Monday, July 28, 2008

Herbal Remedies for Stress and Sleeplessness- Rhodiola rosea

I mentioned an adaptogenic herb called Rhodiola rosea, also called Arctic root or Golden root in an earlier post, and said I would discuss it further this week.

Adaptogen is a word coined by researchers seeking to describe the effect of Eleutherococcus senticosus, also known as Siberian Ginseng; they had observed that as stress on the experimental subjects increased, the effect of the Eleutherococcus seemed to be stronger. Their observation was that the herb somehow helped the body adapt to the stressor, whether it was physical or psychological. The researchers thought the word "adaptogen" was the best way to describe this ability of the herb to help the body function under stress.

Further research has led to other herbs also being classed as adaptogens, among them is Rhodiola rosea. (While there are other varieties of Rhodiola, Rhodiola rosea is the type most studied, and thought to be the most effective.)

Rhodiola rosea helps the body adapt to many different types of stress, but also has other health benefits.

It seems to both stimulate mental function, while calming the emotions; it appears to help the memory, and improve concentration.

Rhodiola rosea also helps improve the energy levels of the body, and make it more resistant to fatigue, as well as improving recovery time after strenuous exertion.

This herbal remedy also seems to have strong anti-oxidant effects, and Rhodiola extract was shown to reduce C-reactive protein, a protein that increases during systemic inflammation (meaning wide spread or general inflammation, rather than a local inflammation which may occur with an injury), and C-reactive protein seems to show increased risk for heart disease. For more information about C-reactive protein, see the American Heart Association website .

Chinese researchers have also demonstrated the ability of Rhodiola rosea to reduce feelings of agitation, and sleeplessness, and described calming and sleep inducing effects from the herb. There are also preliminary reports that Rhodiola rosea has anti-anxiety and anti-depressant effects.

The many positive effects of this herbal remedy suggest that it is a good addition to anyone's herbal repertoire. The only caution I have seen for this herb is that it may cause feelings of agitation in high doses. The average doses I have seen range from 200-400mg of standardized extract daily. (I always suggest starting at the lowest dose, and increasing if needed, as long as there are no side effects.)

As always, consult with your doctor, or a professional herbalist, before taking any herbal remedy.

The material presented in this blog is for informational use only and should in no way be used as a substitute for needed medical treatment. I am not a doctor, I do not diagnose or treat disease. If you need medical care, please consult the appropriate medical professional. And please discuss with your doctor if you are taking or planning to take any herbal preparations.

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