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Rhodiola rosea is a plant that is known as the "golden root" in Russia and Asia, where it has long been used to treat depression and fatigue. Russian researchers first discovered its ability to help the body respond more efficiently to stress caused by chemical, biological, and physical factors. It has been hailed as the anti-aging supplement of the 21st century, and research indicates that it may help treat of depression, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Put simply, rhodiola helps the body respond to stress more efficiently. It has been labeled an adaptogen, which in this instance implies that it allows the body to begin the chemical process necessary to adapt to stressful situations by increasing levels of the brain's feel-good chemicals, betaendorphins.
Rhodiola has been reported to help increase work performance, and reduce symptoms associated with stress, such as insominia, irritability, hypertension, depression, and headaches. In one study, two-thirds of participants suffering from depression had full remission of their symptoms, and became more active, more sociable and more resourceful, and 65 percent had complete disappearance of their depression.
Rhodiola may help induce weight loss by activating the body's store of adipose lipase, a key enzyme that helps burn its fat stores. A Russian study found that participants who consumed rhodiola rosea lost 20 pounds in three months, compared to just 7 pounds in those who took placebos.
Rhodiola rosea also strengthens the immune system by reducing the effect of stress, which is known to weaken the body's ability to defend against illness. Rhodiola has also demonstrated an ability to increase the efficiency of the natural killer (NK) cells and improve T-cell immunity, which in turn helps the immune system fight against both infection and cancerous cellular changes. Research indicates that rhodiola is even more effective than ginseng for prevention of abnormal gene mutations that can lead to cancer. By boosting immune system function, rhodiola also helps the body fight conditions linked to free-radical damage, such as heart disease and mental deterioration.
Studies have shown that rhodiola may be of special benefit to athletes; it appears to help normalize heart rate after intense exercise, and increases protein synthesis and blood flow throughout the body. It may also lower blood pressure and decrease stress-induced arrhythmia.
Rhodiala root supplements are available in supplemental capsules and extracts at health food stores, from online distributors, and at some pharmacies. There have been no toxic side effects associated with this substance to date, and no tolerable upper limit has been established. Follow dosage instructions on the packaging.
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