What is Rhodiola?
Rhodiola rosea (Rhodiola) thrives in extremely cold environments with intense sunlight, which explains why those Northern-dwelling Vikings were so familiar with it.
Rhodiola is one of those high-performance herbs that, in addition to having loads of "street cred," also has some pretty interesting science behind it.
Studies have shown that users can train longer, at higher levels, without overtraining. And it does this in a way that's different than conventional recovery models.
In 1968, Soviet pharmacologists determined that Rhodiola met all of the necessary criteria for classification as an adaptogen, which, as mentioned earlier, literally means that it helps the body adapt to – and resist – physical, chemical, and environmental stress.
Forty years and over 180 research studies later, a growing body of Western scientists and physicians are beginning to study and consequently prescribe this "super herb."
Traditional uses of the plant include stimulating the nervous system, improving depression, enhancing work performance, improving sleep, eliminating fatigue, and preventing high-altitude sickness.
Although more research is necessary to refine these findings, recent clinical trials on standardized extracts of Rhodiola rosea have reported impressive improvements in performance, immune function, cognitive function, and most commonly, a pronounced improvement in mood and a reduction in mental fatigue.
If you know anything about Biotest at all, you know that we hold a deep respect for herbs with medicinal properties, known collectively as herbal pharmaceuticals.
While the unschooled cynic might be quick to categorize all herbs as grass clippings coveted solely by sandal-wearing tree huggers, scientists know better.
In fact, a huge percentage of modern-day prescription drugs are merely fancy-named versions of these "grass clippings."
Biotest has pretty much been a pioneer in herb-based sports nutrition, being the first to truly understand and develop the definitive versions of Tribulus terrestris, Eurycoma longifolia, Vitex agnus castus, and many others.
However, there's another class of herb that's alternately been a source of great excitement and great frustration to us for a long time. This class of herbs is known as adaptogens.
Adaptogens, as the name might suggest, are compounds that literally help the body adapt to – and resist – physical, chemical, and environmental stress.
This article will describe exactly how valuable that property is, but you can probably imagine for yourself how useful an adaptogen might be in a variety of situations.
One adaptogen in particular has been the focus of a lot of our research over the years and the cause of a lot of torn-out hair.
This particular herb, Rhodiola rosea (Rhodiola), truly warrants the label of "super herb." In fact, it's been on the short list of "must have" supplements kept by our smartest guys.
Unfortunately, there were problems. We'd recommend Rhodiola to competitive cyclists and intense gym rats, and the results were hit and miss; some athletes would rave about Rhodiola and some would report no perceived benefits. To make matters worse, regardless of the brand, there was a huge inconsistency between bottles. In other words, just because brand X worked once didn't mean that it'd work again. We simply couldn't find a brand to recommend that produced consistent results.
This inconsistency in the field was matched with inconsistency in the lab. While the scientific community's studied the herb for years, they couldn't come up with consistent results, either. As such, much of the published literature on Rhodiola was noncommittal; they didn't know if it worked or it didn't!
The conclusion was that one batch often varied enormously (in terms of potency) from the next.
But all that's changed. We know where in the plant the highest concentrations of rosavins exist, and the process of extraction has gotten better and better, thus ensuring consistency and enabling us, finally, to come out with a product that matches Biotest's incredibly high standards.
Yes, I know, Rhodiola isn't a new supplement by any means; even the Vikingswere drawn to Rhodiola to enhance their legendary physical strength and endurance.
And no, Biotest hasn't just "run out of ideas" and been forced to dredge through the relics of pharmaceutical history to come up with a new product.
Rather, this version of Rhodiola is so pure, so potent, so desirable in comparison to any previous version or extraction that we might very easily make a case for it being a new creation on God's earth.
Bold words? Maybe, but let's take a look at this "new" adaptogen.
How Does Rhodiola Affect Humans?
Rhodiola boosts physical and mental performance, along with enhancing recovery from intense-resistance exercise. Broadly speaking, these beneficial effects result from the interplay of several physiological mechanisms.
- Enhances mitochondrial function, and therefore influences substrate oxidation and turnover.
- Reduces exercise-induced lipid and protein oxidation.
- Facilitates the biosynthesis, activation, and transport of neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly the opioids (i.e., beta-endorphins).
- Influences the levels of biogenic monoamines, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the cerebral cortex, brain stem, and hypothalamus.
- Modulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.
How is Biotest® Rhodiola rosea Extract Different?
Rhodiola extracts vary substantially in potency and purity. Most common are extracts that contain 1% to 3% total rosavins. Occasionally, you might find 9% or even 10%.
However, as mentioned earlier, this inconsistency has historically been the problem with Rhodiola, the problem that prevented it from becoming the supplement superstar it really is.
BIOTEST® Rhodiola rosea, on the other hand, contains on average 16% total rosavins (label claim is 15%), making it the most potent and most-pure Rhodiola extract available anywhere.
How Do I Use Rhodiola?
Clinical doses are based upon receiving 6 mg to 12 mg of total rosavins per day (which would contain 3-6 mg of rosavin), taken on an empty stomach.
Recent studies suggest moderate daily doses to be more effective than higher doses, at least in healthy humans. And doses exceeding 60 mg of total rosavins are not recommended as they're associated with irritability and insomnia.
As with other adaptogens, administration of Rhodiola rosea should coincide with stressful situations only – athletic or otherwise – and periodic intervals of non-use should be observed.
In other words, Rhodiola should be treated like a medicine. Simply, when the "patient" is cured, he stops taking the medicine.
Put it this way: once Rhodiola has enabled you to adapt to physical or environmental stress (training, dieting, etc.), you can't adapt any further. That's when you cycle off Rhodiola.
How Do I Cycle Rhodiola?
Following an on/off-cycling protocol of 3:1 seems to work best.
How Should an Athlete Use Rhodiola?
Rhodiola is an excellent supplement for athletes to use during times of increased physical demands to manage fatigue and enhance the body's ability to recover from training. Here are some specific examples of how an athlete would use Rhodiola:
- When increasing training volume or intensity
- When attempting to change body composition
- To combat the effects of overtraining
- During times of planned overreaching
- To improve mood and restore positive attitude
- During the season of an athlete's sport
- During training camps
- At the end of training cycles
- When changing times zones or climates
- When training at higher altitudes
- While fighting off illness
Or, in the case of the Vikings, when you're getting set to raid, plunder, or conquer.