Walking through the supplements section of a health food store can be a bit of a whirlwind. It's so much more than a few Vitamin C and calcium containers.
If you study the labels you'll find a large number of names that just read strangely and you've never heard of. You know these are not vitamins and minerals. At least you're pretty sure.
But what in the world is it?
Rhodiola is just one of the many strangely named supplements taking up space. But what is it, and what can it do for you?
Should you ever both with it and add it to your dietary regimen?
Look no further as we have all of the answers to your questions right here.
What is a Rhodiola?
So you're holding the supplement container in your hand, wondering what in the world this product actually is. Well, the full name of the plant your supplement comes from is rhodiola rosea. It is part of the crassulaceae family, which includes the jade plant and pig's ear flower.
Rhodiola is a perennial flowering plant, which means it lives for longer than a season (per and ennial actually translates to "through the years"...which can be helpful the next time you go flower shopping and wonder what the world perennial means on a plant.
The rhodiola rosea does have several other names, including rose root, king's crown or golden root. The supplement is derived not from the flower or the above ground portion of the plant, but instead from the root. The shoots and leaves are sometimes eaten raw in its native lands around the Arctic circle and in locations throughout northern UK, Asia and Canada. If you're curious, it has a bit of a bitter taste, along the lines of a leafy kale.
Rhodiola Used in Traditional Medicine
As mentioned earlier, the rhodiola rosea root has been used in traditional forms of medicine for years. Most notably, the root is used in colder climates, such as Siberia, in order to reduce the levels of stress. Due to the shorter days and colder temperatures, forcing people to spend more time inside, winter depression is more common in residents, so the root can help offset these issues. It also is used in Siberia, Nepal and other northern Asian countries to help combat altitude sickness. It has also been used in Chinese traditional medicine.
Rhodiola Health Benefits (and a Word on the FDA)
One thing we want to point out with rhodiola, in addition to most other organic plant supplements, the FDA does not have sufficient testing and evidence to back up most findings. Now, this doesn't mean there are no health benefits or that the listed health benefits are false. The FDA isn't always the most forward thinking when it comes to more traditional forms of medicine (such as Indian, Chinese or in this case, Siberian).
We could get into the politics of drugs and FDA research, but that is a long and twisting rabbit hole we'd rather avoid here (not to mention it's something you probably don't want to read). So we'll keep it at this: the FDA has not backed the health benefits of rhodiola or other similar, organic supplements, but many other countries have, plus you have hundreds, and often thousands of years of traditional medicine research backing you up.
The rhodiola root is often ground up and used in teas in higher altitude locations around north Asia and in many of the former Russian satellite nations where altitudes are higher. Research is a bit spotty when it comes to actual benefits though. It is believed rhodiola root helps with some altitude sickness, but there are other options available that are likely going to help you out in better ways.
If you have never experienced altitude sickness, it occurs when you are in higher climates where the oxygen is thinner. Because the oxygen is thinner you don't have as much in your blood when it gets to your brain. This can cause a rather nasty headache and other conditions such as problems sleeping.
Realistically, if you're already living in a high altitude location you've either already adapted to it or have other options available. Most likely the only time you'll use this supplement to aid you with any kind of altitude sickness issues is if you're visiting a new area of the world and it is offered to you in the form of a tea.
Depression and Anxiety
As both anxiety and depression are often closely related, we wanted to cover both under the same umbrella. Plus, rhodiola has been found to assist in improving both cases, which is another reason why we wanted to connected the two in this section.
Studies, including those sanctioned by the FDA, have indicated individuals that take rhodiola for at least six weeks may see an improvement in their level of depression. This was found to especially improve the treatment for individuals ranging from mild to moderate levels of depression.
Additionally, individuals suffering from anxiety also saw an improvement in their mental state. Rhodiola was used by people who fall under the category of "generalized anxiety disorder." By taking the extract, it is possible to reduce both anxiety and depression. For individuals who suffer from anxiety induced depression, there are even greater improvements.
So, if you suffer from one, the other or both, adding rhodiola to your daily diet is recommended (although you should always consult with your primary healthcare physician if you are on medication or have allergies to certain plants).
Burn That Belly Fat
You've always heart that you can't target the fat you burn. It's something we preach here. Nobody ever dropped their beer belly by doing a ton of sit ups. That's not how that works at all. You can't pick and choose where your body burns fat storage. Of course, as most bodies pack energy storage around their stomach, breasts and thighs, these are the first areas to see weight loss.
