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    Rhodiola rosea: A Possible Plant Adaptogen
    Gregory S. Kelly, ND



    Rhodiola rosea is a popular plant in traditional medical systems in Eastern Europe and Asia with a reputation for stimulating the nervous system, decreasing depression, enhancing work performance, eliminating fatigue, and preventing high altitude sickness. Rhodiola rosea has been categorized as an adaptogen by Russian researchers due to its observed ability to increase resistance to a variety of chemical, biological, and physical stressors. Its claimed benefits include antidepressant, anticancer, cardioprotective, and central nervous system enhancement. Research also indicates great utility in asthenic conditions (decline in work performance, sleep difficulties, poor appetite, irritability, hypertension, headaches, and fatigue) developing subsequent to intense physical or intellectual strain. The adaptogenic, cardiopulmonary protective, and central nervous system activities of Rhodiola rosea have been attributed primarily to its ability to influence levels and activity of monoamines and opioid peptides such as beta-endorphins.
    (Altern Med Rev 2001;6(3):293-302)

    Subjecting animals and humans to a period of stress produces characteristic changes in several hormones and parameters associated with the central nervous system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA). HPA changes include an increase in cortisol, a reduced sensitivity of the HPA to feedback down-regulation, and a disruption in the circadian rhythm of cortisol secretion. Central nervous system changes include the stress-induced depletion of catecholamine neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and dopamine. An acute increase in beta-endorphin levels is also observed under stressful conditions.

    To successfully combat stress and stressful situations, adaptation is required. Adaptation might be best thought of as the ability to be exposed to a stressor, while responding with either decreased or no characteristic hormonal perturbations. Adaptation also implies being prepared to and capable of rapidly reassuming homeostasis after the stressor is withdrawn. As an example, a well-trained athlete can participate in an event that would induce a large HPA perturbation (stress response) in a sedentary person, and yet the athlete will be relatively unaffected. This is a result of adaptation that has occurred during the athlete's training process. Additionally, if athletes are exposed to stressors they were not trained for, hormonal perturbations characteristic of a stress response would be expected; however, this response might not be as great as that found in less fit individuals. Furthermore, after the stress ended, their physiology would be expected to re-establish homeostasis rapidly. This is a result of non-specific resistance to stress gained by virtue of a training-induced higher level of fitness.

    The utility of plant adaptogens is analogous to the training an athlete undergoes in order to prepare for competition. Plant adaptogens cause our physiology to begin the adaptation process to stress. When a stressful situation occurs, consuming adaptogens generates a degree of generalized adaptation (or non-specific resistance) that allows our physiology to handle the stressful situation in a more resourceful manner.

    As an example of this process, Rhodiola rosea administration promotes a moderate increase in the amount of serum immunoreactive beta-endorphin in rats under basal conditions. This moderate increase is similar to that found when rats are adapted to exercise. When Rhodiola rosea-treated rats were subjected to a 4-hour period of non-specific stress, the expected elevation in beta-endorphin was either not observed or substantially decreased. Consequently, the characteristic perturbations of the HPA were decreased or totally prevented.3 In these rats administration of Rhodiola rosea appears to have generated non-specific resistance and prepared the rats to respond more appropriately to the eventual stressful situation.


    Spasov et al investigated the effects of SHR-5 on male medical students during an exam period. Forty students were randomized to receive either 50 mg SHR-5 or placebo twice daily for a period of 20 days. The students receiving the standardized extract of Rhodiola rosea demonstrated significant improvements in physical fitness, psychomotor function, mental performance, and general wellbeing. Subjects receiving the Rhodiola rosea extract also reported statistically significant reductions in mental fatigue, improved sleep patterns, a reduced need for sleep, greater mood stability, and a greater motivation to study. The average exam scores between students receiving the Rhodiola rosea extract and placebo were 3.47 and 3.20, respectively. 25

    24. Darbinyan V, Kteyan A, Panossian A, et al. Rhodiola rosea in stress induced fatigue * a double blind cross-over study of a standardized extract SHR-5 with a repeated low-dose regimen on the mental performance of healthy physicians during night duty. Phytomedicine 2000;7:365-371.

