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Remember your first sip of coffee? Perhaps you winced at the taste, but then you felt the stimulus and realized why it was so popular. Unfortunately, people get to the point where they need to drink two to three cups of coffee to feel the same energy and cognitive boosting effects.
Drinking coffee habitually can result in an individual becoming tolerant to its stimulatory effects. Rhodiola rosea however does not have this effect on individuals after repeated use and has been shown to be a great alternative to coffee to provide stimulation. Rhodiola has been recognized for its ability to enhance cognitive performance and reduce fatigue. In addition to that, Rhodiola rosea is considered an adaptogen, it is known to protect the body from stress including stress from exercise or other physical and biological stressors. Due to its adaptogenic properties, it has been shown to benefit athletic performance and recovery, in addition to providing protective health benefits. It is even used for individuals suffering from chronic stress, anxiety and depression.
Stimulants including coffee or amphetamines may result in reduced stimulation after consistent ingestion due to tolerance. However, consuming 200 mg of Rhodiola per day over a period of four weeks has been shown to not effect or alter the ergogenic effect of Rhodiola ingestion. In addition, since coffee, caffeine or amphetamines can have adverse effects on sleep latency and quality of sleep, Rhodiola is considered a great alternative. Caffeine and stimulants negatively affect sleep hygiene by causing sleep deprivation or poor quality of sleep and as a consequence, following a night of sleep deprivation increases stress. Rhodiola then is an efficacious alternative to coffee and it even provides stress reduction benefits. Since Rhodiola is an adaptogen, it is typically administered to patients who suffer from mental and physical fatigue, stress induced fatigue and chronic stress.
Improvement in Mood
As mentioned, Rhodiola can provide a stimulating effect without causing adverse stress caused by other common stimulants including caffeine or amphetamines. In addition to being administered to individuals suffering from stress-related fatigue and chronic stress, it also is administered to individuals suffering from anxiety and mild to moderate depression.
Regarding other negative mood states, a randomized controlled trial showed that ingesting 400 mg of Rhodiola extract over 14 days was effective in reducing anxiety, stress, anger, confusion and depression.
Multiple studies have confirmed that the adaptogenic properties of Rhodiola rosea improves athletic performance by decreasing the effects of stress from exhaustive exercise.
One study from the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism measured the effects of Rhodiola ingestion among 24 active males and females. The study was conducted over a period of four weeks, in which the participants consumed 200 mg of Rhodiola extract per day. The study concluded that participants ingesting Rhodiola improved endurance exercise capacity because time to exhaustion on average increased.
Another study confirmed these findings, specifically, that this adaptogen improves endurance because chronic consumption of Rhodiola reduces lactate levels and parameters of skeletal muscle damage post-exercise.
There have been many studies that have also shown the benefits of Rhodiola on cognitive function. Rhodiola has been shown to increase concentration scores, to improve learning in addition to short and long term memory retrieval. Another study measured overall cognitive function and found significant improvements in associative thinking, short-term memory, calculation and ability of concentration, and speed of audio-visual perception.
If you experience chronic stress or overwork and as a consequence suffer with sleep deprivation, sleep disturbances, stress-related sleep loss, then incorporating Rhodiola rosea may just be what you need. If you want to experience the stimulatory effects in replacement of coffee and improve your mood and athletic performance, then consider Rhodiola.
You can use Rhodiola tinctures which are extracts made from the Rhodiola plants, in addition to pills or powder. You can also drink Rhodiola in the form of tea. Tea however is not as simple to measure dosage and so may not be the best way to incorporate Rhodiola into your diet.