With all of that said, while you can't target where your body burns fat, what if we told you there might be a way for a supplement to help target that area?
That is one benefit rhodiola has. Rhodiola helps your body burn more energy. Think of it as supercharging your metabolism. It also helps your body burn more energy efficiently. This way, you can burn more calories and torch the fat on your body (although you still do need to workout. You can't just sit around and expect your belly to drop off).
So how does rhodiola help with burning belly fat?
In research, test animals were found to burn more visceral fat tissue. This kind of fat tissue is most commonly found in the larger fat storage areas, such as your stomach. It does this by normalizing cortisol levels. This not only helps your body target visceral fat tissue but it also helps cut down on your unhealthy food cravings.
Have you ever found that, for whatever reason, you might all of a sudden crave a big candy bar or ice cream?
Maybe it's following a long run or a strenuous workout. There are a few reasons behind this, including your glucose levels dropping off before of what you just put your body through and now your body is craving to replenish these levels. Well, Rhodiola helps prevent these cravings.
In research conducted at Georgian State Hospital, a control group were placed on a placebo while another group were placed on a rhodiol extract supplement. Those taking the extract supplement saw a drop in 19 pounds and 11 percent of their body fat. In comparison, the controlled placebo group saw a drop in just eight pounds. Both groups performed the same kind of exercise and consumed the same lower calorie diet.
Want to find a way to improve what you're doing at the gym without looking for medications or other less than desirable means?
If so, taking advantage of rhodiola can help you out with that. In fact, the supplement has been found to boost your stamina and energy levels.
How exactly does it do all of this?
Rhodiola boosts your red blood cell count, which in turn helps deliver more energy and oxygen to the rest of the cells in your body. It also helps reduce the oxidative damage experienced as well. By increasing the amount of energy and oxygen to your muscles, you should see an improvement with your performance while delaying fatigue.
This is helpful for both power lifting and for endurance activities as well. So whatever you're looking to improve while at the gym or working out, rhodiola supplements are perfect for your regimen.
Do you struggle not necessarily workout out, but recovering from workouts? Perhaps you feel extra tired following workouts and this feeling lingers throughout not only the rest of the day, but into the next? This is beyond just regular muscle fatigue, but entire body fatigue? Often this is a mental fatigue attribute as well.
If so, rhodiola has been found to help with this kind of a problem. It boosts your body's recovery capability, which should help with fatigue problems.
Turn Back the Clock
Do you wish you could find a magic pill that would turn back the clock and help you feel and look younger?
Who doesn't, right?
While rhodiola will not just turn back the age clock, it will help you feel longer and can actually reduce many of the signs of aging. It does this by balancing out your cortisol levels (typically by lowering the levels). All humans experience what is known as "fight or flight." This has been around since we were not at the top of the food chain and we had to hunt for food while watch out for lions and other animals of prey.
When your cortisol levels are not properly balanced your body's nervous system will enter this fight or flight mode more often, often when dealing with general stress levels.
Do you find yourself wanting to just run away from simple problems or levels of stress?
It may be because of this imbalance.
Rhodiola can help control this. When the cortisol levels are higher than it should be for longer periods of time, you'll see a host of problems. Some of these issues included weight gain (primarily in the abdominal region), decreased memory, lowered blood glucose response, a poor immune system and thyroid problems. Rhodiola will help keep these levels balanced, which will improve your general health while helping you to turn back some symptoms of age.
What to Look For When Buying Rhodiola
As you've probably found out over the years, not all supplements are created equal (even if the same name is printed on the label). You'll generally want to find a supplement that contains three percent rosavins and one percent salidroside. It is also recommended for you to take anywhere between 250 and 700 milligrams per day, although if you are battling depression or fatigue you may want to double the dosage to nearly 1500 (just start yourself off smaller and work your body up).
Who Shouldn't Take Rhodiola
More research needs to be done to determine whether or not it is safe to consume rhodiola while pregnant or breast feeding. Due to this, if you are one or the other (or plan on being one or the other) should avoid these supplements and extracts. It is always better to play it safe than sorry with regards to pregnancy.
There are plenty of supplements derived from traditional medicine that are packed full of healthy attributes. Rhodiola is one of them. While not for everyone, if you suffer from anxiety, depression or other similar conditions, this may be something to consider, without going the way of medication.
With the host of health benefits, it's worth checking out and working into your daily regimen. Best of all, these supplements are all natural and are available for purchase at your local health food store.