    25. Spasov AA, Wikman GK, Mandrikov VB, et al. A double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of the stimulating and adaptogenic effect of Rhodiola rosea SHR-5 extract on the fatigue of students caused by stress during an examination period with a repeated low-dose regimen. Phytomedicine 2000;7:85-89.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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    # What is an adaptogen? An adaptogen can be defined as a substance that is safe, increases resistance to stress, and has a balancing effect on body functions. Dating back thousands of years, Chinese herbalists have used the power of adaptogens to treat a wide array of ailments. And although the mechanism of adaptogens has never been clearly defined, many Chinese and modern herbal preparations include adaptogens in specifically targeted formulas for balance. In order to be considered an adaptogen, a supplement or ingredient must meet three criteria: Creates only minimal disorders in the physiological functions in the body
    # Produces a non-specific action
    # Produces normalizing action regardless of the direction of the pathological state

    Supplements that cause adaptive reactions appear to improve State of Non-specifically Increased Resistance (SNIR) in the human body, protecting against various stresses. Researchers have suggested that adaptogens serve as mediators of a body's defense system, which may decrease the damaging effects of various stressors (Panossian et al., 1999). One of the major actions of an adaptogen is an increased resistance to the catabolic effects of stress, including physical stress such as strenuous exercise, possibly by exerting favorable effects on the secretion of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that is released by the adrenal cortex, which is affected by adaptogens. Cortisol's main function in the body is to reduce the catabolic effects of intense exercise and stress. Considering this case for defining adaptogens, you can clearly see how these substances could potentially increase the effectiveness of training and competition performance for a wide spectrum of athletes.

    What will an adaptogen do for me? As you increase your training you increase the physiological stresses put on your body. These added stresses force your body to use its natural defense mechanisms to help repair and replace any damage that has occurred. Using adaptogens essentially allows this defense mechanism to work more efficiently. As defined above, you can expect your body to adapt positively to intense stress put on by exercise, allowing you to train at a higher level. It's like preparing your car for a cold winter season: adding the right grade oil, snow tires, anti-freeze and a tune up prepares your car for frigid temperatures and winter driving. Taking adaptogens throughout your intense training prepares and protects your body from the added stress of exercise, allowing you to train and race at a higher level. Ginseng, ashwagandha, schisandra, rhodiola, cordyceps, reishi and maitake are all well studied adaptogens.

    New Research supports adaptogens for athletes.
    Research on Rhodiola and Coryceps has supported their ability to increase performance in athletes. In fact, four recent study done on Cordyceps and Rhodiola have shown improvements in key physiological mechanisms (1,2,11,15). These new studies showed significant improvement in time to exhaustion, peak oxygen volume VOpeak, pulmonary ventilation, C-reactive protein and creatine kinase activity. These new studies are helping athletes and researchers further understand the benefits of adaptogens for endurance athletes. Through its modulation of the adrenal response, these Rhodiola and Cordyceps can aid in the prevention of overtraining syndrome while protecting athletes from inflammation and infection. Herbs like Rhodiola have been known to slow glycogen utilization and increase fatty acid utilization, hence reducing lactic acid build-up, leading to improved athletic performance. (3,5,6,8,11,14,15,16,17,18,21)

    Who can benefit from adaptogens? A recent studies on Cordyceps and Rhodiola showed significant improvement in VOpeak and time to exhaustion, which are both effective measures of aerobic capacity in athletes and non-athletes. Anyone training at a high elite level or training for the first time will feel the benefits of adaptogens, although people who train simply to stay in shape or maintain a constant level may not see as much benefit. The reason is this: when training at a high stress level, the body is pushed to and above its limit day in and day out. Similarly, anyone starting a new training program - perhaps someone training for a first 10K or marathon - puts added stress on the body. As the volume and intensity of your workout increases, incidence of infection increases and ability to handle stress is greatly reduced. Any workout program that falls into the right side of the graph would benefit from supplementation by adaptogens. Additionally, athletes traveling to altitude have been shown to significantly adapt to the stress of reduced oxygen when using the adaptogen rhodiola.

    Roy J. Shephard, MD, PhD, DPE; Pang N. Shek, PhD Exercise, Immunity, and Susceptibility to Infection: A J-Shaped Relationship? The Physician and Sportsmedicine - Vol 27 - No. 6 - June 1999
    References:
    The stimulating affect of Rhodiola is also clearly manifested in the performance of physical work as stated by Dr. S. F. Tuzov. Dr. Tuzov studied the influence of extracts of Rhodiola on the capacity of athletes for muscular work in the performance of physical loads of great and maximal intensity with varied physiological characteristics. Maximal intensity accomplished within tenths of a second is characterized by the maximal rate of muscle movements and by oxygen consumption at the level of 90% - 100% of maximal oxygen consumption. This offers maximal stress to the CNS, which may induce the development of protective inhibition. A relatively large oxygen debt is characteristic for it, although oxygen demand is comparatively fairly small. The rapid accumulation of the intracellular lactate leads to auto-inhibition of the process. Under the influence of Rhodiola extract the volume of repeat work performed after proceeding proportioned work increase by 28%. After administering Rhodiola rosea in an experiment on 140 athletes, 74% of the test subjects obtained their best results in a 3,000 meter run. It was concluded that Rhodiola rosea extract increased physical work capacity, decreased fatigue and improved the general mental and physical state of the test subjects.

