(Health Secrets) It is true that stress can make you feel anxious, tired and depressed. But a lot more is going on than just that. Scientists say that over 85 percent of disease is related to stress. Stress causes an increase in the powerful hormone cortisol that leads to food craving, weight gain, inflammation, blood sugar deregulation, thyroid dysfunction, rising blood pressure, immune system shutdown and more. High stress causes levels of another powerful hormone known as DHEA to drop, and with that drop your looks, energy and sex life go out the window while aging and degenerative disease come in the front door. Supplementing with Rhodiola can change all this.
Rhodiola is an adaptogen central in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Adaptogens restore balance and harmony to the body even when it is under severe mental or physical stress, including the stress caused by aging.
Rhodiola may be king of the adaptogens
Rhodiola helps the body handle stress by toning the nervous system. Research subjects given Rhodiola have shown increased levels of endorphins, the peptide in the brain that promotes stress relief and feelings of well being.
Rhodiola has been found therapeutic for depression, and is thought to work by making serotonin’s precursors, tryptophan and 5-HPT, more available to the brain. It also has the ability to elevate serotonin levels directly. Subjects taking as little as 100 mg of Rhodiola per day showed a 30 percent increase in serotonin levels. In a study of 128 depressed individuals, 65 percent of them experienced a complete disappearance of their depression while taking Rhodiola.
A similar small dose of Rhodiola has been shown to affect astenia, a condition characterized by lack of motivation, chronic fatigue, chest pain, muscle weakness, labored breathing, and palpitations.
Other benefits of Rhodiola include:
* Increased endurance
* Shortened exercise recovery time
* Improved physical performance
* Increased attention span and memory
* Enhanced cognitive ability
* Increased blood flow to the brain
* Optimized neurotransmitter levels
* Prevention of hypoglycemia
* Improved cellular oxygenation
* Protection against heart attacks
* Reduction of adrenalin and cortisol
* Normalization of the immune system
Rhodiola is instrumental in body fat reduction. A placebo controlled study of its ability to mobilize fatty acids from adipose tissue showed a 44 percent greater serum fatty acid level one hour after exercise and a 6 percent greater fatty acid level at rest compared to the control group, indicating the release of fatty acids from adipose tissue into the bloodstream for burning.
In another study, 92 percent of those subjects who consumed Rhodiola extract lost an average of 20 pounds after 90 days, compared to the control group who lost only 8 pounds when fed the same diet.
What the latest research has to say
A review of data by scientists in Sweden assessed the level of scientific evidence presented by clinical trials of the usefulness of adaptogens in fighting fatigue, and provided a rationale at the molecular level for those effects. They reported that strong scientific evidence exists for Rhodiola improving attention, cognition and mental performance during fatigue and in chronic fatigue syndrome. They further reported that based on their efficacy in clinical studies, adaptogens increase tolerance to mental exhaustion and enhance attention and mental endurance in situations of decreased performance.
These scientists also found that the beneficial stress-protective effect of adaptogens is related to regulation of homeostasis via several mechanisms of action associated with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the control of key mediators of stress. These actions are:
* Prevention of stress-induced increase in nitric oxide and the associated decrease in ATP production resulting in increased performance
* Endurance and mediated pathways regulate the resistance to stress and result in enhanced mental and physical performance.
* The possibility that longevity is increased.
Researchers in Taiwan explored the effects and mechanisms of Rodiola extract supplementation on fatigued in rats. Several biomarkers of fatigue were measured. They found that Rhodiola significantly improved exhaustive swimming-induced fatigue through increased glycogen content, increased lipogenic enzyme expression, and protective defense mechanisms.
In China researchers studied the effects of Rhodiola on cognitive dysfunction, oxidative stress in the hippocampus, and hippocampal neuron injury in a rat model of Alzheimer’s disease. Rats were pretreated with Rodiola extract at doses ranging from 1.5 to 6.0 g/kg for 3 weeks prior to injury. Behavioral alterations were monitored. The researchers found that gross induced abnormalities were significantly improved by Rodiola pretreatment, and concluded that Rodiola is protective against cognitive deficits, neuronal injury and oxidative stress in this situation and may be used as a potential agent in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
A related group of scientists in China studied the effects of Rhodiola and depression on the serotonin (5-HPT) level, cell proliferation, and quantity of neurons in the hippocampus of depressed rats induced by chronic mild stress. The rats were divided into groups in addition to controls, and Rhodiola extract dosage again varied by group from 1.5g/kg to 6g/kg. The results showed that Rhodiola could improve 5-HTP levels in the hippocampus of depressed rats, and low dosage Rhodiola could induce neural stem cell proliferations in the hippocampus to return to normal level, repairing injury.
Another group of researchers in China studied the effects of an extract of Rhodiola, on the function and change of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis of rats in experimental navigation and intensive exercise. They found that negative psychological stress and intensive exercise can significantly suppress the function of the HPG axis, and therapy with Rhodiola is protective of this axis.
Scientists in Switzerland studied the monamine oxidase (MAO) inhibiting action of Rhodiola. They noted that Rodiola is traditionally used in Eastern Europe and Asia to stimulate the nervous system, enhance physical and mental performance, and to treat fatigue, psychological stress and depression. To determine its effect on mood disorders, extracts from Rhodiola were tested against MAOs. They found that Rhodiola showed potent anti-depressant activity, and may also be effective in the control of senile dementia through the inhibition of MAO.
These research conclusions are exciting and should be made available to everyone concerned with health and spiraling health care costs. Supplements of Rhodiola are available from many supplement stores and online outlets.
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