Rhodiola rosea.

naturopathy rhodiolaRHODIOLA – an amazing herb for increased energy, stamina and mental performance.

Rhodiola rosea also known as rose root, golden root, arctic root and Russian rhodiola, is native to cold northern alpine regions, and is a hardy plant which thrives on rocky slopes. It has been used for centuries in Northern Europe and Scandinavia.

Rhodiola possesses tonic and stimulant properties that increase resistance to stress and disease. It is traditionally believed to give strength and stamina and is known to increase attention span as well as work productivity, providing a dramatic boost in energy levels, increased memory and mental performance. It has been commonly used to treat long-term illness and tiredness due to infection, mood elevation, mental alertness, sports performance, impotence, liver problems and as adjuvant treatment of cancer.

Recent studies have shown that Rhodiola may also be useful in the treatment of binge eating, nicotine withdrawal, erectile dysfunction and infertility.

At Health In The Bay, our Naturopaths use a herbal extract of Rhodiola in liquid herbal medicines which are custom blended for patients. One of the great benefits of mixing a number of herbal remedies into a formula is that it can be made to suit individual requirements. The many beneficial actions of Rhodiola can be enhanced by combining with other suitable herbal medicines. For example:

  • Rhodiola combines well with other herbs that increase resistance to stress and disease such as Siberian ginseng and Withania.
  • Rhodiola combines well with other herbs for Depression and nervous debility such as St John’s Wort and Skullcap
  • Rhodiola combines well with other herbs for male sexual dysfunction such as Tribulus and Saw Palmetto
  • Rhodiola combines well with other herbs for menstrual disorders such as female reproductive tonics Paeonia and Dong Quai
  • Rhodiola combines well with other herbs to make brain tonic and study mixes such as Bacopa and Ginkgo
  • Rhodiola combines well with other herbs for liver problems that protect and restore liver function such as Schisandra and St Mary’s Thistle.

A word of caution: Rhodiola use is not advised for depressed patients with hysteric and phobic symptoms as may occur with bipolar disorder. Concurrent use of stimulants such as caffeine is best avoided. It is important to consult with a qualified Naturopath or herbalist before taking Rhodiola.


Why you really need to stress less

stressIn clinic, we see patients with many and varied symptoms and conditions, but when it comes to working out the root cause of these conditions, often stress features in a big way.

Stress is now a common fixture in our hectic, busy lives. Small amounts of stress that are easily resolved can be beneficial in motivating and helping us achieve our goals. However, chronic or long-term stress affects each of us differently, and it may affect the whole body in a negative way and contribute to many health complaints.

Signs of stress include:

  • Feeling any of the following – anxious, worried, forgetful, irritable, depressed and exhausted.
  • Stiff or sore muscles or joints.
  • Insomnia.
  • Tension headaches.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Frequent colds and flu.
  • Digestive problems including irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, change in appetite.
  • Worsening of an existing illness or condition.
  • Skin conditions.

Fight or Flight: Your Response to Stress

Thousands of years ago, we may have been faced with the threat of a sabre tooth tiger and our immediate response to this was one of two reactions: to attack or run away. This is now known as the fight or flight response. Once this stress response is triggered, chemical messengers called adrenaline, cortisol and noradrenaline are produced by the adrenal glands and brain. These messengers increase blood flow to the essential organs such as the heart, lungs, brain and muscles to help us fight or run away. Digestive function slows down as this is less important in survival mode. Cortisol also increases the amount of sugar released into the blood to provide energy for our muscles to attack or run. In the past, stress was shortlived and once the stress was over, these chemical messengers shortly returned to normal.

Where’s the Off Switch?

Over time our bodies have not changed this biological response to stress. Although the sabre tooth tigers are long gone, the physical threat to our lives and limbs has been replaced with the modern day stress of long work hours, financial worries, traffic jams and family issues. So what happens if this stress response does not turn off because of our non-stop busy lifestyles?

Ongoing stress that does not resolve may result in chronic stress, which can be the underlying cause of many health conditions. Chronic stress can impact body systems such as the cardiovascular system by contributing to high blood pressure. It can also take its toll on your nervous system leading to exhaustion, headaches and insomnia. Your digestive and immune systems can also be weakened by stress, making you more susceptible to irritable bowel syndrome, frequent colds and the flu.

Herbs and Nutrients for De-stressing

In clinic, I often use these herbs and nutrients to help our patient’s cope better with stress:

  • Rhodiola and withania are herbs which enhance the body’s response to stress. Rhodiola has been shown to reduce both physical and mental fatigue during times of stress.
  • The herbs passionflower, zizyphus and magnolia have been traditionally used for reducing stress, anxiety and nervous tension, and also work well in cases of insomnia.
  • St John’s wort is well-known for supporting healthy mood and protecting against the effects of stress.
  • Magnesium, glutamine and B vitamins are used in abundance during times of stress, when the body’s requirement for these key nutrients is increased. Magnesium assists in muscle relaxation and calms the nervous system.

10 Top Stress Busting Tips:

Lessen your stress load by practising the following stress busting strategies:

  1. Rest and Relaxation: Relaxation techniques such as tai chi, yoga, and meditation can help you to control stress and improve physical and mental wellbeing. Turn off all technology before 10pm (this includes phones, tv, computers and other devices) for a better night’s sleep.
  2. Think Positive: A good attitude and positive outlook is fundamental for de-stressing. Thinking positively will help you get through a stressful period with greater enthusiasm and drive.
  3. Exercise: Exercise is a brilliant form of stress relief, as it conditions the body and mind, and encourages the release of endorphins, which help you feel good. Enjoy restorative, rather than exhaustive exercise, when you are feeling particularly stressed.
  4. Indulge Yourself: Enjoy a well-deserved massage or some other blissful treatment – perhaps soak in a bath with relaxing aromatherapy oils such as lavender, ylang ylang, chamomile or geranium.
  5. Eat Healthy Foods: For a healthy mind and body, eat a diet abundant in fresh, brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. Consume protein with meals and snacks, and enjoy foods high in essential fatty acids such as oily fish, nuts and seeds. Minimise your intake of caffeine, energy drinks, sugar, alcohol and processed foods as these will contribute to fatigue in the long-term.
  6. Have Gratitude: Keep a diary of things in your life you are grateful for. If you find this difficult, focus on the basic things – a roof over your head, peaceful times, a cup of tea, the shade of a tree are all things we can take for granted, but many people don’t have access to.
  7. Take Breathing Breaks: For 1 or 5 minutes close your eyes and breathe deeply and slowly. Perhaps listen to a piece of music which you find soothing or go for a short walk.
  8. Reconnect with Friends and Family: choose positive, uplifting people in your life, and spend more time with them.
  9. Be Mindful: Do everything with focus and intention – cook your food mindfully, eat mindfully, work mindfully and be in the moment as much as possible. Set a reminder in your diary or on your phone to be mindful (and perhaps have a breathing break as well).
  10. Change Your Daily Routine: Have a long relaxing breakfast, try driving to work a different way, learn a new skill, watch a different television program. And play.

Be joyful and lighthearted where possible. Smile.

If you feel that stress is a problem for you, and you don’t know where to begin, make an appointment to see our Naturopath, or indeed any of our practitioners for tailored advice on how to manage stress.