    1. Abidoff1 Musa1, Grachev Sergey2, Seifulla Roshen3, Tim N. Ziegenfuss4 Rhodiola rosea root extract Rhodax™ reduces inflammatory plasma C-reactive protein and Creatine kinase in healthy volunteers: a placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial*. Experimental Biology and Medicine, 2004, in press.

    2. Abidoff1 Musa, Krendal Felix2, Grachev Sergey2, Seifulla Roshen3, Tim Ziegenfuss4 (2003) Effect of Rhodiola rosea and Rhodiola crenulata (Crassulaceae) root extracts on ATP content in Muscle Mitochondria. Experimental Biology and Medicine, 2003, Vol. 136, N12, pp 667-669

    3. Akinobu Tsunoo, Naoki Taketomo, Hiroshi Tsuboi, Masayuki Kamijo, Atsushi Nemoto, Hajime Sasaki, Masyuki Uchida; Meiji institute of Health Science. Cordyceps Sinensis: Its diverse effects on mammals in vitro and in vivo. Third International Symposium of the Mycological Society of Japan, 1995.

    4. Anderson, RA, Polansky MM, Bryden NA. Effects of carbohydrate loading and underwater exercise on circulating cortisol, insulin and urinary losses of chromium and zinc. Eur Journal of Applied Physiology, 1991;3:289-293.

    5. Burke, Edmund R. Herbs Enhance Lactate Metabolism. Nutrition Science News, V.3; N.9 P. 458 (1998)

    6. Chinese fungus and World Record Runners: American Entomologist pp. 235-236 (winter, 1994)

    7. Cheng XJ; Di L; Wu Y; Zhao QC; Du GZ; Liu YQ (1993) Studies on the hypoglycemic effect of Rhodiola sachelinensis A. Bor. Polysaccharides Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Meteria Medica of Jilin Province, Changchun. Chung Kuo Ching Yao Tsa Chih, 18(9): 557-559.

    8. Georges M. Halpern: Cordyceps, Chinese Healing Mushroom, Avery Publishing, 1999.

    9. Germano, Carl RD, CNS, LDN; Vitamin Retailer (August, 1998 pp54-56) "Rhodiola: Not just another adaptogen"

    10. Germano C, Ramazanov Z. Arctic Root-Rhodiola Rosea. 1999, Kensington Books.

    11. Katrien De Bock, et al., Acute Rhodiola Intake can improve Endurance Exercise Performance. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2004. 14, 298-307. 2004 Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc.

    12. Kurukov AG., Aisikov MI and Pakhimov SS (1986) Pharmacology of the plant polyphenol epigaloxin from Rhodiola. Pharmacology and Toxicology 1986; 49(2): 45-8

    13. Lou Y, Liao X, Lu Y. Cardiovascular pharmacological studies of ethanol extracts of Cordyceps mycelia and Cordyceps fermentation solution. Chinese Traditional and Herbal Drugs 1986; 17(5): 17-21, 209-213.

    14. Maslova LV; Kondrateve Biu; Maslov LN; Lishamon IB (1994) The cardioprotective and antiadrenergic activity of an extract of Rhodiola rosea in stress Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology, 57(6): 61-3 Nov Dec.

    15. Medicinal Mushrooms May Increase Stamina. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. July 2004.

    16. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise abstract published in 2001;33:S164. Cordyceps CS-4: Poster presented at The ACSM annual meeting, Baltimore, MD, June 2001. Poster presented at The Experimental Biology 2001 (FASEB meeting), Orlando, FL, April 3, 2001.

    17. Medicine &. Science in Sports & Exercise abstract published in 1999;31(5):S174. Cordyceps CS-4 Poster presented at The Experimental Biology 2001 (FASEB meeting), Orlando, FL, April 1, 2001. Paper published in Chinese J Gerontology 2001;20(4):297-298.

    18. Noboru Manabe et. Al.; Effects of the Mycelial Extract of Cultured Cordyceps Sinensis on In Vivo Hepatic Energy Metabolism in the Mouse. Japanese Journal of Pharmacology 70, 85-88 (1996).

