Many of you know by now that I am always looking for ways to naturally treat my mind body and soul. My first port of call is always to check in with myself. Every ache and pain, uncomfortable feeling or restless night is my body trying to communicate to me that there is something amiss with my thinking and being. Whatever the outward manifestation may be has an inner cause. Knowing this, is the long term solution to my health and keeping well. Another large part of my wellbeing is choosing foods and supplements to support me. It never ceases to amaze me that nature can help us so much in our wellness and for this I give thanks and am grateful.
For a little while now there has been quite a buzz around substances called adaptogens -and rightly so. The term was actually coined way back in 1957 by Russian scientist Nikolay Lazarev who noted that certain natural substances were able to help the body’s resistance to stress, regulating it’s stress response actually, therefore making them both preventative and curative. Vitally, they can help the body preserve its immune system function and produce a host of beneficial effects on the body. They respond to the individual’s needs – naturally tailoring their properties to each one of us and there is also hard science behind them for you slightly sceptical individuals at the back row but to me at least these herbs seem rather magickal.
There are quite a few adaptogens I dip into frequently and some that are staples in my everyday routine. I figured it best to begin with those I use on a daily basis, how I take them and what they do for me. Rhodiola is most definitely on the latter list. It is known by many names -golden seal, rose root, Aaron’s rod being but a few. The history junkie in me has an incredibly soft spot for it- with its use being documented by the ancient greeks, all over scandi-nordic areas and it is also a staple in Chinese medicine. Documented usage has shown its capability in addressing all of the following:
Tiredness and fatigue, depression, GI issues, nervous system disorders such as chronic fatigue syndrome, impotence, ADHD infection and even cardiac issues. As well as this it has promoted the return of menses in premature ovarian failure and increasing the individuals performance both physically and mentally. It also has powerful antitumour properties. Russian studies have shown that not only has the addition of rhodiola into cancer patients’ regimen shown a marked increase in survival rate but it has also contributed to the regeneration of bladder tissue and immunity in bladder cancer patients- The science bit.
One of Its main functions has been shown to regulate the arrival of tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan into the brain. These are precursors to serotonin and they in turn assist it in its many functions across the body. Serotonin or ‘the happy hormone’ does far more than you probably think. As well as being known for enhancing our mood and sense of well being it also aids digestion, pain perception smooth muscle contraction temperature and blood pressure. Regulation is key however as too much serotonin can be just as bad as too little. Its all about regulation and optimum levels not flooding your system. That is what makes adaptogens so perfect, they help ensure serotonin levels are peak for you personally. And you, and you and you….
For the stressed and exhausted contingency rhodiola can also play a beneficial role. By allowing the cells within our body to utilise energy more efficiently (as opposed to manically overworking themselves). It also helps with muscle recovery, increasing RNA levels and glycogen synthesis. I would never promote pushing your body beyond its natural levels and would firmly advocate that you honour your body’s need to rest when it tells you so. What I would agree with however is the use of this adaptogen to enable your body with its stamina and energy levels, to increase your energy within the boundaries of a healthy routine, not using it as a herbal can of red bull at 3 a.m.
I have lived with marked neurological conditions for a while now and if there is one thing I can tell you it is this- without maintaining damn good health in every which way you never know or can predict how your body is going to feel from one day to the next. Rhodiola appears to have an impact upon monoamine levels, which are responsible for mood, cognitive and motor ability. This may well be a great supplement for those suffering with conditions such as fibromyalgia, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome. Since adding the root to my morning routine I have experienced an increase in my physical and mental ability to endure. Interestingly I have also noted a much more regular and normalised menses pattern, I’m not sure if this can be directly attributed to rhodiola but its part in regulating and improving my body’s capacity to function I believe most certainly has.
Undoubtedly this has improved my overall energy levels and I rarely find my body in a ‘fight or flight’ response anymore. On top of this I have suffered less and less with infection such as cough and colds, UTI’s and stomach upsets. All in all I am a lot more generally healthy. All evidence would point to this being a bit of a wonder herb wouldn’t it? So just how (and how much) should you add this to your routine?
If you look on the internet you will see that it comes in a lot of varieties and capsule form appears to be very popular. This is possibly because not only can you dose it easily but my friends-this bad boy is as bitter as you like! The first time I tasted it in fact I was pretty taken aback so you may well wonder what I am playing at when I tell you that I choose to take it in loose powder form. Its honestly not too bad because you literally need the tiniest amount to get the recommended 300-600 mg per day. I posted a photo of the size of one serving on Instagram if you want to see for yourself. Also, I always go for a tincture or powder over capsules as I think this form improves the uptake of any supplement. That’s just a personal opinion by the way I have no evidence to back it up so if you are more comfortable with a tablet go ahead.
As for how I take it the short answer is quickly. I mix it with water and my daily greens powder then straight down the hatch. Yes, shots to me these days are a world away from those in my 20’s….. I would suggest starting with a lower dose and building up if you feel that you need so maybe start with 300mg and titrate up to find the most beneficial dose for you. Always buy from a trusted provider that way you can pretty much guarantee that there is no cheap filler and you are getting a reputable product. It does have quite a distinctive smell, something to look out for if you doubt integrity. Also of course I am obliged to recommend that you check in with your health care provider before you embark upon the ingestion of any new supplement.
Please do give it a go if it is something you think you could benefit from. I do feel that this adaptogen isn’t half as talked about as its popular big sister ashwaghanda (I love that also mind you) but I myself and many others have found this punchy little powder to be a massively beneficial addition to our lifestyle and wellbeing.
If you have any queries on this or indeed any other adaptogens drop me a line and I will try my best to help you