We live in an age when stress is a daily occurrence – many of us rush around in the mornings getting the kids fed and watered, then rush off to work, have back to back meetings and then rush home to get the kids and sort out the daily dinner dilemma.
So what does this long term rushing around and stress do to the body? Well it can take quite a toll; upsetting blood sugar levels, promoting weight gain, depressing immune function, promoting bone destruction, upsetting sex hormone balance, throwing out thyroid function, causing digestive disturbances and bringing about the moody blues.
For this reason combating stress is the most important health promoting activity we can undertake. Ensuring regular physical activity, spending time with loved ones, laughing and discussing problems with others can go a long way toward reducing stress and the damaging effects of this modern day affliction. Of obvious importance is ensuring a well-nourished body, supplementing when necessary and eating regular meals with adequate protein, fats, minerals and vitamins.
Luckily the plant kingdom has supplied us with a herb which helps to support us in the battle against stress and its truckload of ramifications and that herb is called Rhodiola rosea.
Classed as an adaptogen; a substance which enhances the body’s resistance to the ill effects of stress, Rhodiola rosea is native to the arctic regions of Europe and Asia where it has been used as a traditional herbal medicine for centuries. Golden root, as it has been named, was coveted throughout Russia and Siberia for its ability to help the Ruskies cope with the stress of the harsh climate and to provide resistance to altitude sickness. In fact it is so well regarded that since 1969, Rhodiola rosea has been included as an official Soviet medicine.
It is this action, as an adaptogen, which makes Rhodiola the perfect herbal helper for the stressed and busy amongst us. It is thought that this wonder herb helps improve the tone of the nervous system and moderates the secretion of the damaging compounds secreted in response to stress, whether it be emotional, mental or physical stress.
We all know how stress can impact on our moods, making us irritable and feeling like a rubber band about to snap; Rhodiola is shown in clinical trials to modulate the neurotransmitters involved in enhancing mood, motivation and stamina. Long term stress can also interfere with memory functions and overtime will cause major deficits in memory. Rhodiola provides a dual action for supporting optimal memory by stimulating cognition whilst supporting emotional calm. This can be of great benefit within the work environment and has been shown to improve the amount and quality of work and reduce fatigue associated with difficult mental tasks.
An antioxidant, Rhodiola has a special benefit for people who either work in very physically demanding jobs or for athletes, as it is shown to reduce fatigue from physical exertion and to support a healthy short recovery time after physical exertion. It is thought to support endurance stamina and recovery by increasing the production of ATP (chemical energy), increasing the metabolism of energy rich fats, improving energy metabolism in the brain and acting as a potent antioxidant. It is also thought to support the cardiovascular system, enhancing heart function, especially in response to strenuous exercise.
Rhodiola is also touted as a “gland food” not only supporting the adrenal glands but also helping to promote normal, healthy thyroid function for a healthy metabolism and helping to reduce age related shrinkage of the thymus gland which may support improvements in immune system function. Some preliminary studies show that Rhodiola may also aid in supporting reproductive function in both men and women that can easily be disrupted by excessive stress.
Rhodiola grows in a very harsh environment, where it adapted to thrive in an unforgiving world by producing powerful compounds to protect it from the multitude of environmental stressors. Fortunately, Rhodiola can also provide people with that same fortitude and resilience to help them to flourish in the harsh, stressful environment of our modern day lives.
By Rachel Dawson Dip Nutrition Dip Herb Med (Hons)
Senior Naturopathic Consultant Health & Herbs International Ltd
Radiance AdaptoStress supplies 500mg of standardised Rhodiola Rosea (Arctic Root) Extract per capsule. Designed to support your body’s ability to adapt and cope with the stress of modern life, it is available for secure order from our online shop.
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