    19. Plozny AV., Revyakina NV., Kim EF., Sviridova TF. 1985 Rhodiola Rosea or Golden-root. Biology of Siberian plants requiring protection. Novosibirsk.p.85-114.

    20. Qian Yancong, et al., Survey of research on Rhodiola kirilowii, Acta Chinese Medicine and Pharmacology 1999; (5): 34-35.

    21. Ramazanov, Dr. Zakir and Dr Maria del Mar Bernal Suarez; Using Rhodiola Rosea and Rhododendron Caucasicum.(1999) ATN/Safe Goods Publishing.
    Dirk Tanis, BA, MSci
    Chief Operating Officer, Applied Nutriceuticals
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    Effects on Physical Work Capacity

    A number of studies have shown that R. rosea increased physical work capacity and dramatically shortened the recovery time between bouts of high-intensity exercise. These studies included normal individuals exposed to maximal work on a bicycle ergometer and Olympic-level cross country skiers and biathletes.69 In one study, 52 men (18-24 years of age) were given one dose of either 15 drops of R. rosea extract, 2 ml eleuthero, or 1 ml of a 1 percent solution piridrol (a stimulating psychotropic similar to methylphenidate). Fifteen drops of R. rosea extract is approximately equivalent to 150 mg of dry encapsulated root extract standardized to 3 percent rosavin and 1 percent salidroside. After 30 minutes, they pedaled an electric bicycle ergometer to produce a precise amount of work-induced baseline fatigue. After a 5-minute rest, they performed further work to determine the maximal duration of work they could accomplish at a specific intensity. During the second period of work, R. rosea drops, eleuthero extract, and piridrol increased work capacity by 9 percent, 6 percent, and 6 percent respectively (p<0.04) compared to placebo controls. Recovery was defined by the time of normalization of heart rate and arterial pressure. During the recovery period, at 10 minutes, the pulse slowed by a factor of 2.5 (67 beats per minute) in the R. rosea group versus 1.9 (87 beats per minute) in the control group. During the 3-day total recovery period, subjects given piridrol complained of insomnia, excitability, and irritability; whereas those given R. rosea had no adverse side effects and no complaints.

    Endurance is the capacity to maintain work despite fatigue. Forty-two master level competitive skiers (20-25 years of age) took either R. rosea extract or placebo 30-60 minutes before training races (30 km) and a biathlon (20 km race on skis carrying a rifle and shooting targets at stops). Athletes given R. rosea had statistically significant increased shooting accuracy, less arm tremor and better coordination. Thirty minutes after work performance, the heart rate in the R. rosea group was 104-106 percent of baseline, versus 128.7 percent in the placebo group (p<0.02). R. rosea improved recovery time, strength, endurance, cardiovascular measures, and coordination.69

    Adaptogens differ from other stimulants during forced, exhaustive muscular work. With classical stimulants the initial increase in work-capacity is followed by a period of substantially decreased (markedly below average) work-capacity. Repeated use of CNS stimulants depletes brain catecholamines and decreases conditioned reflexes. In contrast, with extracts of R. rosea, the initial increase in work-capacity is followed by a lesser diminution, such that the work-capacity continues to be above average.70

    Animal studies suggest mechanisms that may be involved in these effects. R. rosea increased essential energy metabolites, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and creatine phosphate in the muscle and brain mitochondria in mice made to swim to their limit.71 It may also enhance the ammonia reassimilation and energy metabolism of the cell by increasing ATP, ribonucleic acid (RNA), protein, and amino acid synthesis.72 In animal studies, R. rosea increased metabolism of fats twice as much as eleuthero73 and improved energy metabolism in the brain during intensive muscular workloads.74

