. While there are plenty of Rhodiola rosea products on the market, many of these products have less than optimal levels of rosavin and salidroside. Improper harvesting or processing can lower the levels of active ingredients in the herb, so it's critical that your Rhodiola rosea come from a reliable source.

The ideal way to use Rhodiola rosea is to buy dry roots and prepare them as needed as a tea or alcohol tincture. For convenience sake, though, tablets are also available. Whichever form you choose, you'll need to look closely at what you're getting. Make sure the herb was harvested from Russia or Scandinavia, as Rhodolia rosea harvested in China often comes from the wrong climate and on occasion is even the wrong species of plant. Also, look for a product that contains at least 2% rosavin and 1% salidroside.

Optimal dosage for long-term supplementation ranges from 600 to 100 mg per day, depending on the level of active ingredients. For a product with 2% rosavin, 180 to 300 mg is generally recommended. At 3% rosavin, 100 to 170 mg will be sufficient, while at 1% rosavin you'll need approximately 360 to 600 mg a day.

If you're using Rhodiola rosea to ready yourself for a period of stress, start taking the supplement several weeks before you expect the stress to start and keep taking it until your stress loads are back to normal. For long-term use, Rhodiola rosea should be taken in cycles of four months using the herb followed by a two-week break. For shorter periods of stress, like exams or sports competitions, the suggested dose is three times higher than that recommended for long-term use.

Although Rhodiola rosea causes no known side effects, consult your doctor before starting treatment with this supplement. Also, keep in mind that Rhodiola rosea alone cannot cure any illness. That said, if you're looking for an extra boost to help your body manage everyday stress or recover from an illness, this herb might be just what the doctor ordered.

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