    # Saratikov AS, Krasnov EA. Chapter III: Stimulative properties of Rhodiola rosea. In: Saratikov AS, Krasnov EA, editors. Rhodiola rosea is a valuable medicinal plant (Golden Root). Tomsk, Russia: Tomsk State University; 1987. p. 69-90.
    # Panossian A, Wikman G, Wagner H. Plant adaptogens. III. Earlier and more recent aspects and concepts on their mode of action. Phytomedicine 1999;6(4):287-300.
    # Salnik BU. Effect of several stimulators on central nervous system energy metabolism during muscular workload [dissertation]. Tomsk, Russia: Tomsk State Medical Institute; 1970.
    # Adamchuk LB. Effects of Rhodiola on the process of energetic recovery of rat under intense muscular workload [dissertation]. Tomsk, Russia: Tomsk State Medical Institute; 1969.
    # Danbueva EA. Effect of stimulators of the central nervous system on lipid metabolism at different muscular workloads [dissertation]. Tomsk, Russia: Tomsk State Medical Institute; 1968.
    # Revina TA. Effect of stimulators of the central nervous system on carbohydrate and high energy phosphorylated compound metabolism in the brain during intense muscular workload [dissertation] Tomsk, Russia: Tomsk State Medical Institute; 1969.
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    Chief Operating Officer, Applied Nutriceuticals
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    Nice post. I got some Rhodiola growing in my yard... my backyard apothecary.
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    nice- probably a lot cheaper that way
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    I donno if it is cheaper or not. Considering rhodiola isn't all that expensive to purchase. I can't say I'm all that good at doing extracts right now. Still saving up for a good piece of equipment to do high quality ethanol extractions/concentrations.

    I mostly like growing the herb cause it kinda puts you more in touch with it. I know, that's esoteric. I tend towards the old ways of herbology most of the time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aeternitatis View Post
    I donno if it is cheaper or not. Considering rhodiola isn't all that expensive to purchase. I can't say I'm all that good at doing extracts right now. Still saving up for a good piece of equipment to do high quality ethanol extractions/concentrations.

    I mostly like growing the herb cause it kinda puts you more in touch with it. I know, that's esoteric. I tend towards the old ways of herbology most of the time.
    WOW!! I honestly thought you were kidding!!! Considering the prices of other herbs, rhodiola is fairly cheap, and very effective as an adaptogen. Esoteric, yes, but also very satisfying because you do possess the type of knowledge and skill to undertake something of this nature, and that you have the patience to do this.

    DSHEA-compliant, high extract herbs are the future of bodybuilding- PH's seem to be as dead as a doornail
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    Quote Originally Posted by rms80 View Post
    DSHEA-compliant, high extract herbs are the future of bodybuilding- PH's seem to be as dead as a doornail
    Agreed 150%.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rms80 View Post
    WOW!! I honestly thought you were kidding!!! Considering the prices of other herbs, rhodiola is fairly cheap, and very effective as an adaptogen. Esoteric, yes, but also very satisfying because you do possess the type of knowledge and skill to undertake something of this nature, and that you have the patience to do this.

    DSHEA-compliant, high extract herbs are the future of bodybuilding- PH's seem to be as dead as a doornail
    which is good and bad. Good for me because im gettin to old to keep taking them lol. Over the last year. My interest in "herbology" has grown 2 fold
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    Quote Originally Posted by Outside Backer View Post
    which is good and bad. Good for me because im gettin to old to keep taking them lol. Over the last year. My interest in "herbology" has grown 2 fold
    Gettin' pretty old myself, so I know what you mean! Getting cracked on in football doesn't help- you should have seen our QB last year. He was a great guy, but he liked to throw late, high, and slow over the middle.

    Back to the topic (sorry!): PH's tend to put you on a roller coaster ride, along with the inevitable HPTA shutdown with the subsequent added time needed for a rebound. Throw in some funky sides like headaches and water retention, and you definitely start seeking alternatives!!!

    Getting on PH's is the easy part, coming off them is a *****!!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by rms80 View Post
    Gettin' pretty old myself, so I know what you mean! Getting cracked on in football doesn't help- you should have seen our QB last year. He was a great guy, but he liked to throw late, high, and slow over the middle.

    Back to the topic (sorry!): PH's tend to put you on a roller coaster ride, along with the inevitable HPTA shutdown with the subsequent added time needed for a rebound. Throw in some funky sides like headaches and water retention, and you definitely start seeking alternatives!!!

    Getting on PH's is the easy part, coming off them is a *****!!!
    late high and slow over the middle that is why i never play offense anymore. Im a hitter not a hittee
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    And why I sit 7th row, and spectate.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Outside Backer View Post
    late high and slow over the middle that is why i never play offense anymore. Im a hitter not a hittee
    Are we talking about football?
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    Quote Originally Posted by donorrell View Post
    Are we talking about football?
    Geez, for the sake of D and OB, I reeeeeeally hope so.
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    Quote Originally Posted by donorrell View Post
    Are we talking about football?
    in that case my wife is the hittee
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    holy **** I jst got a box of goodies from AN now.

    Living 1 hr from AN > all
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    Quote Originally Posted by Outside Backer View Post
    late high and slow over the middle that is why i never play offense anymore. Im a hitter not a hittee
    Smart
  

  
 

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